Let’s start by saying that this year could just as easily be a year that everything goes ho-hum for the NHL and its prospective GM’s. Players will be selected where they should be and teams will take the “Best Player Available” approach, and that’s just fine, but also boring.
On the flip side, it’s been a year where many players haven’t seen the light of day and have been toiling in relative obscurity, either playing in leagues well below their abilities due to travel restrictions, available space or interrupted seasons. Additionally, many players have taken the opportunity to potentially advance development by jumping ship from current development leagues to ply their trade in pro leagues throughout Europe.
What’s this all mean? With all the uncertainty, limited viewings, lack of available area scouting, abbreviated league seasons, and ultimately a full season of operating within the confines of a worldwide pandemic, this draft has somewhat of a wild card feel to it. However, many teams may have different agendas when it comes to selections due to the lack of information and sample size. Who was prepared, who wasn’t, and who can find those diamonds in the rough based on the information at hand.
TLDR? It could be a boring yawner on selection day, or it could be one hell of a wacky draft. I’m gonna make some picks, it’s probably gonna blow up in my face, but let’s have some fun with it.
Pitter Patter !
NHL MOCK DRAFT 2021
#1 – Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power – 6′ 5″/214 lbs / LHD / U. of Michigan (NCAA)
There’s still a chance that the Sabres go with an NHL ready forward here, but a Victor Hedman-like consensus in a year that doesn’t have a Jonathan Tavares locking in the #1 spot it seems like the logical choice to go full “POWER” here. The prospect of watching Rasmus Dahlin patrol the blueline with Owen Power seems fun too!
#2 – Seattle Kraken: Matthew Beniers – 6′ 1″/174 lbs / C/LW /U. of Michigan (NCAA)
Do-all, well-rounded forward with high motor and character (Analytics guys love this non-measurable). Future captain for the expansion Kraken and Dave Hackstol ace. Think Toews if everything goes according to plan. Now all the Kraken have to do is fleece an old school GM or two during the Expansion draft process and get their hands on enough capital to draft a running mate for him this year or next.
#3 – Anaheim Ducks: William Eklund – 5’10″/176 lbs / C/LW /Team: Djargarden IF (SHL)
Ducks bag the most NHL ready player in this draft and happily select Eklund at 3. He’s already shown that he has the chops to play against pro competition while contributing big minutes in one of the best leagues in the world. Young players don’t get a sniff at quality ice time in the SHL unless they can handle themselves at both ends of the ice.
Eklund’s game is very mature and it’s very likely that he ends up being the best player selected in this draft when all’s said and done.
#4 – New Jersey Devils: Dylan Guenther – 6′ 1″/175 lbs / RW / Edmonton (WHL)
Devils resist the urge to pair the Hughes brothers here and bag a dynamic goal scorer who can T off on the powerplay with the best of them. He’s a competitive guy with some of the best offensive instincts available in the draft. Either he goes in the top 4 or he falls a few spots where a few GMs might be kicking themselves a few years down the road.
#5 – Columbus Blue Jackets: Simon Edvinsson 6′ 4″/198 lbs / LHD / Frölunda HC SHL (SHL)
Big rangy defender has all the traits that you would expect from a defender developing in the SHL; skill, physicality, and that calmness and poise you expect from so many Swedish players. The Seth Jones Replacement could be the huge minute muncher the Jackets will need moving fwd. Hockey sense has been criticized but I don’t see it.
#6 – Detroit Red Wings: Luke Hughes 6′ 2″/176 lbs / LHD / US NTDP
The Hughes show stays in Michigan for the foreseeable future! The U of M Commit with the elite stride and high end offensive ability (Also tallest Hughes brother) is what the Red Wings need long term and while Luke has fallen somewhat over the last month or so in pre-draft rankings, this is a natural fit for HOCKEYTOWN.
#7 – San Jose Sharks: Brandt Clarke – 6′ 2″/185 lbs / RHD / HC Nove Zamky (SVK)
Sharks D-core is old and will need the boost that a heady player like Clarke will bring them. Very few D men in the pipeline past Ryan Merkley, the franchise is drooling over the prospect of selecting a player like Clarke, should he be available. IMO? He belongs in the top 5 and might be the best defender in this draft. This fall is one of those “wacky” moments.
#8 – Los Angeles Kings: Jesper Wallstedt – 6′ 3″/214 lbs / G / Lulea HF (SHL)
At 35 years old Jonathen Quick is nearing the end of an illustrious career, plus, do the Kings really feel that Calvin Petersen is the rightful heir to the throne? The Kings are loaded with fwd prospects and with the top Dmen off the board they nab their goaltender of the future in the mold of so many other classic goaltenders to come out of the Sweden the last 10-15 years.
#9 – Vancouver Canucks: Kent Johnson – 6′ 1″/167 lbs / C / U. of Michigan (NCAA)
By the time the 9th pick in the draft rolls around the Canucks have their pick of who I feel like are Mason McTavish and Kent Johnson here. Ultimately they decide to go with Johnson’s skating ability, puck handling and pure offensive creativity. Yes, it’s true, he’s very slight, topping the scales at just 167lbs, but so was another creative offensive dynamo currently starring for the Vancouver Canucks. Remind you of anyone?
#10 – Ottawa Senators: Mason McTavish – 6′ 1″/207 lbs / C / Olten (SUI)
Bowling ball power fwd with a sniper’s release who likes to mix it up. The Sens are gonna be a nasty bunch to play against because after showing that he was able to play center at the pro level in Switzerland there is a very real chance that we see both Tkachuk and now McTavish in the lineup terrorizing opponents for years to come.
#11 – Arizona Coyotes: (Forfeit pick)
The Arizona Coyotes for violating the NHL’s Combine Testing Policy. The team will forfeit their 2020 second-round pick along with their 2021 first-round pick. Oops! Somebody screwed up…
#12 – Chicago Blackhawks: Cole Sillinger – 6′ 0″/190 lbs / C/LW / Sioux Falls (USHL)
Gym Rat with NHL Bloodlines. Papa Mike Played 18 seasons in the NHL and for 12 teams! Cole somehow ends up getting drafted for a team that dad didn’t play for so that’s fun. The younger Sillinger is already built like a pro and he’s got the release and offensive know-how to be a difference maker at the final level. Fits the Hawks like a glove
#13 – Calgary Flames: Chaz Lucius – 6′ 1″/185 lbs / C / US NTDP
Every year the US NTDP has a standout gamebreaker and this year it was Lucius. He gets dogged on for his skating but all the guy does is score goals finding soft spots. Might have the best shot in the class.
#14 – Philadelphia Flyers: Fyodor Svechkov – 6′ 0″/187 lbs / C / Togliatti (VHL)
A strong 2-way player that has got it done at every level this year including the WJC -18. He’s got a high NHL Floor. At best he’s contributing in your top six but if not he’ll settle in as a valuable defensive fwd.
#15 – Dallas Stars: Aatu Raty – 6′ 2″/185 lbs / C / Karpat (SM-Liiga)
High end playmaker with a great shot and 2-way game. He’s a gamble due to lack of production in a men’s league but the raw ability and size is there. This is a boom or bust pick if there ever was one.
#16 – New York Rangers: Nikita Chibrikov – 5’10″/170 lbs / RW / SKA St. Petersburg (MHL)
Phenomenal skater with a high work rate, there is more offence in the tank here. He’s just gonna need some help to find it and the Rangers will wait while he grows his game in Russia.
#17 – St. Louis Blues: Corson Ceulemans – 6′ 2″/198 lbs / RHD / Brooks AJHL
Is he the next Cale Makar? Not likely not but the offensive defenceman can wheel and deal like few others in the draft plus he’s a valued RH shot. Blues are gonna take their time with this project.
#18 – Winnipeg Jets: Zachary Bolduc – 6′ 1″/175 lbs / C / Rimouski (QMJHL)
Great skater, strong on the counter attack and can finish as good as anyone in the Q. Injuries in 2021 bump him down this list but there’s lots to like here, especially if you think time off did not stunt his development.
#19 – Nashville Predators: Fabian Lysell – 5’10″/172 lbs / RW / Lulea (SHL)
The best skater in the Draft can absolutely burn and has the hockey sense and shot to match. He falls to Nashville due to “Character concerns” But asking for a trade for playing time as a developing Jr is a good thing, IMO. has the chops to be a top 10 pick and could very well go in that portion of the draft.
#20 – Edmonton Oilers: Carson Lambos – 6′ 1″/197 lbs / LHD / JYP (SM Liiga Jr.)
Well rounded defender out of the Dub is in a good spot to grow his game after injuries have hurt him the last bit. Jack-of-all-trades type gives him a low ceiling but a solid base to develop. Also a member of the “All Name Team”
#21 – Boston Bruins: Zachary LHeureux – 5’11″/196 lbs / C/LW / Halifax (QMJHL)
Strong on the puck and a force down low. He’s a tough player to play against and has a temper to boot resulting in multiple suspensions. Sounds like a Bruin to me.
#22 – Minnesota Wild: Samu Tuomaala – 5’10″/174 lbs / RW / Karpat (SM-Liiga)
Fantastic skater who can really shoot the puck. He looks like an energy fwd type due to playing bigger than his size. That being said, there’s still some upside here and he’s already spent time in a quality men’s league as well.
#23 – Detroit Red Wings: Matt Coronato – “5’10″”/183 lbs / LW/RW / Chicago (USHL)
Stevie Y gets his guy. Ok I don’t necessarily think it’s his guy but he gets a good one in the form of Matt Coronato. One of the great finishers in the class he popped 48 goals in the USHL last year in nearby Chicago of the USHL. He’s uber competitive and drives the net so something to work with.
#24 – Florida Panthers: Sean Behrens – 5’10 / D / US NTDP
Undersized defender by the NHL’s old standards Behrens is a new age mobile defender that understands gap control so he doesn’t have to get involved physically, the thing is he does and can. Quick in transition.
#25 – Columbus Blue Jackets: Sasha Pastujov – 6 / 183 / US NTDP
Skating gets picked on a bit but it’s not a major deficiency. The guy simply drives play and was a force for the US NTDP. He’s super smart and is committed to a great NCAA Notre Dame program. Has more to give.
#26 – Minnesota Wild: Daniil Chayka -6 ‘2″/187 lbs / LHD / Moskva (KHL)
He’s a big man who’s only going to get bigger, he can bomb the puck and he’s a quality skater. He’s won at every level and even played in the KHL last year. He’ll play in the NHL, but in what role?
#27 – Carolina Hurricanes: Xavier Bourgault – 6′ 0″/172 lbs / C / Shawinigan (QMJHL)
Hit it off with former Shawinigan teammate and current Carolina draft pick Vasily Ponomarayev He’s a skilled player in his own right who is ascending in the Q. Strong on the walls he fits the Carolina mold.
#28 – Colorado Avalanche: Scott Morrow – 6’2 / 192 / D / Fargo Force (USHL)
Shattuck alum has the offensive chops to play in the NHL and selecting him this late in the draft is worth the risk if he develops the defensive side of his game as well. Every physical tool is there.
#29 – New Jersey Devils: Zach Dean – 6’0 / 176 / C / Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Like a few other players in this draft you could see him way up the charts if a team places a bet on his history and skill vs a lack of recent returns due to injury. Big time skill and is dangerous within 10ft of the net. He likely deserves to be up the board in this draft.
#30 – Vegas Golden Knights: Isak Rosen – 5’11 / 161 / LW / Leksands (SHL)
Like many of the smaller players in this draft Rosen butters his bread with finesse. He’s very highly skilled with a quality shot and puck skills that allow him to be a natural distributor on a line with players that can pull the trigger. It’s just the type of pick you should be making at the end of the round.
#31 – Montreal Canadiens: Jack Peart – 5’11 / 181 / D / Fargo Force (USHL)
When selecting this late in the draft you could do much worse than to hedge your bet on the reigning Mr. Hockey Award winner. These types of High School players always seem to find their way to quality coaching environments and it allows this lottery ticket time to pay off.
#32 – Columbus Blue Jackets: Oskar Olausson – 6’2 / 181 / RW / HV71 (SHL)
Seen somewhat of a safe “wait and see” pick, Olausson has offensive ability that you want in a top six forward but doesn’t seem to have any one trait to hang his hat on. That being said, he has the chance to be a complementary player down the road.
So there you have it, picks 1 through 32, seems crazy picking a 32nd team but here we are.
These picks are based on where I think a player will fall, not where I want him to go. At the end of the day this is shaping up to be one hell of a week between the NHL entry draft and the Expansion draft.
Did I miss on a pick or was a player left outside of the first? Who was a reach? Let me know.
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Enjoy the week and Much Love.