A year after eight players from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and 11 Americans overall were drafted in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, a deep pool of Canadian prospects looks set to dominate the spotlight.

TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button has Canadian Hockey League forwards Alexis Lafreniere (No. 1), Hendrix Lapierre (No. 2) and Cole Perfetti (No. 3) leading the September edition of Craig’s List ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft in Montreal, and six Canadian skaters in his top 10.

“There’s plenty of high-end skill at the forward positions at the top of this class,” Button said. “The top end of this draft could be outstanding. There are a lot of potential impact players available.”

Lafreniere, a 6-foot-1, 192-pound left wing for the Rimouski Oceanic, is the reigning CHL Player of the Year after a season that saw him score 37 goals and 105 points in 61 games. The former QMJHL Rookie of the Year has also represented Canada internationally at the World U18 Championships, Hlinka Gretzky Cup and World Juniors.

“Lafreniere can finish the plays or he can make the plays,” Button said. “He’s the best player at this point, but there are five or six guys who could force their way in to the discussion.”

That group, according to Button, is led by Lapierre, a 5-foot-11, 179-pound centre with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, and Perfetti, a 5-foot-10, 177-pound forward for the Saginaw Spirit, who both turned heads this summer with strong performances at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

“Lapierre is a complete two-way player like an Aleksander Barkov or Patrice Bergeron,” Button said. “Perfetti is this year’s sniper, just like Cole Caufield was last year.”

Lapierre scores on shorthanded breakaway for Canada's fifth goal

Hendrix Lapierre is sent on a breakaway after a blocked shot on the penalty kill and uses the five hole to beat Jan Bednar, putting Canada up 5-1.

Joining the three Canadian skaters in Button’s top five are Frolunda right winger Lucas Raymond (No. 4) and Russian goaltender Yaroslav Askarov (No. 5).

“Raymond is a precocious winger who reminds me of Mitch Marner,” Button said. “Askarov is best goalie prospect I’ve seen since Carey Price.”

Just outside the top five is hulking Sudbury Wolves centre Quinton Byfield (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), who had 61 points in 64 games during his OHL rookie campaign.

“Byfield is a terrific athlete with similarities in his game to Evgeni Malkin,” Button said. “He has perhaps the greatest upside in the draft.”

Rounding out the rest of Button's top 10 are Djurgardens left wing Alexander Holtz (No. 7), Wisconsin Badgers forward Dylan Holloway (No. 8), Finish centre Anton Lundell (No. 9) and Halifax Mooseheads  defenceman Justin Barron (No. 10).

 

The Top 31

 
RK Player Team POS HT WT GP G P
1 Alexis Lafreniere Rimouski (QMJHL) LW 6'1 192 61 37 105
2 Hendrix Lapierre Chicoutimi (QMJHL) C 5'11 ½ 179 48 13 45
3 Cole Perfetti Saginaw (OHL) C/LW 5'10 ¼ 177 63 37 74
4 Lucas Raymond Frölunda (SHL) RW 5'11 170 37 13 48
5 Yaroslav Askarov St. Petersburg (MHL) G 6'3 176 31 .921 2.37
6 Quinton Byfield Sudbury (OHL) C 6'4 ¼ 215 64 29 61
7 Alexander Holtz Djurgårdens (SHL) LW 5'11 ½ 192 38 30 47
8 Dylan Holloway Wisconsin (NCAA) C/LW 6'0 ½ 192 53 40 88
9 Anton Lundell HIFK (SM Liiga) C 6'1 185 38 9 19
10 Justin Barron Halifax (QMJHL) D 6'1 ½ 195 68 9 41
11 Tim Stutzle Mannheim (DEL) LW 5'10 ½ 170 21 23 55
12 Jake Sanderson USA NTDP (USHL) D 6'0 ¾ 170 44 4 24
13 Jamie Drysdale Erie (OHL) D 5'11 172 63 7 40
14 Marco Rossi Ottawa (OHL) C 5'8 ¼ 170 53 29 65
15 Noel Gunler Lulea (SHL) RW 6'0 ½ 170 31 27 46
16 Justin Sourdif Vancouver (WHL) RW 5'10 ¾ 173 64 23 46
17 Braden Schneider Brandon (WHL) D 6'2 208 58 8 24
18 Connor Zary Kamloops (WHL) C 5'11 ¾ 173 63 24 67
19 Rodion Amirov Ufa (MHL) LW 6'0 167 31 13 26
20 Shakir Mukhamadullin Ufa (MHL) D 6'3 ½ 178 15 7 13
21 Jeremie Poirier Saint John (QMJHL) D 6'0 ¼ 199 61 6 21
22 Kaiden Guhle Prince Albert (WHL) D 6'2 ½ 186 65 3 17
23 Will Cuyle Windsor (OHL) LW 6'2 ½ 204 63 26 41
24 Vasili Ponomaryov Shawinigan (QMJHL) C 6'0 180 37 9 29
25 Ty Smilanic USA NTDP (USHL) C/LW 6'0 ¾ 167 54 20 38
26 Jacob Perreault Sarnia (OHL) RW 5'11 200 63 30 55
27 Lukas Cormier Charlottetown (QMJHL) D 5'9 ¼ 167 63 15 36
28 Eemil Viro Turku (SM Liiga Jr.) D 5'11 ½ 165 41 7 20
29 Tyler Kleven USA NTDP (USHL) D 6'3 ½ 190 52 3 8
30 Roni Hirvonen Pori (SM Liiga) C 5'9 164 50 21 51
31 Jake Neighbours Edmonton (WHL) LW 5'11 ½ 197 47 11 24
 

 

Honourable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order)

 
Player Team POS HT WT GP G P
Martin Chromiak Trencin (SVK-Extra) LW 5'11 ¼ 179 39 22 46
Jean-Luc Foudy Windsor (OHL) RW 5'11 ½ 172 63 8 49
Ridly Greig Brandon (WHL) C 5'11 160 63 14 35
Daemon Hunt Moose Jaw (WHL) D 6'0 198 57 7 20
Seth Jarvis Portland (WHL) C 5'9 ½ 174 61 16 39
Ryan O'Rourke Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) D 6'0 173 62 8 22
Alexander Pashin Ufa (MHL) RW 5'8 154 17 6 10
Theo Rochette Chicoutimi (QMJHL) C 5'10 161 59 14 43
Antonio Stranges London (OHL) LW 5'10 173 66 13 34
Luke Tuch USA NTDP (USHL) LW 6'1 197 48 10 23