2021 Draft Eligibles (WHL)
With the WHL recently returning to action we will finally be able to check in on some of the top prospects in the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft. Despite the limited amount of exposure and scouting players will need to make strong impressions with the limited number of games they have to prove themselves and try to climb their way up draft boards.
Dylan Guenther – Right Wing
Guenther is already a consensus top-ten pick heading into the 2021 NHL Draft and in the first week of the WHL season he has shown why he belongs there. He is making up for lost time putting up six goals and ten points through the first four games of the season. He is a winger with high-end goal-scoring ability and good skating ability and should climb up draft boards as the season rolls on.
Carson Lambos – Defenseman
The 18-year-old blueliner is another one who has some ground to make up in draft rankings. He has been on loan in the Liiga in Finland due to the postponement of the WHL season and the adjustment to the new environment in Europe may have hampered his development especially for such a young player. Now that he can return to the WHL expect him to be able to build off a solid 2019-20 season where he contributed 32 points in 57 games played. Listed at 6-1 and still growing he can provide a combination of speed, skill and strength and has a strong well-rounded game.
Cole Sillinger – Center
Son of former NHLer Mike Sillinger, Cole is another player that should be drafted in the top half of the first round in the upcoming draft. At only 17-years-old Sillinger impressed in his rookie season with the Medicine Hat Tigers as a rookie in the 2019-20 season with 53 points in 48 games. Unfortunately for Medicine Hat, they will be without their top offensive forward this season as Sillinger opted to join the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL earlier this season because of the uncertainty surrounding the WHL season. The transition to the USHL has not been tough for the young forward as he has 28 points through 15 games operating at a near two points per game pace. Once the USHL season concludes he will be able to return to Medicine Hat for the remainder of this season if it extends longer or else the team will have to wait until next season to get his services back in their lineup.
AHL Rookie Standouts
We have been able to benefit from watching some of the top young prospects in the AHL with the pause of some of the CHL leagues. Although some players may be returned to their Junior team’s their strong play in the AHL has not gone unnoticed.
Seth Jarvis – Center/Right Wing
The Carolina Hurricanes have to be pleased with the development that their 13th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft has shown early this season. He has benefited from the postponed WHL season by getting some professional hockey games under his belt in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves. With the WHL season returning the 5-10 forward will head back to the Portland Winterhawks where he should dominate as the team’s top forward. He will leave the AHL with 11 points in nine games played which was good enough for second among AHL rookie scoring. He is a craft forward with great edgework and skating ability and has all the tools to be a legitimate game-breaker in the future.
Zayde Wisdom – Center
The Philadelphia Flyers fourth-round pick in 2020 has already signed an entry-level deal with the Flyers and is another player who has been able to gain professional hockey experience in the AHL. He has been solid for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms with ten points in 11 games as a rookie and will continue to add to those totals unless the OHL season gets underway. He lit up the OHL with the Kingston Frontenacs last season with 59 points including 29 goals in 62 games. He could be in the AHL full-time as early as next season since he has shown he is capable of holding his own.
Nic Robertson – Left Wing
Despite already making his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2020 playoffs last season Robertson has been with the Leafs AHL affiliate after suffering an injury in the first game of the 2020-21 season with the big club. Robertson has shown through his time in junior that he is an elite goal scorer and will need to now prove that it is true at the professional level. With the Leafs’ depth at forward this season he likely won’t be given another opportunity this year unless he joins the team once rosters expand come playoff time. He has nine points through ten games in the AHL and unless the OHL returns this season will likely see the season out in the AHL which is probably better for his development. If the OHL does restart Robertson will likely be returned to the Peterborough Pete’s in order to preserve a year on his entry-level deal.
Unique Season Brings Development Opportunities
This year has brought various opportunities for prospects across many leagues to gain experience at higher levels than they would usually be subject to. We have been able to see how Junior eligible prospects can fare at the professional level and get a taste of what to expect as they further their development. We should see more and more teams be more aggressive with their prospects, who seem to be able to contribute at high levels at such young ages. This could change the landscape of how teams handle their prospects in the future in order to maximize their prospects’ prime years as well as cap space at the NHL level.
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