The 2021 draft is taking place on July 23rd and to say this draft is unpredictable is an understatement. COVID-19 cancelled leagues, forced players to play in different countries and leagues, and provided scouts with an almost impossible task this season. This means there is less certainty in draft lists like this, and there is likely to be a high number of shocking picks. It also means there are likely players who are potential stars, or at minimum first-line type players, who will go in later rounds. Most top 10 lists from other scouting agencies are vastly different, due to both the nature of this draft and the lack of views for some prospects.
After much internal debate, Owen Power stays in my number one slot as he has done all season. Power is mature beyond is years and always plays up against competition. Dylan Guenther comes in at number two, a goal scorer who dominated the WHL in their shortened season. Rounding out my top three is Luke Hughes. Luke, the brother of Jack and Quinn in the NHL, is a smooth-skating offensive minded defender.
Here are a few details to keep in mind when looking at this list. First, there is a bit of a drop-off after the top 10, and another drop-off after pick 12. Second, two goalies are in my top 32, the first time this is happened in over seven years of scouting. Third, this is a defense heavy draft, with four potential defensemen going in the top 10.
Without further ado, here are my top 100 prospects for the 2021 NHL Draft.
1. D Owen Power 6’5 214 U. of Michigan (Big 10) 26-3-13-16-6
Power has been at the top of my list since the beginning of the year, and while there has been constant competition, Power remains in the #1 slot for the 2021 draft. At 6’5, Power is exactly that: a tower of power. A well-rounded two-way defender, Power played a key role for Michigan in the NCAA this year as a 17-year-old. Not only did he play exceptionally well, Power also starred for Canada in the World Championships, playing against grown men. He defied expectations, as he was previously expected to play limited minutes, but instead played a regular shift and didn’t look out of place.
In terms of skill, Power’s biggest asset is his combination of size, skill, and hockey sense. While Power is lacking a true “wow” factor, he can do a bit of everything. His defensive awareness is strong and he uses his reach to his advantage defensively. He has experience running a powerplay and doesn’t look out of place. Power possesses an excellent first pass and does well in transition. He thinks the game at a high level and while he may never be a true NHL star, he will most certainly be a top-pairing defender for years to come. Power is likely headed back to Michigan next season and should be a full-time NHLer in 2022-2023.
2. W Dylan Guenther 6’1 181 Edmonton (WHL) 12-12-12-24-2
There are a lot of questions as to who would come in at number two in my rankings for the majority of the year. At the end of the day, the Edmonton Oil Kings Dylan Guenther comes in at number two. Guenther has been on the radar of scouts for a while now, and this year was no exception. Even with limited playing time in the WHL, Guenther managed a goal-per-game, and then put up another 4 goals in 7 games at the Under-18’s for Team Canada.
Guenther is an absolute sniper, but he is also a well-rounded offensive player. He can run a powerplay and drive play. Guenther plays with tremendous pace and creates a high number of high danger scoring chances. Guenther can score and create offense both off the rush and down-low through cycle play. He possesses excellent hands and overall offensive instincts. Guenther looks like a top-six forward at the NHL level. He is likely a year away from NHL-ready.
3. D Luke Hughes 6’2 176 USNTDP (USHL) 38-6-28-34-14
I’ve been high on Hughes all season long, and an injury keeping him out of the Under-18’s hasn’t changed my mind whatsoever. The brother of former first-overall pick Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks’ star Quinn, Luke has a bit of a different skill set than his older brothers.
Luke, however, is significantly taller and plays a more-well rounded defensive game than his siblings at the same age. Hughes is an elite skater and loves to use his edges. Playing for the U.S. National Development Program, Hughes played in all situations and accelerated quarterbacking the power play. He excels at moving the puck up quickly and uses his size well, especially for a player that skates so well. Like his brother Quinn, there is a high probability that Luke will be able to drive play at the NHL level. At the very least, he will be able to quarterback a powerplay and help with a team’s possession game significantly.
Some scouts have questioned Hughes’ defensive ability at times, but this will likely come with increased maturity. Hughes will likely have an opportunity to play alongside Owen Power next season, which will be massive for his overall development.
He had a major injury at the end of the season, but Hughes should be ready for the fall where he will attend powerhouse Michigan in the NCAA. He projects as a first-pairing defender at the NHL level and is likely two years away from NHL duty.
4. D Brandt Clarke 6’2 190 SLO 26-5-10-15-41
Evaluating Clarke has been difficult at times this season. With the OHL season canceled, Clarke played games in Slovakia with some success. However, he did star with Canada at the World Junior Championship. Clarke put up a point-per-game and played in all situations.
Clarke may be the best offensive-minded defender in this draft. He has elite hockey sense and playmaking ability. Clarke is creative and loves driving play. There is a dynamic element to his game that is lacking from many other top-end prospects in this year’s draft. If the OHL had played this season, he very well may have challenged Power for the number one position on this list. Clarke possesses an overall unique skillset and is constantly aware of where his teammates are on the ice, making dynamic passes and creating opportunities for maintained possession with ease.
Clarke’s biggest area of improvement is his skating, a somewhat surprising realization given his overall skillset. However, there is some concern that his wonky stride will prevent him from being dynamic at the NHL. He didn’t look out of place playing against men in Slovakia though, and there is a high likelihood of improvement in this area of his game. Clarke will most certainly be returned to the OHL next season and is likely two to three years away from NHL duty.
5. Matthew Beniers 6’1 174 U. of Michigan (Big 10) 24-10-14-24-0
Beniers is one of the few players in this draft that played a ton this season. He averaged a point-per-game for Michigan in the NCAA. He also played from the U.S. at the World Junior Championships and the World Championship. Beniers excelled in all tournaments, showing what makes him a top-five prospect.
This past season, Beniers showed why he is likely the most well-rounded player in this draft. At the World Juniors, Beniers was relied on in all situations, including key defensive face-offs and shut-down matchups. An excellent skater with elite work ethic and drive, Beniers anticipates the play exceptionally well in all zones. He is fearless in puck battles and isn’t afraid to go into high-traffic scoring areas, though he isn’t a power-forward type. His awareness and style of play is more similar to Ryan O’Reilly or Jonathan Toews. More of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, Beniers uses all players on the ice well to maintain puck possession
What is preventing Beniers from being number one on this list is ultimately a lack of dynamic play and ability. Teams will be okay with this though considering Benier’s overall play and game. He will likely return to Michigan for one more year and projects as a top-six forward at the NHL level.
6. C/W William Eklund 5’10 172 SWEHL 40-11-12-23-2
Even in the midst of injury, Eklund was able to play more than most prospects this season. Unfortunately, he missed both the World Junior Championship and the World Championship. However, Eklund did play against men in Sweden’s top league and excelled throughout the season.
Eklund’s calling card is his offensive tool kit. He excels in one-on-one situations, using his edges puck skills to create space for himself. Eklund can also run a powerplay and excels at playmaking from the perimeter. Another positive to his game is his compete level. Though small in stature, Eklund doesn’t give up on plays. This makes him a versatile offensive player who can play in a top or bottom six.
The biggest question scouts have is Eklund’s size. However, it hasn’t slowed him down as a teenager playing against men in Sweden, and it’s unlikely to do so at the NHL level either.
Some scouts believe Eklund is the most NHL-ready of prospects this year. I believe he will head back to Sweden and play one more year before making the NHL jump. He projects as a top-six, offensive-minded forward at the NHL level.
7. D Simon Edvinsson 6’5 207 SWEHL 10-0-1-1-0
As high as number two on some lists, Edvinsson comes in at number seven on mine. This may come as a surprise to some, but it has more to say about the others on this list than Edvinsson himself.
Edvinsson, who has drawn comparison to Victor Hedman, is a 6’5 Swedish blue-liner who bounced around a bit between leagues this season. He didn’t look out of place at the World Junior Championship and also excelled at the World Under-18’s.
Edvinsson’s size obviously stands out, but his skating stride does as well. He is an excellent skater, and many scouts believe his stride will only grow to be more powerful and smooth with time. Overall, he has an excellent toolkit and is an intriguing package of both size and skill.
The question surrounding Edvinsson is his upside and if he can put it all together. He also bounced around leagues quite a bit this season and failed to dominate at the Under-18’s, though he did play well overall against his peers.
Overall, Edvinsson is a solid top ten pick in this year’s draft. If everything comes together, he could be a top-four two-way defender at the NHL level.
8. G Jesper Wallstedt 6’3 214 SWEHL 12 gp, 2.23 GAA, .923 sv%
Twice in the last two years, I have had a goalie in my top 10. This is a rather strange experience for me, especially considering the volatility surrounding goalie projections. However, like Askarov last year, it’s rare that a player with such a high skillset comes along and, like Askarov, I could easily see Wallstedt approaching the top 10 in the draft.
At 6’3, 215, Wallstedt is already physically mature, a huge plus for a goalie in today’s NHL. On top of that, it’s his ability to read the play and adjust accordingly that really stands out. Rather than constantly reacting, Wallstedt is able to anticipate the play at an elite level. This allows him to use his excellent technical skills to square up to the shooter and look bigger in the net than he actually is. He is also incredibly calm and rarely panics, a rarity for such a young goaltender.
Wallstedt has already played at Sweden’s highest and played the most games of any goalie for Lulea. Like Askarov last season, Wallstedt is a game-changing type goaltender. Any team selecting him is getting a bona-fide number one goalie in the near future.
9. C Mason McTavish 6’2 207 Sui.2 13-9-2-11-6
McTavish was a victim of the OHL shut down last season. While he did play some games for a lower league in Switzerland, he looked most dominant at the World Under-18’s, putting up 11 points in 7 games.
There is a lot to like about McTavish’s game. At 6’2, 207, he is already physically mature. At 17, he scored 29 goals in the OHL last season, showing he has some great natural goal-scoring ability. McTavish has an excellent shot and he is incredibly creative offensively.
What makes McTavish stand out in comparison to other players with similar skill sets is his drive and competitiveness. He rarely gives up on plays and is tenacious on the forecheck. McTavish loves crashing the net and putting himself in tough areas to create scoring opportunities. The combination of both skill, competitiveness, and tenacity puts McTavish as a potential top 10 candidate in this year’s draft and his overall package stands out.
Some scouts have some concerns over McTavish’s skating. While he may not have the top-end speed of other prospects, his game doesn’t primarily rely on it to succeed. His top speed looks high enough to not be a detriment at the NHL level. McTavish projects as a top-six forward at the NHL and is likely a year to two years away from competing for a roster spot.
10. C Kent Johnson 6’1 64 U. Of Michigan (Big 10) 26-9-18-27-4
Part of the Michigan big three (three draft-eligible first-rounder prospects that tore up the NCAA together this season), Johnson averaged over a point-per-game as a freshman this season. Johnson’s calling card is offense. During his last season in the BCHL, he averaged almost two points per game and has dominated offensively in every league he has played in.
Johnson has elite hands and is highly skilled with the puck on his stick. In fact, he may have the best hands in the draft. More of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, Johnson loves to use his skill to create space for his teammates. He also has a decent shot and is an excellent skater as well.
What prevents Johnson from being a competitor for the number one slot this season is his lack of pace at times and a need to round out his game a bit more. He has the skills to be a top-end prospect but needs to mature defensively and in rounding out his overall offensive game.
Whoever selects Johnson is getting some raw skill on their hands. If his overall game matures, he will be a top-six forward at the NHL level. Johnson is likely two to three years away from NHL duty.
11. C Chaz Lucius 6’0 172 USNTDP (USHL) 13-13-7-20-6
If not for an injury, we may be discussing Lucious as a potential top-five pick. However, after missing the majority of the season, scouts saw glimpses of a potential top ten talent with very few overall games to fully evaluate. It is impossible to overlook Lucius’ goal-per-game average, even in a shortened season.
Goal scoring has been Lucius’ specialty, and it will continue to be so at the NHL level. Lucius loves taking shots from the slot area but he also isn’t afraid to enter high danger zones. He anticipates the play well, finding ways to create space for himself to rip a quick shot from in close. Lucius excels at getting shots off quickly and he has an incredibly fast release. He is also a decent passer and playmaker and is far from a one-dimensional talent.
One question of weakness is Lucius’ skating. It’s more average for a prospect and at times seems to lack a high gear. However, thanks to his awareness and positioning, it doesn’t seem to have an adverse effect on Lucius’ game. Skating is also an area that can be improved upon in the offseason, and injury may have attributed as well.
Overall, Lucius is an intriguing prospect who projects as a potential top-six goal-scorer at the NHL level. He is likely two to three years away from NHL duty.
12. C Cole Sillinger 6’0 200 Sioux Falls (USHL) 31-24-22-46-39
If Sillinger’s name sounds familiar, it’s because his father played a ton of games for an obscene number of teams in the NHL. The son of Mike, Cole decided to play in the USHL after it appeared early on there may not be a WHL season. Sillinger did not disappoint, earning USHL rookie of the year honors and averaging well over a point-per-game. Some credited him for single-handedly getting his team into the playoffs.
Sillinger is a high-end talent, with an overall well-rounded offensive game. He is considered by many to have an NHL-ready shot. Sillinger puts himself into high danger scoring areas with ease and utilizes his strength to his advantage by holding off defenders down-low. He is considered by many to be a goal-scorer, but he isn’t a bad playmaker either. He also isn’t afraid to engage physically, which helps round out his game significantly.
Scouts two biggest concerns surrounding Sillinger are his skating and at times, his drive. There are moments when Sillinger can rely on his strength and skill set rather than tenacity to score and create plays, a trait that won’t work successfully in the NHL in the way it has in the USHL and WHL. In terms of skating, some scouts wonder about his top-speed and ability to use quickness to pull away from defenders. While his skating may not be explosive, it isn’t fully a detriment either.
The team that selects Sillinger will receive a goal-scoring, potential top-six forward. It is believed Sillinger will return to the WHL next season. He is likely a few seasons away from NHL duty.
13. W Matt Coronato 5’10 183 Chicago (USHL) 51-48-37-85-57
Coronato may seem high on my list in comparison to others, but I’m a firm believer in his overall game and skillset and should be a top 20 pick in this years’ draft. On a loaded Chicago Steel franchise in the USHL, Coronato set the USHL record for goals and while he was surrounded with high-end talent, he still outpaced other drafted NHL prospects and draft eligible players in a season where the USHL had a higher talent pool than normal.
At 5’10 180, Coronato certainly isn’t big, but he’s strong. He already plays a mature overall game. Coronato is an excellent skater with high-end skills. While his game may not be flashy at times, it is most certainly efficient. What Coronato has proven is his ability to finish. At times, Coronato looks like a player who can drive play. He played in all situations, including the powerplay and on the penalty kill with high levels of success in Chicago.
Some scouts are concerned that Coronato’s game may have “maxed out,” and his overall game and offense may not translate at a high level in the NHL. However, few players at his age produce at the rate Coronato has and his well-roundedness will help him transition to different leagues with high speeds and skillsets.
Coronato projects as a top-six forward. He will play at Harvard next season and will likely need three seasons of development before competing for an NHL spot.
14. W Fabian Lysell 5’10 172 SWEHL 26-2-1-3-8
Lysell has been on the radar as a prospect for a while now, and he’s one of the few who has stayed roughly in the same position as expected at the beginning of the season. Lysell didn’t have a great year offensively in Sweden’s top league. However, he showed some pretty amazing offensive skills at the World Under-18’s and put up 9 points in 7 games.
Lysell’s calling card is his offense. He is diminutive in stature, but it also makes him slippery in the offensive zone. He has excellent one-on-one skills and possesses high-end speed. His shot is elusive and he isn’t afraid to rip it from anywhere. He also uses his edges well in-tight. More of a goal-scorer than a playmaker, offense will always be Lysell’s forte.
Some scouts are concerned with Lysell’s lack of production this season outside of the Under-18’s, though it may be more of a result of coaching and on-ice utilization (Carolina prospect Noel Gunler had similar issues last season and actually left the team). There are some questions about Lysell’s defensive play as well. However, with such high-end skill, it would be hard to pass on Lysell in the mid-first round and it is an area that could be improved upon.
Lysell projects as a top-six, goal-scoring forward at the NHL level. He will need a few seasons of development before making the NHL jump.
15. Mackie Samoskevich 5’11 190 Chicago (USHL) 36-13-24-37-27
Another Chicago Steal gem, Samoskovich may have a higher ceiling than his teammate Matthew Coronato. However, there are still some overall significant strides that need to be taken for him to be in that category, though there is a rather small margin between them.
Samoskevich is a player that creates space well for his teammates. His overall high-end offensive skill, including elite hands, allow for him to drive offense and maintain offensive zone possession. He has above-average speed and there is the potential for there to be a dynamic element to his game. Samoskevich showed this in flashes last season and will be given loads of opportunities at Michigan next season.
Samoskevich’s biggest area of improvement is consistency, both in his offense and from game to game. There are games when he shows “flashes” of high-end skill, but is otherwise quiet. At other times, he could have a quiet game or two in a row as well. He averaged a point-per-game at the USHL, significantly less than some of his other teammates who are considered to potentially have higher skill than. However, scouts aren’t overly concerned and believe positive consistency will come with continued age and maturity.
Overall, Samoskevich only has room to grow and whatever team drafts him will need to give him the time and space. He will need a good three years of development before he is NHL ready. Samoskevich projects as a potential top-six forward at the NHL level.
16. C Fyodor Svechkov 6’0 183 Togliatti (MHL-RUS JR.) 15-4-11-15-35
In an overall difficult year for prospects, Svechkov used the turmoil to his advantage. Recognized as a high-end talent before the year began, he used every opportunity to his advantage to show why he is a legitimate top 20 talent in this year’s draft. He helped Russia to a silver medal at the World Under-18’s, producing 10 points in 7 games.
Svechkov is a well-balanced, highly skilled offensive talent. He can play all three forward positions and transitions with ease. He has excellent hockey sense and reads the play well in all zones. While he may not have a definitive “wow” factor, Svechkov makes small plays with ease and makes those around him better. His skill-set translates incredibly well to the NHL level and will be a coach’s dream thanks to his well-rounded, defensively conscience game.
Some scouts have some questions surrounding Svechkov’s skating, but it is far from a liability. He could grow in strength, but that will come with age and continued physical maturity.
Overall, Svechkov projects as a two-way middle-six forward at the NHL level. He is likely three years away from competing for an NHL roster spot.
17. W Nikita Chibrikov 5’10 172 St. Petersburg (KHL) 16-1-1-2-6
If there is a player who could be a first-round sleeper, it’s Nikita Chibrokov. One of the few 18 year-olds in the KHL, Chibrikov didn’t look out of place, though he did struggle to put up points. However, his coming-out party was the Under-18’s, where he managed 13 points in 7 games and his skillset stood out.
Chibrikov is a modern-style skilled offensive forward. He is creative, has excellent hands, and is quick. Chibrikov also plays with pace and isn’t afraid to dig in the corners or difficult areas on the ice. He has an excellent shot and can play in all situations. Chibrikov’s ability makes him a difficult player to handle one-on-one. He also has a deceptive shot and an extra quick release that frequently catches goalies by surprise. Chibrikov’s willingness to engage physically and dig for loose pucks in the corners makes him a well-rounded offensive player. Even with his small size, Chibrikov isn’t afraid to take on larger forwards to cause turn-overs, a trait that will serve him well at the NHL level.
There are some questions surrounding Chibrikov’s ceiling. Some scouts have him pegged as more of a third-line NHL winger. However, with his combination of quickness and overall offensive skill, I believe Chibrikov has the potential to be a top-six scoring winger at the NHL level. He is a few years away from NHL duty.
18. D Carson Lambos 6’1 201 FIN JR. 13-2-9-11-8
Lambos has had a fairly up and down year, with more downs than ups as the season progressed. Originally slated to play in the WHL where he was dominant last season, Lambos played games in Finland’s top junior league and struggled. When the WHL season began, Lambos only played two games before a medical procedure shut down his season.
What lands Lambos’ in my top 20 is his raw upside, even after a down-year. Lambos’ skating stands out as a quality, but it’s how he uses it which has always drawn my attention and admiration. Lambos uses his speed to skate the puck out of high danger positions in the defensive zone. He also uses it to create space for himself to jump into the play quickly in transition or to move the puck up to a forward with ease. Lambos plays with a high degree of compete and pace. He is also physically mature for his age.
Some of Lambos’ biggest struggles this past season involved his defensive play, specifically gap control. Some of this was likely a result of playing on a bigger ice service in Finland, but regardless, Lambos struggled at times to anticipate the speed and attacking ability of forwards, even in a lesser skilled league.
Defensemen can take a bit longer to develop, and Lambos has the tools to be a top-four defender at the NHL level. Hopefully, next season will provide a better development opportunity for him. He is likely three years away from NHL duty.
19. C Aatu Raty 6’1 181 FIN 35-3-3-6-18
Heading into the season, Raty was the consensus number one pick in this draft. He made the World Junior Championship as a 16-year-old and didn’t look out of place. He looked like a sure-fire, play-driving top-six forward. However, his game took a massive dip this past season. Raty failed to make Finland’s World Junior team and struggled offensively all season long.
However, even with a difficult season, there are some strong pieces and tools here. Raty has elite skating ability and hands. In the past and in moments this season, he has shown that he may be able to drive play at the NHL level. When at his best, he is tenacious in the offensive zone and picks up speed with the puck on his stick. He isn’t afraid to attack the net and dive into high danger scoring areas to create opportunities.
Raty’s biggest question mark is his ceiling. Before this season, it looked like he could be a first-line center with a high offensive ceiling. Now this has come into question. With only six points in Finland this season, Raty may be more of support offensively in the NHL and a middle-six forward instead of a top-six. Consistency was an issue last season, and he struggled with the transition from Finland’s junior league to its top league.
That being said, Raty has the tools to be a top-six forward at the NHL level. His development next season will be huge and will give us a better gauge of his overall ceiling. He is likely two to three years away from NHL duty.
20. D Corson Ceulemons 6’2 201 AJHL 8-4-7-11-8
The AJHL has been on the radar for scouts in recent years thanks to the likes of Colorado star defender Cole Makar and Ottawa prospect Jacob Bernard-Docker. Corson Ceulemons will likely add his name to the mix soon.
Like Makar, Ceulemons is an offensive-minded defenseman, though with a much lower ceiling. Ceulemon has a plethora of raw tools and talent. He is still growing into his frame, and yet he already uses it well. Ceulemons ability to create offense, currently, is more of a result of his raw skill than positioning. Part of this is a result of the league he plays in (lower skill level than others on this list), and his ability to use his overall skill set to his advantage. However, there are questions about how his overall game will translate to a higher league.
Ceulemon’s biggest weakest is his defensive play and awareness. Next year may be a bit of a difficult year for him in an NCAA transition to Wisconsin, as he will be asked to play with more structure and will be relied on less to drive play. When playing against his peers at the Under-18’s, Ceulemons excelled, averaging over a point-per-game and showing his game may at least translate quickly on the offensive side of things.
Ceulemon projects as a top-four offensive-minded defender at the NHL level. He will likely need three to four years of development before he is NHL ready.
21. W Brennan Othman 6’0 174 Sui.2 34-7-9-16-64
Like many players on this list, Othman lost a place to play when the OHL fully canceled its season. So, Othman headed over to Switzerland to play against men. Overall, he didn’t look out of place and managed to create some offense and rack up some high penalty-minute totals. He also managed just less than a point-per-game for Canada at the Under-18’s.
Othman is a well-rounded winger who can play up and down a line-up with ease. He plays an agitating style of game and he can drive opponents crazy. He has excellent offensive instincts and awareness. At the Under-18’s, Othman showed some high-level creativity as well. He is especially dangerous when in-tight, close to the net in the offensive zone.
If there is a question about Othman’s game, it’s his ceiling. Due to having to play up against steeper, older competition, some questions surround his offensive ceiling. Some scouts are concerned he may not be more than a support level bottom-six forward. However, his flashes of creativity show he has at the very least second-line scoring ability. His combination of skill and tenacity make him a forward that will likely go in the mid to late first round. Othman will need two to three years of development before he is NHL ready.
22. C/W Logan Stankoven 5’8 170 Kamloops (WHL) 6-7-3-10-0
One of my personal favorites on this list, Logan Stankoven had an excellent season in the WHL and at the Under-18’s. Listed at only 5’8, Stankoven stands out quickly on the ice for his diminutive stature. Yet, this didn’t hold him back as he averaged over a point-per-game at every level he played this season.
A highly intelligent player, Stankoven makes up for his lack of size with his awareness offensively and defensively. He competes at an elite level and doesn’t give up on plays or pucks, making him an annoying attacking forward. He draws penalties and frequently wins puck battles against larger opponents. More of a goal-scorer than a playmaker, Stankoven has a quick release and can create offense from anywhere. There are aspects of his game that are Brendan Gallagher-esque, and others that are closer to a Cam Atkinson or Kyle Palmieri.
Stankoven’s biggest question mark is his size. However, it has yet to hold him back and it is unlikely to do so in the near future. Stankoven projects as a top-six forward at the NHL level. He will need three to four years of development before he is NHL ready.
23. C Zach L’Heureux 5’11 196 Halifax (QMJHL) 33-19-20-39-47
L’Heureux wasn’t released for the Under-18’s, which was probably a detriment for what has been a somewhat up and down season for the center. However, he still managed to put up well over a point-per-game in the QMJHL. L’Heureux will be a hot commodity heading into the 2021 draft due to his combination of grit, tenacity, and skill. There’s a mean streak to his game, which has also gotten him in trouble a few times this season. However, when he is playing under control, L’Heureux is an absolute handful in the offensive zone.
Though not overly large, L’Heureux is incredibly strong. He protects the puck well and excels down-low in the cycle game. He crashes the net with regularity and loves to mix it up with opposing defenders. As the NHL continues to transition to more of a skill-based game, players like L’Heureux are highly sought after because of what they can bring to the table overall.
That being said, L’Heuruex will need to learn how to better control the tenacious part of his game. His skating could also use some work and he could be more consistent offensively. Whoever drafts L’Heureux is getting a bit of a project, but he has top-six forward potential. He is a few years away from NHL duty.
24. C Francesco Pinelli 6’1 185 Slo.2 13-5-6-11-8
Pinelli is a bit of a puzzle, but I firmly believe he will be a solid NHL prospect and player. A victim of the canceled OHL season, Pinelli excelled at the Under-18’s, putting up 11 points in 7 games, and looked dominant at times playing in Europe this season.
Pinelli is a versatile, offensive forward. He can play all three forward positions and can easily move up and down a line-up. More of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, Pinelli is extremely aware of his time and space in the offensive zone, making him a constant threat. He is an excellent passer and while he isn’t a shoot-first player, his shot is also above average for his age.
Some scouts question whether or not he has an extra gear offensively, or if he will be a perpetual support-type middle-six forward. If all the pieces come together, Pinelli could be a middle-six forward at the NHL with some offensive upside.
25. G Sebastian Cossa 6’6 212 Edmonton (WHL) 17 gp, 1.56 GAA, .941 SV%
It’s hard to remember the last time I had two goalies ranked in the top 30 of any given draft, but in a draft with a lot of unknowns and unpredictability, two strong prospects have immerged as potential first-round talents. At 6’6, Cossa is most certainly the tallest player in the first round, which is a huge positive for a goaltending prospect.
In 19 games in the WHL, Cossa managed to win 17 of them and put up a mind-blowing .941 save percentage. Unlike other large goaltending prospects, Cossa doesn’t only rely on his size for success. Instead, he anticipates the play well and uses his positioning and angles to his advantage. Somehow, with this overall skillset, he regularly makes himself look bigger in the net, frustrating opposing forwards. Cossa can be aggressive or play deep, and his size allows for success in either instance.
Between his size and instincts, Cossa is a likely first-round pick. He will be a number one goalie at the NHL level.
26. W Xavier Bourgault 6’0 172 Shawinigan (QMJHL) 29-20-20-40-6
This is a strong draft year for the QMJHL (it also helps that they played half a season, unlike the OHL and WHL). Enter another from the league, in Xavier Bourgault. After posting 71 points in the 2019-2020 season, Bourgault put up an excellent 40 points in 29 games.
A creative, playmaking winger, Bourgault is elusive and agile in the offensive zone. He has excellent hands and he maneuvers well with the puck on his stick. Bourgault finds teammates with ease and excels at quick outlet passes to already moving forwards. He is a constant powerplay threat and possesses an above-average shot.
A question some scouts have is if Bourgault can drive play on his own. His overall play suffered once his higher-skilled teammates left for the World Junior Championship. He may be more of a support-type offensive forward. His defensive game could also use some work. Bourgault is also one of the oldest players in the draft, meaning there are times scouts would have liked to see some more dominant play at times considering this development advantage.
While there are some question marks in his game, Bourgault looks like a solid middle-six forward option for NHL teams in the mid-to-late first round.
27. W Simon Robertsson 6’0 190 SWEHL 22-1-1-2-0
Robertsson is an excellent two-way forward who has middle-six NHL potential. An elite skater with a high compete level, Robertsson is constantly aware of his surrounding in all three zones. He plays a simple game that scouts love. There is a low-risk element to his game, which some teams will love.
He is a player without a ton of flash, but he can play anywhere in the line-up and make those around him better in all situations. There are portions of his game similar to the likes of Mattias Janmark and Calle Jarnkrok, though he is potentially a better skater than both players.
Some scouts have questions surrounding Robertsson’s ability to produce offensively at the NHL level. He struggled in Sweden’s top league on the offensive side. However, this is an area that will likely come with time and increased opportunity. Robertsson projects as a middle-six forward at the NHL level. He will need a few years of development before he is NHL-ready.
28. W Isak Rosen 5’11 161 SWEHL 22-0-1-1-2
Unlike his Swedish counterpart, Rosen has the potential for more explosiveness in his game. Yet, there is a significantly higher risk to his overall game. Like Robertsson, Rosen struggled offensively in Sweden’s top league. However, he excelled at the Under-18’s, averaging a goal-per-game.
Rosen’s biggest strength is his explosive speed. Rosen uses his speed to break away from defenders and cut around the outside of opposing defenders. His speed also gives him space in the neutral zone to make plays. Overall, he has excellent offensive vision and has the ability to make a play dynamically out of nothing. Even though he failed to score in 22 games against men, there was a fearless element to Rosen’s game that was evident. Even after making a mistake or turning over the puck, Rosen consistently fights to make up for his errors and regain possession.
The biggest question mark surrounding Rosen is his strength and offensive consistency. Next year will be huge in determining his potential offensive ceiling. His tools, compete level, and tenacity makes for an intriguing prospect for teams late in the first round of the draft.
29. W Oskar Olausson 6’2 181 SWEHL 16-3-1-4-2
Another Swede likely to be taken in the second half of the first-round, Olausson may be selected before both Robertsson and Rosen. At 6’2, Olausson is the largest of the bunch and is the most physically mature. Olausson played for Sweden at the World Juniors and didn’t look out of place.
While there are dynamic elements to Olausson’s game, he is still relatively a safe pick for teams. Overall, he is an excellent skater with a well-rounded offensive game. He is okay defensively and has excellent vision in all three zones. Olausson’s overall package is highly intriguing, and he could find himself taken anywhere between the middle of the first round to the middle of the second round in this year’s draft.
Some scouts would have liked to see more offense from him this season, hence the questions surrounding his upside. While he shows flashes of potential dynamic play, he lacks overall offensive consistency in this area. However, his overall tool kit leads most to believe he will be a middle-six NHL forward.
30. C Zach Bolduc 6’1 174 Rimouski (QMJHL) 27-10-19-29-18
A player that has been up and down my list all season, Bolduc had a pretty decent offensive season in a shortened QMJHL season. However, even after averaging over a point-per-game, there seems to be another offensive level to Bolduc’s game that has yet to be seen.
At 6’1, Bolduc possesses decent size and uses it to his advantage. He protects the puck well and has an excellent shot. His release is quick and he is willing to shoot from anywhere. Bolduc also never gives up on a play or shift. In moments of offensive frustration last season, Bolduc leaned into playing a well-rounded two-way game. This mindset will go a long way as a pro and insuring he stays in a line-up, even if he isn’t producing.
Some scouts are concerned Bolduc’s game is missing a dynamic factor, though he is unlikely to be a big-time NHL scorer based upon his skillset. Bolduc needs to work on his overall offensive consistency and work on developing some explosiveness to some portions of his offensive game if he is to be a threat at the NHL level.
However, thanks to his compete level, shot, and size, he looks like a potential middle-six NHL forward.
31. D Sean Behrens 5’10 176 NDTDP (USHL) 46-7-28-35-18
There’s a bit of drop in defensive prospects between the likes of Ceulemons and Lambos to Behrens, but he is still a very solid defensive prospect.
Scouts love all aspects of Behrens’ game. He is quick, plays in all situations, possesses an excellent first-pass, and excels in transition. Behrens starred for the U.S. at the World Under-18’s and showed a high level compete and the ability to create offense from the back-end. Some have compared Behrens game to Nate Schmidt, making him a skilled defender who may rarely put up 40 points, but will help a team maintain high levels of puck possession and can both quarterback a powerplay and kill a penalty.
At only 5’10, 175, some scouts are concerned about his size. However, thanks to his skating and hockey sense, it shouldn’t be an issue for Behrens, and he can easily increase his strength in the years to come. He is a potential second-pairing defender at the NHL level.
32. W Samu Tuomaala 5’10 176 FIN JR. 30-15-16-31-28
Another player who excelled at the Under-18 championship, Tuomala is a small-skilled forward who managed 11 points in 7 games.
Tuomala has a lot of raw tools and untapped potential. He has elite hands, shot, and skating ability. Tuomala can create offense easily off the rush and he is quick and elusive with the puck on his stick. His lack of size is less of an issue because of his explosive skating, agility, and ability to use his edges well.
The biggest question mark surrounding Tuomaala is his ability to read the play and adapt to it. There are times when he struggles with overall on-ice awareness and instead relies on his speed and quickness to create offense. This works well against his peers but may be an issue at a higher level.
If development goes according to plan, Tuomala may be one of the better offensive players in this draft. That being said, there are still quite a few question marks and he will likely need extra development time (3-4 years) before being NHL ready.
33. D Scott Morrow 6’2 192 Shattuck (USHS) 30-8-40-48-30
Offensive-minded blue-liner excelled at college prep school. NCAA will be an excellent challenge and determine ceiling next season.
34. W Sasha Pastujov 6’0 183 USNDTP (USHL) 41-30-35-65-18
Offensive-minded forward likes to slow down play and excels on the powerplay.
35. D Stanislav Svozil 6’1 179 Brno (CZE) 30-1-2-3-8
Two-way defender starred for the Czech’s at the World Junior Championship and against men in the Czech’s top league. Could be a second-pairing defender at the NHL level.
36. C Zach Dean 6’0 176 Gatineau (QMJHL) 23-10-10-20-20
Talented center struggles with consistency at times. Could be a steal in the second-round.
37. D Danil Chayka 6’3 185 KHL 11-1-1-2-0
Tall, rangy blue-liner struggled against his peers. Has all the tools to be a two-way defender, needs work on overall consistency and gap control.
38. C Brett Harrison 6’2 185 FIN JR. 7-4-5-9
Played support role at Under-18’s for Canada. Possesses excellent shot and has a quick release. Needs work on game to game consistency.
39. C Ryder Korczak 5’10 160 Moose Jaw (WHL) 17-3-13-16-4
Diminutive playmaker has raw skill. Needs to work on being less of a perimeter player.
40. D Olen Zellweger 5’10 174 Everett (WHL) 11-2-11-13-2
Small, offensive-minded defender moves the puck up the ice quickly and excels at quarterbacking the powerplay. Starred the Under-18’s for Canada.
41. G Benjamin Gaudreau 6’2 174 Sarnia (OHL) -Did not play (season cancelled)
Athletic goaltender missed entire season due to OHL cancelling. Excelled for Canada the Under-18’s. Possesses strong athleticism, could work on angles and positioning.
42. C/W Dylan Duke 5’10 181 USNDTP (USHL) 50-29-20-49-32
Led his team in shots on goal this season, but not goals. Small, but quick. Well-rounded offensive player.
43. C Justin Robidas 5’7 172 Val D’or (QMJHL) 35-19-17-36-4
Stephane’s son plays with energy and compete. Can play up and down the line-up with ease.
44. W Samu Salminen 6’3 190 FIN Jr. 17-10-16-26-10
Scored 7 goals and the Under-18’s. Highly skilled, but lacks consistency from game to game. Will play in the NCAA next season
45. W Conner Roulette 5’11 176 Seattle (WHL) 11-6-6-12-4
Two-way forward has excellent on-ice awareness. Needs to work on finishing ability.
46. W Tyler Boucher 6’1 200 USNDTP (USHL) 12-6-5-11-22
Injuries derailed season. Brian Boucher’s son plays an aggressive game with high compete. Will attended Boston University in the fall.
47. W Ayrton Marino 5’10 170 Omaha (USHL) 38-18-38-56-12
Transitioned well to USHL. Excellent hockey sense and agility. Could be a second-round sleeper.
48. C Cole Huckins 6’3 200 Acadia-Bathurst (QMJHL) 33-14-18-32-49
Ryan Malone’s cousin has NHL size and hands. Needs work on skating and making quick decision with the puck. A project-type player with upside.
49. W Alex Kisakov 5’10 141 RUS Jr. 61-36-37-73-90
Diminutive forward has dynamic ability and instincts. At times is overpowered physically. Needs to round-out his game.
50. W William Stromgren 6’3 176 SWE2 27-3-6-9-2
Big winger improved as the season progressed. NHL size and shot.
51. W Chase Stillman 6’1 183 DEN Jr. 8-9-7-16-43
Cory’s son plays with tenacity, grit, and skill. May not be as skilled as dad, but plays a well-rounded aggressive game
52. D Logan Mailloux 6’3 214 SWE3. 19-7-8-15-32
London Knight saw seasoned cancelled, so played in Sweden. Possesses physical tools and offensive ability. Questions surround skill translation to the next level.
53. D Ryan Ufko 5’10 181 Chicago (USHL) 53-10-29-39-14
UMass commit excels in transition game. Excellent offensive instincts. Needs work on top speed and defensive awareness.
54. W Prokhor Poltapov 5’11 174 RUS Jr. 61-25-27-52-30
Point-per-game for Russia at the Under-18’s. High compete level and good complimentary offensive skill.
55. C Wyatt Johnson 6’1 176 Windsor (OHL)- Did Not Play (Season Cancelled)
Player poised for break-out season saw season cancelled. Excelled in secondary role at the Under-18’s. Middle-six forward potential.
56. C Ryan Winterton 6’2 190 Hamilton (OHL)- Did not Play (Season Cancelled)
Like Johnson, excelled in secondary-role at the Under-18’s. Two-way, middle-six forward type. Offensive ceiling is a question.
57. C Peter Reynolds 5’10 170 Saint John (QMJHL) 33-15-16-31-2
Excellent skater and highly skilled. Needs work on game-to-game consistency and add strength.
58. G Tristan Lennox 6’4 190 Saginaw (OHL)- Did Not Play (Season Cancelled)
Tall, athletic netminder missed entire season, but practiced with Leafs at times. Has the tools, will need lots of development time.
59. D Evan Nause 6’2 185 Quebec (QMJHL) 32-4-18-22-32
Two-way defender has decent size and can play in all situations. At times struggles with gap control and defensive awareness.
60. D Anton Olsson 6’0 183 SWEHL 39-0-4-4-31
Two-way, prototypical Swedish blue-liner can play in all situations. Offensive upside is a question.
61. D Brent Johnson 5’11 165 Sioux Falls (USHL) 47-11-21-32-42
Raw talent has risen quickly. Offensively skilled, will play at North Dakota next season.
62. D Aleksi Malinen 6’0 185 FIN 30-2-1-3-0
Puck-moving two-way defender isn’t flashy, but a strong complimenting defender who can play in all situations.
63. D Jack Peart 5’11 181 USHS 18-11-24-35-4
Headed to St. Cloud, Peart dominated Minnesota High School league, and excelled at the USHL level also. Plays with confidence. Projects as a puck-moving defender.
64. C Oliver Kapanen 6’1 179 FIN.2 5-3-2-5-12
Sami Kapanen’s nephew is a two-way threat who can play in all situations. He’s a safe pick.
65. D Cameron Whynot 6’1 181 Halifax (QMJHL) 34-6-17-23-28
Plays well with skilled line-ups, struggles when relied on to drive play. A project who has some offensive upside.
66. D Oscar Plandowski 6’0 190 Charlottetown (QMJHL) 39-5-12-17-28
Excellent skating two-way defender. Offense needs improvement.
67. C Colton Dach 6’4 205 Saskatoon (WHL) 20-11-9-20-16
Kirby’s brother has the same size and strength as his brother, but not the offensive upside.
68. W Matthew Knies 6’3 205 Tri-City (USHL) 44-17-25-42-24
Towering forward at best when playing down-low. Uses his frame well. Needs work on awareness in transition game.
69. D Aleski Heimosalmi 5’11 170 FIN Jr. 35-4-17-21-22
Raw offensive defender excelled at Under-18’s. Needs work on defensive play.
70. D Aidan Hreschuk 5’11 187 USNTDP (USHL) 50-6-31-37-14
Small offensive-minded defender could be a steal in the second or third-round. Struggled at times but has the tools to run a powerplay and make quick outlet passes to gain possession in the offensive zone.
71. C Samuel Helenius 6’6 201 FIN 53-7-7-14-61
72. D Nolan Allan 6’2 194 WHL 16-1-1-2-21
73. D Vinny Iorio 6’3 194 WHL 22-5-7-12-16
74. C Tristan Broz 6’0 180 USHL 54-19-32-51-54
75. C Joshua Roy 6’0 190 QMJHL 35-22-13-35-4
76. D Shai Buium 6’3 215 USHL 50-4-22-26-27
77. W Oliver Nadeau 6’2 205 QMJHL 34-13-32-45-28
78. C Jakub Brabenec 6’2 176 CZE 23-0-1-1-4
79. D Roman Schmidt 6’6 2010 USHL 45-3-11-14-49
80. W Jackson Blake 5’10 180 USHL 25-7-10-17-33
81. W Josh Doan 6’2 180 USHL 55-31-39-70-45
82. C Riley Kidney 5’11 180 QMJHL 33-13-25-38-16
83. D Isaac Beliveau 6’2 185 QMJHL 37-5-12-17-24
84. D Jack Bar 6’2 194 USHL 34-5-10-15-52
85. D Guillaume Richard 6’2 175 USHL 46-2-14-16-14
86. D Artyom Grushnikov 6’2 175 OHL (Did Not Play)
87. D Kirill Kirsanov 6’1 200 KHL 29-0-3-3-0
88. W Matvei Petrov 6’2 181 Rus Jr. 58-22-20-42-16
89. C Florian Elias 5’8 170 DEL 34-3-5-8-12
90. C Red Savage 5’11 180 USHL 46-18-24-42-39
91. C Josh Lopina 6’2 195 HE 29-9-14-23-12
92. C Jack O’Brien 6’0 185 WHL 6-0-4-4-0
93. D Vlad Lukashevich 6’2 160 Rus Jr. 36-3-16-19-8
94. C Martin Rysavy 6’3 210 CZE 2. 19-3-6-9-6
95. C Justin Janicke 6’0 181 USHL 43-12-16-28-16
96. D Topias Vilen 6’0 194 FIN 35-3-5-8-6
97. W Ville Koivunen 6’0 165 FIN Jr. 38-23-26-49-16
98. W Lliam Gilmartin 6’2 195 USHL 50-13-22-35-64
99. C Francesco Arcuri 6’2 195 Aus.2 18-9-6-15-10
100. G Joe Vrbetic 6’6 180 OHL (Did Not Play)