NHL draft 2020: First-round picks, scouting reports of the players selected

Kyle Woodlief, the chief scout and publisher of Red Line Report, provides an analysis of the 31 players taken in the first round of the NHL draft Tuesday, which is being held virtually. The first round of the draft takes place at 7 p.m. (NBCSN) and Rounds 2-7 will be completed Wednesday (11:30 a.m. ET). Of note: the New York Rangers have the first overall pick, the Ottawa Senators have the most picks (12) in the draft and three teams have the fewest selections with four -- the Arizona Coyotes, Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins. (USA TODAY also recapped all the day's news and rumors, including those related to trades.)

1. New York Rangers — LW Alexis Lafrenière. The clear-cut top overall prospect in this year’s class. Cemented his standing with an outstanding world juniors performance, where he overcame a knee injury to have a huge impact every game he played. Instinctively makes the right play in every situation. Deadly finisher who scores in every conceivable fashion and, if possible, is an even better creator for his linemates. Sees the whole ice and knows where all teammates and opponents are positioned. Soft hands and makes fabulous, jaw-dropping passes that are so imaginative they even surprise his linemates. Can thread any needle, showing touch on delicate saucers or firing crisp feeds on the tape as needed. In addition to the finesse, grinds it out physically and finishes checks hard. Wins battles and is relentless on the forecheck. If he doesn’t have the puck, he’ll go get it. Plays like a mature 10-year NHL vet. 

2. Los Angeles Kings — C Quinton Byfield. Rare hybrid combination of a power forward with the puck skill of a smaller, dynamic player. He’s the huge, highly skilled center every team is looking for. Has all the qualities needed to excel: size, strength, skill, skating, excellent vision and anticipation. Uses his wide body and long reach to protect the puck and is impossible to move off it. Extremely hard to handle down low – uses size/strength to bull his way through checks. Creates loads of room for linemates by drawing defenders to him, then hits the open man. Heads-up passing plays in traffic combining a finesse style with physical dominance. Excellent start-up from down low in his stance. Great glide for such a huge guy. Underrated as a goal scorer with a wicked release on a rocket wrister. Doesn’t need much space – gets dangerous shots away with men draped over his back. Can be overly critical and get down on himself. 

Center Quinton Byfield could get a chance to learn from one of the game's best centers, Anze Kopitar, after being taken by the Kings.

3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose) — Blazing skater who always plays at warp speed and makes plays at top gear. Can carry the puck around and over sticks; tough to stop when he is in full flight. World-class edges and acceleration. Can take over shifts and just loses opponents with quick twists and turns. Has the ability to make one-touch plays, making fast puck movement decisions before the puck even reaches him. Passes have both snap and touch. More of a passer than shooter right now, but his stick is always in position and ready to shoot when puck comes his way. Lacks bulk right now but has a good frame – doesn’t really matter because nobody can catch him. Plays on the wing with his club team; will likely be a center long-term, but struggles with the defensive responsibilities at center.

4. Detroit Red Wings

5. Ottawa Senators

6. Anaheim Ducks

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Buffalo Sabres

9. Minnesota Wild

10. Winnipeg Jets

11. Nashville Predators

12. Florida Panthers

13. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto)

14. Edmonton Oilers

15. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Pittsburgh)

16. Montreal Canadiens

17. Chicago Blackhawks

18. New Jersey (from Arizona)

19. Calgary Flames

20. New Jersey Devils (from Vancouver via Tampa Bay)

21. Columbus Blue Jackets

22. New York Rangers (from Carolina)

23. Philadelphia Flyers

24. Washington Capitals

25. Colorado Avalanche

26. St. Louis Blues

27. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston)

28. Ottawa Senators (from N.Y. Islanders)

29. Vegas Golden Knights

30. Dallas Stars

31. San Jose Sharks (from Tampa Bay)

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL draft 2020: First-round picks, scouting reports for all players

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