TSN’s Bob McKenzie released his final list of draft rankings for the 2020—at least in name and spirit, if not actual date—NHL Draft this week. McKenzie compiles his rankings solely through a survey of NHL scouts and management, often making them among the most accurate to what will actually happen in the draft.
From a college hockey perspective, it continues to be a quieter draft year, at least from a first round talent perspective.
NTDP defenseman Jake Sanderson, headed to North Dakota next season, continues to lead the way coming in at eighth in the rankings. McKenzie points out, however, that two of the ten scouts surveyed placed Sanderson inside the top three and as the top defenseman available in the draft, so there is some potential to go even higher than projected. The other top defenseman in the draft, Canadian D Jamie Drysdale brings a little more offensive flair to his game than Sanderson, who is more of a solid two-way defenseman, so odds are better Drysdale goes off the board first, but defensemen have been valued higher on draft day than they were in pre-draft rankings in recent years, so there is potential for Sanderson to go off the board even higher than projected here.
The next player with NCAA ties listed is Wisconsin’s Dylan Holloway at 16th. He may have actually been helped by the whole coronavirus shutdown because he was one of the few players whose season had already ended when all play stopped. In a typical year, other prospects would have had as much as three months to gain ground on him and pass him in draft rankings.
Only one other player with NCAA ties, Michigan commit Brendan Brisson, slots into the first round at 30th overall. But six players from the NTDP U18 team are ranked in the second round, and the NTDP has hit the over on the casino line on number of first round picks in nearly every draft for a decade. I’d expect at least one, if not two of those second round picks to be selected in the first round. Though if there is an exception, it might be this year, where the NTDP didn’t get a chance to bomb the rest of the world at the World U18 championships.
In all, with no hockey being played this spring, there aren’t a lot of major changes at the top of the draft since the last set of draft rankings were released. But with a lack of late-season scouting, I’d expect most of the intrigue to come in the later rounds of the draft, where we’re likely to see more off-the-board picks due to a lack of consensus.