NHL Central Scouting (NCS) releases their draft rankings every year in four lists: North American Skaters, International Skaters, North American Goalies and International Goalies. The distinction is based on where a player is currently playing, so you may recall Auston Matthews led the International Skaters list in his draft year. The 2020 final rankings are out today.

Most draft guides and enthusiasts do a combined list, but the NCS persists is limiting the lists to the four separate areas of expertise of their scouting staff. This list is actually a bit early this year, since there is no junior hockey playoffs going on, and TSN may follow suit with their lists, including the very useful consolidated list from Bob McKenzie, coming out before June. No guarantees on that one, though.

What about the draft?

My guess is that none of these decisions will be finalized before the end of June. The draft event in Montreal is already cancelled, and Pierre LeBrun reported some days ago that we shouldn’t expect a big event to be the replacement draft. It likely will be televised in some form, but won’t be in an arena full of spectators.

The future is a very opaque right now, but believing in a bright future is exactly what perusing draft prospect lists is all about. So let’s get to it!

You know Alexis Lafreniere tops the NA Skater list. Maybe you knew Tim Stuetzle would be atop the ITL Skaters list. But do you know who the goalies are? Here’s the top few of each list, some of whom might end up in the range of a Leafs draft pick, but not most of the really exciting ones:

North American Skaters

1Alexis LafreniereCanadaLW
2Quinton ByfieldCanadaC
3Jamie DrysdaleCanadaD
4Jake SandersonUSAD
5Cole PerfettiCanadaC
6Marco RossiAustriaC
7Jack QuinnCanadaRW
8Kaiden GuhleCanadaD
9Braden SchneiderCanadaD
10Dawson MercerCanadaC

International Skaters

1Tim StuetzleGermanyLW
2Alexander HoltzSwedenRW
3Anton LundellFinlandC
4Lucas RaymondSwedenLW
5Rodion AmirovRussiaLW
6Helge GransSwedenD
7John-Jason Peterka GermanyRW
8Topi NiemelaFinlandD
9Noel GunlerSwedenRW
10Roni HirvonenFinlandC

North American Goalies

1Nicolas DawsCanada
2Drew CommessoUSA
3Samuel HlavajSlovakia
4Will CranleyCanada
5Garin BjorklundCanada

International Goalies

1Iaroslav AskarovRussia
2Jan BednarCzech Republic
3Joel BlomqvistFinland
4Calle ClangSweden
5Amir MiftakhovRussia

If you go to look up Askarov, use Yaroslav, or you’ll never find him. The NHL likes its version of Romanizing Cyrillic, though, so maybe this is his name now.

For the full skater lists, these are the PDFs:

If you want a deeper dive on the goalies, go to the link above.

You tell me what you think of all this! I just want someone fun to watch for a few years, so who should I be hoping for?