6. Anaheim Ducks: LW/RW – Lucas Raymond
Lucas Raymond fits exactly in the wheelhouse of what the Anaheim Ducks are looking to create with their rebuild. After having selected the electric Trevor Zegras last year, Anaheim gets Raymond, whom many believe is the best pure winger in this draft, after Lafrenière. There’s a lot to like in Raymond’s game. He has the speed, the hands, the vision and the shot to be absolutely deadly at the next level. He’s a player I’ve had on my radar since 2017, and he has never disappointed in my viewings of him. He’s a clutch player that can battle through adversity and make a difference at any point due primarily to his exceptional skating.
Unfortunately, Raymond has fallen on many people’s list because he was used very little when he did suit up for the SHL’s Frolunda. Similarly to Alex Holtz, it is difficult for 17-year olds to secure top playing minutes in the SHL, and they are often shuttling between the main club and their junior affiliates (SuperElit). The back and forth never really allowed Raymond to get a foothold on the season and had many scouts questioning whether or not he had taken a step back.
Thankfully those questions were answered at the World Juniors, as Raymond look very comfortable and was very noticeable due to his speed, vision and explosiveness. He is a winger that can light up a game, especially on the powerplay. His vision, his shot and his speed make him a prototypical top-6 forward in today’s NHL with serious first-line potential.
Being a smaller player, Raymond is able to create space for himself, a necessity at the next level, due to his blazing speed and his underrated vision. He keeps defenders on their heels, as he is very slippery to escape a check and set-up a teammate, especially when he is double-covered in tighter games. Having such a pure talent in Anaheim’s prospect pool would go a long way in ensuring their long-term success.
7. New Jersey Devils: RD – Jamie Drysdale
Jamie Drysdale has the mobility, the Hockey IQ and the vision to be a top-pair defenseman in the NHL, should he reach his full potential. Drysdale is at his most dangerous in transition, as he is able to carry the puck up the ice seamlessly, due to his great first steps. He not only creates the defensive zone exit, but usually will carry the puck himself through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. This skill is similar to those of other blooming defensemen like Cale Makar or Quinn Hughes or Miro Heiskanen.
Jamie Drysdale walks right in, doesn't even take his shoes off.pic.twitter.com/z6OMCojBoA— #WorldJuniors (@HC_WJC) January 4, 2020
Drysdale’s offense is not as flashy as the aforementioned defensemen, but he will put up points in the NHL because of his many offensive tools. First and foremost, Drysdale’s vision and Hockey IQ are off the charts. He can draw up a play in his mind extremely quickly and execute it just as fast, with cross-ice passes straight on the tape, or even quick flip of the puck to a streaking teammate, after he’s attracted 2-3 defending players towards him. He patrols a blue line like no other player in this draft, and could realistically play in any situation once he’s reached the NHL.
Having secured the centre line with Hughes and Hischier for years to come, the right side of their defense seems like the most logical pick for the Devils at this spot, given their issues with transition. Drysdale is easily the best D-man on transition and could form one of the most dangerous pairings in the league with Ty Smith moving forward.
8. Buffalo Sabres: LW/RW – Alexander Holtz
Alex Holtz has, in my opinion, the strongest pure wrist shot in this draft. The Buffalo Sabres lack secondary scoring and are in dire need of another top-end winger to complete a top-6 that has taken 6 years (and counting) to build. Alexander Holtz brings his A game practically every time he’s on the ice. That it be for 3-5 minutes a game for the SHL’s Djurgårdens, or for 20 minutes a game when he suits up for Team Sweden during international tournaments. Holtz has two major things going for him, he has great hockey IQ, which allows him to read plays extremely well and find open spaces for him to attack and unleash his cannon of a shot. That it be his slap shot, wrist shot, one-timer, it really doesn’t matter. Holtz will find a way to burn you.
Holtz thrives on the power play, mainly due to his shot. However, what I have also noticed is that, although Holtz is a trigger-man, the extra coverage he receives has forced him to also develop the playmaking side of his game, and this is really where Holtz separates himself from other goal-scorers in this draft. He can be extremely hard to track, and his offensive tools make him a threat at all times, which would be a perfect complement for Jack Eichel down the road, who plays a similar high-tempo style of game.
I have no doubt he will become a can’t-miss, top-6 forward in the NHL moving forward, as he continues to use his precise and powerful wrist shot to mystify opposing goalies. I had difficulty putting him above guys like Rossi or Raymond, but ultimately, his upward trend in progression, coupled by Buffalo’s greatest organizational need, leads me to believe this would be the ideal pick at 8th overall.
9. Minnesota Wild: C/LW – Marco Rossi
Marco Rossi is one of the most unique prospects in this draft, because, save for his height, he is the total package on the ice. This young man can burn you offensively and defensively and was the most dominant player in the OHL this season (including Perfetti and Byfield). However, it is worth noting that the 5’9 Austrian is one of the oldest players in the draft (almost 11 months older than Quinton Byfield) and his offensive performances, according to some, need to be taken with a grain of salt. This is a fair point, however Marco Rossi led all Canadian Major Junior in scoring (all three leagues combined) with 39 goals and 81 assists for 120 points in just 56 games. Even if you were to compare him to players drafted in 2018 or 2019, Marco Rossi was a superior player in almost all facets except goal-scoring.
Another point of contention with Rossi is that he played for the best team in major junior, the Ottawa 67s. This is indeed true, but the 67s have been a powerhouse for two years now in large part because Marco Rossi has been their roster. Even as a 17-year old, Rossi was the driving force in Ottawa’s push for the OHL championship, and the only player that could effectively shut down Rossi last year was the eventual MVP, Nick Suzuki, who was 2 years older. This year, Rossi exploded right out of the gate and took the league over with his great speed, his elite vision and his exceptional hockey IQ. If there is one player that I believe can shock the entire hockey world and jump into the top-5 of this draft, it is Marco Rossi.
Although Rossi is listed at 5’9, he plays like he’s 6’2. The young man is strong on his skates, protects the puck exceptionally well and is able to create offense with very little effort. I believe he will ultimately fall due to other team’s needs and their fear of drafting another small player. Minnesota, who passed on Cole Caufield last year to select Matt Boldy, will likely go for the most talented player available at this point in the draft due to having the big bodies in place to properly insulate a player like Rossi.
10. Winnipeg Jets: C – Anton Lundell
Anton Lundell landing on Winnipeg’s lap is a testament to the quality of this draft, as he is a legit top-10 talent, but is the one with the most question marks as it pertains to sustained offense at the next level. Personally, I do not buy those concerns and think that Lundell has much he has left to show scouts. Fortunately for the young man, the pandemic has allowed him another 2 months (with the Finnish Liiga starting up again in mid-August) to show his growth as a player over the summer. This isn’t to say that Lundell isn’t a brilliant playmaker, he’s one of the best in the draft, but being one of the older players selected so far, it debatable whether or not that will be as effective at the NHL level.
Man, for a player with no offensive upside, Anton Lundell sure looks good AS A TEENAGER PLAYING IN THE LIIGA pic.twitter.com/komPcgEgd1— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) May 27, 2020
He has very good hands, almost underrated I would say, in tight and could be a very good option for any team below the circle on the PP. He plays a strong overall game and controls the puck like almost no other in this class. Truly a unique prospect in his own right, he is quickly proving his doubters wrong by displaying elite-level skill, while playing against men in what many consider to be a defense-first league.
Tell me again how Anton Lundell lacks offensive upside pic.twitter.com/5eohQteUrN— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) August 21, 2020
In a normal situation, Lundell could have likely challenged for a top-9 C role with the Jets as early as the 2020-2021 training camp, but with Covid-19 things may get more complicating. Liiga and other European leagues simply canceled their 2020 playoffs and are starting their pre-season as we speak, meaning players drafted in October could chose to stay in Europe for the full season, especially if they’re wearing a letter for their team like Lundell. In Anton’s case, he might have to go until the end of the 2020-2021 season or the start of the 2021-2022 training camp to come over. Either way, Anton Lundell would be an ideal #2 behind Mark Scheifele for years to come, and that’s the true value of this pick.