We finally have a little more clarity on the 2020 NHL draft thanks to the recent announcement from commissioner Gary Bettman. While we had been preparing for a potential early-June draft, there's going to be some more time to sort this class out.
But if you're rooting for one of the seven teams that will not be playing any more hockey this season and still have their first-round draft pick (sorry, San Jose), this look at what the top prospects do best among their peers might give you a little appetizer of what will be available.
It's important to note that individual skills are such a small part of the larger picture. When you look at a player such as Alexis Lafreniere, he might not grade out as the absolute best in a ton of categories, but his entire package of skills -- highlighted by superior hockey sense -- still makes him very much the consensus No. 1 prospect. Additionally, you'll find that most of the players (but not all) named below were on the top 100 ranking list that dropped earlier in the month. It goes to show that while the total package of what a player brings matters most, having a few elite traits can go a long way for making up for other areas of a player's game that might not be so strong.
Here is a look at more than 20 of the many, many skills I consider when judging players heading into the draft, and the best 2020 draft prospect in each area.
Forwards: Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
From his anticipation to his creativity in making space for himself, Lafreniere thinks the game at an advanced level. His ability to pick teams apart and dominate games doesn't simply come from his superior skill set.
Defensemen: Jake Sanderson, U.S. National Under-18 Team (NTDP)
He's about as true a two-way defenseman as there is in this draft class. Offensively, Sanderson picks his spots well, but he also never seems to be out of position defensively. He's such a reliable player because he's able to keep the game in front of him at all times.