It may only be August, but The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler is already hard at work evaluating next June’s draft class. The 2020 Draft promises to be chock full of talent, with Wheeler calling it more impressive than the most recent draft class and deeper at the top. In fact, he believes it could be the strongest class since 2015, which produced superstars like Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Mitch Marner, Zach Werenski, Mikko Rantanen, Jake Debrusk, Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Thomas Chabot in the top 20 picks alone. Also unlike recent drafts, Wheeler feels the 2020 class will be deeper at forward than defense and will be lacking impact American prospects, with the scout failing to see a U.S. product even enter the conversation as a top-ten pick. So who might be in contention for one of those elite slots? Canadian forward Alexis Lafreniere has long been considered the presumptive top pick and finds himself at No. 1 on Wheeler’s initial draft board as well. However, Swedish forwards Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz could push him for that top spot. College-bound Dylan Holloway is an interesting name to watch as a top-ten candidate, as is Wheeler’s highest-ranked defenseman, Jamie Drysdale. Goaltender Yaroslav Askarov also intrigues Wheeler; he feels the Russian keeper could be the best goalie prospect of this decade. Plenty could change in the ten months still to come before the 2020 Draft, but it never hurts to get a head start on researching who your team could be eyeing next year.
- Unsurprisingly lost in the shuffle of an off-season that has left many major names unsigned is a former top NHL prospect in Griffin Reinhart. NHL teams have been tantalized by Reinhart’s upside seemingly forever without any real results to show for it, but it seems that luck has finally run out. The fourth overall pick in 2012 by the New York Islanders, Reinhart recorded one lone point in eight NHL games in his first pro season before the Edmonton Oilers traded a first- and second-round pick for him. He proceeded to score just one more point in 29 games over two seasons in Edmonton before being selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft. In two years in Vegas, he did not see any NHL action and became a Group 6 unrestricted free agent. Reinhart received the benefit of the doubt for many years, but it seems no longer, as there has been practically no talk of the young defenseman this summer.
- The WHL is headed outdoors for just the third time in league history. Sportsnet reports that the Regina Pats will host the Calgary Hitmen in an outdoor game this season on October 27th. The game will take place at Mosaic Stadium in Saskatchewan just one day after the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames square off there for the NHL’s Heritage Classic. The last WHL outdoor game took place back in 2011 and was another Pats-Hitmen contest, again coinciding with the Heritage Classic.