I often feel that one of the big downfalls of the NHL draft is that there is not enough coverage that breaks it down for the casual NHL fan. Even my draft rankings article is just a few short paragraphs, some of the same jargon, and then readers go into the public sphere and read conflicting player profiles from a variety of sources (or groupthink of everyone saying the same thing).
Perhaps this format will help break down some of the 2021 NHL draft prospects (based off my own opinion) in a fun format that can give people a reference point that most of y’all can relate to.
The 2021 NHL Draft Superlatives
Most Likely to be an Analytics Darling
- Matty Beniers, C, NCAA
- William Eklund, LW, SHL
- Luke Hughes, LHD, USNTDP
The first two should come of no surprise and won’t really touch on them. They’re going to be some of the premier line-driving forwards of this draft and I’d be shocked if their underlying numbers don’t reflect that in their careers.
The last one is a dark horse for me. His transition game is there, he’s going to drive play himself, and he’s going to look to the high danger areas of the ice to make plays. His defensive game has a lot of work, but I’m banking on him spending way more time in the offensive end of the ice
Most Likely to have the highest point total at their position in this draft class
- Brandt Clarke, RHD, Slovakia
- Fabian Lysell, W, SHL
- Dylan Guenther, LW, WHL
Clarke is just an offensive zone juggernaut. His ability to play on the power play and how dangerous he is offensively makes him hard to bet against. Once Lysell settles into a consistent SHL role he’s going to make scouts shake their heads about how they let him fall as far as he’s projected to go in the NHL draft. No forward has his pace+skill for a transition game and he’s deceptive with his shot as well as a skilled playmaker. The longer he falls in the draft the more sure I am he’ll be able to produce. I don’t think Guenther is going to drive a line, but put him next to a premier transition player and he’s going to fill the scoresheet in a hurry.
Best Names in the 2021 Class (DY only)
- Logan Stankoven
- Cameron Whynot
- Zack Ostapchuk
- Robert Orr
- Bogdans Hodass
If we drafted Hodass he’ll be the first prospect I’ll be rooting for to make the NHL on name alone since Zagrapan.
Top 5 Most Fun Players to watch Skate
- Fabian Lysell
- Luke Hughes
- Olen Zellweger
- Dmitri Kuzmin
- Marcus Almquist
I added this category last minute because there seems to be a high propensity of scouts in the public sphere who value size-to-skating in their rankings. It’s a proponent of mine, but not something I lean on when ranking players. Four of the five in this group are < 6’ tall (Hughes the exception) with Lysell/Zellweger/Kuzmin being listed at a generous 5’10, and Almquist at 5’7. However, they can all really skate and have skill so I am probably in the ballpark with the first three on the list of the industry, and higher on Kuzmin/Alquist.
Top Five Most Fun Players to Scout This Year
- Kent Johnson
- Mackie Samoskevich
- Logan Stankoven
- Scott Morrow
- Sean Tschigerl
The first four were the most fun players to watch when the puck was on their stick. Just simply electric with what they can do in the offensive end. Tschigerl is just a player I enjoyed banging the drum on to try to get people to rank him higher. He’s a favorite of mine as his skill rounded into form in the (shortened) second half of the WHL season. Watching him regress (positively) to the mean throughout the season was a fun experience.
Players Whose Best Player Comparison is a Fictional Character in the Mighty Ducks
- Charlie Conway in D3 in the game against Varsity: Matty Beniers
Who can forget Coach Orion’s introductory speech to the Ducks at the first practice ending in “Don’t be careless, but don’t be too careful either. You cannot be afraid to lose. That’s how you gain the confidence to attack the game when the puck isn’t yours. That’s how you attack life even when you think you don’t have any control. And that’s how you play real defense.” Beniers is almost too perfect of a player comparable to young Conway when Charlie stops being an idiot.
- Dwayne Robertson: Kent Johnson
The guy who spurred this entire superlative. I don’t have an NHL player comparable for Kent Johnson. He is extremely unique in the way he processes the game, the skill he has, and the shortcomings right now as a draft eligible. All I have ever been able to come up with is Dwayne Robertson. Amazing puck skill, does way too much and unnecessary things with his skill, but if he ever puts it all together will be the most fun player on the ice.
- Dean Portman: Nolan Allen
Not really known for anything besides delivering bone crushing hits like this: https://thumbs.gfycat.com/AcclaimedInbornBordercollie-size_restricted.gif
Allen is definitely the player in this draft who will try to drive you through the glass every shift.
- Jesse Hall: Fabian Lysell
I mean he’s clearly one of the 5 best players on the team, his skill is tremendous, and yet he doesn’t make it to Eden Hall?? What the heck happened, Jesse? I feel the same way about Lysell: should be ranked/mocked in the top 10 of everyone’s list, yet is continually in the teens or later and was recently left off the u20 preliminary list for Team Sweden. Jesse Hall should’ve been at Eden High and Lysell should be in the top 10, unless something none of us know about has happened that keeps them from being included.
- Lester Averman: Owen Power
This one’s simple: he’s definitely good and I just find myself arguing that he’s not that good.
- Guy Germaine: Dylan Duke
Most known for his number (fun fact: 00 is not a legal number in USA hockey as my son found out when trying to replicate Germaine’s number 3 years ago) and his girlfriend: did you know that in the 38 on-screen goals for the Mighty Ducks; Germaine assists on a quarter of them and puts up three of his own?
Duke was the silent assassin in NTDP this year. While counterparts Chaz Lucius and Sasha Pastujov get a lot of the praise for the offensive output of the NTDP: it was Duke who always seemed to be in the midst of a play that generated a goal when scouting the NTDP this year.
Last Minute of the Stanley Cup Finals and We’re Up 1: Who Would I Put Out?
- G: Jesper Wallstedt
- LHD: Simon Edvinsson
- RHD: Jake Martin
- LW: William Eklund
- C: Matty Beniers
- RW: Ville Koivunen
Edvinsson and Martin defend the blue line exceptionally well and are very good defensive defensemen. The three forwards are the premier 200 feet players in the draft.
Last Minute of the Stanley Cup Finals and We’re Down 1: Who Would I Put Out?
- LHD: Luke Hughes
- RHD: Scott Morrow
- LW: Dylan Guenther
- C: Mason McTavish
- RW: Logan Stankoven
- Extra Attacker: Kent Johnson
Clarke could be there instead of Morrow, but in terms of complimenting the rush-style of Hughes I thought Morrow would be a better fit. Guenther and Stankoven take up the one-time/shooting positions on both sides of the ice as well as they can facilitate well in the offensive zone. McTavish is my net-front presence who can use his small-area skill in the high-danger part of the ice. Johnson is the x-factor to create chaos with his skill and move the puck to the slot.
10 Players Who Will Outperform Their Current Draft Stock (2nd round+)
- Scott Morrow
- Simon Robertsson
- Dylan Duke
- Ville Koivunen
- William Stromgren
- Sean Tschigerl
- Jack Peart
- Brent Johnson
- Kyle Kukkonen
- Hunter Strand
My Favorite Physical or Power Forwards/Defensemen
- Zach L’Heureux
- Brennan Othmann
- William Stromgren
- Corson Ceulemans
- Tyler Boucher
- Dmitri Katelevsky
- Chase Stillman
My Favorite Three Prospects I didn’t Rank You’ve Probably Never Heard of
- Lukas Gustafsson, LHD, USHL
- Simon Motew, RHD, USPHL Premier
- Luke Levandowski, F, USHS-MN
Gustafsson is a Scouch favorite who I give credit to for putting on the scene. Could be the steal of the draft. Motew has a lot of raw tools I love, and Levandowski just barely missed my final rankings but the more I go back and watch the more I wish I did.