We’re kicking off Day 2 of the SB Nation NHL 2020 Mock Draft with the sixth overall pick. Here’s a quick glance at the board so far:
- New York Rangers — Alexis Lafreniere
- Los Angeles Kings — Quinton Byfield
- Ottawa Senators — Lucas Raymond
- Detroit Red Wings — Tim Stützle
- Ottawa Senators — Marco Rossi
On behalf of the Anaheim Ducks, Anaheim Calling is proud to select defender Jamie Drysdale, out of the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.
Who is Jamie Drysdale?
Jamie Drysdale served as the alternate captain to the 2019-20 Erie Otters, where he was nearly a point per game player. His work with Team Canada — as a 16-year-old with the U18 team and the following year with the U20 group — has most agreeing the Drysdale is the best defender available in a deep draft year.
Drysdale is on the smaller end, standing at just 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, but it’s hardly a footnote in most scouting reports. What he’s know for is being a playmaker, being able to read opponents and make quick decisions. He’s aided by an explosive skating talent that will surely only get better as he builds muscle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player skate backwards as confidently as Drysdale.
Over two seasons and 112 OHL games, Drysdale has tallied 87 points (16 goals, 71 assists). His 47 points in 49 games in 2019-20 ranked 13th among all OHL defenders and his .96 points per game ranked 10th. He ranked third on the Otters in points, beating the next defender by 20 points. His 38 assists ranked second on the team.
Drysdale isn’t perfect, but there isn’t much that anyone can complain about in the defender’s game at this point in his development. He says he models his game after Morgan Rielly, another model of a modern defender who is able to drive play. He racks up assists with a snapshot that seems to know exactly where his teammate’s stick is waiting for the tip or deflection.
Why not Drysdale?
The debate about Drysdale isn’t necessarily about anything he lacks; it’s the old debate about taking defenders early the first round and this year in particular, there’s a boatload of forward talent ready to hear their name called.
Sixth overall feels so early for a defender that isn’t much of a goal-scorer himself. Drysdale is the most likely defender in this draft to become a star, but there are at least ten forwards in this draft who also have incredible odds at becoming a star. Any team that picks him is going to take him knowing that he comes built in with FOMO, because why couldn’t you just pick a forward when there were so many good ones to choose from!
To prove a point, here’s where he’s ranked by various scouts:
- Elite Prospects — 5
- Future Considerations — 7
- ISS Hockey — 3
- Craig Button, TSN — 5
- McKeen’s Hockey — 6
- NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters) — 3
- Bob McKenzie, TSN — 4
Not exactly a consensus, huh?
Like I said, it’s not like Drysdale is perfect. He’s aggressive, and a bit of a roamer, leaving gaps in coverage at times. He’s not huge, and could use more strength in his shot. He’s not perhaps the surefire star that Quinn Hughes — who fell to seventh overall in the 2018 Draft — was when he was drafted.
His ceiling isn’t guaranteed, but the potential is still there.
I have no doubt that Drysdale will become the type of player that the Ducks will build their D-corps around and that is something that they so desperately need. The Ducks have two first round picks and even though the second pick is late in the round, a lot of good forwards are still going to be available.
It comes down to an organizational need and the Ducks have a bit of a luxury at sixth overall to get to question whether to take the top defensive prospect, or the sixth-best forward prospect.
Barring a player like Quinton Byfield somehow slipping through to sixth, the bottom line is that the Ducks need to start building their defense for the future and if they don’t take Jamie Drysdale at sixth, there will not be another opportunity for the Ducks to fill that gap.