This will probably be worth the wait for Montreal.
The Bell Centre will host the NHL Draft on Thursday and Friday after the city was initially awarded one of the league’s marquee events for 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic altered those plans and this will mark the first in-person draft since Vancouver in 2019. Plus, the Canadiens have the first overall pick, becoming the first host team to pick No. 1 since the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1985.
The first round is Thursday at 7 p.m. and rounds two through seven will be conducted on Friday starting at 11 a.m. The Islanders own the 13th pick while the Rangers do not select until late in the second round at No. 63.
Here is Newsday’s Mock Draft for the first round:
1. Canadiens — Shane Wright, C, Kingston (OHL), 6-0, 199: The top-ranked North American skater, per the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, is close to a complete, two-way package and possesses a strong wrist shot. Still, he’s not quite a consensus No. 1 and the Canadiens may opt instead for Juraj Slafkovsky.
2. Devils — Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS (Finland), 6-4, 229: A no-brainer if the Canadiens select Wright. Slafkovsky, the top-ranked European skater per Central Scouting, mixes some elite skill and playmaking into a power forward’s body and has already shown he can do well against older competition.
3. Coyotes — Logan Cooley, C, USA Under-18 (National Team Development Program), 5-10, 180: The dynamic skater, playmaker and two-way player, ranked second among North American skaters per Central Scouting, is committed to the University of Minnesota but indications are he’ll likely turn pro after a lone collegiate season.
4. Kraken — David Jiricek, D, Plzen (Czech) 6-3, 189: A potential top-pair, right-shooting defenseman who can use his big body well both defensively and physically and has one of the hardest shots in the draft. He has recovered from knee surgery in January.
5. Flyers — Simon Nemec, D, Nitra (Slovakia), 6-0, 199: Another potential top-pair, right-shooting defenseman, Nemec may be more NHL-ready than Jiricek but with a little less offensive potential.
6. Blue Jackets (from Chicago) — Cutter Gauthier, LW, USA Under-18 (National Team Development Program), 6-2, 200: A powerful wing with a good shot and game suited for the NHL He’s ranked third among North American skaters, per Central Scouting, and will play for Boston College this fall.
7. Senators — Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Finland), 5-10, 185: The second-ranked European skater, per Central Scouting, still must develop his defensive game and his physicality but he possesses one of the best shots in the draft.
8. Red Wings — Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg (WHL), 5-9, 170: Size may keep Savoie from being drafted before this but he possesses elite offensive skill in terms of shooting and playmaking and has a high ceiling.
9. Sabres — Marco Kasper, C, Rogle (Sweden), 6-1, 187: Kasper is poised to be just the fourth Austrian drafted in the first round, a list that includes former Islanders Michael Grabner and Thomas Vanek. He plays a smart, versatile game with grit and a strong shot.
10. Ducks — Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw (OHL), 6-2, 194: Mintyukov’s game has blossomed since leaving Russia for Canadian junior hockey and he compiled 17 goals and 45 assists in 67 games last season. His skating is elite and he’s very comfortable getting up ice on the rush.
11. Sharks — Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgarden (Sweden), 5-10, 171: Lekkerimaki is a good stickhandler and an elite sniper regardless of what type of shot he takes but just an average skater. He had five goals and 10 assists in six games and was named the tournament MVP as Sweden won the gold medal at the World Under-18 Championships.
12. Blue Jackets — Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle (WHL), 6-2, 185: The slick-skating blueliner had 61 assists in 67 games for Seattle and has excellent vision and playmaking ability. But he still needs to improve his shooting and defense.
13. Islanders — Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw (WHL), 5-10, 194: The Islanders need puck-moving defensemen in the system, preferably at the NHL level right now, but either Mateychuk, Korchinski or Mintyukov would help long term. Mateychuk is an elite skater and strong puckhandler who is also responsible defensively.
14. Jets — Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg (WHL), 6-4, 190: Central Scouting ranked Geekie fifth among North American skaters but doubts about his skating ability have made it tough to determine exactly where he’ll be picked. He is a strong two-way player who uses his size well and is the brother of the Kraken’s Morgan Geekie.
15. Canucks — Ryan Chesley, D, USA Under-18 (National Team Development Program), 6-0, 201: The right-shooting Chesley already has a highly-developed defensive game but will need to work on his offense playing for the University of Minnesota.
16. Sabres (from Golden Knights) — Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitogorsk (Russia), 6-1, 178: Yurov is very aggressive to the net and plays with speed, though his skating and defensive game likely need work. He is under contract for one more season in the KHL.
17. Predators — Owen Pickering, D, Swift Current (WHL), 6-4, 180: Good skater with a big shot from the point and great passing ability. Needs to gain some weight and get stronger. Cousin of Denton Mateychuk.
18. Stars — Lian Bichsel, D, Leksand (Sweden), 6-6, 225: Swiss national is one of the biggest players in the draft. A stay-at-home defenseman for his team in the pro league but showed some offensive skill at the junior level.
19. Wild (from Kings) — Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, USA Under-18 (National Team Development Program), 6-1, 188: Will attend the University of Minnesota, where his father, Dave Snuggerud, played. Dave Snuggerud also played four seasons in the NHL.
20. Capitals — Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec (QMJHL), 6-3, 207: Big, two-way player whose net-front play reminds some of the Rangers’ Chris Kreider.
21. Penguins — Jiri Kulich, C, Karlovy Vary (Czech), 5-11, 178: Had generally been viewed as a second-round pick until he scored nine goals in six games at this year’s World Under-18 Championships.
22. Ducks (from Bruins) — Liam Ohgren, LW, Djurgarden Jr. (Sweden), 6-1, 201: Scored 33 goals and 58 points in 30 games in the Swedish junior league and had three goals and six assists in six games at the World Under-18 Championships.
23. Blues — Frank Nazar, C, USA Under-18 (National Team Development Program), 5-10, 180: Superior skater who scored three goals and nine points in six games at the World Under-18 Championships.
24. Wild — Noah Ostlund, C, Djurgarden Jr. (Sweden), 5-10, 164: Speedy playmaker who some liken to brand-new Hall of Famer Henrik Sedin.
25. Maple Leafs — Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omsk Krylia (Russia), 6-1, 185: A one-time projected top 10 pick who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March but cleared to return to training in June.
26. Canadiens (from Flames) — Rutger McGroarty, RW, Under-18 (National Team Development Program), 6-1, 204: Captained Team USA to a silver medal at the World Under-18 Championships, scoring eight goals in six games.
27. Coyotes (from Hurricanes via Canadiens) — Luca Del Bel Belluz, Mississauga (OHL), 6-0, 179: Eighth-ranked North American prospect in NHL’s Central Scouting rankings but his skating is a question mark.
28. Sabres (from Panthers) — Sam Rinzel, D, Chaska (Minnesota High School), 6-4, 180: Top high school player was a teammate of Snuggerud’s before he left for the USNTDP.
29. Oilers — Brad Lambert, C, Pelicans (Finland), 6-0, 183: Nephew of new Islanders coach Lane Lambert is an excellent skater with great skills. But his offensive production disappointed.
30. Jets (from Rangers) — Isaac Howard, LW, USA Under-18 (National Team Development Program), 5-10, 180: Two-way playmaker who plays bigger than his size. Plays with grit and physicality and compiled six goals and 11 points in six games at the World Under-18 Championships.
31. Lightning — Rieger Lorenz, LW, Okotoks (Alberta Junior Hockey League), 6-2, 194: Dominated at a lower level, but he’s legitimately fast, legitimately big, and plays a legitimate two-way game. Headed for University of Denver in the fall. Projects as a middle-six forward at the NHL level.
32. Coyotes (from Avalanche) — Lane Hutson, D, USA Under-18 (National Team Development Program), 5-8, 158: Yes, he’s small, but his skating, vision and passing skills make him an intriguing prospect.