2020 NHL Mock Draft picks 8-10
(This is the final in a three-part series mocking the first 10 picks in the 2020 NHL Draft.)
The mock so far:
1. NY Rangers, LW Alexis Lafreniere
2. LA Kings, C Quinton Byfield
3 Ottawa Senators, C Tim Stuetzle
4. Detroit Red Wings, C Marco Rossi
5. Ottawa, D Jamie Drysdale
6. Anaheim Ducks, LW Lucas Raymond
7. NJ Devils, D Jake Sanderson
Simply put the Buffalo Sabres will land an excellent prospect at No. 8 in the 2020 NHL Draft, it's just a matter of which one. With this mock being laid out as above, three more skaters and a blue chip goalie prospect are in the mix for picks 8-10 here and all are all generally thought of as comprising the rest of a third tier of draft prospects. Go to any mock draft and after the top-three go off the board, there's a plethora of combinations that will give the Sabres an opportunity to land an impact player from a list that include goalie Iaroslav Askarov.
With plenty of options at No. 8 for Buffalo, including the possibility of trading down if they are so inclined and if there's a partner that wants to move up at an appropriate price, the Sabres select:
8. Buffalo Sabres--RW, Alexander Holtz
Yes. I know Cole Perfetti is on the board (in this mock) and that he's a center, a position of need for Buffalo. And yes, I'm well aware that he has plenty of skill, however, a couple things jump out when deciding between Perfetti and Holtz for this writer. First off, Perfetti could end up on the wing in the NHL, which won't be a bad thing for him or his team as he can dish and and score and has the hockey sense to make it work at either position. The side of the ice he would more than likely play is left wing and if we look at the Sabres depth chart, their top two left wingers are Jeff Skinner, who is signed for another seven years and Victor Olofsson, who just made the NHL All-Rookie team and probably is a player the Sabres would like to keep around for a while. Holtz, on the other hand is a winger, plain and simple, and he plays the right side where the Sabres depth chart features Sam Reinhart and nothing definitive either directly behind him on the big club or in the pipeline. Holtz is also a sniper with 25-30 goal potential. In two years the Sabres could have Jack Eichel centering Olofsson and Reinhart on the top line while Dylan Cozens centers a multi-30 goal/one-time 40-goal scorer in Skinner on the left and Holtz on the right.
Secondly, Perfetti has wonderful hands and a high hockey IQ that allows him to see the play extremely well and his patience to let the play develop allows him to make great passes. Those are wonderful traits and the fact that he scored 37 goals in consecutive seasons means he's no slouch at putting the puck in the net either. But the latter does not seem to be his forte' and from what I've read and what highlights I've seen, he comes off as a smaller version of Reinhart (who coincidently scored 36 goals his draft year,) especially when you take into account his slightly above average skating. Having said that, it's the opinion here that the Sabres could use a bona fide sniper as opposed to another Reinhart-type.
With parity reigning supreme in the NHL and goaltenders being the great equalizer as they've always been, there's a premium on players who can beat a hot goalie and the more shooters you have, the better. In Buffalo, Eichel has such a great shot that he's one of the few players in the league who has a good chance of beating a goalie one-on-one with nothing but ice between the two. The consensus is that Holtz has the best shot in the draft and he can beat a goalie from anywhere on the ice. Is his shot as good as Eichel's? Probably not, but not that far off. The Sabres need players more players like that. Skinner has a nose for the soft spot and the ability to finish while Olofsson has a wicked shot and as he learns how to create more time and space for himself, he'll be able to add to his formidable production last season (20 goals in 54 games, albeit 11 coming on the powerplay.) Adding Holtz into the mix adds yet another player with wicked skills to beat a goalie with his shot.
Holtz plays in the top Swedish league and the size of the international rink gives him space to be able to unleash the fury in his blade. The NHL is different in that a smaller rink does not allow as much time and space as the SHL does, but Holtz has a quick release. It's nasty and is said to be largely undetectable. But does he have an NHL-worthy release? I posed that question to Kris Baker of Sabresprospects.com and he replied, "Hands-down, yes. Not sure there is anyone close to [that] in his draft class."
Holtz is also considered pretty close to NHL ready as he enters his second full season playing against men in the top Swedish league and by the time the NHL gets this season rolling (probably) in January, 2021, the 18 yr. old will have also played additional half-season against men. Come next season, dependent upon his development and the Sabres needs, he could come over and begin his North American pro career with the possibility of jumping into a top-nine spot in Buffalo.
So, yeah, I know that Perfetti has been mocked as high as No. 4 and if he drops to Buffalo at No. 8 picking him isn't a bad thing by any means. However, all things being equal, adding another sniper to the top-six with Eichel and Cozens dishing (or scoring) looks pretty good for the future both near-term and long.
9. Minnesota Wild--C, Cole Perfetti
This is a scenario that's good for the Wild as their prospect pipeline is devoid of serious talent down the middle. Yes, we know he could eventually show off his high-end skills and equally high hockey IQ from wing but this Minnesota team is aging fast, especially at forward and adding a young player with his skill-level is never a bad thing. He would be a part of a youth movement up front led by "elder statesmen" Kevin Fiala and Ryan Donato (both 24 yrs. old) along with 23 yr. old Joel Eriksson-Ek with Perfetti being placed atop a group of forward prospects featuring Kirill Kaprizov and Matthew Boldy, all of whom may be ready in 2021-22. Word has it that the Wild may end up taking highly touted goalie prospect Iaroslav Askarov here, and that's not a bad idea, but Minnesota really needs to continue to build up that pipeline of skaters and having a probable top-six center/forward fall to them at No. 9 is just too hard to pass up in a situation where draft prospect meets need.
10. Winnipeg Jets--C, Anton Lundell
Even if the Jets moved on from a winger like Patrick Laine, who has averaged 37 goals/82games (albeit declining the past two seasons,) they still have solid depth on the wing. And although they continue to lose defenders on the blueline, they seem to have a never-ending well of d-men to move right up into an NHL role with 21 yr. old Dylan Samberg already being penciled in as part of Winnipeg's d-corps this coming season. What they could really use is a center behind Mark Scheifele, who was a great pick by the Jets in 2011. Lundell is anything but flashy but the all situations, two-way center in the very least gets the job done, something the teenager has been doing very well the past two seasons while playing against men in Liiga, Finland's top hockey league. He also has a high compete-level and plays a very aware, positional game. At 6'1" 185 lbs. he's got a projectible NHL frame and because he's looked so solid in Finland, he's not very far from reaching the NHL.