Alexis Lafreniere was supposed to hear his named called in front of family, friends and an adoring crowd inside Montreal’s Bell Centre.

The presumptive top pick in the 2020 NHL draft from Quebec would then climb on stage, shake hands with Commissioner Gary Bettman and pull on the jersey of his new team – presumably the New York Rangers.

The pandemic, however, took care of that.

The draft originally was scheduled for June 26 and 27. Instead, the league this week will instead hold a pared-down draft by video conference. The first round is Tuesday, with rounds two through seven on Wednesday.

The Boston Bruins do not have a pick in the first round.

“It’s been a pretty long (wait),” Lafreniere said. “It’s coming pretty soon.”

The Rangers beat the odds and won the second phase of the lottery in August, setting them up to take the flashy winger.

Lafreniere is the top-ranked North American skater, according to NHL Central Scouting. He is a two-time Canadian Hockey League player of the year, having totaled 35 goals and 112 points in 52 games before the 2019-20 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season was canceled.

Lafreniere was the MVP of this year’s world junior hockey championship after leading Canada to a gold medal. He would join a forward group in New York that includes Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and 2019 No. 2 selection Kaapo Kakko.

“The Rangers are a really big organization, a really good team,” said Lafreniere, who turns 19 on Sunday. “We’ll see what happens, but it’s a really exciting thing.”

Things should get more interesting once the Los Angeles Kings are on the clock, likely choosing between center Quinton Byfield of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves or winger Tim Stuetzle from Germany’s top pro division.

Stuetzle is the top-ranked European skater and has been likened to Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane. Stuetzle says he’ll watch the first round in the middle of the night in Germany.

The Ottawa Senators own the No .3 pick – acquired from the San Jose Sharks two years ago as part of the Erik Karlsson trade – as well as the fifth selection. If they hold onto both, they’ll become just the eighth team since 1969 to choose twice in the top five and the first since 2000. The Detroit Red Wings pick fourth.

Among the players who could also fall in the top 10 are: smooth-skating defenseman Jamie Drysdale of the OHL’s Erie Otters; blueliner Jake Sanderson of the U.S. under-18 program; forward Cole Perfetti of the OHL’s Sarina Sting, Swedish forwards Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond; center Marco Rossi on the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s; winger Jack Quinn of Ottawa; and Russian goalie Yaroslav Askarov.

“We’ve gone through multiple scenarios, we’ve had multiple mock drafts,” Senators GM Pierre Dorion said. “We’ll be ready.”

The NHL finished its pandemic-delayed season inside the Edmonton and Toronto bubbles and under tight health and safety guidelines. June’s draft combine was canceled, meaning there was no physical testing of prospects and no in-person interviews.

“It’s certainly been a challenge,” Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney said. “Everybody’s had to adjust.”

Flames GM Brad Treliving said it will be a change conducting the draft remotely.

“We have a few of our people coming in,” he said. “The biggest difference is we won’t have all of our scouts in attendance.”

PENGUINS: The Penguins placed 33-year-old defenseman Jack Johnson on waivers so it can buy out the remaining three years of the deal he signed with the club in 2018.

Johnson signed a five-year, $16.25 million contract with the Penguins in an effort to bring some thump to the team’s blue line, but he has struggled to keep pace with faster forwards during his tenure and the contract became an albatross of sorts for a team that pledged to get faster and younger following a qualifying-round playoff exit to Montreal.

Johnson scored four goals to go with 20 assists in two seasons in Pittsburgh. He was particularly ineffective in the playoffs, posting a minus-3 rating during a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders in 2019 and a minus-4 rating in a four-game loss to the Canadiens.

Johnson became expendable when Pittsburgh acquired defenseman Mike Matheson from Florida as part of a deal that sent two-time Stanley Cup-winning forward Patric Hornqvist to the Panthers.

The Penguins did extend qualifying offers to a handful of restricted free agents, including goaltender Matt Murray. Murray, however, figures to be on the trading block after Pittsburgh signed 2020 All-Star Tristan Jarry to a three-year deal last week.

The Penguins also gave offers to forwards Pontus Aberg, Anthony Angello, Sam Lafferty and Sam Miletic. The team opted not to extend offers to three players, including forward Dominik Simon. Simon had 19 goals and 45 assists in parts of five seasons in Pittsburgh. He will become an unrestricted free agent on Friday.

MAPLE LEAFS: The Toronto Maple Leafs signed center Jason Spezza to a one-year, $700,000 contract.

It marks the second straight one-year deal at the NHL minimum with the Leafs for the 37-year-old Toronto native.

Spezza had nine goals and 25 points in 58 regular-season games with Toronto last season. He has 940 points (341 goals, 599 assists) in 1,123 regular-season games and 70 points (25 goals, 45 assists) in 85 career playoff games with the Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars and Leafs.

Spezza was picked second overall by the Senators in the 2001 draft.

TRADES: The Minnesota Wild traded goalie Devan Dubnyk and forward Ryan Donato to the San Jose Sharks in two separate deals, continuing their makeover under GM Bill Guerin.

For Donato, the Wild received a third-round pick in the 2021 draft. The Sharks sent their fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft for Dubnyk and also received Minnesota’s 2022 seventh-rounder in return.

FLYERS: The Philadelphia Flyers signed defenseman Justin Braun to a two-year contract at an annual average of $1.8 million.

Braun played in 62 regular-season games and all 16 playoff games in his first season with the Flyers. He had three goals and 16 assists for 19 points in the regular season, ranking fourth among Flyers defensemen.

The Flyers made the move the same day defenseman Matt Niskanen told the team he would retire with a year left on his deal. He had 33 points in 68 games for the Flyers last season. Niskanen won a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals.

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