As it turns out, I didn’t tweak the June 1 Top 125 list. My overwhelming thought was that the list on this blog is about math, and math didn’t change after I compiled it. I’m sure there will be several names who go much higher or lower, but that’s not really the point. I do the list before others drop so that the Lowetide list can stand on its own. This isn’t a scout’s list, it’s a math list. Over the years, it’s done very well. Let’s go.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: Oilers draft preview — What to expect from Round 1
- New Jonathan Willis: Oilers could benefit both now and in the future by adding a right-shot defender
- Lowetide: As Oilers exit the system, the situation is fluid
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What’s in a name? For NHL players, deciding on pronunciation can be a challenge
- Lowetide: Reconsidering Oilers’ offseason in light of Oscar Klefbom injury news
- Jonathan Willis: Buyer beware: Trade partners for Oliver Ekman-Larsson have to hope he ages well
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s work week: Get good players, keep good players
- Lowetide: Who will be available if the Oilers pick at No. 14?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ defence prospects are pushing, and changes are coming
- Lowetide: A reasonable trade price for the Oilers to pay in pursuit of OEL
- Jonathan Willis: Could it make sense for the Oilers to trade Oscar Klefbom?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl won the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Breaking down my ballot for the 2019-20 NHL awards
- Lowetide: Rising talent, acquiring picks key to Oilers’ success at draft
- Lowetide: European leagues are open, and Oilers prospects are everywhere
- Lowetide: Ken Holland and Dave Tippett’s past players: Can any help the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Roster projections for Oilers, including trade and free agent targets
- Jonathan Willis: Why the Oilers should buy out James Neal
- Lowetide: Oilers approach 2020 draft with increased depth in important positions
- Lowetide: Stock Watch: Hot starts and safe landings for Oilers prospects
- Jonathan Willis: There are no good shortcuts for the Oilers with Jesse Puljujarvi
- Lowetide: Potential trades and partners for the Oilers’ offseason
- Lowetide: The Oilers could find a world-class agitator in the draft
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Should the Oilers select goalie Yaroslav Askarov 14th at the NHL Draft?
- Lowetide: A bold draft strategy for the Oilers in 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers third-line centre search should include other teams’ cap casualties
- Lowetide: Dealing a defenceman? Taking stock of Oilers’ blueline assets
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Oilers GM Ken Holland on improving internally, the flat cap and goaltending
- Jonathan Willis: Can the Oilers find value picks among the 2020 NHL Draft’s impressive Russians?
- Lowetide: 10 free agent targets for the Oilers this offseason
- Lowetide: What if the Oilers went scorched earth in front of 2020 free agency?
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 Prospects, Summer 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Unqualified RFAs could be top offseason targets for the Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Who stays? Who goes? The most likely players to stay with and l
I use NHLE as a strong guiding light. I also use scouting reports from trusted sources and publications. I punish poor foot speed liberally. My list list rewards offense heavily, and players with a range of skills usually do well, but there is a fine line between a two-way player and a minor-league future. That’s the biggest difference between my 2013 list and this one: Offense is king.
The biggest difference between my 2016 list and the 2020 edition? Pretty much all rankings now have the small skill players flooding the first round, in the case of this year, the top-10 overall.
Craig Button’s list has high value for me, I like the fact he has the courage of his convictions. I pay attention to Red Line Report. Steve Kournianos provides mountains of useful information. I value McKeens, Grant McCagg, Tom Hunter, Brock Otten, Adam Sherren, ISS. I miss Simon Boisvert but he does appear in McCagg’s Recrutes with a fantastic top 31.
I do have conversations with scouts in junior hockey and they are very helpful. This year’s list has less outside input, it’s been a weird year.
Hockey Prospect.com is a brilliant reference. Mark Edwards release last year has been very useful for this year’s draft. Highly recommended. If there’s one publication I would suggest purchasing, it would be Edwards.
I have been following the NHL draft since 1971, so can blame politics, Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne and Phil Russell for this obsession. Each year has a wrinkle. This is the year of the small forward. Here is the 2020 list.
THE TOP 30, 2020
1 L Alexis Lafreniere. Expect greatness, fleet scorer who plays with an edge.
2 LC Quinton Byfield. Power forward with mad skill. Aug 2002, 6.04, 215. Run!
3 LC Tim Stutzle. Dynamic player, highlight reel offense. Tremendous skater. May play wing.
4 LC Marco Rossi. Good speed, exciting, range of skills. Exceptional talent. He belongs here.
5 RHD Jamie Drysdale. Great speed, passing and instincts, instant offense.
6 LC Cole Perfetti. Outstanding talent, not as fast as top forwards, has tremendous skill.
7 RW Alexander Holtz. First-shot scorer with a range of skills, he’s an electric player.
8 LW Lucas Raymond. Smart player who has ridiculous skill. March 2002. Fine skater.
9 RW Jack Quinn. Impressive offensive winger was a late breaker. Pure goal scorer.
10 RW Dawson Mercer. Impressive player who is both scorer and playmaker.
The top 8 names seem secure, lots of disagreement on Quinn but I think there’s too much goal scoring there to pass on. We’ll find out tonight. Dawson Mercer has fallen on many lists since my June 1 publishing, but math liked him a lot before and likes him just as much now. Craig Button had him at No. 17 on his final list.
11 RC Mavrik Bourque. Creative, great passer, great shot. Plays in tough areas.
12 LC Connor Zary. Quick, smart two-way center effective across 200 feet.
13 LD Jake Sanderson. Smart, fast two-way defenseman has complete skill set.
14 LC Anton Lundell. Complete skill set, average speed but improving.
15 RC Seth Jarvis. Jarvis is a fantastic player, undersized and skilled. Big second half.
16 RW Noel Gunler. Has a great release and an impressive resume. Attractive option.
17 G Yaroslav Askarov. Unusual style. June 2002, has a .923 VHL save percentage.
18 RC Jacob Perreault. Skates well, great shot, great numbers, excellent passer.
19 LC Jan Mysak. Skilled and is effective in all areas. Major move in second half.
20 LD Kaiden Guhle. Big defenseman has good foot speed and full skill set.
This is the area Oilers fans will be concentrating on today and tonight. Sanderson and Lundell are likely to be gone by the time Edmonton selects, possibly Askarov and Guhle too. There’s plenty of talent remaining. I like Jarvis, and wonder if Perreault’s speed and shot are attractive to Edmonton. If he was a little bigger….. I like Mysak more than anyone and make no apologies.
21 LD Jérémie Poirier. Smart offensive defender, puck transporter.
22 RD Braden Schneider. Fine skater, physical, smart two-way defenseman.
23 LW Lukas Reichel. Mid-season riser. He has skill, speed and plays with abandon.
24 LW Rodion Amirov. Great tools. A fast train in a draft season with slow boats.
25 LW Dylan Holloway. Big power forward. Strong skater, nice range of skills.
26 LC Ridly Greig. Smart offensive with good instincts, August 2002. Agitator.
27 RC Tyson Foerster. Great offensive weapon, quick release and accurate.
28 LC Hendrix Lapierre. Skill center projects as a playmaker. Injury a worry.
29 RHD Justin Barron. Mobile blue can defend. Lacks top-end offensive ability.
30 LW John-Jason Peterka. A speedy winger with skill, survived in a men’s league.
There are four players I have ranked from 21-30 who Edmonton might consider at No. 14: Amirov, Holloway, Greig and Lapierre. Holloway seems to have some real momentum, so maybe he lands at No. 14. Greig would probably involve trading down. Amirov and Lapierre have been strong in early games in their respective leagues in 2020-21.
NOs. 31-60, 2020
31 LW Martin Chromiak. One of the most skilled players in the draft.
32 LW Brendan Brisson. Undersized speedster spiked late. Big riser.
33 LD William Wallinder. Big (6.04, 195) 2-way defenseman with good speed.
34 LW Jake Neighbours. He’s skilled, gritty and plays a strong two-way game.
35 RW Zion Nybeck. Undersized playmaker, great passer. Impressive speed.
36 RC Jean-Luc Foudy. Speedy center plus skill, mediocre season.
37 LD Emil Andrae. Fast defenseman with offensive potential. Plus passer.
38 LC Ty Smilanic. Lean center, plus skater and pure scorer. Had mono.
39 LC Vasili Ponomaryov. Great hands and good speed, he’s a little under the radar
40 RW Ozzy Wiesblatt. Undersized winger is aggressive, fast and skilled.
41 RW Sam Colangelo. Big power winger with skill, scored 28 goals in 44 games.
42 RW Luke Evangelista. Skill winger, great passer, plays in all disciplines.
43 RD Helge Grans. Solid two-way defenseman with good size and speed.
44 RW Connor McClennon. Numbers are solid to excellent. Undersized, range of skills.
45 RC Jack Finley. An August 2002 and a big pivot, he plays a fairly complete game.
46 RW Kasper Simontaival. Unusual skating style but he’s quick and has high-end skill.
47 RC Justin Sourdif. Two-way winger gained notice at the Hlinka, solid season.
48 LW Veeti Miettinen. Undersized winger, fills the net with pucks.
49 RW Pavel Novak. Speedster with skill, he’s a scorer.
50 LW Sean Farrell. A good skater with plus skills, spiked offensively.
51 LW Daniel Torgersson. He has size and good speed.
52 LC Thomas Bordeleau. Owns a great shot and is highly skilled with the puck.
53 RC Tyler Tullio. Small playmaking pivot. Good passer, great shot.
54 RW Ryan Francis. Playmaking winger who plays a smart game.
55 RC Theodor Niederbach. Skill center is a late breaker this draft.
56 LW Carter Savoie. Small, fleet skill winger delivered 99 points in 54 games.
57 LD Ryan O’Rourke. Good size (6.02, 181) projects as a top-four defenseman.
58 LW Brett Berard. Small skill winger with good hands.
59 RW Daniil Gushchin. Small, speedy playmaking forward. Good numbers.
60 LW Oskar Magnusson. Smaller winger good speed and two-way acumen.
This is the group the Oilers will have to wave to on Wednesday, unless Holland finds a way to trade in. There are many quality names here, I’ll mention Vasili Ponomaryov, Helge Grans, Veeti Miettinen and Ryan O’Rourke.
NOs. 61-90, 2020
61 RC Jaromir Pytlik. He’s a fine skater and has two-way skills.
62 RD William Villeneuve. Tall, thin two-way blue spiked offensively.
63 LW Owen Pederson. Pederson scored 28 goals in 61 games.
64 LC Marat Khusnutdinov. Small (5.09, 165) two-way center with great wheels.
65 LW Will Cuylle. Has a great shot, plus size and skill. Smart winger.
66 LD Lukas Cormier. Undersized skill defender with good speed and skill.
67 RD Michael Benning. Impressive skills (fine skater, excellent passer).
68 RW Brandon Coe. Power forward scored 25 goals in the OHL this season.
69 LC Roni Hirvonen. Undersized two-way playmaker can play center or wing.
70 LW Luke Tuch. Alex Tuch’s brother, he plays a similar style with less offense.
71 RC Tristan Robins. Impressive numbers, he is very skilled.
72 LD Yan Kuznetsov. He’s 6.03, 201, 18 and regarded as a solid defender.
73 LC Antonio Stranges. Terrific speed and skill, disappointing season.
74 RW Alexander Pashin. Small winger with impressive skill can score and pass.
75 RW Dylan Peterson. Big W with skill/speed, shy offensively this season.
76 RD Topi Niemela. Niemela skates well, playing in Liiga. Some chaos.
77 LD Shakir Mukhamadullin. He’s 6.04, 178 and raw. Good speed, talent.
78 LW Roby Jarventie. He’s an August 2002 and a nice size and speed combination.
79 LD Eemil Viro. Small, fast offensive defender, no dominant skill.
80 G Calle Clang. Good size, a .913 SP and stellar work at the Hlinka.
81 LW Kyle Crnkovic. Small (5.07) doubled his point total season over season.
82 LC Elliot Ekmark. High skill, elusive, great speed, undersized.
83 RW Wiljami Myllylä. Speed demon, gaudy scoring numbers for days.
84 LC Theo Rochette. Undersized two-way center, intriguing offense.
85 RD Luke Prokop. A giant (6.04, 218) able to close gaps and suppress offense.
86 LD Tyler Kleven. A big shutdown defenseman (6.04, 201) with good speed.
87 G Sam Hlavaj. Boasts a .915 save percentage and stands 6.04, 218.
88 G Nico Daws. .924 save percentage represents a big performance spike.
89 LC Daniel Ljungman. Emerged at the Hlinka Gretzky. Great release.
90 G Joel Blomquist. Strong numbers (.929), good glove.
Oilers will get a pick in this range, I might use it on Roby Jarventie. Tristan Robins is very popular on this blog and I do have a feeling we’ll see Edmonton take a WHL player this year. This is the first segment of my list where I’m certain someone won’t get drafted. I’m pretty sure the top 60 on my list go, but there will be some names 61-90 who pass through the draft. Happens every year. Calle Clang is my goalie, that name and his resume are too, too good to pass up.
NOs. 91-125, 2020
91 LC Cameron Berg. Good speed and skill.
92 G Dylan Garand. Eye popping SP (.921) for June 2002, but he’s only 6.0.
93 RC Zayde Wisdom. Pure scorer, strong season, wheels are the concern.
94 LW Emil Heineman. Older prospect, good size and speed.
95 LD Daemon Hunt. Will earn his money as a shutdown defenseman.
96 LW Pavel Gogolev. Now 20, he is fast and has a great shot.
97 LC Juuso Mäenpää. Very small but highly skilled playmaker.
98 LW Maxim Groshev. Skilled and determined with the puck on his stick.
99 RD Kasper Puutio. Good Hlinka and then a strong late push after being dealt.
100 LW Cross Hanas. Speedy winger scored 22 goals in Portland.
101 LC Evan Vierling. Playmaking center spiked late. Excellent passer.
102 LW Yevgeni Oksentyuk. Impressive season for Feb. 2001, under the radar skill W.
103 RD Alex Cotton. Big defenseman with a great shot, overager.
104 LD Anton Johannesson. Small puck mover is a wizard, could be a steal.
105 RD Billy Constantinou. Chaos blue made my list last year, worth a late flier.
106 G Brett Brochu. Under the radar goalie who delivered a .919 SP as a rookie.
107 RC Josh Pillar. Fast player, spiked offensively, could be underrated here.
108 LW Blake Biondi. High skill, great speed.
109 RC Colby Ambrosio. Speedster, very skilled, I love his resume. He’s a bullet.
110 LW James Hardie. Volume shooter, 34 goals, one dimensional.
111 RD Thimo Nickl. Strong skater, two-way blue, December 2001.
112 RD Eamon Powell. Impressive skater can move the puck effectively
113 LD Donovan Sebrango. Two-way defender, excellent skater.
114 LD Dave Ma. Tremendous skater and very creative.
115 LW Rory Kerins. 30 goals for an April 2002 is worth drafting.
116 LD Mitch Miller. Fine skater, has two-way skills.
117 RW Oliver Suni. Strong winger with range of skills.
118 G Devon Levi. Impressive .941 SP.
119 LC Michal Gut. Skill center, average speed, August 2002.
120 LW Eric Juhlin. Good shot, solid (13 goals in 36 games) at even strength.
121 RD Ian Moore. Massachusetts offensive defenseman.
122 LW Maxim Beryozkin. Size, speed, skill, shot. Average speed is the worry.
123 LHD Alexander Nikishin. Good skater, plus shot, he’s a throwback who hits to hurt.
124 G Drew Commesso. Good size, thrived wherever he played in 2019-20.
125 RD Ethan Edwards. Impressive speed and skill puck mover.
We’re past the group who are great bets but there are good ones here. Pavel Gogolev, Anton Johannesson, Brett Brochu, James Hardie and Devon Levi.
No. 14 overall: RC Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks (WHL). I am not completely convinced the Oilers will take a small forward (see my article at The Athletic this morning) but it’s the right play here. Anton Blundell’s availability may change things, and I wonder if Rodion Amirov and Dylan Holloway are too much for Tyler Wright and Ken Holland to resist. Still, if you’re looking for the best available player, Jarvis is absolutely it if he’s on the board at No. 14 overall. NHLE: 41.8
No. 76 overall: LW Daniel Gushchin, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL). Speedy winger with terrific skill, his size (5.08, 167) will be a drawback for some teams. Red Line compares him to Kailer Yamamoto. NHLE: 24.8
No. 135 overall: RW Zayde Wisdom, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL). Agitating winger with skill, he’s an actual Coke Machine (5.10, 199) but has boundless energy and real scoring ability. NHLE: 25.2
No. 169 overall: G Devon Levi, Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL). Guy Flaming said he was an intelligent guy and a great interview, and he had a .941 save percentage last season.
No. 200 overall: LD Peetro Seppälä (Liiga) 41, 2-10-12. He was a regular in the Liiga a year ago and is back with KooKoo again this season. Has size and some skill, easy to get lost in the flood of Finnish blue. NHLE: 10.9.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid has Covid-19. He is young, healthy and I’m sure taking all precautions. It’s a concern and one can feel for him having two offseasons in a row derailed by genuine health issues. We wish him a full recovery, know he is going to be well cared for, and await news of his being healthy again soon. Get well soon, Mr. McDavid!
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we get ready for the 2020 draft with great guests and your input. Scott Wheeler at The Athletic joins us with last minute news on players like Askarov, Amirov and Lapierre who may be spiking. Jason Gregor will pop in at 11 to talk Oilers tonight at the draft, and in trade and free agency over the rest of the week. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. This is it!