DP Scouting Team’s 2021 NHL Draft Rankings (March 2021)

Tony Ferrari

2021-03-08

Graphic Courtesy of Andrew Armstrong

 

The 2021 NHL Draft, tentatively scheduled for July, will be one of the most unique in the history of the league. There have been a number of challenges for players, teams, coaches, and scouts alike. That’s not to say the work stopped for any of those people despite the constant stop-and-starts of the QMJHL or the recent start to the WHL season. The European leagues have, for the most part, played quite a bit of their typical season and despite the J20 Nationell ending their year early, many players played at the SHL or Allsvenskan level, with some even moving to the third tier league in Sweden, HockeyEttan. Brandt Clarke, noted Canadian, went to the Slovakian league to start his year and get some games under his belt while Brennan Othmann and more recently Mason McTavish went to Switzerland. Players are figuring out how to put themselves in a situation to at least get their skates moving.

 

This clearly isn’t a perfect situation. Everyone is dealing with different challenges and obstacles. It’s exasperated by the fact that the 2021 NHL Draft class is so wide open at the top and the variance in rankings has been larger than most years. The depth of this draft isn’t what we’ve seen over recent years either. The pandemic certainly plays a role but the class itself has a lot of players who have a wide variance of outcomes. Many of the players with high-end skill also have major holes in their game and the players without a massive hole don’t have nearly the ceiling of others. It’s going to be a fun class to continue to track.

 

We have been lucky enough to partner with InStat Hockey to help scout and evaluate players from all over the world in a year where getting into the rink isn’t possible in many cases. InStat Hockey offers a wealth of team and player data and an incredible database of video. They are the elite of the elite when it comes to aiding in player development, scouting, and analysis. For any team or organization looking for a way to get an edge, InStat should be part of your plan.

 

The team has watched hours and hours of video, engaged in discourse, discussion and debate all in preparation for this Top-100 NHL Draft Ranking. We sat through a four-hour meeting and then discussed and debated more afterward as well. To say that the work and analysis that went into these rankings was exhaustive wouldn’t be an understatement. The DobberProspects Scouting team has been one of the hardest working groups I’ve ever worked with and they all deserve so much credit for what they’ve been able to do through a challenging and unique year.

 

You can get a peek into the process by listening to the latest DraftCast where an edited down recording of our rankings meeting has been posted as the latest episode! Check out the Youtube video here or you can find all of the audio podcast links here! Be sure to also check out the Game Tape series where Tony Ferrari, and sometimes a guest co-host, interview a prospect and then break down some film with the player to get their view on the play and what they were thinking! They are all linked with the players that have been on the show so far! Be sure to check out the scouting team below:

 

Dylan Griffing @GriffingDylan
Samuel Tirpak @SammyT_51
Eetu Siltanen @siltaneneetu
Alexa Potack @alexa_potack
Mikael Holm @carlmikaelholm
Caitlin Berry @caitlinsports
Brayden Olafson @olaf1393
Clare McManus @claremcmanuss
Nick Richard @_NickRichard
Jacob Barker @JacobMbarker12
AJ Gidaro @AlfredoGidaro
Jameson Ewasiuk @JamesonEwasiuk
Marek Novotny @MarekNovotny96
Danny Tiffany @dantiffany30
Tony Ferrari @theTonyFerrari

 

The DP Scouting Draft Board

 

1 | Matthew Beniers | C | Michigan (NCAA) | 6-2 | 174lbs

Tony Ferrari: The most complete forward in the 2021 NHL Draft, Beniers has been a monster with the Michigan Wolverines. He affects the game in so many ways from scoring at an impressive rate to turning play around in his own zone. Benier is an incredibly intelligent and cerebral player who attacks the opponents at their weaknesses.  He has a bit of a wonky stride when he is really digging in but his mobility is hardly a concern. He beats defenders to the outside with his speed and has the skill to cut across their faces with excellent hands. He has a nice snap shot and his passing is precise. One of the most attractive things about Beniers is that he truly doesn’t have a glaring weakness in his game.  His understanding of how to play whatever role asked of him is what makes Beniers the player he is. Whether he was playing at the World Juniors and providing an element of energy and pace to the game or at the University of Michigan where he has been borderline dominant in all facets of the game at times, the young American is just good at hockey. That sounds like a bit of a bland and general statement but there is simply no other way to describe Beniers game. The American center is not only the safe pick at #1, he’s probably the right one.

 

2 | William Eklund | W/C | Djurgården (SHL) | 5-10 | 170lbs

Mikael Holm: Eklund is probably the player in this draft class that has come furthest in his development and is closest to be NHL ready. He has gone through a tough season with really high highs and really low lows. He has had Covid, which made him ineligible to play in the World Juniors and he also required surgery to his appendix but despite this, he has played very well in one of the best leagues in the world as an 18-year-old. He’s well-rounded with not a lot of flaws. He can skate well, shoot well, his vision and passing are very good. The question is if the high upside is there but with his development the last year or so, it isn’t something you could rule out.

Game Tape with Tony: William Eklund

 

3 | Fabian Lysell | W | Luleå HF (SHL) | 5-10 | 172lbs

Alexa Potack: Lysell is one of, if not the most, dynamic players in this draft. Although his offensive production with Luleå has been underwhelming, the other aspects of his game are still shining through. His skating and IQ allow him to match the pace of SHL hockey, which is no easy feat for an eighteen-year-old. He is a reliable and creative playmaker, consistently driving through the neutral zone and generating quality opportunities for himself and his teammates. Additionally, Lysell has improved his defensive game significantly since arriving in Luleå. He has grown into an effective 200-foot player and with a few months until the July draft, Lysell is certainly building a case for first overall.

Game Tape with Tony: Fabian Lysell

 

4 | Jesper Wallstedt | G | Luleå (SHL) | 6-3 | 214lbs

Danny Tiffany: The top goalie in this class has played right into the number one overall pick discussion. He’s performed exceptionally well in the SHL this season. His numbers have dropped a little bit since returning from the World Juniors, but do not let that fool you, he is as good as advertised. What makes him good? To start, Wallstedt uses his big frame to his advantage and blends that with really good positioning. However, it’s Wallstedts IQ and understanding of plays before they happen that make him the X-Factor every time he’s between the pipes. His use of the RVH and VH techniques is as good as it gets. Jesper Wallstedt has the potential to be one of the best goaltenders in the world.

 

5 | Luke Hughes | LD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-2 | 176lbs

Clare McManus: Hughes is a smooth-skating defenseman with strong edgework and agility. He is a dynamic playmaker with elite vision who can create space for himself and make a quick pass to an open teammate. He is very good on the powerplay, and while he is more of a pass-first defenseman, he has shown the ability to shoot the puck. From last year to this season, Hughes is much better defensively and looks a lot stronger and confident in his own end.

 

6 | Brandt Clarke | RD | Barrie Colts (OHL) | 6-1 | 180lbs

Nick Richard: With the OHL season up in the air, Clarke made the jump overseas to play in the Slovakian pro ranks earlier this season. After a bit of an adjustment period, he has really settled into his role in the last few weeks and is looking more like the player that entered the season as one of the favorites to be chosen first overall. Clarke is a dynamic offensive defenceman who is more elusive than fast, able to shake forecheckers and push the play from the back end. He is a threat manning the point with the puck on his stick, creating deception with head and shoulder fakes to open up passing lanes, and can jump into space to create chances off the cycle. He has decent size and a willingness to finish his checks but needs to improve his ability to defend in transition while working to make better reads in defensive zone coverage. Still a work in progress, Clarke has all the tools to end up as the best player from this draft class when all is said and done.

Game Tape with Tony: Brandt Clarke

 

7 | Simon Edvinsson | LD | Frölunda (J20 Nationell) | 44352 | 203lbs

Alexa Potack: Edvinsson is extremely mobile across all zones of the ice. He is always involved in the play and appears equally confident on both ends. He does not shy away from physicality and uses his large frame with control. In addition to his physical strengths, his vision and spatial awareness are refined. He is constantly checking his surroundings and shifts into different positions when needed. Edvinsson possesses one of the strongest two-way defensive games in this draft class and his variety of skills presents him as a player that is incredibly mature for his age and experience.

 

8 | Simon Robertsson | W | Skellefteå (J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 190lbs

Mikael Holm: You should never judge a prospect on their points in a men’s league, especially when that league is the third-best league in the world. Simon Robertsson is a great example of that. He had a productive start in J20 Nationell and was promoted early on to Skellefteå’s SHL team where he took on more of a bottom-six role and has greatly improved his defensive game and the pace to his game. He’s got some silky hands that can create space for himself, he reads the game well, got a great motor and he’s got one heck of a wrist shot, possibly the best one in this draft class. His shot is able to beat goalies clean from the blue line, that’s a rare talent.

 

9 | Owen Power | LD | Michigan (NCAA) | 6-6 | 214lbs

Samuel Tirpak: Owen Power is an offensive defenseman who possesses one of the best transitional abilities out of this draft class from defensemen. He is a very smooth puck handler and skater who likes to join the rush and loves to be offensively involved with the forward group in front of him. He sometimes looks like the fourth forward on the ice and sometimes it has a negative impact on his defensive game. He sets up chances nicely for himself and his teammates with his shot and work from around the blue line. Despite physical advantage over his peers, he is not as strong in battles as people might think he is and he needs to work on his overall defensive game since he lacks in pretty much every single important facet of it and does not work well under pressure from opposite forward groups.

 

10 | Kent Johnson | C | Michigan (NCAA) | 6-0 | 166lbs

Clare McManus: Johnson has shown no ability to slow down since coming to the NCAA. He is second on the University of Michigan in points, with 25 total points in 23 games. He is a shifty electrifying center who thinks the game at a high level. Johnson is usually always one of the most consistent players on the ice, showing off his flashy hands and playmaking abilities. This makes him very dangerous, but combining his offensive skills with strong fluid edgework and skating, he can carve the ice quickly, create space, and make the opposition hesitate.

 

11 | Aatu Räty | C | Kärpät (Liiga) | 6-1 | 177lbs

Eetu Siltanen: After a really disappointing start for the season, Räty has improved his game a lot. Even though his point contribution has been a bit quiet, he has shown a lot of positive things at the Liiga level. Räty is a smart player with a good offensive toolset. He skates well, has good puck skills, and can shoot the puck, so he doesn’t particularly lack any skill but obviously needs to improve everything, like every prospect in the draft. I don’t really see Räty being more than a 2nd or a 3rd line center for an NHL organization, but he could be very good in that role, being a comprehensive 2-way center.

 

12 | Dylan Guenther | C/W | Edmonton (WHL) | 44348 | 170lbs

Jameson Ewasiuk: As the top-ranked skater playing out of Western Canada this season, expectations are high for Guenther after he produced at an elite level last year. To put into perspective just how impressive his 1.02 points per game was in his draft minus one season, some of the players that he out produced include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1st overall in 2011), Leon Draisaitl (3rd overall in 2014), Kirby Dach (3rd in 2019), Dylan Cozens (7th in 2019) and Peyton Krebs (17th in 2019). Not a bad list of players there hey? It’s worth mentioning too that not one of those players was a point per game producer in their draft minus one season. Guenther is a swift skating offensive forward who is a threat off the rush but is also lethal on the power play due to the quick release on his shot as well as his ability to get the puck to players in high danger scoring areas. He is competitive in battles and once he fills out his frame, he will become more effective in physical matchups. Defensively, he can get caught floating his own end and is definitely inconsistent as of right now. I’m telling you now, don’t be surprised when you see him rise on lists quickly. His Oil Kings have only played three games but in that time he has produced a modest six goals and 10 points. I guess you could say that’s an okay way to start the season.

 

13 | Oskar Olausson | W | HV71 (J20 Nationell) | 44349 | 181lbs

Alexa Potack: After a stint with HV71, Olausson has taken advantage of his increased ice time on his loan. The clearest strength of Olausson’s game is his mobility. He weaves through the opposition with ease and his feet are always moving. This has made him a useful asset on both the power play and penalty kill. Outside of skating, he has a fairly even skillset and a visible work ethic. The biggest gap for Olausson to address is his utilization of teammates as pass options. As he gains more professional games under his belt, he should hopefully grow out of this self-reliance.

 

14 | Cole Sillinger | C | Sioux Falls (USHL) | 6-0 | 194lbs

Tony Ferrari: With one of the best shots in the draft, Sillinger is a threat to score on every shift he steps on the ice. His ability to get his shot off regardless of the puck position is impressive, whether it’s firing it from in his feet or extended out to the side, he’s dangerous. As a playmaker, he has the talent to make any pass but often refrains from making the pass to try and create his own shot. He has the skill to make the passes, there is little doubt about that. Willingness to use his teammates will go a long way to making him more dangerous all over the ice. He has some rounding out to do as a player in terms of his defensive game but the talent is there. He has improved his skating since last season, staying agile on his feet more consistently and using his edges more effectively. There is still room to grow in that regard but the improvement is a welcome sight. If he can up the effort off the puck, he has a chance to be one of the best players in the class. 

 

15 | Xavier Bourgault | C/W | Shawinigan (QMJHL) | 6-0 | 172lbs

Brayden Olafson: If there’s one thing that will make Xavier Bourgault stand out in a crowd, it’s likely his ability to outsmart the opposition while he plays without the puck. Although the Shawinigan forward is highly capable of transitioning the puck himself and thinking on his feet to evade congestion, his uniqueness comes in the form of regularly being one of the most reliable and productive pass outlets in the offensive zone. While his inconsistent engagement in the defensive zone presents an opportunity for improvement, many repeatable and translatable skills, such as adaptive decision making, strength, balance, and weight transfer as well as an ability to cleanly acquire bad pucks are at the core of his identity.

 

16 | Chaz Lucius | C/W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 172lbs

Tony Ferrari: If you’re going to miss the first half of your season, you better return in style, and boy of boy, Lucius has done just that! His ability to score in a variety of ways is special whether it’s a big one-timer or a cheeky move in front of the net. His hands are flashy and there are moments where the young NTDP star takes you out of your seat. His mobility has improved since last season which is a welcome sign considering a lower-body injury was responsible for his absence. He needs to use his teammates a bit better but his puck skill and offensive intellect are intriguing. His defensive awareness has been better but there is room to improve still, but there is so much to like about the short stint we’ve seen so far this year. Now that he’s back, watch for him to rise on boards. 

 

17 | Fyodor Svechkov | W/C | Togliatti (VHL) | 6-0 | 178lbs

Dylan Griffing: Svechkov is one of the best, if not the best, defensive forwards in the 2021 Draft class. He spent most of the season with Lada Togliatti in the VHL (Russia’s AHL equivalent), as well as some MHL games with Ladya Togliatti. Both of these teams are terrible, but Svechkov did everything in his power to drive offense and create chances whenever he could. He is fantastic at escaping pressure cooker situations with the puck on his stick, even when it looks like there’s no chance for him to do so. His offensive tools are a work in progress, but he has a nice shot and can rifle passes into the slot. He’s very mature off the puck and uses great positioning and timing to move in on puck carriers and frees the puck with ease.

 

18 | Stanislav Svozil | LD | Kometa Brno (Czech) | 6-1 | 172lbs

Samuel Tirpak: Svozil is one of my personal favorites in this year’s class. The excellent two-way puck-moving defenseman is perfectly built for modern hockey. Since the last installment of rankings, he became more offensively involved with his club and tries to be more confident with the puck in the offensive zone. Something he really wasn’t at the beginning of the season. The defensive awareness is still there at a high level. He has excellent gap control and positional awareness in the defensive zone and excellent puck-moving abilities from his own zone through the neutral zone.

 

19 | Zachary L’Heureux | C/W | Halifax (QMJHL) | 5-11 | 196lbs

Brayden Olafson: Despite an early-season surge in excitement around Zach L’Heureux that has partially subsided, the Halifax winger remains a type of player who offers a uniquely versatile skill set with exciting offensive upside. Stylistically, L’Heureux telegraphs between James Van Riemsdyk and Tom Wilson player types on a shift-by-shift basis, thrilling with his creativity and never-say-die mentality one minute, and demolishing a defenseman on the forecheck the next. His alluring intricacy and strength with the puck is a skill that for now, mitigates his lack of elite footspeed. At the end of the day, the unhinged nature of L’Heureux’s game could be both a blessing and a curse for the team who selects him. The range and flexibility of his projection in an NHL lineup, however, will surely motivate one organization to take on the challenge of breaking this colt.

 

20 | Isak Rosén | W | Leksand (J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 161lbs

Alexa Potack: Despite his small frame, Rosén’s acceleration and control have made him a mainstay in the Leksand lineup. His aforementioned speed helps to create odd-man rushes and breakaway opportunities. His vision pairs with this, making him a dependable playmaker. Although shadowed at times by his strengths, his lack of size and physicality is still noticeable, particularly along the boards. Gaining more muscle will not happen overnight, but it should not be a major detriment to his long-term future.

 

21 | Brennan Othmann | W | EHC Olten (SL) / Flint (OHL) | 5-11 | 170lbs

Caitlin Berry: Though he flew under many people’s radars at the start of the year, I don’t think Othmann can be called underrated any longer. He has been receiving regular offensive minutes with HC Olten in the Swiss League and has shown improvements in many areas of his game. Known as a goal-scorer over the past few years, Othmann’s shot is excellent, both powerful and with a lightning-fast release. But he is also a creative playmaker and can drive play with impressive offensive awareness and high-end vision. Othmann has an aggressiveness to his game, he can play physically and disrupt plays. His skating, however, isn’t the greatest, and he needs to improve his play in the defensive zone to round out his game. His playing license has recently been acquired by SC Bern, so it will be interesting to see if he gets any time in the Swiss National League.

Game Tape with Tony: Brennan Othmann

 

22 | Scott Morrow | RD | Shattuck (USHS-Prep) | 6-2 | 198lbs

Tony Ferrari: The skating talent is exceptional. He is among the best skaters on the backend in the entire 2021 class. He attacks the play in all three zones, playing fast and aggressively by closing gaps and cutting through traffic. His ability to manipulate his opponents with the puck on his stick is both entertaining and effective thanks to his mobility in all directions and his ability to change direction at a moment’s notice. This all comes with the caveat that he is playing at the USHS level this year because of COVID and

Game Tape with Tony: Scott Morrow

 

23 | Logan Stankoven | C/W | Kamloops (WHL) | 5-8 | 170lbs

Nick Richard: Stankoven is an undersized forward that plays a fast-paced, buzzsaw style of hockey. He is a deadly shooter with a quick, heavy release that he can let go from multiple points in his shooting motion and generates good power on his one-timer as well. He has quick feet that rarely stop moving, effectively pressuring opponents with and without the puck on his stick. Despite his small stature, Stankoven doesn’t shy away from the dirty areas, finishing hits on the forecheck and getting underneath defenders to battle for space in front of the net. He is an efficient passer but his shooting ability and tenacity are what will make him an effective NHLer. Yet to play a game this season due to pandemic restrictions in British Columbia, Stankoven could climb this list by season’s end if Kamloops is able to return to action and allow him to showcase his skills.

 

24 | Nikita Chibrikov | W | SKA (KHL) | 5-10 | 161lbs

Dylan Griffing: Nikita Chibrikov is a flashy, offensive winger with a ton of skill and deceptiveness. He spent the 2020-21 season moving all around the SKA St. Petersburg system plus a few games with the Russian National Team, where he became the second-youngest player to score for the team, only behind Alexander Ovechkin. He’s been able to adapt well at every level he’s played at, though there are many games where his impact is very limited, mostly due to his size being an issue when playing against men and his poor off-the-puck play. Where Chibrikov really stands out is his skating ability. He can move the puck into the offensive zone and completely take control of the ice by using his edges to circle the zone.

 

25 | Daniil Chayka | LD | CSKA (KHL) | 6-3 | 187lbs

Dylan Griffing: Chayka is a big, mobile defensive defenseman who is showing very promising signs of being a quality top-4 asset at the NHL level. He’s been critiqued for his lackluster performance at the World Juniors, but frankly, so did just about every defenseman on that Russian team. He’s very mature in his own end and, despite his size, plays a technical defensive game. There’s not a lot of big hits coming from him, but he does a great job of pinning play along the board and then using his reach to free the puck from there. For a player of his size, he’s a fantastic skater which allows him to dominate transitionally when given the chance to move up the ice himself.

 

26 | Samu Tuomaala | W | Kärpät (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-10 | 174lbs

Eetu Siltanen: I guess people were expecting Tuomaala to score like 50 goals in U20 SM-sarja this year, but his point contribution hasn’t been quite that amazing. However, he has 13+14 in 27 games, so he has a solid number of points, but he just hasn’t been as dominant as expected. When he gets going, he can dominate. He’s an excellent skater and snipes the puck hard and accurate. He can also drive the play with his skating and has good puck skills. His defensive effort has been a bit worrying and he looks a bit selfish – like every sniper – from time to time but as he has really high upside, he shouldn’t drop too far.

 

27 | Francesco Pinelli | C | Kitchener (OHL) | 6-0 | 184lbs

Caitlin Berry: Pinelli has been playing over in Slovenia with HDD Jesenice since January. The AlpsHL is an unusual league with a diverse mix of teams involved, but Pinelli is starting to find his scoring stride. He has picked up 9 points in his last 4 games and has showcased his versatility both as a scorer and as a playmaker. A smart player with slick puck-handling abilities, Pinelli is easily able to create chances for himself and his linemates and is always involved in the play. He has an impact on every shift. While not possessing the most powerful shot, Pinelli has a quick release that can catch goalies off guard. He is a capable two-way player and forechecks hard, however, I would like to see a more consistent effort in his own zone. Could stand to move his feet more as this would add pace to his game.

 

28 | Carson Lambos | LD | Winnipeg (WHL) | 6-0 | 200lbs

Tony Ferrari: Once thought to be a challenger in the top-10, Lambos really struggled at times during his stint in Finland. He is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. His skating is good and he is able to walk a blueline quite well. Lambos has a big shot from the blue line which is a legitimate weapon on the powerplay, especially when he moves into the circles with it. His defensive game is solid, defending transition with his stick and angling off well. He can be a bit over-aggressive in the neutral zone at times but the mindset is there to stuff plays before they start. He has the tools to be a top-15 talent in this draft but he will need to show up with Winnipeg now that the WHL is getting going because his play in the U20 SM-sarja left a lot to be desired. 

 

29 | Mason McTavish | C | Peterborough (OHL) | 44348 | 198lbs

Jacob Barker: While watching Mason McTavish continue to develop his game, the main thing that catches the eye is his impressive set of offensive tools. In his first ten games with EHC Olten in the Swiss League, he was able to contribute five goals and seven points on the scoresheet, but the offense he generated came in a variety of ways. His toolbox is highlighted by a bomb of a shot, which he can get off quickly and accurately from anywhere in various scenarios. However, the most impressive part of his game is his ability to put himself in high danger areas in the offensive zone. Once he is there, he uses his NHL-ready frame and strong offensive instincts to generate scoring chances for himself and his teammates. McTavish shows flashes of brilliance in transition as well, using his powerful stride and stickhandling ability to push the play forward quickly. However, these moments come less often than you would hope for, as consistency in his game seems to be the major piece waiting to develop. If he can contribute more to his team’s defensive zone play and transition to offense on a consistent basis, McTavish projects as a solid top 6 scoring winger that could also be a lethal force on the powerplay.

 

30 | Ryder Korczak | C | Moose Jaw (WHL) | 5-10 | 164lbs

Jameson Ewasiuk: A top-five ranked forward out of Western Canada coming into this season, Korczak is a player that can be described as crafty, with quick feet and strong edge work. His read/react abilities allow him to analyze the play and position himself in ways that will help him retrieve pucks and break up plays. The young forward is a smart puck distributor but he also possesses a deceptive shot and solid finishing instincts. He is constantly moving around the ice which is typically a positive but he can lose his positioning when he wanders to the puck in the DZ. Physically, he doesn’t shy away from the dirty areas and he can be feisty at times but at this point, he does lack strength. With all that being said, we have to give credit where it’s due as the young forward recorded 67 points in 62 games last season on a very poor Warriors team that had just 14 wins in 62 games. Other than Brayden Tracey (who was traded during the season) no other player on the team came close to his level of production in 2019-2020. His draft minus one production is definitely impressive but it is important to note that he missed the 2020 draft by roughly a week and will be one of the oldest first-time eligible players for 2021. The Warriors have yet to play a game this season but when they do, expect Korczak to once again be an offensive leader for the team. 

 

31 | Zach Dean | C | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 6-0 | 176lbs

Brayden Olafson: As a leader on one of the youngest teams in the QMJHL, Zach Dean has been tasked with the heavy lifting job of not only supplying consistent production for the Olympiques, but also aiding in shutting down some of the league’s powerhouse lines iced by Shawinigan and Val d’Or. Dean is an energetic forward who can succeed in the role of puck hound as well as setup-man. His blend of off-puck anticipation as well as technical skills that enable reptile-like puck retrieval makes him the type of player whose likelihood of projecting to an impactful two-way player, quite likely. Additionally, Dean’s ability to manipulate his northbound transitional speed and effectively distribute the puck once he reaches the offensive zone makes him the type of player who could factor into a teams’ top-six.

 

32 | Ayrton Martino | W | Omaha (USHL ) | 5-10 | 168lbs

AJ Gidaro: Martino is nothing short of a force in the offensive zone. He generates dangerous scoring chances through his high-end vision and wicked shooting ability. He’s got the skill to make opponents look silly and puts them on their heels with a knack for intercepting passes. While his play in the defensive end needs to come aways, this highly skilled dual-threat offensive winger has a whole lot of upside and is a whole lot of fun.

Game Tape with Tony: Aryton Martino

 

33 | Matthew Coronato | W | Chicago (USHL) | 5-9 | 177lbs

Clare McManus: Coronato’s ability to go from zero to hundred up ice with the puck is very evident. His skating looks significantly improved compared to last season, which is catching the eyes of many scouts. He does an adequate job of finding space to make a play, whether it is feeding a teammate a pass or finishing a shot. Defensively, his game is still a growing field, but he does a solid job of moving his feet, bringing a high motor, and being tenacious on pucks along the boards. He is currently setting USHL records this season with the Steel, notching 33 goals and 28 assists for 61 points in 35 games played.

Game Tape with Tony: Matthew Coronato 

 

34 | Zachary Bolduc | C | Rimouski (QMJHL) | 6-1 | 175lbs

Brayden Olafson: In my experience of evaluating prospects, I don’t know that I can recall a player who fits the criteria of a boom-or-bust quite as blatantly as Zach Bolduc. The ceiling offered by Bolduc’s electrifying transitional speed, intricate puck control inside of highly technical skating, and sufficient reach to burn defensemen at will, have recently become more prominent in his nightly effort. Prior to the Quebec division bubbles forming, Bolduc’s impact seemed to be heavily restrained by inefficient decision-making due to what I can only attribute to him playing without Alexis Lafreniere, and being forced to make an impact in an entirely different way. If his trend of improving comfort and impact continues for the remainder of the season, he will have earned sufficient trust and respect to be worthy of a top-25 selection.

 

35 | Dylan Duke | C/W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 181lbs

AJ Gidaro: Duke is a swiss army knife forward who is strong on the puck and his feet. While not the biggest player, Duke thrives in front of the net. Whether shooting in space or banging in goals, he has a knack for the net. While his ceiling isn’t tremendous, Duke has all the makings of a rock-steady utility forward with goal-scoring upside.

36 | Sebastian Cossa | G | Edmonton (WHL) | 6-6 | 212lbs

Danny Tiffany: Despite not playing until February, Cossa holds still in this list. Since beginning his seasons, Cossa has done exactly what has been expected. However, it isn’t the first four games that make Cossa the second goaltender on this list. It’s Cossas raw potential that is so intriguing. At 6’6 Cossa displays really good tracking of the puck and reacts well to first shots. His hands are active and seemingly never drop when he drops, an impressive feat.

 

37 | Samu Salminen | C | Jokerit (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-2 | 186lbs

Eetu Siltanen: Salminen has looked really good this season as he has 10+16 in 17 games for Jokerit in U20 SM-sarja. Salminen’s a 6’3” center with good offensive skills and great hockey sense. He is growing into a good two-way center but needs to really improve his defensive game, even though his effort defensively is good. He also shoots the puck well and has the ability to give creative passes. His biggest negative is his skating, which drops him a few sports at this point. He’s also been a “victim” of the Covid-19 restrictions as Jokerit hasn’t been playing for a long time (Helsinki has had more strict restrictions than some other parts of Finland).

 

38 | Evan Nause | LD | Québec (QMJHL) | 6-2 | 186lbs

Brayden Olafson: Although Evan Nause falls into what may be considered the third tier of defensemen in the 2021 draft class, the Remparts blueliner checks a plethora of boxes when it comes to finding a projectable NHLer. While he doesn’t necessarily possess a signature characteristic, Nause does many things well and few things poorly. As a practiced powerplay quarterback, Nause directs play in the offensive zone and elsewhere with an exceptional level of poise and comfort, even at 5-on-5. From the offensive blueline, his passes are crisp, and his shots are always thoughtful. He rarely panics under pressure and will occasionally mix in an elusive cut or deke in order to buy himself time to set up a secure breakout. In addition to his undeniable ability with the puck, Nause is also an intelligent defender, beginning at the opposing blueline where his pinch/hold decision-making helps to make the most of every possession, without sacrificing reliable defense.

 

39 | Vincent Iorio | RD | Brandon (WHL) | 6-3 | 191lbs

Tony Ferrari: Composure is the name of the game with Iorio. The Wheat Kings defender doesn’t panic with or without the puck and consistently makes the right decision. He is mobile on his feet, utilizing his edges to evade pressure. He moves the puck up ice with precision and while his offensive game is subtle, it’s effective. He likely never profiles as a powerplay quarterback at the next level but he’s an intelligent puck mover who can transition the puck from the defensive end to the offensive zone.

 

40 | Sasha Pastujov | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 175lbs

Clare McManus: Pastajov is phenomenal with the puck on his stick offensively and is an elusive skater who is hard to stop when he is moving. He can display as a dual-threat scorer, who can make smart passes to teammates and get quality shots to the net. Defensively, Pastajov is reliable. If he was more physical in the defensive zone, it would surely benefit him more, but he maintains solid positioning overall. Pastajov currently leads all USNTDP players in points, with 20 goals and 26 assists for 46 points in 27 games played.

 

41 | Brent Johnson | D | Sioux Falls (USHL) | 44327 | 165lbs

Tony Ferrari: One of the fastest rising players in the class, Johnson may be able to sneak into the first round if he keeps showing that he is the best defenseman in the USHL. His ability to use his mobility all over the ice is the key to his game. He is able to open passing and shooting lanes by altering his position along the blue line in the offensive zone, manipulating his opponents into thinking he’s going one way before passing it the other way. His defensive game is solid, leading with his stick in transition and knocking pucks loose. As soon as he gets the puck, he’s looking up ice. Keep an eye on Johnson as the season progresses.

 

42 | Corson Ceulemans | RD | Brooks (AJHL) | 6-2 | 192lbs

Nick Richard: Ceulemans was a bit of a polarizing prospect amongst our group, with some believing in his upside and others wondering if he will ever be able to make good on it. He is a powerful skater with good size and plays an aggressive offensive game, constantly pushing the pace for his team. Ceulemans often acts as a one-man breakout and his ability to carry the puck up ice stands out. His aggressiveness can sometimes get the better of him though, and his decision-making can leave you shaking your head all too often. He plays a physical game and has the requisite skills to be an effective defender but he hasn’t been able to put it together on that side of the puck to this point. Perhaps the biggest concern is that these problems are apparent in the AJHL and it is safe to assume that they will only become more glaring as he moves on to playing against higher quality competition. A bit of a risk/reward bet, Ceulemans could develop into an exciting offensive defenceman if he ends up in the right system.

 

43 | Liam Dower-Nilsson | C | Frölunda (J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 172lbs

Mikael Holm: Dower-Nilsson is a smart two-way center with great vision and passing. His hands won’t blow you away but he can use them to get out of tough spots and create space for himself. He’s a hard worker that doesn’t shy away from trying to win the puck in the dirty areas and he’s successful along the boards. He’s a great threat on the power play where he usually plays around the net, delivering dangerous passes from Gretzky’s office. There are some question marks around his skating and if it will translate to the higher level.

 

44 | Brett Harrison | C | Oshawa (OHL) | 6-1 | 167lbs

Jacob Barker: After a strong D-1 campaign with the Oshawa Generals, Brett Harrison has been able to produce four goals and nine points for the Finnish junior team, KOOVEE J20. Although his ability to generate offense cannot be denied, it is Harrison’s full 200-foot game that stands out. Harrison is not a flashy player by instinct, but he is often able to use his skill on the puck to draw attention to him and create space for his teammates. That being said, he has shown significant improvement with his ability to assert himself offensively this year, which is a very positive sign in his development curve. Harrison’s defensive positioning and instincts generate turnovers, where he is then able to use his crisp passes to break out quickly. If he can continue progressing his skating agility and physical play, Harrison projects as a really strong, two-way winger that can play anywhere in an NHL team’s top-nine.

 

45 | Matthew Samoskevich | W | Chicago (USHL) | 5-11 | 176lbs

Clare McManus: Samoskevich is a player that has the potential to climb up draft rankings this year. The Chicago Steel forward has an amazing ability to carry the puck through traffic with his hands, vision, and speedy/smooth skating. His feet are always moving, especially in the offensive zone, looking for a play to make. He is undersized and needs to work on his strength and play away from the puck. In 21 games with the Chicago Steel, Samoskevich has eight goals and 16 assists for 24 total points.

 

46 | Artyom Grushnikov | LD | Hamilton (OHL) | 6-2 | 174lbs

Dylan Griffing: The major downfall with Grushnikov is that he simply has not played a game all season. A lot of the Russians in the CHL opted to return to Russia and get some game time there while they waited for the seasons to open, but he was not one of them. Last season, he played for the Red Army of the MHL and had a handful of games with the Russian U18 team. Grushnikov is a rock solid defensive defenseman with a knack for adapting to plays as they arrive. He positions himself very well between the puck carrier and the net to block off most of the dangerous options and then picks his spot to either throw his body weight at the skater or step up with his stick to poke the puck free. He still needs to work on moving the puck out of the defensive zone when he gets it, but his defensive game is at a very good level for his age.

 

47 | Ryan Ufko | RD | Chicago (USHL) | 43960 | 170lbs

Clare McManus: One of the special qualities that people will notice in Ufko’s game is that he has the ability to play a well-rounded two-way game. Ufko has the unique skill to play a physical role on the backend, even while being smaller than bigger opponents. Offensively, Ufko makes crisp and accurate passes in all three zones. He rarely turns the puck over and he can create space for himself and teammates to have room to make a play. Ufko surprisingly also has a quick shot from the blueline that can be hard to stop when he has room to take a shot on goal. He is second in the league in points by a defenseman with nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points in 37 games.

 

48 | Jack O’Brien | C | Portland (WHL) | 6-0 | 154lbs

Nick Richard: It has been a tough adjustment for O’Brien after making the jump to the USHL earlier this season when it became clear the WHL season was going to be delayed. He hasn’t looked as impactful so far as he did with Portland late last season but it is important to remember just how difficult moving to new leagues and cities in the midst of a pandemic can be for these kids. O’Brien is unlikely to overwhelm opponents with raw skill but he plays a well-rounded, intelligent game. He is an above-average skater, utilizing a smooth stride and clean crossovers to generate speed through the neutral zone as he creates an entry or generates pressure on the forecheck. His work rate off of the puck is strong and he displays an understanding of his defensive responsibilities, actively supporting the play all over the ice. O’Brien isn’t the flashiest offensive player but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective one. Though he may lack some creativity, he has good vision and makes quick, heads-up passes in the offensive zone. O’Brien needs to add strength to his slight frame in the coming years, and he may never be a big-time producer, but he has intriguing potential as a solid two-way pivot at the NHL level.

 

49 | Victor Stjernborg | C | Växjö (J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 202lbs

Mikael Holm: Stjernborg is a center but plays on the wing for Växjö in the SHL. He’s a tenacious forechecker that loves to create space for his teammates with his movement. He’s got great vision and finds space on the ice to help his teammates move the puck forward and he can dish the puck by himself as well. Stjernborg plays regularly in the bottom-6 for one of the best teams in the SHL and he does it well. He doesn’t play a prominent role and he does play as a winger while he is a center and that affects his point production (it is also hard to score in the SHL as a 17 or 18-year-old). He might take some time but is well worth the pick in this position.

 

50 | Jack Bar | RD | Chicago (USHL) | 6-2 | 192lbs

Nick Richard: Bar has an exciting package of size and skill. He is a rangy defender with sneaky mobility, able to elude the first layer of forecheckers with consistency. He makes a good first pass and likes to jump into the rush to try and create odd-man situations for his team but knows when to retreat and has the skating ability to recover when things go awry. Bar is particularly strong on puck retrievals in his own end, using his body to shield off forecheckers before moving the puck to a release valve or spinning off his check to skate the puck out himself. He maintains fairly good gap control defending the rush but needs to clean up his pivots when puck carriers are attacking with speed. Bar might never rack up huge offensive totals but he has the potential to be an efficient puck-moving blueliner who plays a sound defensive game at the NHL level.

 

The Back Half

51 | Aidan Hreschuk | LD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-11 | 182lbs
52 | Jeremy Wilmer | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-7 | 142lbs            Game Tape with Tony: Wilmer
53 | Sean Behrens | LD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-9 | 175lbs
54 | Samuel Helenius | C | JYP (Liiga) | 6-6 | 201lbs
55 | Dmitri Katelevsky | C/W | Kazan (VHL) | 6-0 | 174lbs
56 | Kirill Kirsanov | LD | SKA (KHL) | 6-1 | 194lbs
57 | Wyatt Johnston | C | Windsor (OHL) | 6-0 | 178lbs
58 | Matthew Knies | W | Tri-City (USHL) | 6-3 | 206lbs
59 | Benjamin Gaudreau | G | Sarnia (OHL) | 6-2 | 160lbs
60 | Tristan Lennox | G | Saginaw (OHL) | 6-3 | 198lbs
61 | Ville Koivunen | W | Kärpät (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-11 | 161lbs
62 | Nolan Allan | LD | Prince Albert (WHL) | 6-1 | 174lbs
63 | Aleksi Heimosalmi | RD | Ässät (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-11 | 154lbs
64 | Ty Voit | W | Sarnia (OHL) | 5-9 | 150lbs
65 | Dmitri Kostenko | RD | Togliatti (VHL) | 6-2 | 165lbs
66 | Anton Olsson | LD | Malmö (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 183lbs
67 | Connor Lockhart | C | Erie (OHL) | 5-9 | 170lbs
68 | Martin Rysavy | W | Prerov (Czech2) | 6-2 | 203lbs
69 | Vladislav Lukashevich | LD | Loko (MHL) | 6-2 | 165lbs
70 | James Malatesta | C/W | Québec (QMJHL) | 5-9 | 179lbs
71 | Tristan Broz | C | Fargo (USHL) | 6-0 | 179lbs
72 | Andre Gasseau | C | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-4 | 202lbs
73 | Jacob Martin | RD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 190lbs
74 | Matvei Petrov | W | Krylia Sovetov (MHL) | 6-1 | 163lbs
75 | Oliver Kapanen | C | KalPa (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-0 | 166lbs
76 | Chase Stillman | W | Sudbury (OHL) | 5-11 | 170lbs
77 | Topias Vilén | LD | Pelicans (Liiga) | 6-1 | 194lbs
78 | Prokhor Poltapov | W | Krasnaya Armiya (MHL) | 5-10 | 161lbs
79 | Linus Sjödin | C/W | Rögle BK (SHL) | 6-0 | 168lbs
80 | Owen Murray | D | Green Bay (USHL) | 5-10 | 181lbs
81 | Joel Nyström | D | Färjestad (SHL) | 5-10 | 159lbs
82 | Robert Orr | LW | Halifax (QMJHL) | 5-11 | 176lbs
83 | Kirill Gerasimyuk | G | SKA (MHL) | 6-2 | 179lbs
84 | Aleksi Malinen | LD | JYP (Liiga) | 6-0 | 176lbs
85 | Jackson Blake | W | Chicago (USHL) | 5-10 | 148lbs
86 | Victor Sjöholm | RD | HV71 (J20 Nationell) | 5-8 | 163lbs
87 | Oscar Plandowski | RD | Charlottetown (QMJHL) | 6-0 | 190lbs
88 | Albert Sjöberg | W | Södertälje SK (HockeyAllsvenskan) | 6-0 | 174lbs
89 | Red Savage | C/W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-11 | 175lbs
90 | Ilya Ivantsov | C | SKA (MHL) | 5-10 | 154lbs
91 | Cameron Whynot | LD | Halifax (QMJHL) | 6-1 | 180lbs
92 | William Strömgren | W | MODO (J20 Nationell) | 6-3 | 175lbs
93 | Pavel Tyutnev | C/W | Loko (MHL) | 5-10 | 185lbs
94 | Jack Peart | D | Grand Rapids HS (USHS-MN) | 5-11 | 181lbs
95 | Isaac Belliveau | LD | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 6-2 | 185lbs
96 | Alexander Kisakov | W | Dynamo Moskva (MHL) | 5-9 | 143lbs
97 | Dmitri Zugan | C/W | Krasnaya Armiya (MHL) | 5-11 | 180lbs
98 | Dmitri Kuzmin | D | Dinamo-Molodechno (Belarus) | 5-8 | 176lbs
99 | Ruben Rafkin | RD | TPS (Liiga) | 6-0 | 190lbs
100 | Logan Mailloux | RD | London (OHL) | 6-3 | 214lbs

 

The Team’s Honorable Mentions

Tony Ferrari: LHD Valtteri Koskela, C/W Trevor Wong, LHD Jiri Tichacek

Dylan Griffing: C/W Lorenzo Canonica, C Vsevolod Gaidamak, W Edgar Varagyan

Eetu Siltanen: RHD Ville Ottavainen, LHD Valtteri Koskela, W Niko Huuhtanen

Jacob Barker: RHD Bryce Montgomery, C/W Avery Hayes, C Justin Robidas

Mikael Holm: C Elias Stenman, LHD Hugo Gabrielsson, C/W Theo Jacobsson

Clare McManus: W Justin Janicke, W Hunter Strand, LHD David Gucciardi, W Connor Kurth

Nick Richard: C Cole Huckins, LHD Hugo Gabrielsson, LHD Valtteri Koskela

Alexa Potack: LHD Hugo Gabrielsson, W Lucas Forsell, W Oliver Moberg

Samuel Tirpak: C/W Alexei Prokopenko, C/WJakub Brabenec, W Oleksii Myklukha

Caitlin Berry:  C/W Avery Hayes, C.W Francesco Arcuri, RHD Bryce Montgomery

Brayden Olafson: C Justin Robidas, W Lorenzo Canonica, C Peter Reynolds

AJ Gidaro: LHD Jiri Tichacek

 

Check out the YouTube video of our meeting here, listen or watch as we breakdown the top-70 before rounding out the back end off the podcast. Here is the video version and the audio versions can be found here.

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Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
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