26. Jacob Perreault – C 5’11 180 lbs
Perreault has dazzled in the OHL this season for the Sarnia Sting, after following up on a rather impressive rookie campaign. As a 16-year-old he put up 55 points (30 G and 25A) in 63 game, which is quite impressive considering he wasn’t getting top minute just yet. Immediately what stuck out the most about his game is his heavy and accurate wrist shot.
His shot has the ability to get off rather quickly with a quick and strong release, but, even if it doesn’t find twine, goaltenders have fits trying to control them because of the spin and power of his wrist shots. He’s a very underrated goal-scorer in this draft, having scored 30 goals last year and trending toward 45-50 goals this year (Perreault currently has 26 goals and 25 assists for 51 points in just 39 games). The high probability of rebounds, if Perreault is able to get his shot off at maximum velocity makes him especially dangerous on the power-play, especially in an umbrella formation.
So why does someone with such a potent shot find himself at 26? His skating is not optimal for a player of his style and impact, which leaves many questioning his potential at the NHL. I disagree with the harshness of those comments, as Perreault has good skating technique and his strides are long. Perhaps a few months in the gym over the next two years to work on his lower-body strength could go a long way in giving him a boost in speed explosivity.
If he is to play in the NHL, many see Perreault shifting to Right Wing down the line, to make better use of his shot and shield his minor skating deficiencies. However, don’t get it twisted, he has legit Top-6 potential, but has a very high floor as well, making him one of the safer picks at this point in the Draft.
Player Comparable: Jakob Silfverberg
27. Hendrix Lapierre – C 6′ 181 lbs
Hendrix Lapierre has the talent to be ranked 11th or 12th in anyone’s rankings. He has the vision and Hockey IQ to drive a line by himself, as he can attract double coverage towards him with his effective and mystifying stick-handling, before sending off a dish to a streaking forward for a zone exit or scoring chance.
In fact, Lapierre was one of my top-10 hopefuls at the start of the season, mainly because his offensive tools are quite impressive, as his vision is probably 3rd or 4th best in the entire draft. He is also a very good skater, capable of creating distance very quickly with a very strong first stride to explode from stationary to full speed within seconds.
He started out his 16-year old season with impressive numbers on a horrible Chicoutimi Saguenéens team during the 2018-2019 season. Even after missing almost 20 games due to injury (we’ll get to that in a bit), he finished second in scoring with 45 points (13 G and 32 A) in just 48 games.
After an early playoff exit, he took part in the Ivan Hlinka Gretzky tournament for Team Canada, where he blew the roof off the joint and looked like Canada’s best forward in every game. His 11 points (3 G and 8 A) had many placing him in their top-10 at the start of the season. His vision, when playing with actual elite talent, was on full display, as he was sending his wingers on breakaways and odd-man rushes almost seamlessly.
So then, if he’s so good offensively and quite responsible defensively, what’s the problem? Injuries, and big ones at that. He has been extremely injury prone since the start of his QMJHL career and has suffered some pretty serious concussions at a very young age. This could seriously hamper his draft stock and potential NHL career long-term. The talent is there, but when you’re 31 teams in the NHL, can you really afford to miss on a potential lemon? I fully expect a team with multiple first-round picks to throw the dice on him because, in my estimation, he is not a lemon, and he is certainly worth the risk, but the risk, unfortunately, is real.
Player Comparable: Patrice Bergeron
28. Lukas Reichel – LW 6′ 172 lbs
I’m going to be honest, I had not watched a full game of Reichel’s prior to the World Junior Championships, but, the moment I saw him line-up for Germany, I thought to myself: ”This guy has legit pro-potential written all over him”. He’s not overly flashy, nor is he going to dazzle you with crazy dekes, but he is an extremely efficient and intelligent forward capable of making high-skill plays due to his hockey IQ and great positioning.
One things that stands out to me about Lukas Reichel is how well he handles the puck with speed and how he’s able to separate himself from d-men with stick handling and speed. Have a look at this nasty goal.— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) December 11, 2019
Reichel is a 1st Rd prospect for the #2020NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/8DhE3jpZ57
His puck handling at top speed, as evidence above, is quite impressive. He is able to think and execute at top speed, a necessity in today’s NHL. His speed is also well above average and he has good size as well to play a strong and effective game along the boards.
Jumping into the DEL for Eisbaren Berlin this season, Reichel’s strong work ethic and underrated vision have been on full display. Against men, he’s been able to stand out in a very positive way, posting 17 points (8 G and 9 A) in 26 games. He can fit in whatever role you provide him, be it a checker, a complimentary player to an offensive powerhouse in Tim Stutzle for the World Junior Championships, or a defensive forward during tight games. In shot, Reichel can do it all, and quite effectively.
#DEL: LW Lukas Reichel (Ranked No. 84) with a perfect touch pass that provides former NHL'er James Sheppard with a yawning net in Eisbaren's 4-1 win over Ingolstadt on Friday. Reichel doesn't have Tim Stutzle's "wow" factor, but is a multi-tool winger and now has 4g & 5a in 13 gp pic.twitter.com/E2yDvs3hFZ— The Draft Analyst (@TheDraftAnalyst) October 26, 2019
HE looks like a very versatile winger that could play anywhere in a top-9 in an would help any contending team round out their line-up in his prime. What I like the most about Reichel is that all of his strengths are translatable to the pro game, making him a sure bet to play in the NHL at some point in the near future.
Player Comparable: Miles Wood
29. Jean-Luc Foudy – C 5’11 175 lbs
True to the Foudy name, Jean-Luc is an absolute puck hound and terror to play against. He is an all-around fantastic player that excels in a high-tempo, speed system. His wheels are quite impressive, as he can get up the ice very quickly with just a couple of strides, but what makes his skating so striking is how easy it looks for him. He can separate himself from coverage with ease in the OHL, cutting into the centre of the offensive zone to make a nifty pass or take a nice wrist shot.
Foudy is primarily a play-maker, as he possesses top-end speed and very underrated vision. He is able to execute plays in his mind, at top-speed, making him a very difficult player to read defensively. His 41 assists as a 16-year-old (to go along with 8 goals) in 63 games quite evidently display his prowess at creating plays over scoring goals.
As seen in the video above, Foudy doesn’t necessarily have the bets stick-handling or the strongest centre of gravity, but his speed and effort get him opportunities for scoring chances, and some of those chances will start going in for him as he continues to work on his shot.
So far this season, Foudy has been impressive as a two-way C, playing in all situations and helping to drive the offense with 13 goals and 22 assists for a total of 35 points in 39 games. He isn’t lighting up the score sheet like most predicted, but this has a lot to do with his perfection of his two-way game. Foudy will influence the game with his hard work and his great intelligence, with or without the puck, and is trending towards being a solid top-9 C with legitimate top-6 upside.
Player Comparable: Anthony Cirelli
30. Shakir Mukhamadullin – LD 6’2 170 lbs
This hard hitting defenseman isn’t going to be on everyone’s Top-31, but I think he could be on everyone’s list by season’s end. Just watching his game during the World Jr. A Challenge this year was eye-opening for me, as this was the coming out party for Alexander Romanov (another highly touted defensive prospect) as well.
Mukhamadullin has a huge frame, very long reach and very good skating for his size. At the very worst, he can be an elite shut-down defenseman due primarily to the easy in which he skates in every direction, as well as his long reach, which he consistently uses to break up rushes and pressure opposing forwards ( as seen in the sequence below).
Here’s an assist by Shakir Mukhamadullin (#2020NHLDraft) but what I like about the video is the defensive play at the beginning.— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) October 1, 2019
Mukhamadullin steps up at mid ice and knocks the puck free from the attackers stick, all while staying in front of the attacking players. #MHL pic.twitter.com/FVH1zQyvjx
The young Russian defenseman has some offensive skill to his game, as he quickly graduated from the Russian junior league (the MHL) after registering 7 points (1G 6A) in just 8 games. He has spent most of the season playing regular minutes in the KHL this season for Salavat Yulaev Ufa, where he has been limited to just 1 assist in 19 games.
The fact that he just turned 18 and was playing in the KHL as a defenseman is impressive in itself, as the KHL is generally much harsher to young players than in the NHL (especially those with an apparent NHL future).
Although his strength is his physical play and his defense, ‘Mukha’ does have very underrated offensive tools, as he can patrol a blue line with authority and unleash a very strong, albeit erratic, slap shot from the point. He has very good vision as well, capable of sending very crisp and accurate passes up or across the ice and he isn’t shy to take a hit in order to make a play. He has good speed for his size, but not top-end speed like other defensemen in this draft. He might fall into the 2nd round , due to the lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and KHL, but he is a 1st round talent in my mind.
Player Comparable:Nikita Zadorov
31. John-Jason Peterka – LW/RW 5’11 192 lbs
The last of the German trio to get selected in the first round, Peterka’s game is all about speed and skill. the winger, who currently suits up for EHC Munchen of the DEL, uses his great speed to jump into the play and attack the opposition along the boards before cutting through the middle or feeding the pass back to a streaking defenseman/winger.
A lot of Peterka’s game is centered around high-tempo hockey, where he uses his ever-moving feet and solid puck-handling to create zone entries with ease, especially on the rush. His elusiveness, even at the pro-level in Germany, causes many defensemen to over commit in defending him, thus opening up passing lanes for him to take advantage of. He is also very aware positionally, often drifting into exactly the right place to unleash his powerful wrist shot( as seen below)
Peterka has seen a very notable improvement in his play, jumping from the Czech U-19 league, to the DEL and hasn’t looked out of place at all. In 27 games this year, he has put up 5 goals and 4 assists in 27 games. Although he may not be at the level of Reichel or Stutzle offensively, he’s the one that I feel has improved the most in such a short time, and that might intrigue many scouts, especially late in the 1st round.
Although he does have some rather spectacular tools, some question his Hockey IQ and hockey sense, as he seems to be an excellent complimentary player in the making, but not exactly a line driver himself. This is a fair assessment, as Peterka is one of those guys that will help in creating space for other players, as he did for Tim Stutzle at the World Junior Championship.
The #2020NHLDraft prospect who has come out of relative anonymity to consistently wow me and climb up my rankings early in the year: German forward John-Jason Peterka. Went straight from Red Bull Academy to pro hockey in the DEL and he has 3G (all nice) through 6GP, led by this: pic.twitter.com/lttOZD69sY— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) October 1, 2019
Peterka looks destined for middle-six duty in the NHL, an excellent third-line winger, with a very real shot at being a strong 2nd-line duty should he develop his offensive game a little more. I strongly believe his combination of speed, shot and stick-handling will vault him into many people’s 1st round rankings by season’s end.