Tuesday evening will see the first round of the long-awaited 2020 NHL Entry Draft, held virtually at 6:00 PM central time. A number of interesting storylines will then follow, including the potential drafting of Winnipeg product Seth Jarvis (projected first round selection), as well as current Brandon Wheat Kings Braden Schneider and Ridly Greig (also projected first round selections).
How the Jets look to use their four selections will also be a hot topic. The concept of a ‘virtual draft’ will also be a foreign experience for most involved, so the overall happening may be quite an adventure for some. Of course, with each and every running of the NHL draft comes trades between participating teams, so the unknown as to the number of pick and player swaps following a pandemic-shortened season could see a record number of deals on the draft floor.
With a heavy need for a second-line centre and a top-pair defenceman, Winnipeg is expected to be on the lookout for available talent to potentially fill those voids. However, picking at the 10 spot does not leave GM Kevin Cheveldayoff with much for NHL-ready talent. Potential targets for Winnipeg at selection No. 10 include:
Forward, Alexander Holtz – Holtz is the best pure goal-scorer in the draft. He has an absolute laser of a shot, and is an extreme scoring threat from almost any angle or position in the offensive zone. His shot absolutely flies off his stick, whether it be a big-wrister or a one-timer. Holtz isn’t one-dimensional either. Perhaps you’d like him to drive play a little more effectively, but he is super smart with the puck and can make great passes in the offensive zone, especially with his ability to pass his shot. The Swede has spectacular hands, both off the rush and in tight around the net. Holtz is not a tremendous skater, but he is very powerful, is able to throw hits, and win battles with his strength.
Forward, Anton Lundell – Lundell is a mature two-way centre who excels at pretty much everything. His production this season in Liiga was better than draft year production of Kotkaniemi, Puljujarvi, Rantanen, and was just off the rate of Laine in his draft year. This alone proves that he has a strong offensive element to his game. He isn’t a terrific skater, but he has slick hands, and patience with the puck on his stick. He loves to power down the ice and cut hard with the puck, cycles the puck well, and can find open areas to unleash his quick shot. Lundell also excels defensively. He kills penalties, and creates turnovers all over the ice that turn into scoring chances in the other direction. The Finn is just a very smart player who does so many little things to help his team win games.
Forward, Seth Jarvis – After tearing up the WHL, Jarvis really put himself into top-ten range, and for good reason. He is undersized, but does everything you want. Jarvis is a speedy skater who gets away from checks using his elusivity and puck-handling. He knows how to score goals, whether it’s getting shots off quickly from the slot, or from battling in front of the net. He has tremendous patience and vision with the puck. He shows the ability to wait for lanes to open up, and make some sweet plays. Even when he’s not scoring, the Winterhawk battles for pucks, hunts on the forecheck, and is a menace to play against. He shows a willingness to throw his body around despite his size. There are some flaws in his defensive game, but the effort level is there. Jarvis is an energy player with a ton of skill who knows how to score goals.
Defenceman, Jamie Drysdale – Drysdale has the makings of a potential No. 1 defenseman at the NHL level. As a rare underaged defenseman for Team Canada at the World Juniors, Drysdale worked himself into a significant role by the end of the tournament. The Erie Otter is such an incredibly smooth skater coming out of his zone and going into neutral ice. He’s a transition machine who is super elusive under pressure, as well as calm, yet confident when he has the puck. Drysdale is great at finding lead passes, but is also good at making the simple passes. Drysdale has things to work on physically and defensively, but he has the smarts and the foundation of skills that ensure it won’t hold him back from being a star at all.
Defenceman, Jake Sanderson – Sanderson rocketed up rankings this season, and for good reason. He was the ace defenseman for ‘The Program’ this season, playing huge minutes in all situations. It is incredibly rare to see a big defenseman like Sanderson skate so well, and make such an impact in transition thanks to his mobility. Everything he does, including his passing, is smooth and crisp. It is even more rare for a mobile defenseman like Sanderson to play so well defensively. He has all the tools you want in a defender. He’s got a long reach to break-up plays and always has a tight gap to neutralize attacks. The American is physically dominant, not just making the odd highlight-reel hit, but always using his big frame to his advantage, winning battles, and knocking opposition off the puck. Sanderson’s one question-mark is his offensive upside. He’s got a good wrist-shot, but his vision and creativity in the offensive zone can be average at times. He will likely never be a power-play quarter-back. Watching Sanderson can sometimes be frustrating. You see the raw tools, but often come away underwhelmed with his overall impact in games. As the league transitions to smaller defenseman with great side-to-side mobility, Sanderson will rely on his straight-line skating and defensive play. If he continues to grow, becoming a Ryan McDonagh-type defenseman is not out of the question.
Defenceman, Emil Andrae – Despite being so short, Andrae is a very sound defensive player. He’s willing to throw his body around, and be aggressive with both his gaps and his stick to break up plays off the rush, and in his own zone. Offensively, he makes great passes, has terrific hands on the line, and is very good at getting shots through with his wrister. He’s very willing to attack the middle of the ice, and is able to spin off pressure with great effectiveness. His speed is not elite, but his elusiveness is. His creativity and smarts with the puck will make him a top-four defenseman at the NHL level.
Goaltender, Yaroslav Askarov – Askarov is widely expressed as “The best goaltending prospect since Carey Price”. Askarov is incredibly impressive. He’s dominated many international events over the years, but has also struggled in others. When he struggles, he tends to look small in the net and lets shots past his glove hand. When he’s on, Askarov is a mechanically sound goaltender with elite athleticism and an ability to make giant desperation saves. There is a good chance Askarov turns into a starting goaltender, even an elite one. The problem is that goaltending has become such a volatile position, not only in prospect development, but also in year-to-year results. Is a risk this big worth a top-15 pick?