The 2020 NHL draft has long been heralded as one with an exciting class with a lot of top-end talent. In the early going of the season, there has been a clearer separation between the top prospects in this class and those who somewhat fall in line, illustrating a more dramatic drop-off after the first four to six picks than we've seen in recent years.
Although there is currently a consensus No. 1 prospect, there is also a bigger group of players chasing that spot than normal. We've seen Jack Hughes and Rasmus Dahlin go wire-to-wire as No. 1 prospects in the past two drafts, but that might not be the case in 2020. This class starts at the top with Alexis Lafreniere, the presumed No. 1 for some time. His early season tear has helped reestablish his presumed dominance over the class, but the continual improvement and development of Quinton Byfield make him the most legitimate challenger right now.
Remember, this is a very, very early list, and there's bound to be a lot of movement between now and our midseason rankings. There's a lot of work to do and a lot left to learn about the class. But at this point in the draft year, here are my top 25 prospects for the 2020 NHL draft, updated from my June edition.
1. Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Height: 6-foot-1 | Weight: 196
An intelligent, aggressive forward who has shown improvement away from the puck, Lafreniere is an absolute highlight machine. He has high-end puck skills but also uses his frame well to create space for himself. The end result has been a mountain of early season points, as he continues to build a body of work that already includes making Team Canada as an under-ager, earning CHL Player of the Year honors in 2018-19 and tallying 185 points in 121 games entering this season.
Although the QMJHL can be an offense-friendly league, Lafreniere is absolutely torching it, to the tune of 2.50 points per game in the early going. If Lafreniere keeps his scoring pace up, it will be one of the more dominant draft seasons in recent memory. Sidney Crosby's final QMJHL season saw the future Hall of Famer produce 2.71 points per game, and Jonathan Drouin is the most recent U19 player to come "close," as he had 2.35 points per game in his draft-plus-one season. Lafreniere has his challengers to the top spot, but given his long history of production and his improvement in other elements of his game, he has a good head start.
2. Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 215
When at his best, Byfield is an unstoppable force capable of putting a team on his back and taking it to the next level. After posting a rookie-of-the-year campaign in the OHL in 2018-19 by leading the Wolves offensively on their march to the playoffs, Byfield has been scoring at a more than two points per game pace in the early going this season, showcasing an unmatched combination of speed and power in the major junior ranks.
The comparisons that Byfield has drawn to Eric Lindros are lofty, but it's hard not to be enamored with his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame, especially when he moves as quickly as he does. Byfield also has an excellent shot, allowing him to score from distance, on top of his ability to drive the net for close-range chances. With Lafreniere being a wing and Byfield a center, there is a little debate on positional value and overall impact in regard to that No. 1 spot on the draft board.
3. Alexander Holtz, RW, Djugardens (SHL)
Height: 6-foot | Weight: 192