The first month of the Western Hockey League’s season is complete and now there is a fair amount of games to mull over regarding the prospects for the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft. Using Central Scouting’s watch list as a guide, it’s a good time to dive into the performances of the WHL’s 2020 prospects.

“A rated” prospects – potential first rounders

The 2019 NHL Draft class from the WHL was headlined by a bunch of strong forwards in the form of Kirby Dach, Dylan Cozens and Peyton Krebs, complemented by defender Bowen Byram. The 2020 NHL Draft crop is a bit of a reversal. The potential first rounders, as identified by Central Scouting, are Prince Albert defender Kaiden Guhle, Moose Jaw defender Daemon Hunt and Brandon defender Braden Schneider. Vancouver Giants winger Justin Sourdif is, right now, the only other A-rated WHLer.
Early on, the quartet of high-end prospects has performed rather nicely. Guhle is the top blueline scorer for the Raiders (nine points in 14 games), a distinction also held by Hunt in Moose Jaw (eight points in 13 agmes) and Schneider (nine points in 15 games). Sourdif is tied for second on his club in scoring with 12 points in 14 games.
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In the early rankings, Hunt is the only player in this group who hasn’t been anointed a presumptive first rounder by at least one preliminary ranker:
  • Future Considerations has Schneider 31st
  • ISS has Schneider 14th, Guhle 18th and Sourdif 22nd
  • Hockey Prospect has Schneider 19th, Sourdif 21st and Guhle 24th

“B-rated” prospects – potential second or third rounders

Central Scouting listed 14 WHL players as “B-rated” prospects for the 2010 Draft. Of those 14, three are making a case for themselves as potential first rounders: Portland’s Seth Jarvis, Edmonton’s Jake Neighbours and Kamloops’ Connor Zary. Zary has been an offensive force for the Blazers, while Jarvis is a tremendously poised player in all three zones, while Neighbours is a very solid two-way winger with good offensive upside. All three have been tapped as first round prospects by one of Future Considerations, ISS or Hockey Prospect.
The remainder of the B-rated prospects are:
  • Goaltender Jack McNaughton (Calgary)
  • Defensemen Simon Kubicek (Seattle), Luke Prokop (Calgary), Kasper Puutio (Swift Current), and Christoffer Sedoff (Red Deer)
  • Forwards Jack Finley (Spokane), Ridly Greig (Brandon), Cross Hanas (Portland), Simon Knak (Portland), Connor McClennon (Winnipeg), and Ozzy Weisblatt (Prince Albert)

Notable “C-rated” prospects

Central Scouting denoted many players as C-rated later round prospects on their watch list. There are a few to keep an eye on.
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Goalies are voodoo, but Medicine Hat’s Garin Bjorklund, Kamloops’ Dylan Garland and Victoria’s Brock Gould all have strong numbers – goals against averages south of 2.00, save percentages north of .930 – albeit in fairly small samples, aside from Garland. Goalies get ranked on their potential, not their junior numbers, but this trio all have better numbers than McNaughton does and could be good value picks if they fall to the later rounds.
Five forwards are also out-performing their rankings thus far: Portland’s Robert Fromm-Delorme, Everett’s Michal Gut, Brandon’s Ben McCartney, Kelowna’s Pavel Novak, and Edmonton’s Carter Souch. If they can keep their scoring rates up, we’ll get a better idea of what they can be in major junior and beyond.