It’s that time of year again where many young talents in the game of hockey get introduced to the NHL. This year, many prospects haven’t played full seasons, making this draft one of the hardest to scout in history. 32 (31) prospects are looking to have their name called, who do I have going in the first round?
#1 Buffalo Sabres – Owen Power D Michigan
Going first overall in this mock draft is the 6″5, 215 lb freshman defenseman for the University of Michigan, Owen Power. There has been some debate whether he or Matthew Beniers will fight for the top spot, but knowing Buffalo and their lack of a scouting department, they’ll go with who everyone else has as their top pick. No knock on Power, he put up 16 points on the blue line in 26 games and has the body size and frame to be an impact NHLer. I think Power needs a year in the AHL or another in college before making his jump, but in Buffalo, everyone is thrown into the fire.
#2 Seattle Kraken – Matthew Beniers C Michigan
With their first ever draft pick, barring a trade, the Seattle Kraken go with Michigan freshman Matthew Beniers. He was a point-per-game player, posting 24 points in 24 games and is very reliable. His two-way game and offensive upside draws comparisons to former Selke winner Sean Couturier. The Kraken’s first pick should be gold.
#3 Anaheim Ducks – Fabian Lysell W Lulea HC
To some, the pick may seem a little off the board. For anyone whose watched Fabian Lysell play, this is the perfect pick. Besides the likes of Trevor Zegras and Maxime Comtois, the Anaheim Ducks don’t have much young scoring power, and ranked 30th out of 31 for goals per game with 2.21. Lysell is very crafty, a speedy swede, who is said to be a loyal player to their franchise. With his high level skill and ceiling, Anaheim needs to take his talents third overall.
#4 New Jersey Devils – Luke Hughes D USNTDP
It’s essential if he’s available. If Luke Hughes is available at four, the New Jersey Devils will absolutely take him. It isn’t a secret that the Devils have holes on defense, Hughes can and will fill that hole. The 6″1 University of Michigan commit is sneaky, smart, and has an elite skating level. Some may look at his defensive game as a red flag, but the coaches at Michigan will work out those kinks and form him into a balanced puck moving defenseman. Of course, this pick may also be influenced by Luke’s brother, Jack Hughes, which will make both of them probably very happy.
#5 Columbus Blue Jackets – William Eklund W Djurgardens
If the Columbus Blue Jackets manage to leave the draft with William Eklund, it’s hard to imagine they’d be any less than ecstatic. In 40 games this SHL season for Djurgardens, he put up 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points. He’s visible in all three zones, and has great offensive instincts. His shot is at an elite level, and his passing is outstanding. Eklund himself says that he wants to be in the SHL another year so he can properly develop into a top-6 winger in the show, and I agree. His offensive game is great, but another year of development can do wonders.
#6 Detroit Red Wings – Jesper Wallstedt G Lulea HF
From his time in Tampa Bay, fans know that Steve Yzerman isn’t afraid to take a goalie in the first round. The Detroit Red Wings have done outstanding when it comes to drafting, picking guys like Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, Moritz Seider, and Lucas Raymond with previous first round selections. To round out a great young core would be getting a goalie, and a great one in that in Jesper Wallstedt. Wallstedt has great positioning and a speedy reaction time. This and his great showings in the SHL and international tournaments make him the best goalie prospect this year.
#7 San Jose Sharks – Dylan Guenther F Edmonton Oil Kings
The projected top five pick falls right to San Jose. Dylan Guenther has had a small sample size, which is why I think he drops, but in that small sample size, he’s impressed. in the WHL for the Oil Kings, Guenther posted a goal per game, and an assist per game average, giving him 24 points in 12 games. His biggest comparable is Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson (minus the size difference of course). A pure goal scorer, but puts up lots of assists, and is a big team player. San Jose goes best player available at seven.
#8 LA Kings – Brandt Clarke D HC Nove Zamky
If Brandt Clarke falls to Los Angeles, they would round out their prospect pool in amazing fashion. Clarke is a great two way defender who played in the Slovakian League for HC Nove Zamky and in 26 games he put up five goals and 10 assists for 15 points. He’s a great decision maker and has insane vision which is valuable as a defender. He has the tool set to be an elite defender at the NHL level, and the Kings would be happy to take him.
#9 Vancouver Canucks – Simon Edvinsson D Frolunda HC
With the #9 pick, Vancouver looks to upgrade their weak defense core. Simon Edvinsson is this year’s big “boom or bust” selection. His defensive play is very good, shutting down players on the rush, and breaking up passes all highlight his strengths. His breakout passes and decision making are two concerns to look out for, especially watching his few SHL games. In 10 games he only recorded one assist, but in the U-18 World’s, he put up one goal and three assists in seven games. Like Owen Power, development is key for Edvinsson.
#10 Ottawa Senators – Kent Johnson C Michigan
Talk about an absolute steal at the 10th pick. In this whole draft, Kent Johnson has the highest upside and can create scoring chances from many different places on the ice. Johnson’s vision and patience highlights his complete skill set. He has the intensity and poise to be a star in the league, and just like that, Ottawa adds to their elite prospect pool.
#11 Arizona Coyotes – Forfeited
Due to the Arizona Coyotes violating the Combine Testing Policy during the 2019/20 season, they have forfeited their 2021 first round selection.
#12 Chicago Blackhawks – Cole Sillinger C Sioux Falls Stampede
Cole Sillinger is a play driving forward with elite offensive instinct. His most notable tool is his shot. His wrister and snap shot are lethal to any goalie at any level. He played his 2020-21 season in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede, posting 24 goals and 46 points in 31 games. With Jonathan Toews’ career entering the twilight, especially after missing the whole 2021 campaign, a one-two punch of Kirby Dach and Sillinger down the middle can be great for the Blackhawks.
#13 Calgary Flames – Mason McTavish C EHC Olten
By far, the most confusing prospect as for placement this year is Mason McTavish. Before the year, I’d placed McTavish at the 29 spot. I’ve seen a vast amount of people put him in the top 10, he’s staying at 13 for me. His upside is a 2nd line center, something the Flames desperately need. Due to the OHL suspending operations for the year, he played in the Swiss National League for EHC Olten. In 13 games, he put up nine goals and two assists. He provides a net front presence and has the ability to score goals in the crease and will take a physical toll in order to do so. He also played for team Canada in the U18’s where he put up five goals and six assists in seven games. He has very small sample sizes this year, but he can be a very good player.
#14 Philadelphia Flyers – Nikita Chibrikov W SKA St. Petersburg
Nikita Chibrikov is your typical Russian forward. An elite talent with a mighty skill set. Chibrikov passes at an elite level, and carries the puck through the neutral zone with speed. He can be a key contributor to any power play unit with his zone entries. He’ll find any way to get a pass through creatively, and surely a presence the Flyers would love to have. In the WJC U18’s this year, as the captain, he had four goal and nine assists in seven games, nearly going two points per game.
#15 Dallas Stars – Xavier Bourgault C Shawinigan Cataractes
If developed correctly, Xavier Bourgault can be one hell of a player. Bourgault can be molded into any type of player the team who drafts him would like. His best player comparison is Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat. He can play in any scenario and is wicked smart. His numbers aren’t eye popping, 20 goals and 40 points in 29 games, but he’s a well rounded player.
#16 New York Rangers – Chaz Lucius C USNTDP
Small sample sizes was the name of the game this past year due to Covid, and despite only 25 games of Chaz Lucius, he has impressed. The University of Michigan commit was a part of the USNTDP, and in 12 games in the USHL, put up 13 goals and 18 points. In the USDP, Lucius played in 13 games, same number of goals, and added two more assists for 20 points. He’s offensively skilled, and a threat anywhere in that zone, and is a hard worker in front of the net. He could blossom to be a solid middle-6 scorer.
#17 St. Louis Blues – Simon Robertsson W Skelleftea AIK
Simon Robertsson is a well rounded offensive player. On the offensive side, he doesn’t have any glaring red flags. He isn’t great defensively, but few wingers at this age are. Robertsson fore checks hard with his stick and wins puck battles. His best asset according to his coach Anders Eriksen is his shot. If the Blues are going to lose Vladimir Tarasenko to a trade, we aren’t saying Robertsson and Tarasenko are comparable, but one player with a good release out, one back in.
#18 Winnipeg Jets – Corson Ceulemans D Brooks Bandits
The Winnipeg Jets have been looking for a defender like Corson Ceulmans for a while. Someone who can pinch in the right scenario, has the offensive talent to do so, with the vision and speed to recognize a potential scoring chance for the opponent, and to shut it down. With this, Ceulemans has been bashed for his positioning, but has the tools top be a great top-4 defender in the NHL. The University of Wisconsin commit posted 11 points in eight AJHL games this past season.
#19 Nashville Predators – Sasha Pastujov W USNTDP
Puck possession is the name of the game for Sasha Pastujov. Pastujov uses everything he has to keep the puck away from defenders, creating many scoring chances for himself and his teammates. The Notre Dame commit is said to pass at a high level and has a scoring touch few in this draft have. The Predators would a winger like this would could fit in their lineup, though don’t expect to see him so soon. Pastujov should use two years in college, and another in the AHL to develop him to his full potential.
#20 Edmonton Oilers – Sebastian Cossa G Edmonton Oil Kings
Taking a quick look at the depth charts, the Oilers are in need of a goalie, and are in a position to get a great one in Sebastian Cossa. The 6″6 Canadian net minder posted a .941 Sv% in 19 games, going 17-1-1 for the Oil Kings. Cossa’s got great positioning, rebound control, and has the mental toughness to be a goalie at the NHL level.
#21 Boston Bruins – Carson Lambos D Winnipeg Ice
Carson Lambos was one of the hardest prospects to place on this list. He 19 games across four leagues, all with different age levels. A U18 team, a U20 team, the Liiga, and WHL. He’s very crafty in the offensive zone. Lambos is active, looking and creating passing lanes. He’s shaped up to be a top-4 defenseman at the NHL level, and a great power play quarterback.
#22 Minnesota Wild – Aatu Raty C Karpat
I can remember a year ago today when the 2021 NHL Entry draft was known as the “Raty Draft”. Flash forward 12 months, and he’s fallen a little more than a few spots. In no way shape or form is Aatu Raty a bad player. He had a rough few months, and he knows that. There isn’t a ton of defensive show, but he has a hard shot, and will do anything to score a goal or generate offense. Don’t be surprised if he goes higher, he’s poised to have a big year in the Liiga for Karpat.
#23 Detroit Red Wings (Washington) – Fyodor Svechkov F SKA St. Petersburg
Fyodor Svechkov is a very interesting prospect. I’ve seen him go in the top ten, I’ve seen him fall to the second round. He’s a part of a rare breed of Russian forwards who have a solid two-way game. He plays with great pace. Scouts say his vision is at an elite level, and Steve Yzerman would have a potential steal in the later stages of the first round.
#24 Florida Panthers – Oskar Olausson W HV71
One of the best skaters this draft has to offer is Oskar Olausson. His speed allows for easy entrance into the neutral zone in combination with his 6″2 frame. He’s very creative in what he will do in the neutral zone. In the SHL he posted three goals and added an assist in 16 games. In eight international games between the U20’s, he was held scoreless. He’s more of a goal scorer than not, and after a few seasons of development, he should be a great NHLer.
#25 Columbus Blue Jackets (Toronto) – Stanislav Svozil D HC Kometa Brno
This draft’s best defensive defenseman is Stanislav Svozil. The 6″0 Czech positions himself to close out defenders, and is closed doors in the neutral zone. Svozil is a great stick and body checker. He doesn’t have much of an offensive upside, only three points in 30 games, but if his defensive game translates, he’s going to be a big time underrated NHLer.
#26 Minnesota Wild (Pittsburgh) – Mackie Samoskevich W Chicago Steel
There aren’t many more prospects I’m excited to see at the NHL level than Matthew “Mackie” Samoskevich. The University of Michigan commit is lethal in the offensive zone. Don’t give him any room, because Samoskevich will take it and fly with it. He’s always ahead of the game, and knows where his teammates are all the time. If the Wild can put him with the right line mates, they have a real player on their hands.
#27 Carolina Hurricanes – Matthew Coronato W Chicago Steel
What a season it was for Chicago Steel’s Matthew Coronato. In 51 games he posted 48 goals and 37 assists for 85 total points. He has a “pucks on net” mentality, and has a pretty good shot for it. His coaches describe him as an offensive dynamo as a great puck handler. The 5″10 winger is set to take his talents to Harvard University, and could be a late round steal for the Carolina Hurricanes.
#28 Colorado Avalanche – Zachary Bolduc C Rimouski Oceanic
Zachary Bolduc hasn’t always gotten the spotlight, and it’s a hard thing to do when you’re teammates with former first overall pick, Alexis Lafreniere. Bolduc’s speed can catch defenders and goalies off guard, and along with his shot, he has the tool set to be an offensive force. In 27 games, he posted 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points. His stick handling is noticeable, and he wins puck battles. Someone who can fit in with the Colorado Avalanche.
#29 New Jersey Devils (NYI) – Brennan Othmann W Flint Firebirds
Brennan Othmann is one of the most transitional players in this draft. He loves to carry the puck and start the rushes and scoring chances making him a valuable power play component to any NHL franchise. He has speed and high pace. Othmann is great at fore checking and isn’t afraid to use his 6″0 frame. In the Swiss League, he put up seven goals and nine assists in 34 games. He has the potential to be a valuable power forward at the NHL level.
#30 Vegas Golden Knights – Francesco Pinelli C HDD Jesenice
With the 30th pick, I have Francesco Pinelli going to the Golden Knights. Pinelli is a great leader and a skilled playmaker. He always finds himself in the open ice to collect the puck and within seconds it’s off his stick. He hasn’t played many games this year, 13 games in a Slovenian league. Five goals and six assists for 11 total points in those 13 games. It looks as if he’s going to be in the OHL playing for the Kitchener Rangers last year, he’s expected to need a few seasons for development.
#31 Montreal Canadiens – Zachary L’Heureux W Halifax Mooseheads
The home town boy, Zachary L’Heureux is known as the QMJHL’s Brad Marchand. L’Heureux’s NHL comparable is the recently retired Andrew Shaw. Very chippy, with some offensive upside. Attitude issues may be glaring, and it could be the reason why he falls, but it’s hard to believe Montreal will pass on the Quebec kid. He’s a pain to play against, but is a team favorite in the locker room.
#32 Columbus Blue Jackets (Tampa) – Sean Behrens D USNTDP
Rounding out the first round is USNTSP defender Sean Behrens. Behrens is a solid two-way defender, and is committed to the University of Denver. He’s a great skater, and amazing with his stick defensively. He had a great showing as the assistant captain at the U18’s putting up four points in five games. The positioning is pin point, and he’s a player that the Blue Jackets would love to add.