2021 NHL Draft

2021 NHL Mock Draft: Post-Lottery Edition (Round 1)

Steve Kournianos  |  6/2/2021 |  Nashville  |  [hupso]

    1. Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power, LHD (Michigan, Big-10) — Team Turmoil gets it right by grabbing the most NHL-ready defenseman available; one who also can provide a calming presence to a shaky blue line. Although the Sabres could use an injection of energy and competitiveness for their forward ranks, Power’s problem solving is too rapid and advanced to overlook.

    2. Seattle: Matt Beniers, C (Michigan, Big-10) — The NHL’s newest team would be smart to establish a culture based on hard work and sacrifice, and no draft-eligible prospect typifies both better than Beniers, who has the physical strength and smarts to make any team a tougher matchup for the opposition.

    3. Anaheim Ducks: William Eklund, LW (Djugardens, SHL) — The young Ducks aren’t too far away from icing one of the league’s must-see lineups and Eklund will make them even flashier. He had one of the best scoring seasons for an SHL first-year eligible thanks to his impressive stick skills and finishing ability.

    4. New Jersey Devils: Luke Hughes, LHD (U.S. U18, NTDP) — The Devils are actually in a tough spot because they could use another skilled defenseman to compliment Ty Smith. Surprisingly, two of the better ones expected to be available in this spot have brothers already within the organization — Luke is Jack Hughes’s younger sibling while Brandt Clarke’s older brother Graham was picked by the Devils three drafts prior. They can’t go wrong with either, but Luke simply makes more sense.

    5. Columbus Blue Jackets: Simon Edvinsson, LHD (Vasteras, Allsvenskan) — You never can tell what’s up Jarmo Kekalainen’s sleeve when it comes to his first-round picks, so expect the Columbus GM to take some sort of gamble on draft night. In Edvinsson, he takes a huge home-run swing for a contingency if or when star defenseman Seth Jones takes his talents elsewhere.

    6. Detroit Red Wings: Jesper Wallstedt, G (Lulea, SHL) — Speaking of unpredictable, leave it to Steve Yzerman to make Wallstedt the highest-drafted goalie since Carey Price in 2005 after everyone expected him to do otherwise. He could go for a center but remember that it was Yzerman who had a hand in Tampa’s nabbing of perennial Vezina finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy in Round 1 of the 2012 draft.

    7. San Jose Sharks: Kent Johnson, LW (Michigan, Big-10) — The Sharks have always favored pure skill over project prospects or going after a need, and Johnson is near or at the very top of all eligibles in the finesse and scoring departments. He was one of the top freshman scorers in Division I and did so without the benefit of major minutes.

    8. Los Angeles Kings: Brandt Clarke, RHD (Barrie, OHL) — The Kings with this pick are playing with house money since they already own one of the league’s top-three farm systems and they’ve incorporated kids into their everyday lineup. Clarke has unlimited potential as a one-man breakout and power-play quarterback, and he would automatically vault near the top of the organization’s prospect depth chart.

    9. Vancouver Canucks: Mason McTavish, C/W (Peterborough, OHL) — The Canucks were too easy to play against this year but that should change with the addition of forwards like McTavish, who was a wrecking ball against adults in Switzerland and as one of Team Canada’s leaders at the under-18 world championship. Vancouver needs help on defense but McTavish is too complete a player to let him slip elsewhere.

    10. Ottawa Senators: Dylan Guenther, RW (Edmonton, WHL) — You’d think a bottom-10 finish in the standings would lump a team together with the ranks of the downtrodden and disappointing. But the Senators are both up and coming at the NHL level and bursting out the seams with blue-chip prospects. Some feel Guenther’s elite dual-threat ability and two-way play make him a candidate for first overall, but chances are he slips a little for Ottawa to scoop him up.

    11. Chicago Blackhawks: Fyodor Svechkov, C (SKA-Neva, VHL) — Svechkov is the perfect candidate to groom as a potential “replacement” for an aging Jonathan Toews, as he has already established a reputation as a premier two-way center who also has that playmaking gene. He was Russia’s top-line center at the U18 world championship after a successful season Russia’s top junior league and the adult-age VHL.

    12. Calgary Flames: Isak Rosen, LW/C (Leksand, SHL) — Speed, skill, and then more speed and more skill sum up what Rosen can offer in addition to a developing two-way game. He’s still pretty wiry and in need of muscle but his nasty one-timer can knock a goalie off his skates.

    13. Philadelphia Flyers: Sebastian Cossa, G (Edmonton, WHL) — You can make a decent argument that the Flyers haven’t had consistency in goal over a three–year period since the mid-1980’s and Pelle Lindbergh, which is crazy considering how quick we were to anoint Carter Hart as the heir apparent. Cossa is big, quick, and incredibly mature for his age, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a talented prospect push Hart for minutes.

    14. Dallas Stars: Cole Sillinger, C/W (Sioux City, USHL) — Missing the playoffs after being in the Stanley Cup Final the season prior came as a shock to most of us, but at least the consolation prize for Stars fans is one of the most complete forwards available in this draft. Sillinger is blessed with buttery-soft hands and a very high IQ, and he laid absolute waste to the USHL after moving over from the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, producing nearly a point and a half per game.

    15. New York Rangers: Matthew Coronato, C/RW (Chicago, USHL) — The Rangers axed some heavy hitters from their front office, coaching staff, and scouting department, so there’s no reason to think they’ll continue the draft-day trend of thinking they’re smarter than everyone else. They need centers, plain and simple, and hopefully incoming GM Chris Drury identifies it. Coronato not only calls New York home, but he’s one of the draft’s hardest workers with elite stick skills from either the wing or center ice.

    16. Montreal Canadiens: Oskar Olausson, RW (HV71, SHL) — You’re probably going to see more Canadiens’ neophytes matriculating into the NHL next season but those who remain in the early-development process don’t possess Olausson’s complete 200-foot game and elite shot-release combination. He’s already posterized several quality defensemen and goalies in Sweden.

    17. St. Louis Blues: Nikita Chibrikov, RW (SKA-Neva, VHL) — Tough, physical, and a plus-plus shooter, Chibrikov more than held his own playing against adults in Russia’s VHL and was Russia’s captain at the U18 worlds. He’s a highly-competitive winger who seems to get better as the game tightens up and gets uglier. Would be interesting to see the Blues put him on the same line with Klim Kostin while also getting mentored by Vladimir Tarasenko.

    18. Nashville Predators: Simon Robertsson, LW (Skelleftea, SHL) — First-year draft eligibles in European elite leagues are known for scoring well below the rates of their peers in North American junior circuits, which is why Robertsson should be evaluated on his promise far more than his meager league production. He’s big, quick, aggressive and boasts an elite wrist shot. The Predators have had an issue finishing the last few seasons and Robertsson is the type of prospect who will help rectify it sooner than later.

    19. New Jersey Devils (NYI): Fabian Lysell, RW (Lulea, SHL) — Lysell is what we call a “shiny new toy” as he is an excitable winger and one of the draft’s fastest skaters while owning a deadly shot. He began the season with Frolunda of the SHL but later forced a trade to contending Lulea, where Lysell was a good soldier in a support role. Sometimes he can play with tunnel vision, but the Devils would be making a wise choice with him as a mid-first gamble.

    20. Edmonton Oilers: Carson Lambos, LHD (Winnipeg, WHL) — Yes, the Oilers already own quality defense prospects and yes, the Oilers this season were one of the league’s stingiest clubs in goals allowed. But neither situation is guaranteed to continue into the next decade, which is why drafting a Western Canadian gem like Lambos is a prudent attempt to sustain both. He’s a powerful skater with the strength to separate forwards of any size off the puck but Lambos also has the skills required to quarterback a power play.

    21. Minnesota Wild: Corson Ceulemans, RHD (Brooks, AJHL) — Whether evaluators think the world of Ceulemans or not, nobody can deny how impressive the complete package can be, especially on the off-chance that he pieces everything together over an extended period. The Wisconsin-bound blueliner is a terrific skater and loves to shoot the puck, and some even see him as a potential top-10 pick.

    22. Columbus Blue Jackets (TBL): Ville Koivunen, LW (Karpat U20, SM-Sarja) — It’ll be a minor miracle if Kekalainen doesn’t use at least one of his three first-round picks on a prospect from his native Finland’s deep pool, so why not grab one of their most complete forwards. Koivunen played himself into a first-line role early into this past season and not only kept it but also parlayed it into a top-three spot at the U18 worlds. He’s an excellent stickhandler and set-up man but also is effective in all three zones.

    23. Detroit Red Wings (WAS): Francesco Pinelli, C (Kitchener, OHL) — If the Wings don’t address the center-ice position with the No. 6 pick, then look for them to do so with this pick or at least one of their three choices in Round 2. Pinelli easily is one of the draft’s top pivots within a group that is both thin and lacking franchise star power, so you could consider this pick as receiving top-10 quality later in the first round.

    24. Florida Panthers: Brennan Othmann, LW (Flint, OHL) — It’s wrong to call a prospect’s performance in a short tournament a “coming out party” if that kid had previously been earmarked as a first-round talent year or two prior. But that appears to be the case with Othmann, who was borderline electric and momentum-changing for the gold-medal-winning Canadians at last month’s under-18 world championship. He’s quick and physical but also has soft hands and plays with passion.

    25. Vegas Golden Knights: Prokhor Poltapov, RW (Krasnaya Armiya, MHL) — The Golden Knights have grabbed at least one Russian in each of their first four drafts, so you must think they’ve kept an ear to the grindstone on all the notable kids from overseas. In terms of pure skill and quick hands, very few in this group can touch Poltapov, who already has amassed an entire volume of highlight-reel moves that include spin-o-ramas, dangles, toe drags, and beyond.

    26. Columbus Blue Jackets (TOR): Samuel Helenius, C (JyP, SM-Liiga) — A towering center with NHL bloodlines who plays a tough 200-foot game, Helenius can intimidate with his size and his punishing physicality. You might think that the Jackets are getting too cute with the European prospect pool, but Helenius is a throwback who probably would have excelled in either the run-and-gun 1980’s or the Dead Puck Era that followed soon after.

    27. Minnesota Wild (PIT): Ayrton Martino, LW (Omaha, USHL) — The pick that was acquired in the Jason Zucker deal doesn’t have to yield a grand slam, but Martino has all the makings to become one of the steals in this draft. Driven and selfless, the Clarkson recruit was one of the top players in the USHL this season while showing a penchant for delivering momentum-changing plays on a consistent basis.

    28. Winnipeg Jets: Samu Tuomaala, RW (Karpat U20, SM-Sarja) — The Jets until last year neglected the wing position for several consecutive drafts and the position remains a bit of a weakness within the prospect pool. But Tuomaala fits Winnipeg’s style to a T — he’s fast, he can snipe it, and is both aggressive and physical on the forecheck. He may be slight in build, but he can be an inside player who attacks the middle of the ice with speed.

    29. Boston Bruins: Zachary Bolduc, C/LW (Rimouski, QMJHL) — The Bruins are another wild card when it comes to their first pick of any draft, as shown by the actions of GM Don Sweeney and his staff in the last several years. But Bolduc is the kind of prospect who can satisfy the organization’s demand for physical centers with size while also appeasing the fan base with an impressive combination of both power and finesse.

    30. Carolina Hurricanes: Aatu Raty, C/W (Karpat, SM-Liiga) — The quality and depth of Carolina’s vaunted group remains strong from the top down, which is why the Canes can afford to go for the upper cut in the late first round on the very prospect who at one point was a lock for the top three. Raty’s draft year was a lot better than you’d think in spite of his limited role on a competitive elite-league team in Finland. He still has the size, shot, and 200-foot effort to build from, and if any organization can get the most out of Finnish prospects, it’s probably Carolina more than any other.

    31. Colorado Avalanche: Alexander Kisakov, LW (Dynamo MSK, MHL) — One thing that is crystal clear is that the Avalanche don’t need any sort of help on defense at any level, so gunning for a high-scoring forward off a Stanley Cup-contending campaign is a course of action that gets our full approval. Kisakov can be a joy to watch, as he was the runner-up for the scoring crown in Russia’s MHL and delivered several big-game performances during Dynamo MSK’s march to the league championship.

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