2021 NHL Draft: Player A vs Player B

Tony Ferrari


Photo courtesy of the Chicago Steel

It was a fun activity for the 2020 draft class so bringing back Player A vs Player B for the 2021 draft class was a no-brainer! If you didn’t catch the couple from last year, the premise is fairly simple. I asked the Twitterverse to choose two players and have me pick between the two and explain why. I answered almost all of them on Twitter and I am a day late but a few of the most intriguing matchups wind up here! So without further ado, let’s get started!



This is an interesting pairing in that they are two of the most skilled players in terms of raw puck skills and willingness to try a thing or two. The difference between the two is the pace of play and engagement away from the puck. Johnson uses his skill to make himself one of the most dangerous and creative playmakers in the draft. He is quick when he needs to be but the pace that he play’s at mentally doesn’t always match up. His skill and ability to use his teammates helps mitigate that at times but it could be an issue at the next level. Lysell doesn’t have a pace issue on the other hand. His ability to push the pace and attack the defense, making them uncomfortable, really makes him a dangerous player to play against.


The other difference is each of their engagement away from the puck. Prior to his trade to Luleå, Lysell had some concerns with how committed he was to the defensive side of the game but his motor was never questioned. He is an active defender, even when he wasn’t always making the right reads. His growth since the trade has been impressive. He is not only making the effort but he is bringing the same pressuring and decision-forcing style he plays with offensively to the defensive side of the puck. Johnson on the other hand still struggles away from the puck and can get lost in the flow of a game until he finds that space. He has the requisite skill to be an effective two-way player but he doesn’t really have the desire to do so at this early stage of his career.


Decision: I think it was pretty clear from the breakdown but I side with Fabian Lysell here. Both should be top-10 picks and I won’t be shocked to see both fall to the back half of that group but they could easily wind up being two of the top-three players in the class if they hit their ceilings, both among the highest in the draft.