1. Buffalo Sabres- William Eklund (LW/C)
"With the first overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft... the Buffalo Sabres select, from Djurgardens in the Swedish Hockey League, William Eklund!" The Sabres seem to be REALLY high on Eklund and it is easy to see why. In his forty games played this season, Eklund registered 11 goals and 12 assists, earning SHL Rookie of the Year honours. He is an extremely multi-faceted, cerebral winger who can do anything his team needs him to do. NHL coaches dream about players like this!
Offensively, Eklund is a wizard with the puck. He uses his elite vision and hockey IQ to find himself open pockets of space, and then... he strikes! Eklund has proven to be a dual-threat in the O-Zone, showcasing both extraordinary playmaking ability and scoring touch. He is truly an electric offensive player! But there is more to his game than just offence. I would be remiss if I failed to mention how equally effective William Eklund is in his own end, as well as in the neutral zone during transition. He never takes a shift off! Eklund does a phenomenal job winning puck battles, even against bigger opponents, and he effectively uses a quick stick to steal pucks on defence. In terms of skating, Eklund is much more of an east-west type player as opposed to north-south. He loves to use his elusive edgework to beat defenders in one-on-one scenarios, and why not?! His agility is also among the best in this draft class!
Overall, William Eklund is a very well-rounded, multi-dimensional player who competes hard and positions himself well in all three zones. He has outstanding hockey IQ and ultimately, turns everything he touches into gold out on the ice. I truly believe Eklund is talented enough of a player to make the Sabres want to pass on Owen Power and instead, look to revitalize their forward-corps. Let's just pray the kid doesn't get ruined 🙏!
(As a side note, I love how they use goal bells in Sweden as opposed to the horns we use here in North America! So foreign, but the meaning is still understood 😂😍!!!)
2. Seattle Kraken- Owen Power (D)
While I do expect him to fall, I don't expect him to fall too far. "With the second overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft... the Seattle Kraken select, from the University of Michigan, defenceman Owen Power!" Standing at 6'6" and 214lbs, Power has the size-skill combination General Managers salivate over! He is a dynamic, two-way defenceman who has ASTRONOMICAL potential if developed properly.
After his hulking size, the first thing you notice about Power is his outstanding skating ability. He has a very long, efficient stride as well as excellent mobility, not just for his size but in general! This allows him to frequently join in on the rush while almost always getting back in a timely manner. Offensively, Power is a poised playmaking rover from the point, distributing pucks to his teammates in positions for them to create scoring chances. He also feels comfortable employing a hard wrister on goal if the opportunity presents itself. On defence, Power is very effective at using his long reach to cut off the forward's angles of attack in one-on-one situations. He could stand to be a bit more physical though! Oftentimes Power avoids finishing his checks along the wall, instead differing to his stick to poke the puck free. Hopefully that changes as he continues to fill out his frame.
Overall, I am projecting Owen Power to undergo a Victor Hedman-esque development curve where he begins as more of a top-pairing, minute eating guy and eventually evolves into an elite two-way force for the Kraken. The key for him is just getting stronger and developing confidence at the next level.
3. Anaheim Ducks- Matthew Beniers (C)
Hey Ducks fans- Isn't the thought of a Trevor Zegras, Matty Beniers one-two punch down the middle so incredibly tantalizing?! "With the third overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft... the Anaheim Ducks select, from the University of Michigan, Matthew Beniers!" While Beniers may not be as flashy or offensively dynamic as "Z", he is someone who makes an impact in all three zones. A scoring two-way center, Beniers is an instinctual attacker with elite hockey IQ. He may not always show up in the highlight reels, but he is the type of player who wins your team hockey games. What wows me most about Beniers though, has to be his unrelenting work ethic. He never cheats in the defensive zone or quits on a puck battle. His backcheck is just as tenacious as his forecheck, and he still produces at a point/game pace. Future Ducks Captain right here!
4. New Jersey Devils- Luke Hughes (D)
New Jersey's fourth overall pick is a guaranteed storyline: either they take the brother of their future superstar centerman, or they don't. You guys already know which way I'm leaning! "With the fourth overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft... the New Jersey Devils select, from the United States Development Team Program, Luke Hughes!"
Another Hughes brother?! Yes, another Hughes brother! He may even end up being the best of the three! Standing at 6'2" and 176lbs, Luke is easily the biggest of the Hughes family hat-trick while still maintaining the extra-special skating gene of his two brothers before him. Luke Hughes is a mobile, pass-first, playmaking defenceman who excels at drawing the game to himself thus making space for his teammates. Similar to his brother Quinn, he uses his outstanding skating ability, edgework and soft hands to control pace of play. You know the patented Quinn Hughes one-man zone entry?! Luke can do it too... just watch 😎!
The one area I think Luke really has to work on however, is his defensive positioning- most notably, his gap control. He tends to reach over a little too much with his stick and ends up getting beat one-on-one quite a bit as a result. Mel Pearson should help him fix that up at the University of Michigan though. I really hope Tom Fitzgerald gets this pick right for his franchise- by drafting Luke, you are basically ensuring that both him and Jack stay their entire careers in Jersey 😍!
5. Columbus Blue Jackets- Brandt Clarke (D)
Some scouts say he has top-pairing upside. I would take that a step further and say Norris Trophy upside. "With the fifth overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft... the Columbus Blue Jackets are proud to select, from the Barrie Colts, defenceman Brandt Clarke!"
Brandt Clarke is truly a game-breaking player from the blueline. He just seems to think the game three steps ahead of his opponents! He is a powerful skater (although his mechanics could be better) and he really burns teams on the rush. In the offensive zone, Clarke is adept at walking the line, using his soft hands and elite agility to open up lanes along the ice. Defensively, he has proven to be very solid as well, especially with how effectively he closes gaps. Obviously his strength in front of the net will need some improvement, but that should happen naturally as he fills out his frame. I see Erik Karlsson whenever I watch this kid play, I really do! When he wins his first Norris Trophy, make sure to remember this article 😉😂!!!
6. Detroit Red Wings- Fabian Lysell (LW)
Contrary to public belief, I do not think Stevie Yzerman takes Jesper Wallstedt with his 6th overall pick. Not when Sebastian Cossa could still be there for him at 22 and he acquired Alex Nedeljkovic in a trade from Carolina today! Instead, I think he will draft a certain speedy European winger... I don't know, maybe the one who Will Scouching calls a Swedish Roadrunner?! "With the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft... the Detroit Red Wings select, from Lulea in the Swedish Hockey League, Fabian Lysell!"
For me, the first thing that comes to mind watching Fabian Lysell is his outstanding skating ability. Arguably the best skater in this entire draft class, the kid can absolutely fly!!! Speed kills and he's got it. Better yet, since his elite skating ability is paired with quick hands, he is virtually unstoppable in transition. Lysell excels at making poised, confident plays at full-speed and just seems to have a knack for making the right play regardless of traffic or pressure. In addition, despite lacking size, Lysell plays a very strong game along the wall and in his defensive zone, turning good defence into transition offence. Yzerman loves drafting European gems (Moritz Seider, Lucas Raymond et cetra), you best believe Fabian Lysell is his guy!
7. San Jose Sharks- Simon Edvinsson (D)
The Sharks' pick could go a number of different ways (depending on how big of a gambler Doug Wilson is) but I have them betting on the upside of ultra-skilled Swedish defenceman, Simon Edvinsson. A 'boom or bust' prospect, Edvinsson has all the raw tools to become an elite defenceman at the NHL level. I mean, he is a phenomenal skater, his stride is amazing, he can absolutely embarrass you with his stickhandling ability, his wrister can beat goalies clean... and he's 6'5"! What more can scouts ask for?! Consistency.
While he has flashes of brilliance often enough to own a regular time slot on the SHL highlight reel, Edvinsson really needs to work towards sound decision-making. Sometimes he can dangle through three guys in transition and make a gorgeous pass to a teammate, but the rest of the time he holds the puck too long and turns it over! I believe former F1 champion Niki Lauda said it best: "The line between bubbling glory and burning disaster is pretty thin. Winners are those who understand this and live by it". Simon Edvinsson has the highest ceiling in this entire draft class. All he has to do to unlock his potential is learn how to walk this line 😊!
8. Los Angeles Kings- Kent Johnson (LW)
"With the eighth overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft... the Los Angeles Kings are proud to select, from the University of Michigan, Kent Johnson!" Simply put, Kent Johnson is a human highlight reel. He thinks the game in such a fun, creative way and has the silky mitts and elite edgework to make magic happen out on the ice! Just when you think the defence has him contained, he creates a scoring chance out of thin air and absolutely blows your mind. While he prefers setting the table for his teammates, Johnson is a dual-threat, also housing a potent release. The only thing he really needs to do is bulk up! I can't wait to see him shine at the NHL level!
9. Vancouver Canucks- Dylan Guenther (LW)
Dylan Guenther is the WHL's leading point per game scorer, a play-driver, and a complete offensive threat. He is also who I believe the Canucks will land 9th overall on draft day! Although Guenther is best known for his lethal shot, he does not limit himself to just sniping the puck. This past season, he has really diversified his game, taking steps as a playmaker as well as becoming a more active member of the forecheck. He still needs to improve his defensive play before making the transition to the NHL though.
10. Ottawa Senators- Jesper Wallstedt (G)
I have no idea what scouts are looking for in a goalie prospect and I am not going to pretend that I do! That being said, Jesper Wallstedt has been a highly-touted goaltender for a couple years now, so he must be doing something right 😂!
11. Arizona Coyotes- FORFEITED
Unlike Jesper Wallstedt, the Arizona Coyotes haven't done too much right lately. Their first-round pick has been forfeited due to their violation of the Combine Testing Policy Memoranda back in 2019. Ouch.
12. Chicago Blackhawks- Mason McTavish (C)
"With the twelfth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft... the Chicago Blackhawks are proud to select, from the Peterborough Petes, Mason McTavish!" A big-bodied, competitive power-forward with one heck of a rip, McTavish excels at getting himself into positions to shoot the puck. He plays a heavy game along the wall and receives great praise for the way he battles up and down the ice.
McTavish is already a top-15 calibre pick and people aren't even really looking at his potential! When I watch Mason McTavish play, I get Nathan MacKinnon vibes. Obviously McTavish isn't MacKinnon... but if he improves upon his transition game, (which we have seen glimpses of) he could see his NHL projection skyrocket!
13. Calgary Flames- Chaz Lucius (C)
There is one in every draft... 2019 had Cole Caufield, 2020 had Alexander Holtz and now we have Chaz Lucius. Chaz Lucius is a pure goal scorer! He has a powerful, pinpoint-accurate wrister that he loves unloading from the slot and he is excellent at getting lost in the defence so that his teammates can dish him the puck. Calgary needs scoring punch, Lucius should be their pick. However, he will need a couple years in the NCAA to work on his skating prior to making the jump.
14. Dallas Stars- Cole Sillinger (C)
"With the fourteenth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft... the Dallas Stars select, from the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL, Cole Sillinger!" Cole Sillinger is the epitome of a shoot-first center! The kid has a NASTY shot and as a result, finds the back of the net early and often. He excels at using his deception and quick hands to open up shooting lanes for himself, and he is adept at winning puck battles along the boards despite his lack of size. Sillinger is also a talented playmaker with great vision and awareness however, he prefers to create shots for himself as opposed to for others. Improving teammate utilization would go a long way in helping him become more dynamic. He also must work on his pace of play prior to coming to the NHL.
(Oh my gosh! He rocks guys too- forgot how many big hits he throws in this video alone 😆)
15. New York Rangers- Matthew Coronato (LW/C)
With his name all over trade rumours right now, it appears Ryan Strome's days as a Ranger are numbered. Therefore, "With the fifteenth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft... the New York Rangers are proud to select, from the USHL's Chicago Steel, Matthew Coronato!" 48 goals?! 85 points?! IN ONLY 51 GAMES?! Yeah, I think Matthew Coronato is a solid offensive threat. His arsenal features a powerful, quick shot release, excellent hands and a fearless, non-stop motor on the forecheck. Coronato also earned himself the nickname "Bison" for his strength in front of the net and will to win puck battles on both ends of the ice. Major beauty!
16. St. Louis Blues- Brennan Othmann (LW)
"With the sixteenth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft... the St. Louis Blues select, from the Flint Firebirds, Brennan Othmann!" Quick disclaimer, I absolutely LOVE the way Othmann plays the game! A hard-nosed, Swiss-Army Knife winger with an NHL-ready shot, Othmann is a guy who can play up and down any team's lineup. He is relentless whether forechecking or backchecking, can play physical, and overall, has tremendous hockey IQ in all three zones. When I was watching Canada play in the U18s, Brennan Othmann was easily the most noticeable forward there (other than Shane Wright and Connor Bedard, of course!). He was all over the ice!!! I REALLY want him to fall to Vegas, but I'll still be a fan of Othmann regardless of the team he gets drafted by... yes, even if it is Minnesota 🙄.
17. Winnipeg Jets- Isak Rosen (RW)
Isak Rosen has quietly been one of the best forwards in this entire draft class. He is the type of player who is so speedy and elusive, he's almost slippery. A slippery offensive threat who can beat you in a number of different ways! Despite his small frame, Rosen has an incredibly powerful stride and fantastic edgework. Transition offence is the bread and butter of his game. Rosen can pick up the puck mid-stride and take off like a jet! If the defender hesitates, even for a split second, he is long gone. Rosen is also sneaky good both physically, and in his own end. Another very solid prospect!
18. Nashville Predators- Zach Dean (C)
"With the eighteenth overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft... the Nashville Predators are proud to select, from the Gatineau Olympiques, Zach Dean!" While he may not have the production numbers of some of the other QMJHL prospects in this draft, I wholeheartedly believe Zach Dean is best of the best. In fact, I believe Dean will end up being the "steal" of this entire draft when everything is all said and done.
A shifty playmaking center, Dean approaches the game with great speed. His quick pace of play allows him to create space from defenders, and when he matches it with his elite vision and stickhandling ability, magic happens. When there is a play to be made, Dean executes it brilliantly! When there is not, he has the skill to extend offensive zone possession until one opens up.
I am projecting Zach Dean to be a skilled possession centerman similar to Islanders' star, Matt Barzal at the next level. The comparison may be a bit lofty, but I genuinely think this kid can live up to the hype! He is truly electrifying!
19. Edmonton Oilers- Fyodor Svechkov (C)
Unlike most draft eligible prospects who focus primarily on offence (often at the expense of their defensive play), Fyodor Svechkov is more highly-praised for his work in his own end. A 200ft player, Svechkov is extremely effective at forcing turnovers on defence. He is very intelligent with how he positions himself, anticipates plays, picks off passes and uses his quick stick to steal pucks. It is also important to note that Svechkov himself was a well-oiled machine controlling offensive zone entries, although the in-zone offence never really came for him. He may be due for a breakout offensive year in the near future 👀
20. Boston Bruins- Logan Stankoven (RW)
"With the twentieth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft... the Boston Bruins are proud to select, from the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL, Logan Stankoven!" A feisty goal-scoring winger, Stankoven may be 5'8", but he plays like he's 6'2". When the kid doesn't have the puck, he is fearlessly battling for it and when he does... Well, when he does, he is usually unloading bombs on net. Stankoven has a wicked rip and he is not afraid to use it 😤!
Hey guys! This concludes my Final 2021 NHL Mock Draft! Did I do a good job? Who do you think is going to the steal of this draft class? Let me know in the comment section below! Also, make sure to come back and chirp me if I go 0/20! All in good fun 😂! Enjoy the draft!