2021 NHL Draft
2021 NHL Mock Draft: Round 2 (Picks 32-63)
Steve Kournianos | 6/22/2021 | Nashville | [hupso]
32. Buffalo Sabres: Zachary L’Heureux, LW (Halifax, QMJHL) — Scoring at even strength has been a major Achilles’ heel for the Sabres for nearly a decade, so this tough-yet-skilled winger is the type of low-maintenance threat who can help change that. L’Heureaux is physical and abrasive in addition to owning dual-threat abilities on the puck.
33. Anaheim Ducks: William Stromgren, LW (MODO J20, Nationell) — The Ducks have playmakers up and down their prospect depth chart but don’t have much size on the flanks. They stick with the Swedish theme after taking William Eklund at No. 3 by adding Stromgren, who has all the traits of a playmaking center but also provides responsible two-way play.
34. Seattle Kraken: Aleksi Heimosalmi, RHD (Assat, SM-Liiga) — Few teams dipped into Finland’s talent pool as often as the Carolina Hurricanes under former GM Ron Francis, who is now charged with building the expansion Kraken from the ground up. Heimosalmi (pictured) is a physical and decisive puck rusher who is capable of going end to end but also competes hard on or off the puck.
35. Vegas Golden Knights (NJD): Anton Olsson, LHD (Malmo, SHL) — There are several reasons the Vegas expansion model has been so successful, with icing a physical and mobile defense being one of them. Few blueliners in this draft class pack as hard a punch as Olsson, who played his way into a middle-pairing role during Malmo’s impressive second-half surge. He was a bit underwhelming at the under-18 world championship but his long-term projection screams NHL minute eater.
36. Arizona Coyotes (CBJ): Scott Morrow, RHD (Fargo, USHL) — From underachievers to forfeited picks to renounced rights, the draft experience for the Coyotes since 2016 has been somewhat forgettable. This pick is the first of two the Yotes will have early in Round 2, so going for the knockout with a smooth-skating playmaker like Morrow can be justified by either organizational need or best player available. He’s a little risky since he played against mostly prepsters, but the UMass-Amherst-bound Morrow showed impressive flashes for Fargo during their successful postseason run.
37. Detroit Red Wings: Chaz Lucius, C (U.S. U18, NTDP) — Once considered a potential top-five pick, Lucius dealt with a serious knee injury that caused him to miss most of his draft season. But the future Minnesota Golden Gopher delivered in the goal-scoring department when he was able to dress, potting 13 tallies in 13 games. Only eight of Detroit’s 57 draft picks between 2015 and 2020 were natural centers, so Lucius could be viewed as both the best player available and a blue-chip prospect who also addresses a need.
38. Ottawa Senators (SJS): Zachary Dean, C/W (Gatineau, QMJHL) — There’s a strong chance that this competitive, multi-purpose forward will be gone later in Round 1, but Dean would be the perfect choice for Ottawa if available on the draft’s second day. His numbers (20 points in 23 games) were rather pedestrian for someone expected to be one of the league’s top players, but Dean can be the best skater on the ice from start to finish if all aspects of his game are humming. It also would make sense for the Sens to use this pick on a high-ceiling prospect such as Dean since it’s the last piece remaining from San Jose’s return package in the Erik Karlsson deal.
39. Los Angeles Kings: Sasha Pastujov, RW (U.S. U18, NTDP) — This is the first of two second-rounders for the Kings, who have one of the league’s premier farm systems and can afford to take major upper-cuts with their 2021 picks. Pastujov is a prolific goal scorer who is most dangerous on the power play thanks to his elite shooting prowess. He’s committed to Notre Dame.
40. Vancouver Canucks: Logan Mailloux, RHD (SK Lejon, HockeyEttan) — Whether they address it with their first pick or do so on Day 2, the Canucks need problem solvers on the back end to take the heat off of Quinn Hughes and provide him with a stronger supporting cast. Mailloux has the size, wheels, shot, and high panic threshold that not only compliment Vancouver’s skill forwards in the possession game but also helps address depth concerns on the right side.
41. Ottawa Senators: Aidan Hreschuk, RHD (U.S U18, NTDP) — The Senators at both the NHL and farm system level have far more playmakers than mashers on the blue line, especially on the right side. Hreschuk can fill either role, as he was the NTDP’s best defenseman on many occasions, especially while partnered with Luke Hughes on the top pairing. He can deliver crunching open-ice hits but also showcase his smooth skating ability while heading up ice.
42. Arizona Coyotes: Xavier Bourgault, C/W (Shawinigan) — Flash and finish are two things missing from most of Arizona’s forward prospects, and Bourgault can produce both in spades. He can play center but looked his best while playing the wing on Shawinigan’s top line. Few in this draft class can stickhandle as well as Bourgualt.
43. Chicago Blackhawks: Mackie Samoskevich, RW (Chicago, USHL) — The Hawks stay local with their first of two second-round picks by taking one of the draft’s more electrifying forwards. Although he played on a loaded title-winning team with depth at every position, the Michigan-bound Samoskevich was able to distinguish himself with highlight-reel moves, keen vision, and consistent scoring.
44. Calgary Flames: Wyatt Johnston, C/W (Windsor, OHL) — The Flames are stronger and deeper at center than at any other position on their prospect depth chart, but Johnston is versatile enough to play wing if necessary. He’s a fast, in-your-face forward who does excellent work on the penalty kill and can make momentum-changing plays with his hustle and quickness.
45. Philadelphia Flyers: Ryan Ufko, RHD (Chicago, USHL) — A top-scoring defenseman for the Clark Cup-champion Chicago Steel, Ufko was their on-ice general and most reliable puck distributor whose high IQ and passing helped maximize the strengths of his high-scoring forwards. Ufko doesn’t have the ideal size you’d want in a No. 1 defenseman but he competes hard, finishes his checks with authority, and is more than capable of quarterbacking a power play.
46. Dallas Stars: Benjamin Gaudreau, G (Sarnia, OHL) — The prospects in the Stars’ farm system were collectively impressive this past season, with several of the notables seeing significant time in the NHL. Although their future goalie situation seems stable with 2017 first-rounder Jake Oettinger, it would be wise to add another premier netminding prospect, at least from a depth standpoint. Gaudreau is known more for backstopping Canada to gold at the 2021 under-18 world championship than his play as a rookie for Sarnia in 2019-20, but an impressive season as the Sting’s No. 1 should be expected when the OHL returns in 2021-22.
47. Detroit Red Wings (NYR): Samu Salminen, C (Jokerit U20, SM-Sarja) — The Red Wings at this point of the draft could stop addressing the minor need for centers, but owning seven picks in the top 100 allows them to gun for impressive point producers regardless of position. Salminen is a sturdy pivot whose goal scoring ability appears more translatable than anything else, which makes him closer in upside to the higher-rated Aatu Raty than initially anticipated.
48. Los Angeles Kings (STL): Tristan Broz, LW (Fargo, USHL) — The Kings use the pick they grabbed from Vegas in the Alec Martinez deal (via the Blues) to take one of the draft’s better shooters, who also improved his play beyond sniping and skating. Broz is a Minnesota recruit who played on Fargo’s top line as they advanced to the USHL’s Clark Cup Final. He’s got good size, soft hands, and will make his presence felt on or off the puck.
49. Winnipeg Jets: Daniil Chayka, LHD (Guelph, OHL) — It remains to be seen if Chayka’s bullish Central Scouting ranking (No. 5 in Europe) is a reflection of the collective assessment from NHL team departments, but he’d still be an ideal choice in this spot for the Jets considering their penchant for big-bodied defenders. Chayka is mobile and loves to hammer the puck without hesitation, but he’s maturing to the point where his quick feet, long reach, and strong upper body are used in concert to eliminate puck carriers before they enter the zone.
50. Nashville Predators: Sean Behrens, LHD (U.S. U18, NTDP) — The Preds have a thing for offensive-minded defensemen, which is why they likely regret trading undersized puck-mover Samuel Girard to Colorado. Behrens at 5-foot-9 plays an attack-first style similar to Girard and current Nashville top prospect David Farrance, but he is far more physical than either of the two. He’s committed to Denver but his advanced skill and agility likely halves Behrens’ college career for a quicker path to the NHL.
51. Detroit Red Wings (EDM): — Olen Zellweger, LHD (Everett, WHL) — The Wings by now should be more than satisfied with the forwards they selected, thus allowing then to focus on playmakers for the defense corps. Zellweger is a heady puck rusher who skates for a defense-oriented club in Everett, but his wheels and puck distribution were also consistently impressive for Team Canada at the U18 world championship. He can selflessly quarterback a power play without making the possession about himself.
52. Buffalo Sabres (BOS): Aleksi Kosolov, G (Dinamo Minsk, KHL) — The Sabres drafted only two goalies — Ukko-Pekka-Lukkonen and Erik Portillo — in the previous six drafts. As solid as those two prospects are, however, the organization hasn’t had a legitimate home-grown No. 1 since Ryan Miller, who they traded nearly a decade ago. Kosolov is an overager by only one year but he’s incredibly mature and was one of the youngest goalies at the recent IIHF Men’s World Championship. The Sabres using the pick acquired from Boston in the Taylor Hall trade one of the best goalies in the draft would be more than acceptable from an asset-management standpoint.
53. Minnesota Wild: Tyler Boucher, RW (U.S. U18, NTDP) — A tough out with a thick frame (6’1, 200) who plays with intensity from start to finish, Boucher dealt with the injury bug throughout his draft season but was impressive enough in limited action to keep his draft stock fairly high. Committed to Boston University, Boucher didn’t play enough in 2020-21 to paint a clearer picture of his potential as a line driver, but don’t be surprised if multiple teams in two or three years are cursing themselves for letting him slip to a upstart team like the Wild.
54. Florida Panthers: Stanislav Svozil, LHD (Brno, Extraliga) — The top Czech prospect in the Class of ’21 has been on the draft radar for several years, and for good reason. Svozil provides Florida’s prospect pool with a steady, calming presence, a high panic threshold, and outstanding coverage of the neutral zone. He probably won’t put up big numbers in the points and shots departments but Svozil’s maturity and experience against adults in an elite league should keep his pre-NHL development period relatively short.
55. Washington Capitals: Artyom Grushnikov, LHD (Hamilton, OHL) — After consecutive drafts that leaned towards skilled forwards, the Capitals decide to beef up their farm system’s strong blue line by adding one of this year’s top Russian defensemen. Grushnikov before this season was a key component for Krasnaya Armiya in the MHL and played for Russia at several high-profile under-18 tournaments. He was supposed to perform for the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs but opted to skip play in Europe when the OHL season was shut down and later cancelled altogether. In terms of defensive-zone play, Grushnikov is very mature and closer to first-round quality.
56. Toronto Maple Leafs: Logan Stankoven, C (Kamloops, WHL) — The Leafs up to this point have only three picks in this entire draft and none of the players they end up taking should be ready in time to fix the postseason issues that continue to plague the current roster. But shedding the “soft’ tag has to start somewhere, and drafting a tireless worker and physical presence like the 5-foot-8 Stankoven would be a welcomed change for a team who at last year’s draft went all-in on finesse and skill types. He’s more of a finisher and muck-and-grind type, but Stankoven always appears to increase the intensity when the game situations become tougher.
57. Pittsburgh Penguins: Jack Peart, LHD (Fargo, USHL) — This is the only pick the Penguins will have in Rounds 1-4 and it will be surprising if they fail to address the prospect pool’s gaping hole on defense. Peart, who won Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award that is given to the state’s outstanding hockey player, seamlessly transitioned to the tougher USHL and quickly became the Storm’s No. 1 defenseman in leading them to the final round of the playoffs. He’s incredibly smart with the puck and delivers a perfect first pass.
58. Carolina Hurricanes: Evan Nause, LHD (Quebec, QMJHL) — Disappointing postseason notwithstanding, the Canes are set up for long-term success at both the parent club and farm-system levels, therefore allowing them to choose any direction for their 2021 draft class. Nause is incredibly poised and one of the smartest puck distributors around. He quickly adapted to the QMJHL after spending the season prior in the USHL, and it should be expected that Nause will play for Team Canada in at least one of the next two under-20 world junior hockey championships.
59. New York Islanders (COL): Red Savage, C (U.S. U18, NTDP) — The Islanders have a league-wide reputation for being pains to play against and they’d probably like to keep it that way. Savage, who is committed to Miami University, is a faceoff specialist and one of the best 200-foot centers and penalty killers in the entire draft. He is more than willing to play physical and already is at the stage in his development where he can outmuscle bigger defensemen.
60. Montreal Canadiens: Connor Roulette, LW (Seattle, WHL) — The Habs are second only to the Red Wings in draft picks accumulated since 2018 so holes or weaknesses in the farm system are minor. This offers them the kind of draft-day flexibility to gamble on a high-motor type in Roulette, who plays with a ton of energy but also can finish in key scoring areas. Reports that his upside is limited seem a little off base, especially since games are usually won in the tougher areas Roulette is known to dominate.
61. New Jersey (NYI): Roman Schmidt, RHD (U.S. U18, NTDP) — The injury to Luke Hughes (whom we have going to the Devils in our first-round mock) vaulted Schmidt and partner Sean Behrens to the NTDP 18’s top pairing, where the former played well over 20 minutes a game thereafter and was matched against every top line that came his way. Schmidt is a big-bodied defender with excellent footwork and soft hands which makes his potential for point production far greater than most physical blueliners. He originally committed to Boston University but switched over to the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers for the 2021-22 season.
62. Montreal Canadians (TB): Colton Dach, C/LW (Saskatoon, WHL) — Although Colton’s numbers in the WHL are pedestrian in comparison to what his older brother Kirby registered before he went third overall in the 2019 draft, there are several things to like about the former’s potential as a physical NHL forward. For starters, he was an effective contributor on Saskatoon’s top line, where he recorded 17 primary points in only 20 games. He also was used in every situation no matter the strength and had a penchant for delivering in the clutch. The Habs have one of the deeper collections of forward prospects but not many have Dach’s combination of smarts, size, and production.
63. Chicago Blackhawks (VGK): Ryder Korczak, C (Moose Jaw, WHL) — Korczak is a playmaking 200-foot center who smoked the WHL as a sophomore on a bottom feeder during the 2019-20 campaign. Although he didn’t surpass that production in a smaller 17-game sample this past season, Korczak is one of the better three-zone pivots available and provides the intangibles necessary to impact shifts when he isn’t generating points.