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Thursday Caterwaul: Florida Panthers on Pause Open Forum

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Sportsnet releases April draft rankings

2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Originally slated for June 26-27 at Montreal’s Belle Centre before being postponed, the 2020 NHL Entry Draft is still going to happen at some point. But to paraphrase an old song lyric, we don’t where, don’t know when.

With finishing the regular regular season or a shortened regular season seeming less and less likely as time goes, based on points percentage, it looks like the Florida Panthers will pick fourteenth in the first round. There is always the chance (albeit a small one) that that Cats can move up to the top three via a lottery win.

Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino just published his April rankings of prospects 1-31. Let’s take a look, and with the Panthers picking in the mid-teen especially at the players ranked between 10 and 20.

1. Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL): Here’s a certainty amidst all the uncertainty in the world today: Alexis will be the first player off the board.

2. Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury Wolves (OHL): Played in 10 games and missed 10 more after the WJC. Was starting to crank it up again before the abrupt end to the season.

3. Tim Stützle, LW, Mannheim (DEL): Plenty of discussion surrounding Stützle as the second-best prospect available in this draft class.

4. Alexander Holtz, RW, Djugarden (SHL): There are some deficiencies in his game, but many believe the goal-scoring ability he has is translatable to the NHL.

5. Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa 67’s (OHL): Has been cemented in the fifth spot all season long. He’s smart, competes hard and has a drive to continuously get better.

6. Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie Otters (OHL): The gap between him and the next two best defencemen has shrunk, but Drysdale’s smooth skating and elite decision-making will still leave him as the first rearguard taken.

7. Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SHL): Brings a well-rounded skill set to the table. Makes plays in small areas and isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty.

8. Cole Perfetti, LW/C, Saginaw Spirit (OHL): An elite hockey brain and an abundance of character will allow him to transition easily to the NHL. It may not be as early as next year, but down the road he’s a top-six player all day long.

9. Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin (NCAA): As the NCAA’s second-youngest player, his adaptation to the college game took a long time, but he was beginning to look a lot like the 2019 CJHL Player of the Year by season’s end.

10. Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA (VHL): The enormous gap to the next best goalie prospect in addition to his size and athleticism makes Askarov a viable option from pick No. 5 on.

11. Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa 67’s (OHL): Unfazed by the year’s worth of attention, he was able to crack the 50-goal mark, while developing his play away from the puck and utilizing his defensive awareness to round out his game.

12. Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (Liiga): The questions surrounding his offensive upside have not subsided, but there is security in a projection that he’ll eventually at least be able to play effectively down in the lineup.

13. Jake Sanderson, D, (USNTDP): Comes by his pro mentality honestly and was in the midst of a second-half surge when hockey shut-down.

14. Dawson Mercer, C, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL): Effective at adapting his game from pace to puck protection. Plays with passion and a smile on his face.

15. Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL): There’s big value in this complementary defenceman. Combination of size, amazing skating ability and nastiness are attractive.

16. Connor Zary, C, Kamloops Blazers (WHL): Remarkably consistent performer in all three zones. Never had a stretch of more than one game where he went pointless.

17. Rodion Amirov, LW, Toros Neftekamsk (VHL): Can impact a game effectively at even strength. Most recent viewings were impressive.

18. John-Jason Peterka, LW, Munchen (DEL): More of a safe bet than his fellow countryman Lukas Reichel, but not quite the same offensive upside.

19. Braden Schneider, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL): Another defenceman who rates as a complementary player, but his offensive upside may develop further somewhere down the road.

20. Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL): Great background work will have to be done on this player. If health is a non-issue, and that’s a big question, there’s a steal waiting to happen.

21. Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL): Hitting the 20-goal mark for any defenceman is impressive. Poirier possesses sick hands, a big shot, and can skate like the wind.

22. Lukas Reichel, LW, Berlin (DEL): Plays a very aware offensive game, knowing where his linemates are at all times. Possesses the skill to make plays to open space for himself, or create lanes to distribute.

23. Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL): Last played on Feb. 7, where he was in the midst of a three-game/11-point stretch. Could’ve used some playoff and U18 hockey to showcase the goal-scoring ability that’s been present in Shawinigan the past two seasons.

24. Jacob Perreault, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL): Another fascinating player in this draft class, whose best trait is goal-scoring. Yet there are question marks about his play away from the puck.

25. William Wallinder, D, MODO (Sweden U20): His size and skating jump out immediately. Looking to find the balance between poise and urgency.

26. Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea (SHL): A wildcard for a number of reasons, including limited playing time, being excluded from international teams, and inconsistency. Those factors work against his elite scoring ability.

27. Justin Barron, D, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL): Ran out of runway to get back to the player he was prior to the health issues.

28. Ridly Greig, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL): An old-school player whose determination to hunt pucks and create havoc on the forecheck create a combination of skill and braun that is hard to find in today’s game.

29. Seth Jarvis, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL): Left a lasting impression with a second half that saw him put up 65 points in his last 31 games played.

30. Ryan O’Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL): Great self awareness will allow him to adapt. At his worst, he’s a simple, hard-to-play-against, puck-moving defenceman of high character.

31. Luke Evangelista, RW, London Knights (OHL): Has grown by leaps and bounds since the season started and his work has been rewarded by a coach who consistently produces NHL players.

The entire article can be viewed on Sportsnet by clicking here

One interesting draft tidbit I came across the other day was that Edmonton will not have to send Calgary the conditional third round pick in the James Neal-Milan Lucic trade if the regular season doesn’t start back up since Neal didn’t score 21 goals. He was at 19 before the postponement. Bit of a tough break for the Flames as Neal probably would hit the mark had the season run its course. We are likely to see more of that. The really interesting ones will be the trades with playoff conditions. How will the league handle that, especially if they let 20 or 24 teams in?

How to avoid risking players’ health and Top 3 things about the restarting the season (ESPN)

Former goaltender Florence Schelling has been named the general manager of SC Bern of the National League in Switzerland. At just 31-years-old, she is the first female GM in top-level men’s professional hockey. Congratulations! (SI)

I will leave you with the aforementioned We’ll Meet Again, albeit a little darkly as The Shining is the first avenue I heard this song in as kid. Stanley Kubrick had used the song previously in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

No sir, you’re the caretaker. You’ve always been the caretaker. I ought to know. I’ve always been here.