The 2021 NHL Draft begins Friday.
This is a busy week for hockey fans. The Seattle Expansion Draft is Wednesday night (8 pm ET on ESPN2) and then the 2021 NHL Draft begins on Friday.
University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power has been a lock for the top pick for months and solidified that status with a strong performance with and against professionals in the World Championships. But what will the draft look like after the Sabres call his name?
Let’s take a run at a mock draft. Here’s how the first round could play out beginning Friday.
1. Buffalo Sabres — Owen Power, D, Michigan (Big Ten – NCAA)
Power has the look of a future superstar. He’s physical and has dominated competition at every level, including professionals at the Worlds. With the Sabres entering a transition summer and Jack Eichel likely on his way out, Power could spend another year (or two) at Michigan. But he’s going to be really, really good.
2. Seattle Kraken — Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL)
We’re going way off the board here with our prediction for Seattle. There are two goaltenders vying for the top pick and both are projected to be top 10-15 picks this year; the other is Jesper Wallstedt. Selecting a potential franchise goaltender to set the future would be a big swing for Seattle; they might trade down to get Cossa or Wallstedt later.
3. Anaheim Ducks — William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden (SHL)
Eklund is a fascinating player to project. Some mock drafts have had him as high as second overall; others have him sliding down to the 7-12 range. His a tremendous talent who could be a star in Anaheim.
4. New Jersey Devils — Matthew Beniers, C, Michigan (Big Ten – NCAA)
This would be an absolute steal for the Devils. Many believe Berniers will go to Seattle, but we have the Kraken going goaltender. Berniers could be a long-term top-line center for the Devils who leads the next generation in Jersey.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets — Luke Hughes, D, U.S. NTDP
What Columbus ultimately does with Seth Jones could change the face of the first round of this draft (and/or next year). But their first pick is at five, where they’ll need to pick a winner. Hughes is the top defensive prospect in this draft class and could be the future on Columbus’ blue line.
6. Detroit Red Wings — Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL)
Detroit will be a fun team to watch this offseason with Steve Yzerman pulling the strings. They already added Nick Leddy to their blue line and could be a big player in free agency. McTavish is a big, solid center who would be an immediate upgrade to their top six.
7. San Jose Sharks — Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL)
Adding a potentially dominant winger at seven? Sounds like a great plan for the Sharks, who could use as much young talent as possible. Guenther could go as high as two so this scenario would be a win for San Jose.
8. Los Angeles Kings — Simon Edvinsson, LHD, Frolounda (SHL)
Like Detroit, the Kings have been linked to a lot of the big names on the trade and free agent market. Seth Jones? Jack Eichel? If the Kings want either one, this pick could be part of the package.
9. Vancouver Canucks — Brandt Clarke, RHD, Barrie (OHL)
What the Canucks desperately need is size on their blue line and Clarke (6-2, 190) would bring some of that to their future. Bob McKenzie ranked Clarke sixth overall so this would be solid value for Vancouver.
10. Ottawa Senators — Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea (SHL)
Ottawa needs a netminder for the next decade and would love to pick between Cossa and Wallstedt. In our mock, Cossa’s off the board so they’ll take the best goaltender available. Wallstedt looks like a future No. 1, making this a good pick for the Sens.
11. Arizona Coyotes — *Forfeited pick*
The Coyotes were forced to surrender their 2021 first-round pick, as well as last year’s second-round pick, after violating the NHL’s rules on pre-combine testing.
12. Chicago Blackhawks — Kent Johnson, C, Michigan (Big Ten – NCAA)
Michigan is going to dominate the beginning of this draft. Johnson would be a great pick for Chicago, who need skill up front in a bad way. Johnson has been thought of as a top-ten pick in most mocks but he would easily be the best player available in this scenario.
13. Calgary Flames — Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls (USHL)
Sillinger could be a top-ten pick and most analysts believe he brings top-ten talent to the table. Calgary needs everything and, if they lose Mark Giordano in the expansion draft, leadership is a need to add to their list.
14. Philadelphia Flyers — Chaz Lucius, C, U.S. NTDP
Lucius is another dynamic center who might not need much more time before being NHL-ready. Philly is reportedly in the market for a big ticket trade (Eichel?) so this pick might be in play.
15. Dallas Stars — Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint (OHL)
Othmann and Lucius seem to be the most popular names mocked to the Stars. If Lucius is off the board, Dallas will take arguably the best forward still available here.
16. New York Rangers — Fedor Svechkov, C, Togliatti (VHL)
Svechkov will be a name to watch in this draft. His talent screams top ten, but he’s signed with St. Petersburg in the KHL for two more years. The Rangers’ Russian connections could help bringing him over sooner and make this a tremendous value pick.
17. St. Louis Blues — Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL)
Ceulemans, who is committed to the University of Wisconsin, has been projected anywhere from the top 15 to the middle of the second round. The Blues are in a transition and their blue line needs some help.
18. Winnipeg Jets — Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago (USHL)
Coronato is a popular player linked as high as Chicago at 12, but he could slide. He’s a dynamic scorer from the USHL who might need one more year of maturation before making the jump to the professional ranks. He brings a scoring ability Winnipeg needs.
19. Nashville Predators — Carson Lambos, LHD, Winnipeg (WHL)
Nashville traded Ryan Ellis last week and their blue line situation needs a strong leader for the next generation. Lambos is tremendously talented but his draft year left a lot to be desired; he struggled before his season ended prematurely because of injury. This could be a good value pick for a desperate Preds team.
20. Edmonton Oilers — Shai Buium, D, Sioux City (USHL)
This might feel like a bit of a reach for Edmonton (Buium is ranked 85th by Bob McKenzie) but he’s an intriguing prospect. He brings size (6-3, 214) and offensive ability to the blue line and the Oilers have desperately needed impact defensemen for years. This could be a first real surprise name off the board.
21. Boston Bruins — Daniil Chayka, D, Guelph (OHL)
Chayka is a mobile, big (6-3, 185) defenseman whose stock has fallen over the past year. Boston has done a nice job of seeing through smoke to find real value in recent drafts and this could be a nice steal for them.
22. Minnesota Wild — Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski (QMJHL)
With the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter done, the Wild will be a very different team next year. Bolduc of is a combination great speed and skill with and an ability to score goals from anywhere on the ice. He can play center or wing; Minnesota could love his versatility.
23. Detroit Red Wings (from WSH) — Isak Rosen, RW, Leksands (SHL)
Detroit’s second pick of the first round came from Washington in a trade that reminded everyone that Yzerman knows what he’s doing. Detroit has historically hit home runs with European skaters who seem to be better than their draft ranking, and Rosen fits that description perfectly.
24. Florida Panthers — Wyatt Johnston, C, Windsor (OHL)
Johnston didn’t play last year except at the World Juniors, where he showed well. The pandemic’s impact on scouting is going to be immense this year as teams evaluate prospects with limited resumes. He could be an interesting pick here for Florida, who could use center depth.
25. Columbus Blue Jackets (from TOR) — Nikita Chibrikov, RW, SKA (KHL)
Columbus’ second pick of the first round can be a lottery ticket and that’s exactly what Chibrikov would be. He’s signed to the KHL but has the ability to be a game-changer if/when he comes over.
26. Minnesota Wild (from PIT) — Matthew Knies, LW, Tri-City (USHL)
Minnesota makes two picks in four overall selections (if they don’t trade one/both of them for immediate help). He’s a riser on many boards and has good size and intriguing ability. Minnesota needs help in a few places and this would be a potential reach.
27. Carolina Hurricanes — Samu Salminen, C, Jokerit (Finland Jr.)
Some scouts love this kid, others aren’t as high on him. He’s committed to the University of Denver for next season, so Carolina could keep an eye on him in the States. He’s a scoring center who could be an option late in the first round. He was outstanding at the World Juniors.
28. Colorado Avalanche — Oskar Olausson, RW, HV71 (SHL)
His resume reads “speed, skill and a goal-scoring threat” which feels like… most of Colorado’s roster, doesn’t it? His ability could push him into the top 20 or he could slide with other teams picking more for need than potential. He’s a fun one to watch.
29. New Jersey Devils (from NYI) — Fabian Lysell, RW, Lulea (SHL)
The Devils got this pick in the Zajac/Palmieri trade this season. Lysell is a great skater — one of the better skaters in this draft — and is a tremendous passer. He would be a nice complimentary selection as the Devils’ second pick in the first round.
30. Vegas Golden Knights — Aatu Raty, C, Karpat (Liiga)
Over the past year, Raty has been mocked as high as the top-15 and, more recently, near the end of the first round or into the second. He’s a lottery ticket with a lot of ability that might present a package of skill Vegas can’t pass.
31. Montreal Canadiens — Colton Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL)
We’ve reached the point in the draft where players with a first/second round grade get picked based on the preference of the organization. Dach is a big kid (6-4, 205) and that size might get him a longer look from teams at the end of the first round.
32. Columbus Blue Jackets (from TBL) — Jack Peart, D, Fargo (USHL)
A third pick in the first round (maybe more if they trade Jones) makes this one of the most important drafts in the history of the Jackets franchise. They could bolster their future in a big way if they hit on all three. We’ll see how they leverage their draft capital to help their NHL club now and in the future.