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2020 NHL Mock Draft picks 4-7

October 1, 2020, 9:11 AM ET [1319 Comments]
Michael Pachla
Buffalo Sabres Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
(This is the second in a three-part series mocking the first 10 picks in the 2020 NHL Draft.)

With the top-three picks in the 2020 NHL Draft set (unless something weird happens,) this is where things begin to get interesting. Generally speaking the next tier of prospects stretches down to about pick nine or 10 with an array of players offering up varying skill-sets but whom all grade out close to each other. There's even a blue-chip goalie in the mix who could go top-10. However, it's the opinion here that amongst that group of six or seven players, three rise to the top and create their own sub-group, like a 3a and 3b. I'm also of the opinion that the teams picking 4-6 will select them and although the exact order might not be as laid out below, that group of three should go off the board well before the Buffalo Sabres pick at No. 8.

As the Buffalo enters the 2020 NHL Draft, they'll be looking up at Atlantic Division rivals in the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings who are going to add some impressive prospects to their rebuilds. The NY Rangers (Metropolitan Division) will be adding the top player in the draft as well and with playoff spots in the eastern conference already hard to come by, in two to or three years (or sooner in the case of the Rangers) these picks placed atop an already strong group of youngins will make life even more difficult for the Sabres, a team that has a league-long, nine year playoff drought.

Detroit and Ottawa will now be setting the tone followed by the Anaheim Ducks, who have a definitive need in their prospect pool, then the New Jersey Devils, a team that can go in many directions dependent upon what does or does not fall to them. And with that in mind the mock continues as we begin with the fourth-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

4. Detroit Red Wings--C. Marco Rossi

The Wings were a train wreck last season and they need to add a lot of talent so dropping down to fourth-overall after being a historically bad team was a travesty for Detroit. But that's how the lottery unfolded and at No. 4 they'll still have an opportunity to select an impact skater. Even though this is a dark time for the storied Wings, and getting shut out of the top-three was salt in the wound, general manager Steve Yzerman has another Brayden Point-type prospect staring him in the face. Although Yzerman won't be as lucky, or as smart, as he was in Tampa getting Point in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft, Rossi represents a very similar player who has those offensive gifts and that ultra-high compete-level. He had all of those traits on display last season in Canadian Junior as when he led the entire league in scoring with 120 points (39+81) in 56 games, besting Alexis Lafreniere's 112 points (52 games.) The 5'11" 179 lb. Rossi is just too good for junior and the Wings could ease him into the NHL on the wing or slot him in behind Dylan Larkin and let him lead an burgeoning youth movement for Detroit. It's going to be a struggle for that franchise near-term but Yzerman is slowly putting pieces in place and having an eventual one-two punch of Larkin/Rossi down the middle for the foreseeable future is extremely promising.

5. Ottawa Senators--D, Jamie Drysdale

Although the lottery didn't go their way, the Sens will walk away from the 2020 NHL Draft with an impressive forward prospect in Tim Stuetzle (or Quinton Byfield) and follow that up two spots later by plucking the best defenseman in the draft. Ottawa has a very strong prospect pipeline featuring plenty of forwards and some good d-prospects even after the recent 2017 graduation of Thomas Chabot and 21 yr. old Erik Branstrom, who should be with the Senators next season. And they'll add a defenseman in Drysdale who's in the mold of Cale Makar (2017, 4th-overall) and Quinn Hughes (2018,) two modern defensemen who electrify from the blueline. Once again, the Senators could go a couple different ways and they could almost call it a night after drafting one of the top forwards and the top defenseman this year, but Ottawa isn't done by any means as they can add to the pipeline with the 28th-overall pick and four second rounders beginning with pick-33.)

6. Anaheim Ducks--LW, Lucas Raymond

Once again, what teams do in front of you dictate what you will do and the Ducks take the best player available, which isn't such a bad thing here. Anaheim has needs on the blueline and Drysdale would have been an ideal pick but Ottawa threw a wrench into those plans. The Ducks could easily go defense here and no one could blame them for landing a defenseman like Jake Sanderson who some consider to be a better prospect than Drysdale, However, in sticking to the best player available plan, there's no reason to pass on drafting a stud left wing in Raymond. The Ducks have an aging duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Adam Henrique at center with Sam Steel and Trevor Zegras in line to take over when they're ready. At left wing they have Sonny Milano (24 yrs. old) and Jakob Silfverberg (29) and as Anaheim moves forward with their rebuild, adding Raymond makes their near and long-term future even brighter. The gifted Raymond has been playing in Sweden's top hockey league (SHL) as a teenager scoring 10 points in limited ice time while competing against men in his first full season last year. Along with his incredible hands and impressive hockey sense, the smaller (5'10" 183 lbs.) Raymond has an ultra-high compete-level which has already translated into a goal and an assist through two games of the 2020-21 SHL season, which is underway.

7. New Jersey Devils--D, Jake Sanderson

This isn't so much of a reach as it is a choice. There's been a huge swell of draftniks leaning towards New Jersey drafting highly touted goalie Iarsolav Askarov at this spot, and they have a good point. However, the Devils haven't drafted a goalie in the first round since 1999 (27th-overall) and have drafted a goalie every year since 2015 when they plucked Mackenzie Blackwood with the 42nd pick. In addition, back in 2013 the franchise traded the ninth-overall pick for a goalie in Corey Schneider whom they believed to be the heir to Martin Brodeur. Despite some strong numbers from Schneider his first three years, the team failed to move the needle as they missed the playoffs. The now 34 yr. old Schneider began to fade in 2017 (with Keith Kinkaid emerging as "the truth" that season) and has fallen to the point where he was waived last season and is now a $6 million goalie in the AHL with two more years left on his contract. The Devils could have gone with a forward here as well but landing a 6'2" 185 lb. defenseman who plays the position deftly and is an excellent skater as well as one who can move the puck out of his zone and also quarterback the powerplay, seems like a good move for a team that has quantity over quality in blueline depth. New Jersey has a strong group of young forwards beginning to make their mark already and some good defenseman but Sanderson would immediately be placed near the top of their prospect pool. Devils director of amateur scouting Paul Castron was hired by New Jersey in July, 2015 after spending 16 years in the Columbus Blue Jackets scouting department. Defenseman Zach Werenski was mocked anywhere from seventh to 12th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft and the Jackets plucked him with the eighth-overall pick ahead of some pretty good forward prospects. That worked out pretty well for Columbus.
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