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NHL Nick's Net

Secondary scoring catapults Bruins to, 5-1, victory in Detroit

The Boston Bruins scored five unanswered goals after giving up the game’s first goal to beat the Detroit Red Wings, 5-1, at Little Caesars Arena on Sunday.

Usual suspects, Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy, each had a goal, while Erik Haula, Trent Frederic and Tomáš Nosek chipped in tallies of their own– ending scoring droughts of varying lengths.

Jeremy Swayman (8-5-2, 2.20 goals-against average, .920 save percentage in 15 games played) made 23 saves on 24 shots against en route to the win for Boston.

Detroit netminder, Alex Nedeljkovic (9-8-3, 2.89 goals-against average, .913 save percentage in 22 games played), stopped 32 out of 37 shots faced in the loss.

The B’s improved to 16-10-2 (34 points) on the season and jumped ahead of the Red Wings for 4th place in the Atlantic Division standings.

For the second time this season, Boston is in a playoff position– holding onto the second wild card in the Eastern Conference as of this writing.

Detroit, meanwhile, fell to 15-15-3 (33 points) and dropped to 5th place in the Atlantic as a result.

Boston is 2-1-0 against the Red Wings this season with one final matchup remaining in their regular season series scheduled for April 5th in Detroit.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Karson Kuhlman (COVID protocol) and Curtis Lazar (undisclosed) on Sunday, while head coach Bruce Cassidy made one change to his lineup as a result.

Oskar Steen went in place of Lazar on the fourth line, having been recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) to the taxi squad after Saturday afternoon’s, 4-3, overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres and subsequently recalled from the taxi squad on Sunday prior to the warmup in Detroit.

Cassidy made no other changes to his lineup with Swayman getting the start over Linus Ullmark after Ullmark got the win in Saturday’s matinée.

John Moore (taxi squad) and Anton Blidh were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Sunday.

Robby Fabbri interfered with Brandon Carlo away from the puck and presented the Bruins with the afternoon’s first power play at 1:13 of the first period but the B’s couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing skater advantage.

A few minutes after Fabbri cut a rut to the box, Nosek skated off to the visiting penalty box for catching Tyler Bertuzzi with a high stick at 4:20 (whether Nosek actually made contact with his face or not– Bertuzzi might have clipped himself, though Nosek may have initiated it with a stick lift).

The Red Wings didn’t score on their first power play of the afternoon, regardless.

Midway through the opening frame, Danny DeKeyser sent a shot on goal that rebounded off of Swayman towards the sideboards before Bertuzzi (13) intercepted the loose puck and buried it in the twine to give Detroit a, 1-0, lead.

DeKeyser (3) and Dylan Larkin (15) tallied the assists on Bertuzzi’s goal– his fourth in four games– at 11:28 of the first period.

A few minutes after Bertuzzi scored, Boston answered.

Brad Marchand battled along the boards as Craig Smith came away with the puck before setting up Bergeron (11) for the one-timer goal while crashing the slot.

Smith (6) and Marchand (19) had the assists as the Bruins tied the game, 1-1, at 14:47 of the first period.

Late in the period, Nick Foligno shoved Filip Hronek in front of the net and delivered a swift cross check as the two escalated their battle.

Foligno, as a result, received a minor infraction for cross checking at 19:32 and the ensuing power play spilled over into the middle frame.

Detroit, however, didn’t capitalize on the skater advantage that was stretched over two periods with the first intermission in-between.

After 20 minutes, the game was tied, 1-1, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 15-6.

The Bruins also led in blocked shots (6-4) and giveaways (2-1), while the Red Wings led in hits (9-6) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Both teams had one takeaway each and were powerless on their respective power plays as Detroit was 0/2 and Boston was 0/1.

Marchand got tangled up with Vladislav Namestnikov early in the middle frame as the two exchanged blows, slashes and ultimately fists, yielding majors for fighting and minors for slashing at 2:59 of the second period.

It was the sixth fighting major of the season for Boston and first since Foligno fought New York Islanders forward, Matt Martin, on Dec. 16th at UBS Arena.

A few minutes later, pleasantries continued to be trending in the action as Swayman delivered a quick blow to Sam Gagner, resulting in a little retaliatory effort on Gagner’s behalf, as well as 4-on-4 action for two minutes as each player received unsportsmanlike conduct minors.

Haula served Swayman’s penalty, while Gagner served his own at 5:24 of the second period.

Shortly after both teams got their skater back from the sin bin, the Red Wings wired a shot wide of the net and around the glass where Haula was waiting by the blue line to break through the neutral zone.

Haula (2) sped down the ice and free from any defender before crossing into the attacking zone and zipping a wrist shot over Nedeljkovic’s high glove side to put the Bruins ahead, 2-1, at 7:37 on an unassisted effort.

It was also his first goal in 15 games.

About a minute later, Frederic cross checked Moritz Seider and took his trip to the penalty box at 8:47, but the Red Wings went scoreless on the resulting power play yet again.

Late in the second period, Jake DeBrusk caught Joe Veleno with a hook and brought the Detroit forward down before being sent to the box at 15:50.

Once more, the Red Wings went powerless on the power play, however.

The B’s carried a, 2-1, lead on the scoreboard through two periods and led in shots on goal, 23-16, despite being outshot by Detroit, 10-8, in the middle frame alone.

Boston also maintained control of blocked shots (11-5), while the Red Wings led in takeaways (2-1), giveaways (3-2), hits (16-9) and faceoff win% (54-46).

Neither team could buy a power play goal heading into the second intermission as Detroit was 0/4 and the Bruins went 0/1 on the skater advantage.

Boston got out of the gate on all cylinders to start the final frame.

Taylor Hall sent a pass to McAvoy (5) as the Bruins defender pinched in from the point on the right side for a catch and release goal over the glove from close range to extend the Bruins’ lead to two-goals at 5:59 of the third period.

Hall (10) and Charlie Coyle (8) notched the assists on McAvoy’s goal as Boston took a, 3-1, lead.

Almost two minutes later, Frederic (1) buried a rebound off of a shot by Mike Reilly from the point while Nedeljkovic was left playing catch up and extended the B’s lead to three goals at 7:55 of the third period.

Reilly (3) and Nosek (3) were credited with the assists on Frederic’s first goal of the season as the Bruins pulled ahead, 4-1, with a pair of goals in a span of 1:56.

Minutes later, Boston ended up scoring three goals in less than five minutes (4:41, to be exact) as Steen sent Nosek (3) into the attacking zone for a shot that slipped through Nedeljkovic’s five-hole at 10:39.

Steen (3) and McAvoy (15) had the assists on Nosek’s first goal since Nov. 20th in Philadelphia and the B’s led, 5-1.

About half a minute later, DeKeyser was sent to the box for holding, but the Bruins couldn’t capitalize on the resulting power play at 11:01.

Detroit resumed full strength then quickly went back on the penalty kill due to a minor infraction when Namestnikov tripped up DeBrusk at 13:15.

Once more, however, Boston didn’t score on the ensuing skater advantage.

At the final horn, the Bruins had sealed the deal on back-to-back wins on back-to-back days with a, 5-1, victory on the road in Detroit.

The B’s left Little Caesars Arena with the lead in shots on goal, 37-24– including a, 14-8, advantage in the third period alone– as well as the lead in blocked shots (14-10).

The Red Wings, meanwhile, exited their own building leading in giveaways (4-2), hits (26-15) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Neither team scored a power play goal on Sunday afternoon as Detroit went 0/4 and Boston went 0/3 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins improved to 6-6-2 (2-3-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-5-1 (1-2-1 on the road) when tied after the first period and 11-1-0 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The Red Wings fell to 9-4-2 (6-2-1 at home) when scoring first, 8-3-0 (6-2-0 at home) when tied after one and 2-12-1 (0-4-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins return home to host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday and Minnesota Wild on Thursday before hitting the road for a pair of games next Saturday (Jan. 8th) in Tampa against the Lightning and next Monday (Jan. 10th) in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals.

Boston is then currently scheduled to begin a seven-game homestand starting on Jan. 12th in a game that was originally scheduled to be played in Montréal against the Canadiens before the rise of the Omicron variant restricted indoor venue attendance across Canada.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bergeron scores four in, 5-1, win against Red Wings

Patrice Bergeron recorded his first career natural hat trick and second career four-goal game in Thursday night’s, 5-1, victory for the Boston Bruins over the Detroit Red Wings.

Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (2-2-0, 2.28 goals-against average, .900 save percentage in four games played) made 14 saves on 15 shots against in the win and improved to 6-0-0 on home ice at TD Garden.

Meanwhile, Red Wings netminder, Thomas Greiss (3-3-0, 3.45 goals-against average, .897 save percentage in six games played) stopped 32 out of 37 shots faced in the loss.

Boston improved to 5-3-0 (10 points) on the season and moved ahead of Detroit for 5th place in the Atlantic Division standings.

Though the Red Wings are 4-5-2 (10 points) overall, the Bruins lead in their tiebreaker for 5th by virtue of having amassed more points in fewer games played (the B’s have 10 points through eight games, while Detroit has 10 points in 11 games thus far).

Boston is now 1-0-0 against Detroit this season, having most recently gone 1-2-0 in their season series in 2019-20 (the two teams did not play each other last season due to the temporarily realigned divisions in light of the ongoing pandemic).

The Bruins were once again without Nick Foligno (upper body) and Anton Blidh (upper body) on Thursday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup– rendering Jack Studnicka and Jakub Zboril as healthy scratches as Oskar Steen was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Oct. 30th.

Thursday night’s win also marked the 199th career victory behind the bench as Boston’s head coach for Cassidy.

Prior to puck drop, the Bruins held a moment of silence for former Boston Red Sox All Star second baseman and NESN color commentator for 33 years, Jerry Remy, 68, who died on Oct. 30th after a long, courageous, battle with cancer.

Erik Haula tripped up Joe Veleno and yielded the night’s first power play to Detroit at 2:55 of the first period, but the Red Wings couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing skater advantage.

Midway through the opening frame, Vladislav Namestnikov tried to check someone near the benches while making his way back to Detroit’s bench without a helmet, resulting in a minor penalty for playing without a helmet at 10:58.

It didn’t take Boston long to capitalize on their first power play of the night as Charlie McAvoy worked the puck to Brad Marchand before Marchand setup Bergeron (1) for the power-play goal from his usual spot in the bumper on the skater advantage at 11:03.

Marchand (5) and McAvoy (3) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s first goal of the season and the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead.

Late in the period, Nick Leddy tripped McAvoy and was assessed a minor infraction at 16:14, but the Red Wings penalty kill managed to go unscathed as Leddy returned from the box without issue.

Heading into the first intermission, the B’s led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, and, 11-3, in shots on goal.

Detroit held the advantage in blocked shots (4-1), takeaways (6-2) and giveaways (6-2), while Boston dominated in hits (14-8) and faceoff win percentage (71-29) after 20 minutes of action.

The Red Wings were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/2 heading into the middle frame.

Tyler Bertuzzi took down McAvoy without the puck and was assessed an interference minor at 9:39 of the second period.

Once more, the Bruins would score on the ensuing advantage as Marchand teed up Bergeron (2) from the trapezoid to the slot for a catch and release goal to put Boston ahead, 2-0.

Marchand (6) had the only assist– tying Terry O’Reilly for the ninth-most assists in a Bruins uniform in franchise history (402) in the process– on Bergeron’s second power-play goal of the night at 10:52 of the second period.

Several minutes later, Moritz Seider was sent to the box for holding and presented Boston with another power play at 17:48.

Once again, Bergeron (3) scored a power-play goal– his third of the night, capping off a natural hat trick in the process– to give the Bruins a, 3-0, lead at 18:45.

Marchand (7) and McAvoy (4) tabbed the assists on Bergeron’s hat trick goal– marking the Bruins captain’s first hat trick since April 6, 2021 (4-2 win at Philadelphia) and giving Marchand his third assist of the night in the process, surpassing O’Reilly for sole possession of the ninth-most assists in a Bruins uniform with 403 assists in his career to O’Reilly’s 402.

Through 40 minutes of play, the B’s led, 3-0, on the scoreboard as well as, 26-9, in shots on goal– including a, 15-6, advantage in the second period alone.

Detroit maintained the advantage in blocked shots (8-5), takeaways (10-4) and giveaways (7-4), while Boston led in hits (19-18) and faceoff win% (52-48).

The Red Wings were 0/1 and the Bruins were 3/4 on the power play heading into the final frame.

In his 100th career NHL game, Connor Clifton had a plus-1 rating, one shot on goal, two hits and two penalty minutes as a result of his tripping minor 24 seconds into the third period on Thursday.

The Bruins managed to kill off Clifton’s infraction, however.

Later on in the third, David Pastrnak caught Robby Fabbri with a high stick and was assessed a minor penalty as a result at 6:08 of the third period, presenting the Red Wings with their second power play of the evening.

Detroit earned a 5-on-3 advantage shortly thereafter when Bergeron tripped Filip Hronek at 6:59.

As a result of the resulting two-skater advantage, Red Wings head coach, Jeff Blashill, used his timeout to draw up a plan to get his team back in the game.

Boston’s penalty killing unit was severely hampered by the fact that Bergeron was in the box– limiting their strength at winning the ensuing defensive zone faceoff on the penalty kill.

Detroit played around with the puck in the attacking zone for less than a minute before whipping the rubber biscuit along the blue line from Seider to Hronek before setting up Lucas Raymond (5) for a one-timer goal from the faceoff dot unopposed.

Hronek (3) and Seider (9) notched the assists on Raymond’s power-play goal as the Red Wings trailed, 3-1, at 7:46 of the third period.

It didn’t take long for Boston to respond, however.

24 seconds after giving up a power-play goal against, the Bruins scored a shorthanded goal when Curtis Lazar streaked from one end to the attacking zone on a breakaway before Mike Reilly (1) pounced on the rebound for his first goal as a Bruin– as well as his first goal since Jan. 28, 2020, when he helped contribute to a, 5-2, victory for the Ottawa Senators in Buffalo.

Lazar (2) and Tomáš Nosek (2) had the assists on Reilly’s goal as the Bruins regained a three-goal lead, 4-1, at 8:10 of the third period.

It was also Boston’s first shorthanded goal this season.

Midway through the final frame, Veleno cleared the puck over the glass and received an automatic delay of game penalty at 10:34, but the Bruins weren’t able to capitalize on the ensuing advantage.

In fact, less than a couple minutes later, Hronek and Matt Grzelcyk entered the box together for their respective teams after a scrum ensued after Swayman froze the puck, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct minor for Hronek and a roughing penalty for Grzelcyk at 12:14 of the third period.

Boston’s skater advantage was unchanged as a result and the Red Wings managed to kill off the remainder of Veleno’s infraction.

Finally, in the dying minutes of the third period, Reilly entered the attacking zone on a rush and dropped a quick pass back to Marchand before Marchand wired a pass across the ice to Bergeron (4) for a shot that squibbed through Greiss to make it, 5-1, Boston at 15:52.

Bergeron, in the process, scored his fourth goal of the night, while Marchand (8) and Reilly (2) were credited with the assists.

It was the 26th time in franchise history that a player scored four goals in a game, as well as the first time since Pastrnak notched four against the Anaheim Ducks in a, 4-2, victory on Oct. 14, 2019.

It was also Bergeron’s first four-goal game (the second of his career) since he scored four goals in a, 7-1, win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 6, 2018.

Marchand, meanwhile, finished the night with four assists (all primary assists) on Bergeron’s goals– trailing Rick Middleton (496) by 92 assists for the eighth-most assists in Bruins franchise history.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 5-1, and wrapped things up leading in shots on goal, 37-15, including an, 11-6, advantage in the third period alone.

The Bruins exited their own arena leading in blocked shots (11-10), as well as faceoff win% (59-41), while the Red Wings finished Thursday night’s action leading in giveaways (7-5) and hits (25-24).

Detroit went 1/4 on the power play, while Boston went 3/5 on the skater advantage en route to the victory.

The B’s improved to 5-1-0 (4-0-0 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 5-0-0 (4-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 3-0-0 (2-0-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, the Red Wings fell to 1-4-1 (1-3-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-5-1 (1-4-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 1-5-1 (1-4-0 on the road) when trailing after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins venture up to Canada for the first time since the 2019-20 season due to the ongoing global pandemic and take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday before returning home for a quick, two-game, homestand next week against the Ottawa Senators next Tuesday and Edmonton Oilers next Thursday.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Detroit Red Wings 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 19-27-10, 48 points

7th in the Discover NHL Central Division

Missed the postseason for the fifth-straight year

Additions: F Mitchell Stephens (acquired from TBL), F Pius Suter, D Nick Leddy (acquired from NYI), G Alex Nedeljkovic (acquired from CAR)

Subtractions: F Mathias Bromé (NL), F Turner Elson (signed with Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL), F Valtteri Filppula (NL), F Luke Glendening (signed with DAL), F Darren Helm (signed with COL), F Frans Nielsen (buyout), F Richard Panik (traded to NYI), F Evgeny Svechnikov (PTO with WPG), F Dominic Turgeon (signed with MIN), F Hayden Verbeek (signed with Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL), F Henrik Zetterberg (retired), D Alex Biega (signed with TOR), D Dennis Cholowski (expansion, SEA), D Christian Djoos (NL), D Joe Hicketts (signed with MIN), D Dylan McIlrath (signed with WSH), G Jonathan Bernier (traded to CAR, signed with NJD), G Kevin Boyle (ICEHL), G Patrik Rybár (KHL)

Still Unsigned: F Bobby Ryan, F Givani Smith (RFA)

Re-signed: F Tyler Bertuzzi, F Adam Erne, F Sam Gagner, F Chase Pearson, F Jakub Vrana, D Filip Hronek, D Gustav Lindstrom, D Marc Staal, G Calvin Pickard

Offseason Analysis: When Steve Yzerman resigned from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the foundation of his plan as General Manager and the years of development that it took had built up a few levels short of winning back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2020 and 2021, after Julien BriseBois picked up where Yzerman left off shortly before the 2018-19 season.

On April 19, 2019, the prodigal son made his return to Detroit as the now current General Manager of the Red Wings– inheriting a mess left behind by Ken Holland who, despite winning the Cup three times as the executive vice president and GM in Detroit from 1997-2019, was promoted to senior vice president before walking away from the Red Wings altogether.

Still with me here?

Yzerman left the Lightning in September 2018, and BriseBois was named his replacement, then later in the 2018-19 league calendar year, the Red Wings hired Yzerman as their General Manager, while Holland stuck around for less than a month longer before leaving for his current role as General Manager and President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers.

In this pseudo-musical chairs endeavor, Tampa has won back-to-back Stanley Cups, while Holland’s Oilers have been mired in early postseason exits and Yzerman, well… …Yzerman’s just been biding his time.

Though he hasn’t played since the 2017-18 season due to a career-ending degenerative back condition, Henrik Zetterberg’s $6.083 million cap hit is finally off the books.

Yzerman is no longer looking to take on dead cap space to meet the salary cap floor, but he’s also not quite spending to the ceiling just yet.

Instead, the Red Wings are setting the gears in motion for big strides sooner rather than later.

This offseason sped things up, though the team hasn’t been kicked into high-gear just yet.

For starters, Yzerman’s kept Tyler Bertuzzi, Adam Erne, Sam Gagner, Filip Hronek and Calvin Pickard around as top-six talent, glue guys and necessary goaltending depth in the event of injury.

He also worked out a solid bridge contract with 25-year-old Jakub Vrana– giving the left wing that was acquired at the 2021 trade deadline a $5.250 million cap hit through the 2023-24 season and buying a year of potential unrestricted free agency in the process.

Vrana’s short stint down the stretch with Detroit proved to be very productive amassing 8-3–11 totals in 11 games with the Red Wings after putting up 11-14–25 totals through 39 games with the Washington Capitals prior to the trade last season.

Detroit also managed to snag Pius Suter on the open market after Chicago chose not to tender a qualifying offer for the would have been restricted free agent.

Suter broke into the league as a 25-year-old rookie and scored 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 55 games with Chicago. In a non-pandemic timeline, Suter would have been on pace for about 40 points in an 82-game schedule.

That’s nothing to sneeze at for a guy that can work up and down the lineup in a top-nine role on a team that’s looking to get back into annual playoff contention.

But that’s not all that Yzerman did this offseason.

As the team said “goodbye” to many long-time Red Wings members, like Darren Helm– who’s now with the Colorado Avalanche– and other more recent placeholders, Yzerman was busy working the phones and dialing the NHL’s trade center.

Aside from making a few trades involving nothing but draft picks at the 2021 NHL Draft– including one that led to Detroit moving up in the first round in a swap with the Dallas Stars that led to the Red Wings selecting Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) goaltender, Sebastian Cossa– Yzerman continued to assemble depth down the lineup.

On July 16th, Detroit sent Richard Panik and a 2021 2nd round pick to the New York Islanders for Nick Leddy as the Islanders looked to make cap space– clearing about $4.125 million in the process for New York and likely teaming Leddy up with Moritz Seider on the second defensive pairing for the Red Wings.

Yzerman then dealt the negotiating rights for Jonathan Bernier and a 2021 3rd round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for Alex Nedeljkovic on July 22nd, before signing the former Canes netminder to a two-year extension worth $2.000 million per season.

Finally, Yzerman went back to the well in Tampa for Mitchell Stephens– sending a 2022 6th round pick in return to the Lightning on July 30th.

Offseason Grade: B+

Detroit won’t be great, but they should be better than last season and given the fact that the Red Wings looked competitive at times in 2020-21, they just might play spoiler for some of the teams in the Atlantic Division.

Meanwhile, Leddy’s jump in production from 21 points in 60 games with the Islanders in 2019-20 to 31 points in 56 games last season should help jumpstart some two-way play in the backend for Detroit.

A change of scenery and a reunification with Erne on the fourth line for Stephens should necessitate more production than his one point in seven games with the Bolts last season– though neither Erne, nor Stephens are looking to be leading goal scorers on the roster.

Finally, Nedeljkovic established himself as a starting goaltender in the NHL– or a fringe starter, at least– amassing a 15-5-3 record in 23 games with Carolina last season to go with a 1.90 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and three shutouts in that span.

The improvements to Detroit’s defense should pave a way to letting the Red Wings’ offense to grow and the youth throughout the organization to develop while Nedeljkovic can focus on competing with himself to maintain a high-level of play as the goaltender of the future for now, unless Cossa has anything to say about it in the near future.

For a team that’s been rebuilding in recent years, this is how you do it. Yzerman’s careful scouting, planning and execution is picking up speed.

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2020 Mock Draft: The Complete First Round

It’s June October and the Stanley Cup has been awarded and already cleaned more than a few times from all of the beer and other things that the Tampa Bay Lightning have done with it, which means it’s the perfect time to gather in a city around your TV screen and be ready to throw on any of the 31 National Hockey League team draft hats (excluding the Seattle Kraken– we’ll deal with them next season) when your name is called.

Well, if you’re one of the 31 prospects lucky enough to go in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft on Tuesday night, at least. Rounds 2-7 will take place Wednesday, starting at 11:30 a.m. ET as always– kind of.

For the first time in NHL history, this year’s draft is virtual thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

NHL

Montreal was set to play host to the 2020 NHL Draft at Bell Centre back on June 26th and 27th, but it’s 2020 and with the global pandemic still going on, the league originally postponed the event back on March 25th before announcing it as a virtual draft at a later date (this week).

It’s also the first time that the draft is being held outside of June since the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, which was held at the Westin Hotel Ottawa in Canada’s capital city– Ottawa, Ontario– on July 30th of that year and it’s the first time that the draft is being held completely on weekday(s) for the first time since the 1994 NHL Entry Draft in Hartford, Connecticut, which was on Tuesday, June 28th of that year (remember the Whalers?).

The projected first overall pick– Alexis Lafrenfière– will get his moment in the spotlight sometime once the 2020-21 regular season begins, but until then he’ll have to settle for whatever lights his parents have in the living room.

Coverage of this year’s first round begins Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN in the United States, as well as SN and TVAS in Canada. Rounds 2-7 will be televised on NHLN in the U.S. and SN1 in Canada.

1. New York Rangers–> LW Alexis Lafrenière, Rimouski, (QMJHL)

Considered the best player to come out of the Québec Major Junior Hockey League since Sidney Crosby– who also played for Rimouski Océanic back in his Junior days– Lafrenière is a no-brainer for the New York Rangers.

He might be the best player in the draft since Connor McDavid was selected 1st overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2015, and for good reason.

Lafrenière had 35 goals and 77 assists (112 points) in 52 games for Rimouski this season until the rest of the regular season, as well as all of the postseason and Memorial Cup were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.

There’s nothing wrong with the Rangers stacking up on talent on the left side with Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider already in play. Simply put Lafrenière on the third line if you must and watch the forward depth lead the club into a playoff contender.

2. Los Angeles Kings–> C Quinton Byfield, Sudbury (OHL)

Byfield had 32-50–82 totals in 45 games with the Ontario Hockey Leagues’s Sudbury Wolves this season. His 6-foot-4 , 215-pound frame will help ease the transition for the Los Angeles Kings from Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter down the middle to whatever’s next with Byfield taking center stage.

His speed and skating ability is already a cut above the rest in the draft and having a two-time Frank J. Selke Trophy winner (Kopitar) as a teammate should further elevate Byfield’s game into one of the better two-way centers as he’ll be sure to learn a thing or two from him.

3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)–> C/LW Tim Stützle, Mannheim (DEL)

The best German prospect since Leon Draisaitl, Stützle amassed 7-27–34 totals in 41 games with Adler Mannheim in the DEL last season. He’s a dynamic forward that plays a mature game for his age, which is a promising sign for the Ottawa Senators that ensured they’d be having “unparalleled success from 2021-25”.

It’s not off to that promising of a start for the Sens, but with their rebrand, Stützle at 3rd overall and the 5th overall pick at their hands, Ottawa’s brighter days are ahead if not now. They’ll just need to find a new starting goaltender to really make them a playoff contender with Craig Anderson’s departure as part of Ottawa’s plan.

4. Detroit Red Wings–> D Jamie Drysdale, Erie (OHL)

While Detroit Red Wing General Manager, Steve Yzerman, could make a splash later in the week trying to attract Alex Pietrangelo or Michigan native, Torey Krug, to Detroit’s blue line, it’s about time the Red Wings took another defender to potentially anchor the defensive zone in the future with last year’s first round pick, Moritz Seider.

Drysdale checks off all the boxes for the Red Wings as the best defender in the draft and you know what wins championships in “Hockeytown”? Defense.

That said, he had 9-38–47 totals in 49 games with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League in 2019-20 and is capable of utilizing his 5-foot-11, 175-pound build to his advantage in a two-way game.

5. Ottawa Senators–> RW Lucas Raymond, Frölunda (SHL)

Everybody loves Raymond and his playmaking abilities– drawing comparisons to Ottawa’s intra-province rival, Toronto Maple Leafs forward, Mitch Marner, according to scouts and mock draft experts alike.

His skill, two-way style and high hockey IQ are what sets him apart from other players his age and pairs well with Stützle in the picture for the Sens as a pair of players that could change the face of a franchise on their own. In 33 games last season with Frölunda HC, Raymond had 10 points (four goals, six assists) playing as a teenager among men in the SHL.

He has one goal and one assist (two points) in four games this season already.

6. Anaheim Ducks–> C/LW Cole Perfetti, Saginaw (OHL)

The Anaheim Ducks need some scoring power as they stockpile youth on the roster and Perfetti brings the right amount of scoring prowess combined with an all-around ability that sets him apart as a forward.

Perfetti’s vision is one that will generate scoring chances– whether for himself or a teammate– as he amassed 37 goals and 74 assists (111 points) with the Saginaw Spirit (OHL) in 61 games last season.

At 5-foot-10, 177-pounds, he’s not flashy, but he creates space for his own game and that’ll compliment well with Anaheim’s need for a true top-six forward in the coming years– be it first or second line center or just a solid option at left wing.

7. New Jersey Devils–> C Marco Rossi, Ottawa (OHL)

Like the Senators, the New Jersey Devils have three picks in the first round of this year’s draft and if everything goes according to plan, the Devils will make off with a pretty solid core of forwards to intersperse among their organizational depth.

Rossi lit up the OHL in scoring last season with 39 goals and 81 assists (120 points) in 56 games with the Ottawa 67’s, while drawing comparisons to that of Claude Giroux. Meanwhile, he could join the likes of Thomas Vanek, Michael Grabner and others as one of few Austrian born players to be drafted in the first round.

8. Buffalo Sabres–> C Anton Lundell, HFIK (Liiga)

Lundell had 10-18–28 totals in 44 games with HIFK last season in Finland’s top professional league (Liiga) and has a knack for protecting the puck rather well.

One of the better two-way centers in the draft, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound 19-year-old has some room to grow into a top-six role with the Buffalo Sabres in the near future– especially if Casey Mittelstadt and/or Tage Thompson can’t solidify their game in terms of a long-term second line center companion to Jack Eichel’s standout status as the first line center.

The Sabres need to shore up their strength down the middle– regardless of Eric Staal’s presence for this season on the second or third line.

9. Minnesota Wild–> C/RW Seth Jarvis, Portland (WHL)

Jarvis had 98 points (42 goals, 56 assists) in 58 games with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League last season before the pandemic cut things short.

He’s a crafty new-age center that has room to grow and has shown he can be more of a second-half of the season player that could one day peak at the right time for something the Minnesota Wild haven’t seen in a while– a deep playoff run.

With the Wild moving on from Mikko Koivu, Minnesota will need to replenish the pipeline down the middle both in the immediate and for the future.

10. Winnipeg Jets–> D Jake Sanderson, USA U-18 (USHL)

Sanderson could go higher in the draft or lower reminiscent of how Cam Fowler fell from 5th in the final rankings coming into the 2010 NHL Draft to being selected 12th overall by the Ducks.

He plays with aggression and has a 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame that could make losing Dustin Byfuglien prior to last season a little bit easier for the Jets– though Sanderson has big shoes to fill on a diminished Winnipeg blue line, unless GM Kevin Cheveldayoff flips Patrik Laine for an incredible return to shore up some own zone help for 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winning goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck.

With some polishing of his skills at the University of North Dakota whenever the 2020-21 season is expected to begin, Sanderson could improve from his 7-22–29 totals in 47 games with the U.S. National Development Program into a power play specialist that loves to use the body.

11. Nashville Predators–> D Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert (WHL)

One of David Poile’s strengths as Nashville Predators GM has long been drafting defenders and Guhle is no exception to the rule. At 6-foot-2, 186-pounds, he could fit in with reigning Norris Trophy winner, Roman Josi, as well as Mattias Ekholm and friends on the blue line.

With 11-29–40 totals in 64 games for the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL last season, Guhle is a consummate two-way defender that can grind his way out of battles and move the puck out of his own zone– a strong suit of Nashville’s defensive core for at least the last 15 years.

12. Florida Panthers–> RW Alexander Holtz, Djurgårdens (SHL)

Holtz had 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 35 games with Djurgårdens IF last season in the SHL as a pure goal scorer that’s waiting to emerge with a plethora of shots to take.

He led players 18 and under in Sweden’s top league in scoring and has decent size (6-foot, 192-pounds) to go with adapting well to the increased intensity of NHL-level hockey in due time, though he’ll probably use another season to develop as a more prominent scorer with Djurgårdens in 2020-21.

That said, new Florida Panthers GM, Bill Zito, will take to stocking up prospects in Florida’s new affiliation with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) with pleasure if the American Hockey League is able to make a season happen in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

13. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto Maple Leafs)–> RW Jack Quinn, Ottawa (OHL)

Though the Carolina Hurricanes could go with taking a goaltender in the first round, GM Don Waddell just might be satisfied enough with how Alex Nedeljkovic continues to develop with Carolina’s new AHL affiliate– the Chicago Wolves– and instead opt for the next best available player in Quinn.

Carolina is much more satisfied crafting a plan via free agency or through a trade to add a goaltender this offseason for what could hopefully bolster their chances as a Cup contender– that’s right, it’s time for the Canes to unleash a storm on the rest of the league as a big improvement from last season to this season.

Quinn was one of two 50-goal scorers in the OHL last season as he finished the year with 52 goals and 89 points in 62 games. He’s also one of eight OHL players to score at least 50 goals in their first NHL draft eligible season since 2000-01.

You know who else did that? Guys like Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jeff Skinner and Alex DeBrincat. Not too shabby.

14. Edmonton Oilers–> G Yaroslav Askarov, SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL)

The best goaltender in the draft, Askarov had a 12-3 record in 18 games in Russia’s second-tier league last season. He amassed a 2.45 goals against average and a .920 save percentage in the process and has a .974 SV%, as well as a 0.74 GAA through three games with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL this season.

As the Edmonton Oilers continue to find their way while trying to avoid wasting the primes of once in a generation talents like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, it’d make perfect sense for the Oilers to nail down a solid goaltending prospect for once.

Especially as there’s an immediate need for someone to replace Mikko Koskinen and/or whoever Edmonton chases after in free agency.

While the team that beat the Oilers in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final passed over him in this hypothetical mock first round, Edmonton was sure to snag Askarov before anyone else could.

15. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Pittsburgh Penguins)–> D Braden Schneider, Brandon (WHL)

While serving as an alternate captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) for the second year of his three full Junior seasons thus far, Schneider brought forth a solid two-way game to contribute to his team on the ice in addition to his leadership in the dressing room.

He had 7-35–42 totals in 60 games last season with the Wheat Kings, while utilizing his 6-foot-2, 202-pound body to shutdown opponents with his two-way game.

Schneider won’t be ready to hit the NHL ice in 2020-21, but he should be able to slide into a prominent role with the Toronto Maple Leafs in due time.

16. Montreal Canadiens–> C/RW Dawson Mercer, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

Mercer is a versatile forward that could be beneficial to fitting in with the Montreal Canadiens current game plan– find as many Nick Suzuki’s as possible among their forwards and roll four lines while hoping for the best in Shea Weber, Jeff Petry and others on defense, as well as Carey Price in goal.

The Habs are at a transition point from their old core to a new-age dynamic with the added bonus of head coach, Claude Julien, reconstructing his coaching strategies to propel the Canadiens forward from their .500 season in 2019-20, to hopefully a more legitimate standing as a playoff team in 2020-21.

Mercer amassed 60 points between the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Chicoutimi Saguenéens in 42 games in the OHL last season and should be able to add a little bit of a power forward component to Montreal’s roster in the near future.

17. Chicago Blackhawks–> D Justin Barron, Halifax (QMJHL)

Barron missed a chunk of time last season with the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) due to a blood clot issue, but still managed to put up 4-15–19 totals in 34 games from the blue line while playing an efficient physical game.

The Chicago Blackhawks have a solid group of young forwards emerging that it’s about time they start focusing a little more on developing a defense– whether it’s from within by selecting Barron or through free agency and making trades. In either case, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook aren’t getting any younger and they can’t play forever.

18. New Jersey Devils (from Arizona Coyotes)–> RW Jacob Perreault, Sarnia (OHL)

With their second pick in the first round, New Jersey snags a versatile winger with a knack for shooting the puck and scoring. Perreault had 39-31–70 totals in 57 games with the Sarnia Sting (OHL) last season and should be ready to make an impact on the Devils’ NHL roster sooner rather than later.

He also led Sarnia with 15 power-play goals last season and could help load up New Jersey’s talent pool on the special teams.

19. Calgary Flames–> C Connor Zary, Kamloops (WHL)

If the Calgary Flames are serious about making some big changes to their core, they’re going to need to find a long-term solution down the middle and, luckily, Zary brings just that.

A dynamic skater with decent hands, he had 38 goals and 48 assists (86 points) in 57 games with the Kamloops Blazers (WHL) last season and lends himself to a suitable role as a team player with his 6-foot, 178-pound build at center.

20. New Jersey Devils (from Vancouver Canucks via Tampa Bay Lightning)–> C Hendrix Lapierre, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

Upper body injuries limited Lapierre to 19 games last season, but he managed to put up 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) in that span as one of the better playmakers his age.

The Devils complete their trifecta of first round picks with a bit of a gamble, but a high upside if everything works out and Lapierre’s health doesn’t end up being a concern. New Jersey’s influx of speed, skill and youth should be able to get them to attract some key role players in the coming years to fill out bottom-six roles on a playoff contending roster.

21. Columbus Blue Jackets–> C/LW Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin (NCAA)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have taken to college hockey players with a lot of love in recent years and there’s no love lost for scooping up Holloway and his 6-foot, 203-pound frame as either a center or left wing in the near future in Flavortown.

He had 8-9–17 totals in 35 games in his freshman year with the Wisconsin Badgers and will likely need at least one more year under his belt in the college program before making the jump, but with the addition of Max Domi via trade ahead of the draft on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets can take their time to craft a heavy hitting lineup down the middle.

22. New York Rangers (from Carolina Hurricanes)–> C Ridly Greig, Brandon (OHL)

Despite being 5-foot-11 and 163-pounds, Greig can play in any role and has a good hockey IQ that comes in handy at both ends of the rink. His 26-34–60 totals in 56 games with the Wheat Kings last season should be decent enough for the Rangers to supplement their first round choice in Lafrenière in due time.

23. Philadelphia Flyers–> C Brendan Brisson, Chicago (USHL)

Brisson had 24-35–59 totals in 45 games with the Chicago Steel (USHL) last season and will be attending the University of Michigan to further develop his two-way game.

His consistency should only improve, as well as his scoring ability, which is promising for the Philadelphia Flyers as Claude Giroux peaks in his prime about the time Brisson could make his NHL debut.

24. Washington Capitals–> LW Rodion Amirov, Ufa (KHL)

In what’s not a surprise to anyone, the Washington Capitals aren’t afraid to take a shot on a Russian forward as Amirov had 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in Russia’s second-tier league last season. His shot and playmaking skills are good, but he’ll need a little time to develop and get stronger before hitting the ice at the NHL level.

25. Colorado Avalanche–> RW Tyson Foerster, Barrie (OHL)

At 6-foot-2, 194-pounds, Foerster brings some size to the Colorado Avalanche’s pool of prospects to go along with his 80 points (36 goals, 44 assists) in 62 games last season with the Barrie Colts (OHL). He’s also a decent playmaker, which fits right in with the team mentality of the Avs in their current era.

26. St. Louis Blues–> LW John-Jason Peterka, München (DEL)

Peterka led Germany with four goals in seven games at the 2020 World Junior Championship and has an impressive skating ability for his age, which lends itself to playing amongst the professionals in the DEL. He had 7-4–11 totals in 42 games with EHC München last season and is expected to continue to develop his game and work on using his size (5-foot-11, 192-pounds) to his advantage.

27. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins)–> D Jérémie Poirier, Saint John (QMJHL)

With their second pick in the first round, the Ducks don’t mind taking a defender and letting him take his time to get better in his own zone before making an impact in Anaheim. Poirier had 20 goals and 33 assists (53 points) in 64 games last season with the Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) and plays a “live by the sword, die by the sword” game that can really come into its own as a shutdown defender with some more development.

28. Ottawa Senators (from New York Islanders)–> D Helge Grans, Malmö (SWE J20)

Grans is a right-shot defender that has a great understanding of the game and decent vision to go along with his 4-23–27 totals in 27 games in Sweden’s junior lead last season, as well as one goal and two assists for Malmö in 21 games in the SHL last season.

He impressed coaches enough to begin the 2020-21 season in Sweden’s top league and should round out a great first round draft for the Senators.

29. Vegas Golden Knights–> D Ryan O’Rourke, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

A two-way defender, O’Rourke has a good hockey sense and had 7-30–37 totals in 54 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) last season. The Vegas Golden Knights already have a solid defensive core, but would be establishing an even better foundation for the future by taking the 6-foot, 178-pound defender.

30. Dallas Stars–> C Thomas Bordeleau, USA U-18 (USHL)

Bordeleau had 16-30–46 totals in 47 games with the U.S. National Development Program last season and has room to grow, but has time to develop within the Stanley Cup runners’ up, Dallas Stars’, system. A native of Texas, he’ll be attending the University of Michigan this fall.

31. San Jose Sharks (from Tampa Bay Lightning)–> D William Wallinder, MoDo (SWE J20)

Rounding out the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning sent the San Jose Sharks the 31st overall pick for Barclay Goodrow back when the global pandemic hadn’t put an early end to the regular season and before the Bolts won the Cup. As a result, the Sharks have the last pick in the first round since they traded their 2020 1st round pick to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade.

As such, it’s only fitting that San Jose continue to build up their defense with Wallinder as a solid option for moving the puck out of his own zone– either by carrying it on his own or finding an open teammate, while shutting down opponents with his 6-foot-4, 191-pound build.