The 2020 NHL Entry Draft will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the annual event being held virtually for the first time ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first round will begin on Tuesday at 4 p.m. PT while Round 2-7 will continue on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. PT.
Chiefs center Jack Finley is expected to hear his name called sometime early on Wednesday, while fellow forwards Bear Hughes and Luke Toporowski are amongst the hopefuls to be selected in the later rounds.
The first round of the draft will be televised on NBC Sports while the remainder will be on NHL Network.
A tall, imposing forward standing at 6-foot-5, Finley has the attention of scouts after breaking out with 57 points (19G-38A) in 61 games during the 2019-20 season, centering a line with WHL Player of the Year Adam Beckman. NHL Central Scouting has him ranked at 38th among North American skaters, with the expectation that he’ll be selected sometime in rounds 2-4.
A key force for Spokane on faceoffs, Finley won 53.4% of his draws despite turning 17 on just September 2. He is just 13 days shy of the NHL cut-off (Sept. 15) that would have put him first eligible to be drafted in 2021. The former first-round bantam pick has hockey bloodlines; father Jeff played over 700 NHL games as a defenseman primarily with St. Louis and now works as an amateur scout for Winnipeg.
Hughes burst onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere, scoring 16 goals and adding 31 assists for 47 points in 61 games. That performance earned him 150th on the NHL Central Scouting North American list.
Hughes finished the season ranked 7th among all WHL rookies in points, 9th in goals, tied for 4th in assists and 5th in shots on goal. His most noteworthy stretch was the month of November, when he piled up 12 points (5G-7A) and a plus-12 rating in 12 games to earn recognition from the league as the WHL Rookie of the Month.
Raised in Post Falls, Idaho, he played for the Spokane Braves of the KIJHL during the 2018-19 season, his first eligible for the NHL draft. The steady, intellectual forward earned the Chiefs’ 2019-20 Rookie of the Year award.
A year after being passed over in the 2019 draft, Toporowski came back to Spokane with a vengeance, finishing third on the team with 60 points including 29 goals. A speedster down the wing, he scored 40 points (22G-18A) in the team’s final 31 games, including a career-best 10-game point streak.
Toporowski finished at 191st on the NHL Central Scouting’s list. He attended Winnipeg’s rookie camp last summer.