The announcement this afternoon that the NHL would be postponing the 2020 NHL Draft means that top prospect Alexis Lafreniere will have to wait a while longer to presumably be selected first overall. Yet, with his QMJHL season already canceled, the young forward has little else to focus on. The same can be said for a number of NHL teams who already know that they won’t be making the postseason regardless of the format the league chooses if and when they return to action. No team has more to gain from the coming draft than the Ottawa Senators. If the NHL Draft Lottery were to be held without any further changes to the regular season standings, the Detroit Red Wings would have the best singular odds of winning, 18.5%, but the Senators in both second and third, given their ownership of the San Jose Sharks’ pick, would actually have much better odds at a combined 25%. Naturally, the question was asked by TSN today of the Quebec native Lafreniere how he would feel about playing in Canada’s capital. “It would be fun. It would be special,” Lafreniere said, “It’s a great place to play and it would be an honor [to be selected.]” While the Senators have not exactly been a top free agent destination in recent years, the club is building up quite a talented group of prospects and Lafreniere would be a great fit to lead the team into the future, especially alongside whoever else the team selects early in the first round.
- One existing NHL prospect who may soon be joining his pro home is Florida Panthers pick Max Gildon. Gildon, who just wrapped up his junior season at the University of New Hampshire, is close to signing an entry-level deal reports New England hockey insider Mark Divver. Divver expects the two sides to come to terms on a deal within a week. Gildon was a 2017 third-round pick out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, but has outplayed his draft slot over three productive years on the UNH blue line. He also pairs a big frame, physical play, and ability to play in all situations with his considerable skill and vision. Joining a Florida team with a pretty thin pipeline of defensive talent, Gildon could be in the NHL sooner rather than later.
- Quinnipiac University forward Alex Whelan has found his first pro destination, as the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack announced a contract with the nearby product or the 2020-21 season. Whelan, who just finished his fourth and final year with Quinnipiac, was nothing if not consistent in his NCAA career. However, his 24 points this season came in just 29 games as opposed to 25 in 38 last year. On a per-game basis, he was the Bobcats’ second-best scorer on a team that was within reach of an NCAA Tournament berth. A power forward who looks prepared for the pro game, Whelan is a nice pickup for Hartford and will likely bring some Quinnipiac fans along with him.
- The NCAA announced the ten semifinalists for the Mike Richter Award for top goaltender on Tuesday, with several NHL prospects on the list. Maine’s Jeremy Swayman, who recently signed his entry-level deal with the Boston Bruins, heads up a list that also includes 2019 top goalie draft pick Spencer Knight of Boston College and the Florida Panthers, as well as UMass Lowell’s Tyler Wall, whose rights are owned by the New York Rangers but could be headed for unrestricted free agency. However, the favorite for the award is likely an undrafted product, Minnesota State’s Dryden McKay, who led the nation in wins, save percentage, and GAA. McKay and Swayman are the only Richter semifinalists who are also Hobey Baker finalists. Other standouts include Cornell’s Matthew Galajda, Michigan’s Strauss Mann, and Bemidji State’s Zach Driscoll. The three finalists will be announced at a later date.