It’s a Tuesday night on Oct. 6, 2020. The world is still at a standstill from COVID-19. The NHL is preparing a safe return to regular-season play after pulling off a successful postseason in the bubble. And, despite everything, the 2020 NHL Draft is starting.
Instead of walking through the halls of Bell Centre, players and their families boot up their computers and turn on their webcams for the occasion. In the “new normal,” potential picks still dress in suits and ties and have jerseys on standby as they wait to hear their names called.
Fast forward months later, and prospects have taken several steps toward their NHL dreams. Here’s where the top five 2020 NHL draft picks are now and how they’re faring with their new organizations.
No. 1: Alexis Lafrenière, New York Rangers
When the Rangers’ ping-pong ball declared them winners of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, there was no doubt that they’d take Lafrenière, the league’s most highly-touted prospect, to join an already-lethal arsenal that features the likes of Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko and Chris Kreider.
Lafrenière is a product of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic and has been compared to Sidney Crosby, who also played for the Oceanic before taking over the NHL. His hockey IQ makes him a force at both ends of the ice, and he’s both an elite playmaker and goal-scorer. He also has the size and strength to play well at the NHL level and has the potential to become an elite franchise player.
His rookie season hasn’t gone exactly to plan. Though the 19-year-old is a full-time NHLer and a top-6 forward, he hasn’t had too much luck finding twine. Through 20 games, Lafrenière has three goals and five points and is a minus-6 while averaging 14:49 per game.