We’ll concede, the exercise we’re about to embark on is a tad silly.
It is exceedingly rare that players outside of the top five jump right into the NHL, so when we name three players who could go right into the top flight, just know they probably all will be no-brainers.
But hey, last season Jack Hughes, Kappo Kakko and Kirby Dach were the top three picks and all played north of 60 games in the NHL. The only others were 20th overall pick Ville Heinola (eight games) and Tobias Bjornfot (three games), who was taken two picks later.
So keeping all that in mind, here are a couple guys who might (again, might!) get some NHL run in the upcoming season. Of course, we’re excluding Alexis Lafrenière, who almost certainly will be selected by the New York Rangers at first overall.
Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL)
The 18-year-old is just a massive kid who will end up with the Los Angeles Kings or Ottawa Senators. Either way, it seems highly likely he could get a chance right off the jump because, not only is he huge, he’s also a tremendous skater. The more time he can continue honing offensive skills in the NHL the better, so it’s promising he has the physical makeup to conceivably handle the NHL game as an 18-year-old.
Cole Perfetti, F, Saginaw (OHL)
Unless things go nuts, it seems highly likely Perfetti will go to the Detroit Red Wings at fourth overall. And if you’re trying to break into the NHL in Year 1, Detroit is the perfect place to go right now. While also a sound defender, Perfetti is a tremendous scorer and facilitator, and Detroit’s lack of forward depth could give him an early opportunity.
Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL)
He’s a solid skater who has played plenty well through two years in the OHL. While his height might be a touch concerning as it relates to playing him in the NHL right away, he’s already filled out a good bit — especially for a 19-year-old. Being able to hang around physically might be what gets him an early shot in the NHL.