2020 NHL Draft: Players to Keep an Eye On

The 2020 NHL Draft is one of the strongest we have seen in years, and of course, is topped off by Alexis Lafreniere. What those who don’t look in-depth into this class may not realize is how deep this draft is as well. Let’s take a look at some potential ‘under-the-radar’ players in the upcoming entry draft.

 

Marat Khusnutdinov, C

5’9” / 165 lbs.
SKA-1946 St. Petersburg / MHL
My December Rank: 10 (Crazy, I know)

When I get asked about my favorite players in this draft, Marat Khusnutdinov is always one of the first names that comes to mind. Looking at the small center at face-value (i.e. production) will not be impressive, but when you watch him play, you see just how good he is. Khusnutdinov plays on the third line with some power play time for a stacked SKA-1946 team, and he is a huge energy boost for the entire team when he is on the ice. Even with his small stature, he never shies away from a board battle, and the opposition can never feel comfortable on the puck, because right when they get it, Khusnutdinov is there putting the pressure back on. And yes, his production is low, but he makes so many chances for his teammates, and there’s a reason why they don’t play on the first line for this team, because they whiff on most of their chances. He is a very shifty and fast skater which always makes him one of the biggest threats on the ice. In the 2019 CHL Import Draft, he was taken 9th overall by the Erie Otters, so if he does make the move to the OHL in these upcoming years, I believe his game will translate well.

 

Dmitri Ovchinnikov, LW/RW

5’10” / 161 lbs.
Sibirskie Snaipery Novosibirsk / MHL
My December Rank: 47

 

Well since I’m on the topic of fast, Russian forwards, Dmitri Ovchinnikov must be brought up. It is nearly impossible to watch him without getting shocked by how quick he is. As well as his speed, Ovchinnikov is also very gifted in his hockey IQ, always knowing where to be, and taking no time at all to get there. Defensively he is always present and getting involved, and offensively he is no slouch either. After 28 MHL games, playing plenty of those on the first line, he has 9 goals and 13 assists, putting him at 22 total points. The production and skill are both there, so I cannot see him going any later than the 3rd round.

Roni Hirvonen, C

5’9” / 163 lbs.
Ässät / Liiga
My December Rank: 27

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I love two-way forwards. I could probably end his review like that, but I’ll keep going. Hirvonen is one of the best defensive forwards in this draft, bar the likes of Anton Lundell, and is really one of the most game-changing players I’ve watched in this draft. Like Khusnutdinov, his raw production isn’t all there, but that isn’t what you want when you draft a player like Hirvonen. 8 points in 24 Liiga games is still great, though. I don’t really like to use player comparisons all that often, but Hirvonen truly reminds me of Sean Couturier, which may be a high expectation for the Fin, but I could see him becoming a solid 2C in the NHL.

Victor Mancini, D

6’3” / 201 lbs.
Frölunda HC J20 / SuperElit
My December Rank: 72

It’s not often that an American makes the jump from the USHL to the Swedish juniors, but Victor Mancini did just that. After putting up 6 points in 8 games in the J18 Elit, Mancini was called up to Frölunda J20 in the SuperElit, and wow, he is one of the best all around defensemen I have seen this draft. When he is on the ice, the game picks up and everything starts going forward for Frölunda. Mancini already has the size of an NHL player, so the only thing he has to focus on his keeping up how he is playing, and I could see him jumping even higher in this draft.

 

Other Players to Watch:

Tyler Tullio
My December Rank: 46

Donovan Sebrango
My December Rank: 65

Joel Blomqvist
My December Goalie Rank: 2

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