The 2020 NHL Draft’s first round has now come and gone.
A few months later than usual, it still had all the excitement and intrigue that normally comes on Day 1.
There was the expected — from No. 1 to No. 3 — with Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield and Tim Stutzle going with the first three picks. There were a few trades (the Rangers traded up to get Braden Schneider and the Capitals moved up a few slots for Hendrix Lapierre). And there were a few picks that completed previous deals, such as Stutzle being selected with a pick acquired from the Sharks in the Erik Karlsson trade back in 2018.
NHL Draft picks 2020: Complete list of selections for Rounds 1-7
It’ll be a while before anyone knows whether these new prospects will pan out. But, until then, here are the biggest winners and losers after Day 1 of the 2020 NHL Draft:
NHL Draft 2020 winners, losers
Winner: New York Rangers fans
Look, it’s easy to say the Rangers were winners on Tuesday night. But the real winners were the Madison Square Garden faithful.
It has been less than a week removed from when they had to say good-bye to “The King” Henrik Lundqvist, when the team bought out his contract. He exits stage left, and Lafreniere enters stage right.
Who is Alexis Lafreniere? Looking at Rangers’ No. 1 overall pick in 2020 NHL Draft
Winner: Nashville Predators
The Predators selected highly touted Russian netminder Yaroslav Askarov with the 11th overall pick. How highly touted is he? Former Flames GM and current TSN analyst Craig Button said of Askarov: “Best goalie I’ve seen entering the draft since Carey Price.”
Predators assistant GM Jeff Kealty likened Askarov to Jonathan Quick and long-time Predators backstop Pekka Rinne. Among the trio of Quick, Rinne and Price, there’s a pair of Vezinas, a pair of Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe, a Hart and a bunch of William M. Jennings Trophies. Not a bad group to be compared to.
#Preds AGM Jeff Kealty says the team believes Askarov is on a faster track as far as his development, but it’s not always who plays first, it’s who plays the longest and the best. Predators believe Askarov will be a very successful NHL goaltender.
— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) October 7, 2020
Also of note: In three games this season with SKA in the Kontinental Hockey League, Askarov has two wins, a 0.74 goals-against average, a .974 save percentage and a shutout — as an 18-year-old.
Winner: Ozzy Wiesblatt and Doug Wilson Jr.
It may have been the last pick of the first round, but it was by far the greatest, most feel-good moment of the entire night.
Doug Wilson, Jr. announced the selection of Ozzy Wiesblatt by first signing the right winger’s name. Weisblatt’s mom is deaf.
“That means a ton especially to my mom and the deaf community in general,” said Wiesblatt on a call with reporters. “It’s a very nice gesture for him to do, and my mom will never forget that.”
Winner: Special guests
There was Alex Trebek announcing the Senators third overall pick, Tim Stutzle, who has never even watched “Jeopardy!”
“I thought the Alex Trebek thing was one of the highlights for me in all the time watching drafts,” said Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas on a call with reporters. “It’s the greatest show in the history of television, ‘Jeopardy!’ So, to have him make the pick, that was great by Ottawa and I thought that was awesome. … One of the most memorable things that I’ve seen in that regard.”
Then there was also Dale Hawerchuk’s widow, Crystal, who announced the Winnipeg Jets’ 10th overall pick — Cole Perfetti.
And then there were a few former (Lanny McDonald) and current (Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly) players chipping in to help out as well.
Winner: History made
First, there’s Emilie Castonguay, Alexis Lafreniere’s agent, who became the first woman to represent the NHL’s No. 1 overall pick as an NHLPA-certified agent.
Fewer than five minutes later, another historic moment: Quinton Byfield was selected second overall by the Los Angeles Kings and became the highest-selected Black player in NHL history. (Seth Jones in 2013 and Evander Kane 2009 both went fourth overall.)
“That definitely means a lot to me, and that’s something special,” Byfield told reporters. “Being in the record books for anything is definitely super special, but that especially. My dad and mom didn’t play hockey or didn’t have too much knowledge about that. Kind of just growing the game together. I think it just shows that there’s a lot of opportunity for everyone in the world and that you can play every sport and be successful in it.”
MORE: Kings’ Quinton Byfield on NHL Draft milestone for Black players: ‘Something special’
DRAFTED BY (PICK)
Father Geoff scored 700 points in 1,104 career games with eight NHL teams.
Father Bruce drafted by Canucks in 1981 and played two NHL games with the team.
Brother Brendan is Ducks prospect.
Father Martin drafted by Oilers in 1992; uncle Robert played 830 NHL games with four NHL teams
Blue Jackets (21)
Father Vitali drafted by Rangers in 1991.
Bother Morgan drafted by Rangers in 2017
Father Yanic recorded 516 points in 859 career NHL games with six NHL teams.
Father Mark drafted by Whalers in 1990 and played for our NHL teams.
Golden Knights (29)
Father Pat is agent (incl. Sidney Crosby, John Tavares and Nathan MacKinnon).
Loser: Trade-hungry fans
Sorry, everyone. The only deals that happened on Day 1 were the Flames trading down twice — or the Rangers and Capitals trading up, depending on how you want to look at it. In the end, everyone got the guy they wanted (Flames: Connor Zary; Rangers: Braden Schneider; Capitals: Hendrix Lapierre) and Calgary walked away with two more picks in the third round.
I’m just a boy, standing in front of 31 NHL GMs, asking for a trade
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) October 7, 2020
Sure the Canadians and Blue Jackets made a swap, but it was earlier in the day so seems like an afterthought at this point.
Day 2 may be a completely different story as teams look to make some headway with a flat cap.
NHL Draft trade tracker 2020: Full details on every deal to move up, down in Rounds 1-7
Loser: Craig Button
No disrespect to the former Flames GM and current TSN analyst who was on the NBCSN telecast — but, to put it mildly, he was yelling … a lot.
WHY IS CRAIG BUTTON YELLING AT ME
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) October 7, 2020
Loser: Kinda creepy announcements
While the family reactions were everything on Day 1, the moments right before were sometimes a bit off.
The Maple Leafs didn’t get their pick in on time but were still able to make their announcement (GM Kyle Dubas said they were weighing many trade options), including a lurking Morgan Rielly.
And Ducks assistant GM Martin Madden’s bodyguards.