A couple weeks ago I sat down to start making my first rankings for the 2021 draft, and I realized just how wacky this year is going to be. I thought for sure I’d have to wait until February in hopes of getting to see all the 2021 eligible players play at least one game before I made this ranking. However, as we move into 2021 the new reality is that we’re going to have to go through this process with the assumptions that 1.) These rankings are extremely fluid compared to most years and 2.) the sample size we’ll get to see from these players could be drastically lower than any other year.
It’s early in the process for this draft, but I get a lot of questions through social media pertaining to the quality of the draft compared to last year. I think there’s some depth to this class like there was last year, but I don’t think it’s as deep as 2020. There isn’t a clear #1 pick and there isn’t going to be a consensus #2 pick either. It has a bit more size, and has some really high end defensive prospects that 2020 did not have outside of Drysdale and Sanderson. However, I don’t see the offensive firepower or the depth it ran that 2020 had.
These are my own rankings off of my own personal viewings and data tracked. Shout out to Will Scouch for creating a mini-scouting tree using his techniques that have helped quantify aspects of scouting that I hadn’t done before. I hope to have my own videos to insert this year instead of relying on Twitter to get video content out to y’all in future draft rankings.
A reminder: I’m a tiered based drafter. The ranking isn’t nearly as important as the tier that a player ends up in.
So let’s dive into the 2021 draft class:
Tier I: Brassmaster’s Choices for the #1 Pick
1.) Luke Hughes, LHD, USNTDP
Luke Hughes isn’t as explosive as a skater as his brother Jack, nor does he have all of the offensive talent of his brother Quinn, but Luke Hughes does come with some high-end wheels and offensive firepower. He’s an electric skater who has a Dahlin-esque quality to his game with the ability to carry the puck end-to-end and circle in the offensive zone with the puck on his stick doing so in a manner that makes him look invulnerable to defensive pressure. He’s an excellent passer and has great gap control in his blue line transitions. He can get a little careless trying to do too much in transition, but the reward has been worth the risk. Paired mostly with Sean Behrens during my viewings; the pair has been among my favorite hockey defensive pairings to watch this year. Hughes gets the nod for the #1 pick due to his offensive upside, amazing transition ability with his speed and puck skills, and his mature understanding of gap controls and defensive zone awareness. Not to mention that as a September birthday he is nearly a full year younger than the guy at #2 on this list.
2.) Owen Power, LHD, NCAA
As a 6’5, mobile defenseman with puck skills it’s hard to really pick apart Power’s game. The biggest questions I have watching Power play this year revolve around how high-end is his offensive upside, and his lack of aggression defending the defensive blue line and allowing more controlled entries into the defensive zone than I’d like to see. I think as the season goes on we’re going to see both of those minor concerns get rectified. He’s already looking more comfortable in the offensive zone with the puck on his stick, and while he’s allowing controlled entries, he’s very good at protecting the center of the ice and keeping opponents in low-danger areas.
Owen Power in transition.— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) December 4, 2020
- Controlled Zone Exit
- Controlled Zone Entry
- Good work navigating around traffic and altering path to the left side
- Drop pass to Beniers
Excellent transitional shift for Power. #2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/MW7FnuwTFr
3.) Brandt Clarke, RHD, OHL
Brandt Clarke started the year ranked as my #1 player, and the only reason he’s fallen is because he hasn’t played. In my opinion he has the best puck skills of any defenseman in the draft and his offensive impact has among one of the highest ceilings in the draft class. He’s not a prototypical “#1 overall” defenseman if you look at historical precedence. He isn’t a shutdown, two-way defender. He is an offensive dynamo with a passable defensive zone ability. His skating will be what to watch for in the 20-21 season. While is mobility (especially laterally on offensive blue line) is good; it is not at the level of Power/Hughes. If Clarke can improve his mobility than I think he has a definite chance to go #1 in the summer.
Tier II: Potential top 5 picks (and some could challenge for #1 if things break right)
4.) Matthew Beniers, C, NCAA
No prospect has impressed me more in the first little bit of 2021 than Beniers. Truth be told: I was 100% in on Kent Johnson being the Michigan forward that could be the #1 pick before the season started. I’ve watched every Michigan game so far this year and I’ll tell you this: Matthew Beniers is the best center on that team. Better than Johnson. Better than Bordeleau and Beecher. He is a relentless forechecker and is in constant puck support in the offensive and defensive transition game. He has great puck skill and is very creative in gaining zone entries. He finds teammates in high/medium danger areas with ease and he buries the puck into the back of the net equally as well. When teaching my 11 year old son how to play center I have used Beniers as the perfect example of how to play the position.
I cannot find a fault in Beniers game. He may not have the elite puck skills of Johnson. He might not be an explosive skater able to break the game open with his speed. However, I would bet a significant amount of money he ends up as one of the best 2Cs in the NHL at his peak.
Matthew Beniers can stick-handle in a phone booth. His stick-handling allows him to be dominant in transition. Swerving around traffic and finding teammates for zone entries/exits. pic.twitter.com/fWCTnnNNR0— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) November 28, 2020
5.) Carson Lambos, LHD, u20 SM-Sarja (WHL)
Lambos was loaned over to Finlands u20 league and instantly looked like the most dominant player in the SM-sarja. He’s a big bodied, agile defender who is very good in his own zone and in transition as well. He is a very mobile a player and can move the puck up the ice with both his feet and with a pass. Why I can’t put him in the Hughes/Power/Clarke tier is because I think his offensive upside isn’t nearly as high as those three. He doesn’t have much puck skill and instead his offense comes from his speed and his aggression moving up from the blue line. When he’s able to blow by an oncoming forward in the offensive zone he’s able to release a nice shot or dish a nice pass to make something happen. However, there is not much creativity to get around pressure in the offensive zone. If he becomes an elite shutdown defender or if he can move through the layers of the offensive zone better then I think he could move into the conversation of becoming a top 3 pick.
One thing that's really stood about with Carson Lambos is his deception in transition-- he's really really good at shedding the initial pressure and creating some space for himself to skate. The little skate move here allows him to get in front of the forechecker. pic.twitter.com/bBw7ulguKq— Sam (@DraftLook) November 30, 2020
6.) Kent Johnson, LW/C, NCAA
Kent Johnson is a wizard. He is a human highlight reel. His puck skills are out of this world good. His straight line speed has been a bit of a concern for me this year, though. He doesn’t separate very well and I’d say he’s a slightly above average straight line skater. His edges are top end though, and once he gets the puck on his stick he is extremely slippery weaving through the defense. His shot is fine, but he prefers to be a playmaker when he’s on the ice. I had Johnson at #2 when I started the year and the reason he’s fallen is simply because Beniers has outplayed him while playing on the same line. However, Johnson has eons of untapped potential. If he can start to involve himself more in the middle third of the ice so that he’s the one dictating transition, and if he doesn’t float as much off the puck in both zones then I think we’re talking about a top 3 pick come draft time.
Kent Johnson currently leads the BCHL in points with a shocking 29TP in just 17GP at barely 17 y/o. He’s a super crafty, multi dimensional center who always puts the other team on their heels.— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) October 25, 2019
Johnson is my #10 for the #2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/l58luy9hFE
7.) William Eklund, LW/C, SHL
Every year there’s someone in the mid-teens in my preseason ranks that ends up making a significant jump. This year that player is William Eklund. Eklund has started the year on a torrid pace in the SHL with 12 points in his first 16 games. He doesn’t have a truly elite trait to his game but is a very good skater and playmaker with a good shot. He is a very smart hockey player. When he’s on the ice he is rarely out of position, has a high-end motor, and is a positive player in transition and in the defensive end marked by his almost 55% Corsi in the SHL. He’s playing alongside 2020 phenom Alexander Holtz, and while he’s not the engine of the line; he’s not a passenger either. At the beginning of the year I thought of him as a middle-six upside player but the more I’ve watched the more I see the top six upside with the potential to be a top line LW as a very good complimentary role. Unfortunately, he has just tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the upcoming World Juniors.
8.) Aatu Raty, C, u20 SM-sarja
It’s been a rough start to the year for Raty. He came into the year as a potential number one pick and has had a rough start to the year in the Liiga, was bumped down to the u20 level, and has been left off the World Juniors roster for Finland after playing in it last year. He has always been a good defensive center, and at times he flashes high end skill particularly with his hands and his passing ability. However, it’s only come in flashes and the demotion down to the junior levels in Finland has put him in a wait-and-see scenario. If he can move back up to Liiga and contribute he’ll move back into the top 5 discussion. If he can’t find a foothold in Liiga by the end of the year he’ll most likely end up in the 5-12 range.
Lots of people are souring on Aatu Raty and while he might not be the sure-fire first overall in the #2021NHLDraft.. the kid can play.— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) November 27, 2020
He's still one of the best forwards in this class. pic.twitter.com/BUGEtUnUCC
9.) Jesper Wallstedt, G, SHL
Wallstedt has a save percentage at .930% in the SHL as a draft eligible goalie, and has years of elite goaltending numbers. The big debate is where he slots comparably with Spencer Knight and Yaroslav Askarov. While he doesn’t possess the athleticism that Askarov has: he has shown a technical and positional ability that is really impressive. There is a real argument that he could be the #1 pick in this draft.
10.) Dylan Guenther, RW, AJHL (WHL)
It’s almost unfair to make any sort of projection for Guenther this year after he has dropped down to play in the AJHL until WHL play resumes and is playing with 2022 phenom Matthew Savoie as well. He has started off the year on a scorching pace, but in general he is very good at everything, but not truly elite at any one trait. He’s a very smart player and uses his playmaking ability with his hockey sense to create opportunities for himself and his teammates. If any part of his game reaches another level he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in the NHL.
Dylan Guenther, a top prospect for the 2021 #NHLdraft, played his first AJHL exhibition game last night with Sherwood Park and hit it off strong with a four-point effort (1G, 3A). pic.twitter.com/LLBoKJTfVC— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) October 31, 2020
Tier III: High-end Potential/Possible Lottery Selections
11.) Fabian Lysell, W, J20 Nationell
Lysell gives Kent Johnson a run for his money for the most fun player to watch in the 2021 draft class. While standing at just 5’10, Lysell has more than enough speed and skill to make up for his lack of size. He is an elite level skater and playmaker with the ability to problem solve layers of the defense in the offensive zone to create for himself or others. He has a severely underrated two-way game and is very good off the puck as well. He could end up in the next tier of prospect if he reaches another level in the J20 or gets promoted to the SHL and shows well.
12.) Simon Robertsson, W, J20 Nationell
Robertsson has a very NHL projectable game with his high-end motor and North/South style game. He has looked like the best player on the ice for Skelleftea and has shown a great job of using his heavy shot and creating for his linemates. He is definitely the engine on his team in production and in transition, and with his motor and skating ability he projects perfectly into a high floor and high upside prospect. He’s recently been called up to the SHL and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him stick in the SHL and earn himself a role in the top 9.
I’ve been watching some Simon Robertsson (#2021NHLDraft) tape from his recent SHL stint and I’m liking what I’m seeing despite the lack of production.— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) December 4, 2020
He’s working hard, making the right plays and when he makes a mistake (see below), he’s working to make up for it. #26 in black. pic.twitter.com/qVBqmh0Jfb
13.) Zachary L’Heaureux, LW, QMJHL
My ranking of L’Heaureux is indicative of when he plays at his best. When he’s on he is a high compete forward who uses his borderline elite stick-handling and really good shot to impact games. His skating can look really good, but then either his mechanics break down or his effort will decrease and he can look like an average skater. His off the puck game will have to improve if he’s going to be a true impact player in the NHL, but the raw tools are there and he’s shown the ability to produce in both his DY-1 and DY seasons so far.
14.) Simon Edvinsson, LHD, J20 Nationell
I’ve begun tracking players in the same model (with some tweaks) as Will Scouch this past year. Edvinsson was getting a lot of hype before the season so he was among the first players I tracked a two game sample size. One of the biggest areas of concern for me is his passing. His decision making and completion percentage is well below some of my favorites for the NHL draft (with one coming up in a few spots). However, in terms of natural ability there is A LOT to like about Edvinsson. He’s a 6’4, mobile defender who is a very good defensive player in his own zone and has the ability to be a very good offensive zone player. My concerns: he looks a lot like Ristolainen in the NHL. He’s not good under pressure and panic passes in defensive zone exits. If this can get better you have the makings of a top 7 pick. If they don’t...I’m pensive about drafting him in the top half in the first round.
15.) Cole Sillinger, LW, WHL
The premier goal scorer in the 2021 draft: Sillinger possesses both a quick, heavy, and accurate wrist shot while also having an absolute cannon of a slap shot. He started to show some pretty good playmaking skills as well at the end of last year, but he was very good at creating opportunities for himself. When the WHL resumes he has the opportunity to skyrocket up the rankings if he spent the offseason working on his skating and off the puck game.
16.) Sean Behrens, LHD, USNTDP
Up until this point you haven’t seen the typical love for an undersized player that you get from me the past few years. Well...the wait is over. I LOVE Sean Behrens. He’s oft listed at either 5’8/5’9 but, similar to Matty Beniers, I can’t find a fault in his game. He is the smartest defensemen in this class. His hockey sense is top 5 in this class, and his ability to make decisions so quickly has alleviated any fears I’ve had of his size. He is rarely making the wrong play in either end. He is undersized, but he makes up for it by attacking forwards before they have time to use their size against him. He’s constantly putting pressure on opposing offensive players that he gives no time or room for them to overpower him or beat him with speed. Don’t think he can play physical?
No give up in U18s defenseman Sean Behrens. He lets Mackie Samoskevich know he is still out there for Team USA. Samoskevich appeared ok after the play. #NTDP #PioneerTogether #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/mVWKDJf8Li— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) November 29, 2020
He is phenomenal at picking his spots to join a rush, he problem solves the blue line and moves down either side to set up a low-to-high or cross ice pass into high/medium danger areas in the offensive zone. His stickhandling is ridiculous. He can run a PP and I’d argue a PP1 in the NHL. If I had any sort of courage I’d put him in the top 10. His draft capital is probably in the early second round, and I will be screaming for the Sabres to take him if he falls to them in the second.
17.) Chaz Lucius, C/W, USNTDP
Chaz Lucius is a prolific goal scorer who unfortunately hasn’t been able to play this year due to a lower body injury. He reminds me a bit of Alexander Holtz last year stylistically: a fantastic goal scorer who is a bit of a passenger in the transition game and requires a positive transition linemate to facilitate that middle third of the ice for him. His skating is below where Holtz was at his DY-1, but Chaz hasn’t played all year for me to make any sort of judgement on where he’s at. Hopefully he’s able to pick up where he left off last year when he gets back.
Tier IV: Personal Favorites (I’d pick them in the first round right now)
18.) Mackie Samoskevich, RW, USHL
I love myself some Mackie Samoskevich this year. He reminds me a lot of Trevor Zegras during his draft year. He’s a speedy, undersized winger who is one of the best creators for his teammates in the entire draft. He needs to play more in the medium-high danger areas of the ice as, similar to my criticism of Zegras in 2018, he can circle the perimeter too much looking to feed players in those areas instead of attacking them directly. If he can put more individual shot attempts on net (his number is too low in my two game tracking) I think you have the makings of a fun top 6 player to put in your lineup.
Michigan recruit Mackie Samoskevich showing those silky mitts again.— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) November 29, 2020
Check out the toe drag and then he hits solid post before Ryan Ufko puts home the rebound. #GoBlue #GoCrimson pic.twitter.com/iIownlWMh4
19.) Sasha Pastujov, LW, USNTDP
I feel like the Pastujov name has hurt Sasha’s draft stock given the disappointing development of his older brothers, because I find it hard to watch Sasha and not see him as a player that should be taken in the 15-25 range in the upcoming draft. He has been the best forward on the USNTDP to start the year, and when competition has shut down the USNTDP forwards, it’s always Sasha’s line that seems to be able to fight and keep them in it. He’s a deft playmaker who plays a mature game. He’s not afraid to play in front of the net with his size and is a positive player in board battles. He isn’t a burner, but his skating is good and isn’t a hinderance. In three games I’ve tracked he’s been the best forward in pass attempts per 60 and passes to high-medium danger areas. I was wrong about his brother Nick, so I’ll double down here on Sasha.
To me, Sasha Pastujov is a cant miss prospect and likely top 10 pick. His playmaking is through the roof and is extremely poised and patient with the puck. Defenses also have to respect his ability to rifle pucks up top from anywhere.— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) January 16, 2020
Pastujov is my #8-6 for the #2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/dDR0jqpk2a
20.) Logan Stankoven, W, OHL
Stankoven gets the award for the player I’m going to run to watch when the OHL resumes play. At barely 5’7 he is a prolific goal scorer who excels with a heavy and accurate wrist shot. He is extremely dangerous when he shoots the puck and that alone makes him a first round talent. However, if he can show a development of not just being a one-track-mind when the puck gets on his stick I think he could end up being in the mid-teens in the draft. We’ve seen pint-sized goal scorers get overlooked recently in the draft and those teams that have passed on them have regretted it. Stankoven looks to join the ranks of Debrincat and Caufield in that club in 2021.
Logan Stankoven is one of my favourite prospects eligible for the #2021NHLDraft.— 2021 NHL Draft (@NHLDraft2021) January 17, 2019
He's a bit undersized but he's very strong and has a deadly release. He's also a fine skater with quick hands good puck protection. pic.twitter.com/f2uRahKZml
21.) Scott Morrow, RHD, HS-Prep (Shattuck-St. Mary’s)
I will admit this is an aggressive ranking for Scott Morrow. My hope is that he ends up moving to the USHL at the end of this year and justifies it, because he is STUPID skilled with the puck for a HS-Prep player. If you like insanely skilled, offensive defensemen then you’re going to love Scott Morrow as a possible last first/second round pick. He is extremely raw in terms of the finer points of what I look for in a defenseman and most of that, in my opinion, is because he doesn’t need to do it given the level of competition he’s playing against. He’s going to take a few years but if you are a homerun swing type of drafter: there is no one in this draft who could outperform their draft position like Morrow could.
I'm going to start dumping coal into the Scott Morrow hype train. pic.twitter.com/uliSQgspF6— Will Scouch (@Scouching) October 30, 2020
22.) Jeremy Wilmer, LW, USNTDP
Here’s the other aggressive ranking I have compared to many other draft ranking sites. If Sasha is the most well rounded forward on the USNTDP; I think Wilmer screams the forward with the most runway going forward. He’s a late August birthday, and what he can do with the puck and in transition are very impressive, and yet, I don’t think he’s getting the praise he rightly deserves. He consistently is the catalyst for making the pass that springs a teammate for a breakaway or a high danger shot. He’s super quick and processes the game at a high level. I hope to see him look more like Pastujov on his line going forward, and the u18s should be a good final exam for where he belongs in the pecking order of the US forward group.
Been kinda finalizing an early Top-31 which should come out soon and going over some 2019-20 tape, and I still don't think Jeremy Wilmer is getting the respect he deserves.— Will Scouch (@Scouching) November 18, 2020
I mean, this goal is hilarious pic.twitter.com/sd9p8RkUtj
23.) Samu Tuomaala, W, u20 SM-sarja
Samu is a player that I typically fall in love with: undersize, boatloads of skill, and has the speed to go with his size. However, Samu has been really inconsistent in my two viewings of him this year. He’s not a dominant force on the ice in the u20 league and his production is not at a level that has him as a first round selection as of right now. He’s tumbled about 10 spots to start the year for me, and he’ll continue to fall down the rankings unless he gets more consistent effort and an increase in production.
24.) Nikita Chibrikov, C/W, KHL
It’s been hard to evaluate Chibrikov as he’s bounced around the Russian leagues due to COVID. He’s looked really good in the MHL (especially on the attack) and has looked competent in the one KHL game I saw. His role clearly changed as he moved to the KHL though and he’s spent the majority of his season in the KHL. He’s a very good offensive player who is going to need some time to learn to play without the puck and in the a North American style defensive structure. However, bet on the offensive talent and I think he’s worth the risk.
Just want to revisit this Nikita Chibrikov assist from the U-17 5 Nations Tournament in February. Skates in and out of a 1-on-4 and then sauces it over two Czechs to find Matvei Petrov #2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/i0hX5YnxEC— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) October 23, 2020
25.) Oskar Olausson, W, J20 Nationell
Olausson was a mid-round pick for me coming into the year but has exploded in the u20 league in Sweden and now has earned a discussion about being a possible first round selection. He plays a pretty simple game that is based on his speed and his above average shot. He needs to work on using his teammates and making plays under pressure and not turning the puck over. However, even if he plays a simple N/S game with his motor and shot he could still be a solid bottom six forward in the NHL if that’s how his game progresses.
Another 2021 Prospect in Oskar Olausson has also scored for HV71 in J20. Secondary assist to Emil Andrae (PHI). pic.twitter.com/QrKoJyOfoz— Mikael Holm (@carlmikaelholm) October 30, 2020
26.) Isak Rosen, W, J20 Nationell
Isak Rosen does three things very well:
1.) Gets to the high-medium danger areas of the ice to take his shot or to make his pass. He understands where the puck should go, and gets the puck there to shoot it or for his teammates to shoot it.
2.) He is able to control a game with the puck on his stick. A team can definitely run their offense through Rosen.
3.) Very good off the puck, which has helped him find space to get his shot and mitigate the fact he isn’t an elite level skater despite his size and slim frame.
His faults almost all lie with him being too weak physically to really compete in board battles and when defenders lean on him. He’s a project, but he does all the little things right.
Isak Rosen showcasing the shimmy and the shake on this one.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) November 1, 2020
He's one of my favourite Euros in this upcoming crop. pic.twitter.com/mZHGBm4a8L
27.) Xavier Bourgault, RW, QMJHL
I just like watching Bourgault play. He plays with pace, was really impressive last year when I was watching Mavrik Bourque play, and has a knack for putting the puck in the back of the net. He can go missing for stretches in a game, but he oozes potential and his skill is worth taking a flier on late in the first round.
Xavier Bourgault's game tying coast-to-coast goal from earlier today. Love his speed. With his extension, he was able to get from blue-line to blue-line with two big leg extensions. pic.twitter.com/CcIDMIajOI— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) November 26, 2020
28.) Mason MacTavish, C, OHL
If you like JJ Peterka, then I imagine MacTavish is your cup of tea as well. He plays a simple game of a shoot-first forward who looks to create chaos on the forecheck. He’s not as polished as Peterka in transition, and I’m not a big believer (based off last year) that he’ll be anything more than a grip-it-and-rip-it type of forward....but he had a very good rookie season that with some development could see his 29 goals skyrocket upward with more opportunity this season.
Tier V: The High Floor prospects: 2nd round prospects (Going to fly through these ones)
29.) Daniel Chayka, LHD, KHL
6’3 defensemen who has fantastic 4-way mobility and a very good defensive game. He doesn’t have any real offensive upside, which by my own draft philosophy, I downgrade to a second round ranking.
30.) Brennan Othmann, LW, SL (OHL)
Othmann has a very good shot, and I like the way he played in the offensive zone and how he transitioned into the offensive zone last year. He’s sitting at the 30 spot until we see if he’s developed into an expanded role.
Late-night happenings.. I like Brennan Othmann pic.twitter.com/m1LIhS8eyX— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) October 19, 2020
31.) William Stromgren, LW, J20 Nationell
I like Stromgren’s skillset as a big bodied forward who does well in transition and does the little things right. He’s one to keep an eye on if his production keeps going at it’s current rate.
William Stromgren is impressing. The 6-2 LW has 10 goals in 14 Swedish junior games. Check out the pass he makes at the end of this end-to-end rush. Looks like a 2nd-round candidate for the 2021 draft. Starts at the 30-second mark. https://t.co/tyR3ve1c0M— Grant McCagg (@grantmccagg) November 17, 2020
32.) Aidan Hreschuk, LHD, USNTDP
Hreschuk is probably the least heralded player on the USNTDP that should be talked about more. He’s a fantastic two-way defender who excels at his first pass in transition and suppressing defensive zone transitions. He has more offensive flair than he is given credit for, and is a staple of the USNTDP on the PK. A fantastic second round pick in the 2021 draft.
Aidan Hreschuk might be the most well-rounded defender on the @USAHockeyNTDP squad and he deserves some respect!— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) December 5, 2020
Check out his @DobberProspects profile and find out why the California-native is turning heads with the U18's! https://t.co/szOwglT7HE
33.) Zach Dean, C, QMJHL
Off to a slow start after coming back from a wrist injury, Dean is a player that doesn’t have the skill or skating ability of those above him but what he doesn’t have...he does his best to make up in effort and smarts. He has a relentless motor and is willing to do anything to make an impact on a game.
Rushed to Twitter to share my ~weekly~ post after finally getting some time to watch the return of Zach Dean #2021NHDraft I love the way this kid plays and am already regretting that I allowed him to slip on our DP board while he was injured. pic.twitter.com/RZgK2pCe6W— Brayden Olaf (@olaf1393) November 28, 2020
34.) Cole Huckins, W/C, QMJHL
He was going to be an Honorable Mention until I saw that Scouch had also noticed him this year and validated my growing love for his game. He’s a bit out of nowhere this year and is having a great start to the year, and as a 6’3 forward who has his skating, skill, and transition ability I find it odd he’s not being talked about as a top 64 prospect yet.
Former Spartan Cole Huckins finds his way onto Sportsnet’s top 32 for the upcoming NHL draft. Keep working hard https://t.co/zqHjea5s7X— Matthew Thompson (@mthompsSC) November 29, 2020
35.) Stanislov Svozil, LHD, Czech
A defensive-defensemen with mobility that is a bit raw in his hockey sense and lacking any power play ability. Has the ability be a shutdown defenseman.
D Stanislav Svozil (#2021NHLDraft) gets the Czechs on the board early after taking a feed from C Jaromir Pytlik (#2020NHLDraft). Nice pass by Pytlik to find Svozil jumping up in the rush pic.twitter.com/9HoWuDuOiQ— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) July 24, 2020
36.) Corson Ceulemans, RHD, AJHL
A man amongst children playing in the AJHL. He has a lot of athletic tools, but he’s going to be a long term project to see if he can progress to be an NHL player. His raw ability, especially in the offensive zone, is something that intrigues me.
Corson Ceulemans is the lone current CJHL player to earn an "A" rating from the NHL's Central Scouting Service this week.— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) October 29, 2020
The Brooks Bandits have developed some fantastic defenders (Cale Makar says hello) and Ceulemans is another example. Here's a four-point effort on Oct. 16. pic.twitter.com/r9eW4jNsOs
37.) Dylan Duke, C/W, USNTDP
When I’ve tracked the USNTDP this year Dylan Duke is a player that I find is always in the mix of plays that I’m bookmarking that I like. He played predominantly on a line with Pastujov in a game where I thought that line was the one bright spot offensively for the USNTDP. He played on a line with Wilmer and Boucher in another game and cashed in on a breakaway pass from Wilmer. He’s rarely been the player that kick starts the play, but he’s usually in the mix as a the person who ends up with a primary point. I think he’s a decent skater and has intriguing skill.
38.) Francesco Pinelli, C, OHL
He was never given a big role last year, but was still able produce over 40 points. He is a high-end puck handler with an above average hockey IQ. The question is: what does his season look like in 20-21?
Tier VI: The “Out-of-Nowhere” prospects that can skyrocket or plummet
39.) Matthew Coronato, LW, USHL
Playing on the same team but not the same line as Samoskevich; Coronato has had a very surprising start to his 2021 draft campaign as he leads the USHL in points as of 12/4. His skating has improved since last year and he’s shown above average skills and hockey sense the first few games of the USHL season. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him end up as a first round pick, or passing his teammate in the 2021 draft rankings.
Going through some 2021 draft-eligible film and loving this sequence from @ChicagoSteel forward Matthew Coronato. Takes a hit to make a breakout pass, gives the extra effort to become an option off the rush, finds the undefended man in the high slot for a beautiful one-timer. pic.twitter.com/sAY3aoKuZW— Joey Padmanabhan (@joeypad2) April 8, 2020
41.) Ryder Korczak, C, WHL
An undersized, thin playmaker who was the engine of his line in Moosejaw last year and was a great supporter of the puck in the defensive zone. I think he’s going under appreciated in the public sphere and should be a borderline first round pick, but I want to see where his game takes off at the start of this season.
41.) Joshua Roy, C, QMJHL
Roy is a bit of a conundrum. On one hand he’s a former #1 pick in the QMJHL who I saw flashes of skill in his DY-1 year. On the other hand: if you’re basing the projection on how he plays the majority of the time it’s that of a solid bottom 6 player who could move up to the middle 6 in a pinch. He’s starting off the year well at over a PPG after 40 points last year. He’s an August birthday so seeing where is at at the end of the year will be important in assessing where a proper ranking will be.
42.) Liam Dower Nilsson, C, J20 Nationell
I tracked one of his games and I found him to be impressive in transition and his completed passes/passing attempts. His skating isn’t fast paced, but it was the first game I’ve really noticed him over the course of three years so I can’t make a determination on that. He didn’t look to shoot much himself, but did facilitate play nicely.
Liam Dower Nilsson isn't on the same level of fun as Lysell, but there's something there with him. He's quick and handles the puck well, but his vision and playmaking are what really stand out. Big-time threat when the puck hits his stick on the powerplay— Derek Neumeier (@Derek_N_NHL) November 16, 2020
43.) Samu Salminen, C/LW, u20 SM-sarja
In terms of production: no one has had a start to the season in the Finnish junior league like Salminen. His skating is hovering between below average and average, but his skill has shown very well to start the year. His motor is pretty good, and if he can continue to work his way up through the Finnish system and do well in the u18s I could see him moving into the first round.
Samu Salminen (2021) added a nice primary assist on the power play in Jokerit's 3-5 loss against SaiPa in the U20 action. Salminen is now up to 8 goals and 22 points in 14 games this season. #2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/YEsIkorU9M— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) October 24, 2020
Tier VIII: Mid-Late Round Prospects I’m High On
44.) Jake Martin, RHD, USNTDP
He’s my dark horse defensemen in the group on the USNTDP that could be an NHL player. I find him to be a step below Hreschuk, but he’s a solid defensive defensemen who transitions well. His offensive upside is hard to gauge because I haven’t seen him much on the power play, but I prefer Martin over Schmidt if I were ranking RHD on the USNTDP.
Jake Martin is an underrated name that's been catching my eye so far for the USNTDP, right-shot defenseman who's committed to Univ. of Wisconsin.— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) October 16, 2020
So far, I've found him to be a smooth transition player and a very capable two-way presence, someone to keep an eye on #2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/WZd3rOO729
45.) Hugo Gabrielsson, LHD, J20 Nationell
Playing with Simon Edvinsson, he’s been the one with point production, and has looked like a more dangerous offensive talent at times and is much better under pressure at getting the puck out of the defensive zone. I think as the season goes on he’s going to end up as a fringe first round pick.
Hugo Gabrielsson, #16, a LHD playing on the right side paired with Simon Edvinsson in Frolunda, is some good fun. pic.twitter.com/oMfgAyUb1n— Will Scouch (@Scouching) October 9, 2020
46.) Prokhor Poltapov, RW, MHL
A ton of skill, but hasn’t put it all together this year. He’s been a bit of a disappointment but internationally he’s been a great contributor up until this point for the Russian team. I’ll be interested to see if he can turn his season around in the MHL and how he’ll perform in the u18s. I don’t think he’s a first round talent anymore, but I do believe he could end up in the top 64 or a steal in the mid-rounds.
47.) Lorenzo Canonica, C/LW, U20-Elit (QMJHL)
Three things I love about Canonica:
1.) He looked REALLY good in his international friendlies over the summer and his skating looked to be vastly improved compared to last year.
2.) He is one of the youngest forwards in the draft with a September 3rd birthday.
3.) While he started a little slow in the U20-Elit, he’s come on as of late and is now a point a game player who I think will end up around 1.25-1.4 point per game player by the end of the season.
Lorenzo Canonica (2021) is having a great game. He's all over the ice. Here he is making a move at his own blue line and eventually sets up his winger with a cheeky pass. The @Cataractes_Shaw forward has 1G 2A through two periods.#2021NHLDraft #QMJHL pic.twitter.com/E73SyWhLyW— Paul (@PaulGb_) July 20, 2020
48.) Tyler Boucher, F, USNTDP
He’s been playing on the wing in the USNTDP in a net-front, grinder type of role in the top 9. His speed jumps off the screen when you watch him play, and he’s one who will create chaos in the forecheck with his physicality and motor. While his skill isn’t high-end: I think his speed and motor could make him a very good complimentary piece in a middle six role.
Tyler Boucher just dropped 3 guys in one shift pic.twitter.com/8yQK7EMwDR— Alex Taxman (@alextaxmanFS) October 5, 2020
49.) Brett Harrison, C, OHL
He is a player that caught my eye during my initial breakdown of the 2021 class over the summer with his scorching end to the season in the OHL. His skill isn’t first round caliber, but he was producing at a rate that rivaled the best of the OHL DY-1 players in the second half of the year. It’ll be interesting to see where he picks up to start this year if the OHL is able to get started.
50.) Justin Robidas, C, QMJHL
Rounding out the top 50...it has to be an undersized player I love, right? Robidas is the son of former NHLer Stephane Robidas, and is a very undersized center standing at 5’7. He’s started off on a really nice pace with 20 points in his first 15 games in the Q, and for as little as he is he’s actually really strong on his skates. He gets his teammates involved, supports the puck, and has a sneaky good shot. I don’t think he’s a top 64 pick, but you could talk me into him being a 3rd round selection for the Sabres based on his skill, skating, and production rate.
2021 NHL Draft Rankings
|5||Carson Lambos||LHD||1/14/03||6'1||201||7||2||6||U20 SM-sarja|
|8||Aatu Raty||C||11/14/02||6'1||181||8||3||7||U20 SM-sarja|
|9||Jesper Wallstedt||G||11/14/02||6'3||214||8||1.82 GAA||.930 SV%||SHL|
|11||Fabian Lysell||W||1/19/03||5'10||176||11||3||13||J20 Nationell|
|12||Simon Robertsson||W||2/5/03||6'0||183||15||9||20||J20 Nationell|
|14||Simon Edvinsson||LHD||2/15/03||6'4||185||14||1||6||J20 Nationell|
|23||Samu Tuomaala||W||1/8/03||5'10||165||15||5||13||U20 SM-sarja|
|25||Oskar Olausson||W||11/10/02||6'2||181||16||14||27||J20 Nationell|
|26||Isak Rosen||W||3/15/03||5'10||154||12||7||12||J20 Nationell|
|31||William Stromgren||LW||6/7/03||6'2||161||14||10||18||J20 Nationell|
|42||Liam Dower Nilsson||C||4/14/03||5'11||159||16||5||17||J20 Nationell|
|43||Samu Salminen||C/LW||4/9/03||6'3||190||17||10||26||U20 SM-sarja|
|45||Hugo Gabrielsson||RHD||10/24/02||6'1||172||17||4||13||J20 Nationell|
Honorable Mentions: Zachary Bolduc, Fyodor Svechkov, Daniil Lazutin, Artyom Grushnikov, Jack O’Brien, Jack Bar, Red Savage, Aryton Martino, Matthew Knies