“Expect the unexpected.”
That phrase is the best way to describe the 2021 NHL Draft.
After a grouping of between 10-12 players, things open up considerably. Add the intrigue of where the two projected first-round goalies will end up, and we may be in for a couple of Yegor Chinakhov moments, if you recall that moment from last year’s draft, where a surprising off-the-board pick surprises us all.
The use of video and analytics will have played a larger part in this draft than any other previous. The impact of the Seattle Kraken is also being felt with players lost that now need to be replaced. Enjoy this dartboard mock draft.
Round 1 of the NHL Draft starts Friday night at 8:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on Sportsnet, followed by Rounds 2-7 on Saturday beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET, also on Sportsnet.
1. Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power, D, U of Michigan (NCAA): Regardless of where he chooses to play next year, this is a no-brainer pick at the top.
2. Seattle Kraken: Matthew Beniers, C, U of Michigan (NCAA): Looks like Ron Francis addressed his defence quite handily. Now it’s time to go to work and add talented, young forwards.
3. Anaheim Ducks: Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda Jr. (SWE): Anaheim has a nice cupboard of young prospects at forward. Down the road, Edvinsson may end up on a top pairing with last year’s first rounder Jamie Drysdale.
4. New Jersey Devils: Luke Hughes, D, USNTDP: The brother act takes flight in Newark with this pick, as Luke would join Jack in the rebuild.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL): Just an average showing at the U18 notwithstanding, Guenther is still a scorer with a big-time shot who is constantly yearning to improve all areas.
6. Detroit Red Wings: William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden (SWE): While a goalie does come into play here, Yzerman sticks with what he knows best, and that’s skill. Eklund is loaded with it and has strong character, too.
7. San Jose Sharks: Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie Colts (OHL): The next wave of forwards looks to be in place for the Sharks, so here they address stocking the D cupboard with this talented, patient, puck transitioning genius.
8. Los Angeles Kings: Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea (SHL): Spoiled for years with Jonathan Quick, the Kings’ pool of prospects is deep but not at this position.
9. Vancouver Canucks: Kent Johnson, C, U of Michigan (NCAA): The Canadian version of Elias Pettersson, and he’s a B.C. native. (Pick has since been traded to Arizona)
10. Ottawa Senators: Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough Petes (OHL): No one likes skill and brawn more than D.J. Smith.
11. Arizona Coyotes: Forfeited pick.
12. Chicago Blackhawks: Chaz Lucius, C, USNTDP: Had he been healthy the entire season, Lucius probably would’ve gone inside the top 10. (Pick has since been traded to Columbus)
13. Calgary Flames: Cole Sillinger, LW, Sioux Falls (USHL): The Flames would be ecstatic to get this pure goal scorer here.
14. Philadelphia: Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago (USHL): His style of play will endear teammates and fans alike in this blue collar market. (Pick has since been traded to Buffalo)
15. Dallas Stars: Isak Rosen, RW, Leksand (SHL): The first of two sharp risers over the last month as teams debate their final draft lists.
16. New York Rangers: Tyler Boucher, RW, USNTDP: Ownership will endorse this off the board pick to add a Tom Wilson element to the fray down the road.
17. St. Louis Blues: Fedor Svechkov, C, Togliatti (RUS): One of the highest risers amongst many teams, this pick will feel like a steal here. His game is complete and there’s enough skill to be an effective top-six player.
18. Winnipeg Jets: Fabian Lysell, RW, Frolunda Jr. (SWE): Is this guy going to be the right-handed Nikolaj Ehlers? It’s quite possible.
19. Nashville Predators: Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg Ice (WHL): Have always had success drafting and developing defencemen, so this is a good fit for Lambos.
20. Edmonton Oilers: Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL): Not only is he a projected No. 1 in the NHL, but who would know him better than the Oilers?
21. Boston Bruins: Brennan Othmann, RW, Flint Firebirds (OHL): Has a bit of everything in his game that Boston gets from the likes of Bergeron and Marchand through to even DeBrusk.
22. Minnesota Wild: Samu Tuomaala, RW, Karpat Jr (FIN): Bit of a sleeper, but if you believe he can do more than just score it could end up being a great pick.
23. Detroit Red Wings: Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL): High efficiency shooter with a great brain for the offensive side of the game.
24. Florida Panthers: Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL): Tried to replace Alexis Lafreniere before coming to the realization he could carve out his own niche.
25. Columbus Blue Jackets: Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL): Jarmo Kekalainen addressed the forward position at the top of the board, now he gets a chance to address the D with this pick.
26. Minnesota Wild: Daniil Chayka, D, Guelph Storm (OHL): Topsy-turvy season going on loan to Russia because of the pandemic and then playing on three different teams, at different levels. Should return to some consistency as things get back to normal.
27. Carolina Hurricanes: Nikita Chibrikov, RW, St. Petersburg (KHL): Could develop into the Russian version of Sebastian Aho.
28. Colorado Avalanche: Logan Stankoven, C, Kamloops Blazers (WHL): With Alex Newhook as a blueprint for development, the Avs head west for their first pick.
29. New Jersey Devils: Francesco Pinelli, C, Kitchener Rangers (OHL): Skilled and versatile, Pinelli has the ability to strike quickly and often.
30. Vegas Golden Knights: Zachary L'Heureux, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL): A deep dive on character reveals a player that wears his heart on his sleeve and one that regularly plays on the edge.
31. Montreal Canadiens: Wyatt Johnston, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL): Hockey IQ is off the charts. Sat for 14 months and played his checking role to perfection at the U18s.
32. Columbus Blue Jackets: Aatu Raty, C, Karpat (Liiga): A massive fall from projections two years ago, but still a very serviceable player with a strong work ethic. Desire and compete are in place, now better numbers need to follow. (Pick has since been traded to Chicago)