Every year, the NHL see’s their fair share of prospects who re-enter the draft, and the 2020 NHL Draft re-entry players are intriguing. These are guys that went one or even two consecutive seasons without getting drafted. This year’s draft features plenty of guys re-entering, and a few of them are quite intriguing. Here at Last Word on Hockey, we will take you through several intriguing names of players who are re-entering the draft in 2020!
2020 NHL Draft Re-Entry Players
2020 Re-Entry Player: Oliver Okuliar
Oliver Okuliar is entering his third NHL Draft. He was ranked 68th in 2018 by Craig Button, unranked in 2019, and ranked 63rd this year. Button very clearly likes the 6’1”, 192 pound Slovakian left-winger. In 2017-18, Okuliar played extremely well in the Slovakian U-20 league with HK Dukla Trencin, recording 64 points in 37 games played. He also played extremely well for the U18 Slovakian World Juniors team. Somehow, that wasn’t enough to warrant a selection.
In 2018-19, he made the move to North America, where he failed to get a true foothold in his first season. He recorded just 42 points in 66 games. Finally, in 2019-20, Okuliar broke through with exceptional chemistry with Dylan Cozens. He posted 33 goals and 35 assists for 68 points in 55 games.
Okuliar Scouting Report
Okuliar is a strong skater. He is not a speedster who can win races with regularity, but he certainly keeps up and sticks with the play. He engages well in just about every way too. If he is in an area that the puck gets to, you can bet Okuliar is going to get involved and battle for that puck, if necessary. The issue with Okuliar is his discipline. While I love seeing him get involved in board battles and engage physically, stupid penalties lead to him hurting his team. His offensive skills are decent. He has a good shot, but nothing that projects as a 20-goal scoring ability in the NHL. He has good IQ and decent vision, but he isn’t a guy who will set up plays with regularity.
Okuliar is very much a complementary player. His good IQ and skating allows him to keep up mentally and physically with skilled players, and he’s skilled enough to keep the play alive. He’s the one who will do the dirty work for a line, similar to guys like Zach Hyman and Ondrej Palat, though with less overall skill. He looks like a future bottom-six winger with penalty kill ability.
2020 Draft Re-Entry Player: Alex Cotton
Alex Cotton, who’s ranked 108th by us here at Last Word, was undrafted in 2019. He played his first full season in 2018-19 with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, recording 11 points in 54 games. But, Cotton broke out this season, with 67 points in 63 games from the back-end. The 6’2”, 201 pound right-handed blueliner could be a very good selection after the second-round.
Cotton’s skating is a work in progress, certainly. His skating is good, with an overall above-average speed and acceleration. However, he doesn’t have the best ability when it comes to skating backwards. Cotton could also look towards improving his edge work and lower-body strength, but his skating is okay at the moment. His offensive game is very good. He has strong passing and a good shot, especially his wrist shot. He has a knack for constantly moving and keeping the flow going. His vision and passing ability bode well for his upside. His shot, though a work in progress, is still a threat when given space.
Defensively, Cotton does lack some ability. Again, his skating sets him back, especially against speedy forwards. However, despite not always being able to battle in dirty areas with full efficiency and getting beat by speedier forwards, he shows a high awareness. Team’s can work with that awareness to unlock his potential in the defensive zone. Moving forward, Cotton could end up as a second pair defenseman with some power play time. However, his defensive game and skating could hold him back, so his NHL team, if drafted, should keep their eyes on that aspect of his game.
Thanks for reading! If you missed my first part on Pavel Gogolev and Yevgeni Oksentyuk, check that out now! You should also read part two on Tag Bertuzzi and Gage Goncalves, if you missed that one too. Next up, I’ll be looking at Jackson van de Leest and Daniel Baker!