Ranking the top five prospects for the 2020-21 NHL season
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5. Dylan Cozens | C | Buffalo Sabres
Drafted seventh overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, Cozens has been honing his game in the minors for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in recent seasons.
Coming off a 2019-20 campaign in which he scored 85 points in just 51 games in the WHL, there is a good chance that the Canadian prospect will make an impact in the NHL in the coming months.
Cozens possesses both the power and the speed to compete immediately, with his all-round game coming along hugely in the last year.
He might not be as exciting to watch as some of the other players on this list, but don’t be surprised if Cozens looks more at home in the NHL than some other up-and-comers.
4. Bowen Byram | D | Colorado Avalanche
Selected fourth overall in the 2019 Entry Draft, Byram is another prospect who has been playing in the WHL in preparation for his big-league debut.
Byram is coming into the 2020-21 NHL season having co-captained Canada – alongside Cozens – to a silver medal at the IIHF World Junior Championships.
The defenseman is exceptionally quick and shines brightest when playing high-tempo, high-power hockey – something he should find in Denver.
Byram is also a highly-skilled handler and can contribute heavily on offense – he scored 52 points in 50 games for the Vancouver Giants last year – with his vision allowing him to shift the momentum of the game in an instant.
3. Kirill Kaprizov | LW | Minnesota Wild
Kaprizov is set apart from the other players on this list by his extensive professional experience, as he arrives for his debut NHL season on the back of six years in the KHL.
In October 2019, the wing became the youngest player in KHL history to reach the milestone of 100 goals, ending last season with 33 goals and 29 assists.
That also means Kaprizov enters the NHL as the reigning two-time scoring champion of Russian hockey, and the Wild will be hoping he can hit the ice running in 2020-21.
Kaprizov’s speed and handling make him hard to knock off the puck, while his elite scoring ability should make him a star in the State of Hockey.
2. Trevor Zegras | C/W | Anaheim Ducks
Selected ninth overall in the 2019 Draft, Zegras has since progressed to become one of the top prospects in the NHL.
The hallmark of his game is his dynamic passing, with Zegras able to use his body movement and elite handling skills to suck in defenders and unleash pinpoint feeds across the ice.
Don’t sleep on his finishing, though, with his speed regularly putting him into scoring positions and his quick shot allowing him to round moves off.
Zegras isn’t afraid to take risks, which can sometimes backfire, but Ducks fans shouldn’t be put off by that – they pay off more often than not.
The two-way forward is also coming off a starring role for champions USA in the World Junior Championships, scoring one and assisting the other in their 2-0 win over Canada in the final.
1. Alexis Lafreniere | LW | New York Rangers
The only player on this list to come out of the 2020 Draft, top pick Lafreniere is undoubtedly heading straight into the big leagues.
Lafreniere is almost unanimously seen as the best prospect that hockey has seen for many years, and enters the NHL as one of the most decorated junior players in recent memory.
A two-time winner of the CHL MVP Award, Lafreniere amassed 297 points in three seasons for Rimouski Oceanic before going first in last year’s draft.
A high-impact forward, Lafreniere’s skills are well-documented, meaning it is easy to forget the physicality that should allow him to make an immediate impression for the Rangers in 2020-21.
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