DP Scouting Team’s Final 2021 NHL Draft Rankings (July 2021)

Nick Richard

2021-07-07

We are now just a couple of weeks away from the 2021 NHL Draft and the conclusion of one of the most difficult scouting cycles the hockey world has ever seen. Players have had seasons cut short or canceled altogether, others were forced to travel across the world in a pandemic to play competitive hockey in their draft year, and scouts – for the most part – were unable to get into rinks and watch these players up close.

Thanks to our partnership with InStat, the DobberProspects scouting team has been fortunate enough to have access to a wealth of video and statistical information for players all over the globe. This group has spent countless hours watching film, filing game reports, and discussing this draft class to form these rankings:

Tony Ferrari: Head of Scouting (@theTonyFerrari)

Eetu Siltanen: Director of European Scouting (@siltaneneetu)

Jacob Barker: OHL Regional Scout (@JacobMBarker12)

Caitlin Berry: OHL Regional Scout (@caitlinsports)

Brayden Olafson: QMJHL Regional Scout (@olaf1393)

Jameson Ewasiuk: WHL Regional Scout (@JamesonEwasiuk)

Samuel Tirpák: Czech/Slovak Regional Scout (@SammyT_51)

Alexa Potack: Swedish Regional Scout (@alexa_potack)

Nick Richard: Crossover Scout (@_NickRichard)

AJ Gidaro: North American Crossover Scout (@AlfredoGidaro)

Marek Novotny: European Crossover Scout (@MarekNovotny96)

Danny Tiffany: Goaltending Scout (@dantiffany30)

This draft class has garnered a reputation as being a weak one due to the lack of a clear, franchise altering talent at the top but there are still several players that have the potential to become cornerstone pieces for the franchises that select them. Owen Power, Simon Edvinsson, and Brandt Clarke are pieces to build around on the back end. Matty Beniers, William Eklund, and Fabian Lysell – to name a few – are the kind of talents that can define a forward group, and there is even some high end goaltending talent near the top of this year’s draft.

Without further ado, let’s get to the rankings.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the DobberProspects Fantasy Prospect report in the coming weeks! The FPR is your definitive fantasy hockey prospects guide, featuring insights and statistical projections for hundreds of players to help you build your fantasy hockey dynasty.

The DP Scouting Draft Board

1 | Matthew Beniers | C | Michigan (NCAA) |6-2 | 175lbs

Nick Richard: Beniers was the top name on our board in our midseason rankings and that is where he finds himself on our final rankings for the 2021 draft as well. The Michigan pivot offers a balance of floor and upside that is unmatched by any other prospect in the class and it shouldn’t take long before he is making an impact at the NHL level. His defensive game is advanced beyond his years, he is an outstanding skater with great speed and four-way mobility, and he never takes a shift off. Beniers impacts the game in transition, able to weave through traffic to create clean entries while wreaking havoc on the backcheck with an active stick and relentless effort. There are more talented offensive players in the draft but he is an opportunistic scorer with the vision to set up his teammates and he still possesses some untapped offensive upside. Beniers has all the makings of a play driving, two-way center and he should hear his name called early on draft day.

2 | William Eklund | W | Djurgården (SHL) | 5-10 | 176lbs

Alexa Potack: In many people’s eyes, Eklund is the favorite to be the most successful forward from this year’s draft class and it’s easy to see why. There is so much visible potential on every shift whether it’s his puck skills, energy, skating, or work ethic. He has already developed into a very mature player and does so many things well below the surface, which isn’t always present in young players participating in men’s leagues. He is not fighting to get by in the SHL but leading the pack already. Eklund is an incredibly deceptive playmaker whether it’s by passing or skating. He knows where the puck needs to be and has the vision to find a route for it to get to that point or player. The only department where Eklund showed a lack was in his physical game, which he should be expected to grow into. Additionally, while his speed is no real issue in the SHL, it is something for Eklund to improve upon prior to arriving in the NHL.

Game Tape with Tony: William Eklund

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

Alexa Potack: Dynamic is the word that should come to mind whenever the name Fabian Lysell is mentioned. His playing style exhibits incredible speed and finesse. Facing Lysell during a neutral zone rush is something to fear, he is unpredictable in the best way possible and can work his way around defenders in a variety of ways. He is still building a more complete game and you can see the results from his focus on becoming more reliable on defense so the ceiling for Lysell is sky-high. His point production, which was only 3 points in 26 SHL games last season, is yet to catch up with his skill level but that is nothing to fear. If Lysell continues to make the strides he made last year, he will have a very, very bright future ahead.

Game Tape with Tony: Fabian Lysell

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

Danny Tiffany: One of the best goalie prospects on the planet, Jesper Wallstedt has a case to not just be a top ten or top five pick, but the number one overall selection. In a draft class that lacks a consensus number one and number two pick, Wallstedt is seen as having the highest ceiling of any prospect in the draft. After spending the entire year in the SHL, Wallstedt has pro experience heading into the draft. Despite seeing his numbers drop a bit toward the end, it was a remarkable rookie season for the 18-year-old as he finished with a 2.23 GAA and a .908 save percentage in 22 games played. Wallstedt never looked out of place as his size and incredible IQ made the transition to pro hockey smooth. His ability to read the rush and breakdown plays before they happen is one of the strongest parts of his game. Wallstedt is athletic enough to make those desperation, flashy saves. The thing is, he rarely falls into scramble mode due to his really good edge work and strong positioning.

5 | Brandt Clarke | RHD | Barrie Colts (OHL) | 6-2 | 185lbs

Caitlin Berry: Clarke is the kind of offensive defenceman who excels when controlling the play. He had an excellent second half of the season in Slovakia, and at the U18 World Championships he was by far the best defenceman on the Canadian team, creating chances using his strong passing, quick turns, and crafty, deceptive fakes. Manning the point, he is adept at moving laterally across the blue line and opening up passing lanes, and he is more than happy to jump up to create his own chances on net. There is room for improvement in his skating, especially his backwards skating and his explosiveness, and he needs to improve his defense in transition. However, he has shown improvement defensively, particularly when using his stick to break up plays. His offensive instincts and elite four-way mobility mean he could be one of the best players taken in this draft.

Game Tape with Tony: Brandt Clarke

6 | Luke Hughes | LHD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-2 | 184lbs

Tony Ferrari: A smooth skating defender who has what every NHL team loves – bloodlines! To be completely serious though, Hughes is one of the best skaters in the draft and his mobility is what makes him special. He has an eagerness to join the rush and get involved offensively and his defensive game is predicated on using his mobility to cut plays off before they really get started. He needs to continue to work on his defensive timing and anticipation but the tools to be a solid offensive top-four blueliner are there with some exciting upside.

7 | Owen Power | LHD | Michigan (NCAA) | 6-6 | 213lbs

Eetu Siltanen: Power seems to be a consensus first overall pick in many public rankings, but our team doesn’t quite think that he’s the best player available. He had a good season with the University of Michigan, scoring 16 points in 26 games and also had a strong showing at the men’s Worlds, performing well while playing big minutes. He has real potential to be a good two-way defender in the NHL. He plays a good offensive game, handles the puck well, and makes good decisions in the offensive zone. His physical attributes are solid, but they still need to improve. He skates smoothly and has some dynamicity in his movements, but he will still need to grow in to that frame so he can really utilize it. Power needs to add strength and explosiveness while improving his defensive game and going back to Michigan for one more season would be a good thing for his development.

8 | Simon Edvinsson | LHD | Frölunda (J20 Nationell) | 6-4 | 198lbs

Alexa Potack: Edvinsson is a strong, tall, mature defenseman that can also use his hands to weave his way through traffic as if he were five inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter. He thrives in the defensive and neutral zones, despite his slight lack of pace. He isn’t much of a scorer but he gets himself on the scoresheet by racking up assists. Defensively, his size works very much in his favor. He uses physical play effectively and at the right times. Edvinsson also has great gap control and can match the movement of any opponent. He sometimes overcomplicates passing plays exiting the defensive zone but it is evident that this occurs with the drive and intention to create opportunities. He is a very appealing player in this year’s draft due to the combination of his maturity, pure talent, and will to win. This all accounted for, it’s easy to project his potential to play top-four minutes with an NHL team.

9 | Kent Johnson | C/W | Michigan (NCAA) | 6-1 | 167lbs

Nick Richard: The third member of the Michigan Wolverines to land in our top ten, Kent Johnson regularly graced highlight reels on his way to 27 points in 26 games as a freshman. He is one of the most creative offensive talents in the draft, terrorizing opposing defenders with elite puck handling skills and vision but can sometimes rely on his skill too much, causing him to force low-percentage plays. Johnson’s skating isn’t quite on par with the rest of his skillset, however, and he will need to add some explosiveness to his stride as he climbs the ranks and defenders become less susceptible to his dynamic puck skills. He also has a tendency to play on the perimeter a bit too much at times and adding strength to his slight frame in the coming years will improve his ability to play through traffic once he reaches the NHL. Johnson isn’t without his warts but landing a player of his skill level at this point in the draft is going to make some team very happy.

10 | Dylan Guenther | W | Edmonton (WHL) | 6-2 | 175lbs

Jameson Ewasiuk: Guenther made everyone take notice this season as he finished with 12 goals and 24 points in just 12 games. He is a volume shooter whose finishing instincts help him find positioning in smart areas around the net. His skating is an asset that will become even more of a weapon as he gets physically stronger. Guenther is not likely to wow you with highlight reel puck skills but he is a well-rounded offensive player who knows what makes him effective. He uses his strong read and react abilities to make smart plays, create space and generate consistent offensive chances for his team. He is not an elite playmaker but he does a great job of finding teammates in the net front area which, in combination with his one timer and general shooting ability, makes him a great asset on the power play. Guenther has the potential to be a long term top six forward in the NHL and since this draft is pretty wide open, do not be surprised if he goes anywhere from second to 12th overall.

11 | Mason McTavish | C | Peterborough (OHL) | 6-1 | 207lbs

Caitlin Berry: Mason McTavish silenced many of the doubters after the IIHF U18 Championship, where the concerns around his explosiveness and defensive game seemed greatly diminished. He displayed powerful skating at times when driving the play up ice and showed a much more consistent effort defensively. His offensive tools are still the highlight of his game, however. McTavish’s ability to create high danger scoring chances for himself and his teammates is elite. He has great offensive zone positioning and owns an extraordinary ability to make himself available for a pass or shot using his physicality and offensive awareness. He possesses an extremely powerful shot, with a quick release and solid accuracy, meaning he is able to score from anywhere in the offensive zone. It remains to be seen whether the improvements in consistency will continue given a larger sample size of games than we’ve had this year, but McTavish’s play is looking considerably more well-rounded than at the start of the season.

12 | Cole Sillinger | C | Sioux Falls (USHL) | 6-0 | 197lbs

Jacob Barker: As one of the most dangerous scoring forwards in the draft class, Sillinger can generate offence in a variety of ways. He possesses an insane wrist shot, which he is more than capable of letting loose quickly and in different areas around the offensive zone. Because of this, defenders are forced to close him down quicker than they would like to, which is where Sillinger uses his body positioning to separate his opponents from the puck and create space for his teammates. He is also a very efficient skater, as he is always getting to the correct position in all three zones in good time. This makes him incredibly reliable in transition scenarios, where he uses that positioning and crisp passing ability to move the puck up the ice quickly and successfully. Sillinger has all the tools to be a legitimate top 6 center that produces a bucket load of offence and moves the puck efficiently up the ice in transition.

13 | Fyodor Svechkov | C | Togliatti (VHL) | 6-0 | 187lbs

Nick Richard: Svechkov’s well rounded game and proficiency on the defensive side of the puck have seen him steadily climb draft boards all season long. His offensive totals in the MHL were solid but he took it to another level at the U18 World Championships when he was afforded the opportunity to play with more skilled linemates, finishing with 10 points in seven games for Russia. He plays a structured game with strong habits in all three zones, responsibly supporting the play on both defense and offense. Constantly scanning the ice for oncoming threats, Svechkov is in the right place at the right time more often than not. His understanding of flow and spacing lends itself to the offensive end as well where he has shown the ability to find teammates in scoring areas or make himself available for a return pass. Svechkov isn’t the flashiest player in the draft by any means, but the refinement in his game does give him one of the clearest NHL projections.

14 | Chaz Lucius | C | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-1 | 185lbs

Tony Ferrari: One of the best snipers in the class, Lucius had a limited sample size this season because of a lower body injury that held him out of the lineup until February despite the NTDP playing more games than the vast majority of teams this season. In that limited sample however, Lucius was scoring at a goal-per-game pace and he was showing off his crafty hands and puck skill every chance he got. He can score from distance or in tight and his skating improved year-over-year despite the lower body injury.

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

Brayden Olafson: The Shawinigan forward is one of the older players who is eligible for the 2021 NHL draft. Having just concluded his third year in the QMJHL, Xavier Bourgualt has already developed into a player who dedicates himself to reliability and consistency. His blend of technical and cognitive strengths result in a player who consistently creates synergy among his linemates and he is capable of elevating his play to exceed and overcome the style of his opponents. On an individual basis, his strengths manifest in an ability to be highly evasive, both while carrying the puck and while seeking opportunities away from the puck. His versatility in terms of playing all three forward positions also adds to his value. As with many young players, Bourgault is vulnerable when it comes to his defensive play, especially the immediate effect of his backchecking pace. He has proven value in his maturity, but has a couple minor flaws outstanding.

16 | Isak Rosén | W | Leksand (SHL) | 5-11 | 156lbs

Alexa Potack: Explosive skating and nifty passing are Rosén’s two best assets. You can count on him to make smart plays and be ready to receive passes anywhere on the ice. Last season, a combination of inconsistent SHL minutes and few minutes when he actually did play hindered his effectiveness in games. His speed-driven style of play was held back by his size and he looked out of place at times. Mainly due to his small frame, Rosén is not near “NHL-ready” and will need to continue bulking up as he develops in Sweden. That stated, Rosén does show a great deal of potential with his offensive capabilities.

17 | Nikita Chibrikov | W | SKA (KHL) | 5-10 | 170lbs

Eetu Siltanen: Chibrikov spent the season playing for three St. Petersburg teams (KHL, MHL and VHL). He didn’t necessarily dominate – not even in the junior level – but he scored 13 points in 7 games at U18s and had strong showings in men’s national exhibition games. Chibrikov is a really skilled playmaker with great skating ability. He’s a smart, deceptive passer and possesses a great vision. It seemed as though sometimes he didn’t stand out at the junior level since he benefits greatly from a more structured game and utilizing his teammates. That’s why his skills might not be as evident at lower levels his teammates struggle to convert on his playmaking. He is very raw physically and had some consistency issues throughout the season, but I think playing in the KHL will help him grow and develop a more complete game. Chibrikov might be a bit of a risky pick in terms of reaching his potential but if everything goes right, he could become a good top six point producer in the NHL.

18 | Simon Robertsson | W | Skellefteå (SHL) | 6-0 | 190lbs

Alexa Potack: Robertsson’s shot has been the most recognized of his strengths and it certainly lives up to the hype. He possesses an arsenal of different shots with the capability to beat goaltenders and do it often. He won’t ever fill a true two-way role but he is polishing his defensive game to become a more well-rounded player. That said, Robertsson tends to fly under the radar too frequently. He will certainly need more time in the SHL to refine parts of his game and become a more consistent threat before he crosses the Atlantic. Similar to many of the other Swedes in this year’s draft class, a glance at his stat line does not tell the entire story. Last season, his skills were best demonstrated in the Swedish junior league, where he came close to eclipsing his goal total from 2019-20 while playing 26 fewer games. Robertsson’s minutes in the SHL were inconsistent and did not provide a platform for success for the winger.

19 | Aatu Räty | C | Kärpät (Liiga) | 6-2 | 185lbs

Tony Ferrari: Coming into the season as one of the more highly touted prospects, Räty had a tough draft season. The young Finnish center was up and down between the Liiga and U20 level and while he drove good results most of the time, the scoring wasn’t there. When at his best, Räty has the chance to be the best center from this draft class with his dual threat ability as a shooter and passer along with a two-way game that should translate to the NHL level. The issue is that he has often not been at his best over the last year which leaves him as a projectable transitional third line center.

20 | Brennan Othmann | W | Flint (OHL) | 6-0 | 175lbs

Jacob Barker: Othmann is a relentless winger that loves to make life challenging on his opponents. He does so primarily through aggressive forechecking and physicality in all areas of the ice, giving the opposition as little time as possible to make decisions. Offensively, Othmann is incredibly dangerous with the puck on his stick, primarily through his lethal wrist shot. He is also a very smart, detail-oriented player who has a knack for finding open teammates in dangerous areas if the shooting lane is not available. His IQ also makes him very effective in transition, where he is comfortable playing up the boards and even cutting in and moving the puck east to west. If he cleans up his stride and continues to improve his decision making in the offensive zone, Othmann projects as a strong top six offensive winger who can contribute in a variety of situations at the next level.

Game Tape with Tony: Brennan Othmann

21 | Oskar Olausson | W | HV71 (SHL) | 6-1 | 180lbs

Alexa Potack: Playing minutes on the power play, penalty kill, and even strength, Oskar Olausson has made himself a player who can do it all. He has a diverse set of skills that is led by his mobility. His skates are continuously moving and he is always looking for open space whether he is passing or looking to receive one. He has an even skillset with no glaring flaws so he has a high floor with plenty of room to grow. He managed to put up solid numbers for a player his age in men’s leagues this season, including a three-game goal streak in the SHL. However, Olausson looked his best while being loaned to Södertälje in HockeyAllsvenskan last season and he will have another opportunity to succeed at that level with HV71’s relegation.

22 | Matthew Coronato | W | Chicago (USHL) | 5-10 | 183lbs

Nick Richard: Even as one of the oldest players in the draft, Coronato put up some of the most impressive numbers in the class. He led the USHL in goal scoring with 48 goals in just 51 regular season games and proceeded to lead the USHL playoffs in total scoring as he helped lead Chicago to a Clark Cup title. He has a great shot but much of his offensive prowess stems from his ability to find soft spots in coverage and position himself in scoring areas. Coronato is dangerous as a playmaker as well and his vision should become a bigger factor as he progresses towards the NHL and gets to play more in more structured systems with players that can take advantage of the chances he creates. The biggest concern is that his skating is just average for a player his size but if he can improve his acceleration and explosiveness, Coronato should grow into a productive NHLer.

Game Tape with Tony: Matthew Coronato

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

Jacob Barker: Don’t get it twisted – Stankoven may be small in stature, but he certainly does not play like it. In Kamloops, he is a dominant play driver with an insane amount of offensive skill to pair with his blazing speed. He possesses an NHL caliber shot but is patient in the offensive zone where he looks for the best possible chance for his team. His work ethic is matched by few, as he is consistently the first forward back in the defensive zone to break up plays. Stankoven’s versatility was on full display at the U18 World Championships as well, where he excelled in a variety of roles on a stacked Canadian team. Obviously, adding strength to his frame could help him at the next level but if you are passing on this guy simply because of his size, you could be looking at a similar situation to what we are seeing with Cole Caufield.

24 | Sebastian Cossa | G | Edmonton (WHL) | 6-6 | 210lbs

Danny Tiffany: The consensus second best goalie in the draft, Cossa led the WHL in save percentage ahead of already drafted prospects Dustin Wolf and Dylan Garand but even those numbers don’t do him justice. Cossa, the 6-6 giant, doesn’t let his size slow him down as he is really good on his edges and displays impressive footwork for a goaltender of that size. His hands are active and he does a really good job of directing rebounds to safe areas. One of the more underrated parts of Cossa’s game is how smart he is in determining what save selection to use and when. It has become very common for goalies to drop to their knees when the puck is behind the net or in the corner, but Cossa, despite having the size to rely on, doesn’t overuse the RVH or drop automatically.

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

Eetu Siltanen: Tuomaala is a pure goal scorer who had a pretty good season for Kärpät’s U20 team. He scored 31 points in 30 games and finished his season with a good showing in the U18 Worlds where he tallied five goals and six assists in seven games. He could’ve had more points at the U20 SM-sarja level  but what’s more important, he was able to improve his comprehensive game throughout the season and showed what he’s capable of. He’s a shoot-first player and has a really quick and dangerous wrist shot. He’s a fast skater with good acceleration and possesses solid, if unspectacular, puck skills. He showed a bit of selfishness and poor defensive tendencies but I believe those are not things that will improve as he develops. With his skating speed, I think Tuomaala has a real chance to be an effective middle six point producer in the NHL if he can continue to round out his game.

26 | Francesco Pinelli | C | Kitchener (OHL) | 6-0 | 185lbs

Samuel Tirpák: Pinelli was one of the lucky OHL players who were able to put together a season with a significant amount of games played, namely for Jesenice in AlpsHL. Pinelli is highly skillful two-way center with great offensive capabilities and smarts. Using his skillset, he can set up teammates in the offensive zone from all positions using his creative mind and finish off chances on his own. Pinelli was one of the best players at the recent U18 World Championships with 11 points in seven games. He needs to add a little bit of pace, but otherwise looks like a highly skilled, playmaking, two-way center with many transferrable traits.

27 | Scott Morrow | RHD | Shattuck (USHS-Prep) | 6-2 | 195lbs

Tony Ferrari: Morrow may be on of the biggest boom or bust prospects in the draft. He has an incredible raw package with skating that may be the best among blueliners in terms of overall mobility and an attack mindset to every aspect of the game that should work quite well at the NHL level once he can figure out when and where to pick his spots. He was clearly the best player for Shattuck every time he stepped on the ice and he was a force in U.S. highschool hockey this past season while showing well in limited USHL competition.

Game Tape with Tony: Scott Morrow

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

Brayden Olafson: There are very few players who come close to being as perplexing, in terms of their projection, and as Zach Bolduc. There are those in the public, and possibly private spheres who may feel confident in their projection of the Rimouski forward but, in those cases, I would bet that they’ve only been exposed to a narrow view of his game. The 18-year-old can be simply electrifying in transitional spurts, and continue the momentum of that shift into a barrage of tactical and precisely executed plays in the offensive zone, not limited to his passing, anticipation and release of the puck. If this were the case of his performance and engagement on a consistent basis, Bolduc would likely be a consensus top-15 pick. In reality, that hasn’t been the case – the 2019-20 QMJHL rookie of the year, who has also been plagued with injury, has shown inconsistencies in his technical performance and engagement on a shift to shift and game to game basis. If he’s able to tune his game up a bit, there’s no doubt that he has the ability to contribute in a top six role.

29 | Stanislav Svozil | LHD | Kometa Brno (Czech) | 6-1 | 182lbs

Samuel Tirpák: Svozil is defensively minded two-way blue liner with plenty of traits to like in his game. Many scouts were debating whether or not his offensive game would translate to NHL level but I am doubtful it will. However, he has very solid puck transition abilities and does it on a very consistent basis. Defensively, he has great gap control with which he can defend entries on very consistent basis. He also scans the defensive zone well which makes him one of the best in the draft class in terms of that. Overall, Svozil projects to be defense-first, two-way puck mover at the NHL level.

30 | Aleksi Heimosalmi | RHD | Ässät (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-11 | 170lbs

Eetu Siltanen: Heimosalmi showed great progress this season as many even didn’t know who he was before the season started. The versatile, offensively minded two-way defender improved throughout the season and finished his strong campaign with a great performance in the U18 Worlds. He’s a good puck mover, possesses good vision, and has great puck skills with the ability to execute flashy moves. On the breakout, he’s also really manipulative and is able to elude forecheckers very subtly. While he doesn’t have the most powerful stride, he’s extremely mobile and agile on his blades, and is particularly good at moving laterally. He really utilizes his mobility and skill as an advantage. His defensive game looked solid this season but obviously still needs improving, along with his finishing ability. Heimosalmi has plenty of potential and a pretty high ceiling but on the other hand, a pretty low floor.

31 | Carson Lambos | LHD | Winnipeg (WHL) | 6-1 | 197lbs

Tony Ferrari: A bit of an underwhelming draft year, Lambos went over to Finland to start the year to play with JYP’s U20 squad. While there were moments he looked like the Lambos from his draft-1 season, he struggled to adjust to the larger ice surface. His defensive game is reliant on being aggressive as a rush defender and with the extra space, his timing took a bit of a hit. His puck rushing and offensive abilities didn’t take quite the step they were expected to either. His WHL season lasted only two days due to health as well. He still has the potential but the risk is more obvious at the end of the year than it was at the beginning.

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

AJ Gidaro: Watching Ayrton Martino play hockey is an absolute blast. He is an exciting and talented dual-threat offensive winger that punishes opponent’s mistakes. Martino isn’t the fastest skater but he is explosive, able to kick it into high gear quickly. When Martino is in the final third he is at his best. He evades pressure with his silky hands and creates space. He is extremely dangerous with and without the puck, creating and finishing dangerous scoring chances. While his defense was hit or miss at times, he showed improvement over the course of the season. If Martino can improve his top speed and maintain his explosiveness, he could be one of the best offensive producers to come out of the draft.

Game Tape with Tony: Ayrton Martino

33 | Brent Johnson | RHD | Sioux Falls (USHL) | 5-11 | 161lbs

AJ Gidaro: Defense is about preventing chances before they arise, and there are not many 2021 draft eligible players better at this then Brent Johnson. Johnson is a modern puck moving defenceman that drives offence through responsible and conservative play. He suppresses offence through stick checking, physical positioning, and quickness on puck retrievals. He is excellent at diffusing pressure, with the skill and agility to evade forecheckers and or make a pass to a teammate. While he generally plays on the safer side, there are flashes of aggressive and creative offence that if explored and developed could come out more in the NHL. If Johnson can iron out his inconsistent play, get a bit stronger and faster, he could be one of the better defenders to come out of the draft.

34 | Corson Ceulemans | RHD | Brooks (AJHL) | 6-2 | 198lbs

Nick Richard: Ceulemans’ development path could be longer than some other players in this range but he has the potential to reward the patience of whichever team selects him. Despite some mechanical imperfections in his skating stride, he gets around the ice well enough to cause fits for oncoming forecheckers in the AJHL. That said, he will have to clean up some of those imperfections in order for that part of his game to translate to the next level. Ceulemans has a heavy shot and it could prove to be a weapon for him as he progresses if he is able to do a better job of creating lanes to get pucks through rather than forcing it every time he gets a chance. He is a physical defender, eager to step up and deliver big hits in open ice but will need to do a better job of managing risk while improving his in-zone defensive play. There is plenty to work on but there are also plenty of tools in Ceulemans’ arsenal and he could blossom into a highly impactful NHL blue liner if he ends up in the proper development system.

35 | Ville Koivunen | W | Kärpät (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-11 | 161lbs

Eetu Siltanen: Koivunen was a steady climber in the public sphere this season. He had a terrific season in terms of point production with 49 points in 38 games for Kärpät’s U20 team and 10 points in seven games at the U18s. He is an energetic playmaker with really good smarts. His ability to create scoring chances, both for himself and his teammates, amazed me every time I watched him play. He also has good patience and skills with the puck. Physically, he’s still a bit raw and needs to improve his dynamicity and mobility but if he can improve those, he will be a great player. Koivunen’s potential is a middle six playmaker with good point production but as I mentioned, he’s still a pretty raw prospect.

36 | Evan Nause | LHD | Québec (QMJHL) | 6-2 | 186lbs

Brayden Olafson: At some point in every draft comes a time where teams begin to value certainty over ceiling. Whichever team is the first to begin crossing that threshold will likely be the team who selects Evan Nause. The Québec Remparts defenseman is as steady as they come but has no shortage of flare when the time is right. At the QMJHL level, he’s become a competent powerplay quarterback and although it may not be a role that he is immediately asked to fill at a higher level, it’s a productive and valuable tool to keep in his back pocket. Nause will likely earn the most attention from NHL teams in the areas of his adaptive puck possession and agile decision making. He has the ability to be a possession fiend, and the technical strengths in his footwork and puck control indicate a high probability of that translating to the NHL. 

37 | Peter Reynolds | C | Saint John (QMJHL) | 5-10 | 167lbs

Brayden Olafson: The rapid development of Peter Reynolds in his rookie QMJHL season was rooted by his strength in processing the game at a high rate in all three zones. Had we left Reynolds in the slot where we placed him mid-season, it’s very likely that we’d be kicking ourselves in five years. The Sea Dogs’ center is slightly frail, however, wears a large boot and has a frame that is suited for the substantial addition of strength. The quickness that he is capable of using to burn defenders is complemented by an impressive ability to deceptively accelerate and decelerate with the puck on his stick. He chooses his lanes quite well, and is consistently anticipating the movement of play to optimize his strikes.

38 | Sasha Pastujov | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 184lbs

Jacob Barker: An absolute danger to opponents with the puck on his stick, Pastujov can generate chances in the offensive zone in multiple ways. His super quick release and crisp passing ability make him a weapon on the half wall for the powerplay, with flashes of serious offensive skill showing at even strength as well. His positioning in all three zones is solid but his overall mobility is hindered by his wide base skating style. Because of this, his actual effectiveness while in the correct position is minimal if his opponents are moving quick and are more agile than him. If he can improve his mobility, Pastujov has the potential to be a solid middle six winger with strong powerplay upside.

39 | Matthew Samoskevich | W | Chicago (USHL) | 5-11 | 191lbs

Jacob Barker: An entertaining player seems like an understatement when talking about Samoskevich. Instead, I like to go with “absolutely electric”. His slick skating ability paired with flashy stickhandling make him very challenging to get the puck from. Once he gets to the high danger areas, he can either use his quick wrist shot to beat the goalie or find a teammate in a better position to generate a high danger chance. I would like to see him get more involved defensively, particularly along the boards, but other than that he has all the tools to make a team very happy come draft day. If he reaches his ceiling, we are looking at a top six offensive forward who can work well with his linemates to generate a ton of offence.

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

Brayden Olafson: The versatility of Zach L’Heureux is undoubtedly his biggest selling feature. The Halifax Mooseheads’ forward has garnered attention as an undisciplined player throughout his time in the QMJHL, and while it’s true that the left-winger has made some poor decisions, this doesn’t strike me as tragic flaw. While he may play more of an acute checkers versus chess sort of style, he’s fairly reliable when it comes to his positioning and enabling effective breakouts and zone entries. Furthermore, L’Heureux is beastly on the puck, using a substantial amount of upper body strength to buck off defenders, while maintaining reliable control of the puck. His movement of the puck is intricate and detailed, and can be leveraged in miniscule spaces, giving him an advantage while playing near the net. There are a few technical aspects of his game that he’ll need to improve prior to making a significant NHL impact, including his footspeed, which has already improved this year, as well as his reception of the puck in-stride.

41 | Daniil Chayka | LHD | CSKA (KHL) | 6-3 | 187lbs

Marek Novotny: Chayka is a big, defensive-minded blueliner with a hard shot. He’s known as a defender whose active stick breaks up a lot of plays while his offensive upside appears to be limited. With this size he definitely needs to add the physical and aggressive component to his game as that remains one area of weakness for him. For a player of his size, he’s a fantastic skater and he can make a good first pass which has a lot of value. When it comes to transitional play, Chayka is not the kind of player to go from zone-to-zone very often, but he will look to make a breakout pass in the defensive zone. Chayka is competitive and he can be a real pillar on the blueline.

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

Brayden Olafson: The Gatineau Olympiques center is a player who offers value at a variety of levels, which makes him someone who will be very interesting to follow on draft day, and through his development. Zach Dean is a speedy and tenacious attacker, but also plays with a significant amount of refinement and reliability to his game. There are few players outside of the top-tier who are able to collect bad pucks, or identify seams in their opponents defense with the level of efficiency that he does. He is naturally agile with the puck on his stick and actively scans the ice to enable engagement with his linemates. His hesitation to shoot the puck from prime locations is a bit of a concern, as is his composure while being pressured by some of the more mature players in the QMJHL. Nonetheless, Dean has ample technical skill and a blossoming cognitive maturity that could enable him to eventually satisfy a middle six NHL role.

43 | Dylan Duke | C/W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 175lbs

Nick Richard: Duke is a bit of a one-dimensional player but that one dimension is very strong. He is a menace working down low and around the net in the offensive zone, using his body and quick hands in concert to come away victorious in puck battles more often than not. He boxes out defenders with the timing of an elite sniper sagging into a soft spot in coverage, able to deflect incoming shots or secure a rebound in the blue paint before banging it home. Duke has good hands in tight and doesn’t need much time to corral loose pucks before firing a quick shot or hitting a teammate with an accurate short-area pass for a scoring chance. While most of his tools grade out as average, the strongest parts of Duke’s game give him a good chance at a productive NHL career.

44 | William  Strömgren | W | | MODO (J20 Nationell) | 6-3 | 175lbs

Alexa Potack: Strömgren has quick hands that would typically warrant a first-round selection, but lacks many other elements of his game. He looks helpless without the puck on his stick and does not show strong decision making abilities. He’s certainly a risky pick with the number of improvements he needs to make but if a team can help him shape his game together, they will reap the benefits of his top-level stickhandling. Strömgren’s goal-heavy stat lines turned into almost entirely assists at the men’s level this past season, so all eyes will be on what role he fills as he changes clubs to the SHL powerhouse Rögle for 2021-22 season.

45 | Benjamin Gaudreau | G | Sarnia (OHL) | 6-2 | 175lbs

Danny Tiffany:Despite not having a season, Gaudreau was able to represent Canada at the U18s in Texas where helped lead the Canadians to a gold medal, sporting a solid .919 save percentage in the process. He is one of the more athletic goalies in this draft class and despite the small sample size from this season, Gaudreau oozes with NHL potential. The patience he displays while staying on his feet gives him the ability to stay a step ahead of the shooter in tight plays and when the play is further away, Gaudreau is not shy about coming out and challenging the shooter.

46 | Olen Zellweger | LHD | Everett (WHL) | 5-9 | 175lbs

AJ Gidaro: There may not be a more elegant skater than Olen Zellweger in the draft class. His agile and fluid skating enables his ability to impact the game. Transition is the hallmark of Zellweger’s game. He has the skill and explosivity to glide past defenders with the vision and pass execution to facilitate rush offence. Defensively he keeps his stick active, makes quick reads and uses his explosive step to retrieve and intercept pucks.  In the offensive zone, he keeps his feet in motion allowing him to react quicker to the play around him. However, there is room to grow. While he has a good shot, he uses it less than ideally. If he can get in closer to the net when shooting and cut down on the point shots, he could be a lot more effective in the offensive zone.

47 | Jack Bar | RHD | Chicago (USHL) | 6-2 | 193lbs

Tony Ferrari: Bar is flying under the radar a bit with very little buzz around the Chicago Steel defender. Playing on a team with star talent galore such as Matthew Coronato and Sean Farrell, he was able to put together a solid season with little fanfare. He plays a physical game in his own end, willing to ride players out along the boards before collecting the puck and turning up ice. His ability to identify when and where to pick his spots to join the rush or jump up when defending transition is quite good and he has the tools to round into a very good two-way top four defender. 

Game Tape with Tony: Jack Bar

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

Eetu Siltanen: In terms of point producing, Salminen had a great season with Jokerit’s U20 squad. They only got to play half of the season because of the COVID restrictions, but Salminen played very well in those games, scoring 26 points in 17 games. He also had seven goals and two assists in seven games at the U18 Worlds. Salminen is a highly skilled, playmaking center but struggles a bit with his skating and the pace of his game. He’s a big player with solid physicality and has solid faceoff skills. His defensive game still needs improvement, but a good thing was that he had really good defensive effort even though he sometimes was in the wrong place. With the proper development, Salminen profiles as a two-way, playmaking center with good puck skills and the ability to score points.

49 | Tristan Broz | C/W | Fargo (USHL) | 6-0 | 178lbs

Nick Richard: Broz had a productive season in the USHL, leading Fargo with 51 points in 54 games in the regular season and adding another 11 points in the playoffs before his squad ultimately came up short in the Clark Cup final. He plays an intelligent and refined offensive game, lurking around the offensive zone to support the play and make himself available in dangerous areas. Broz’s creative playmaking stands out as he can complete difficult passes through layers and he does a good job of drawing defenders to him to manipulate passing lanes. His shot is a solid tool as well and his penchant for getting into scoring areas should translate to the next level. He may never develop into a star but Broz projects as a reliable middle six forward with positional versatility and the ability to contribute secondary scoring.

50 | Justin Robidas | C | Val-d’Or (QMJHL) | 5-8 | 173lbs

Brayden Olafson: The danger with superlatives and comparisons is that they often result in players being likened to, or even identified as future versions of players that they share one or two characteristics with. Justin Robidas is a feisty center with electrifying footspeed and magical hands who stands at 5-7… but he is not likely to be the next Brayden Point… or the next Alex Debrincat. In fact, there are several attributes inherent to Robidas’ that make me shy away from such a comparison. While his technical attributes rival that of some players who will be selected in the first round, his play away from the puck and decision making speed may lead him on a development path that is quite unique from the two aforementioned NHLers. While I’m a proponent of Robidas’ being selected in the first two rounds of the draft, it’s with the awareness that his development to reach his peak will involve breaking down a few substantial barriers.

51 | Sean Behrens | LHD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 177lbs

52 | Jack Peart | LHD | Fargo (USHL) | 5-11 | 186lbs

53 | Sean Tschigerl | W | Calgary (WHL) | 6-0 | 189lbs

54 | Ryder Korczak | C | Moose Jaw (WHL) | 5-11 | 174lbs

55 | Ryan Ufko | RHD | Chicago (USHL) | 5-10 | 181lbs

56 | Samuel Helenius | C | JYP (Liiga) |6-6 | 201lbs

57 | Kirill Kirsanov | LHD | SKA (KHL) | 6-1 | 198lbs

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

59 | Brett Harrison | C | Oshawa (OHL) | 6-2 | 188lbs

60 | Anton Olsson | LHD | Malmö (SHL) | 6-0 | 198lbs

61 | James Malatesta | C/W | Québec (QMJHL) | 5-9 | |179lbs

62 | Matthew Knies | W | Tri-City (USHL) | 6-2 | 210lbs

63 | Dmitri Kuzmin | LHD | Dinamo-Molodechno (Belarus) | 5-9 | 178lbs

64 | Lukas Gustafsson | LHD | Chicago (USHL) | 5-10 | 190lbs

65 | Aidan Hreschuk | LHD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-11 | 188lbs

66 | Cole Jordan | RHD | Moose Jaw (WHL) | 6-2 | 200lbs

67 | Manix Landry | C | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 5-11 | 178lbs

68 | Andre Gasseau | C | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-4 | 205lbs

69 | Jacob Martin | RHD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 188lbs

70 | Victor Stjernborg | C | Växjö (SHL) | 5-10 | 202lbs

71 | Matvei Petrov | W | Krylia Sovetov (MHL) | 6-2 | 178lbs

72 | Alexander Kisakov | W | Dynamo Moskva (MHL) | 5-10 | 150lbs

73 | Vincent Iorio | RHD | Brandon (WHL) | 6-2 | 191lbs

74 | Wyatt Johnston | C | Windsor (OHL) | 6-1 | 178lbs

75 | Tristan Lennox | G | Saginaw (OHL) | 6-4 | 190lbs

76 | Prokhor Poltapov | W | Krasnaya Armiya (MHL) | 6-0 | 176lbs

77 | Jeremy Wilmer | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-6 | 145lbs

78 | Dmitri Kostenko | RHD | Togliatti (VHL) | 6-1 | 187lbs

79 | Dmitri Katelevsky | C/W | Kazan (VHL) | 6-2 | 190lbs

80 | Jiri Tichacek | LHD | Rytiri Kladno (Czech2) | 5-9 | 170lbs

81 | Kirill Gerasimyuk | G | SKA (MHL) | 6-2 | 179lbs

82 | Robert Orr | W | Halifax (QMJHL) | 5-11 | 176lbs

83 | Ethan Del Mastro | LHD | Mississauga (OHL) | 6-4 | 210lbs

84 | Jack O’Brien | C | Lincoln (USHL) | 6-1 | 170lbs

85 | Artyom Grushnikov | LHD | CSKA (MHL) | 6-2 | 198lbs

86 | Danila Klimovich | C | Minskie Zubry (Belarus2) | 6-2 | 202lbs

87 | Martin Rysavy | W | Prerov (Czech2) | 6-3 | 218

88 | Vladislav Lukashevich | LHD | Loko (MHL) | 6-2 | 167lbs

89 | Oliver Kapanen | C | KalPa (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-0 | 166lbs

90 | Victor Sjöholm | RHD | HV71 (J20 Nationell | 5-9 | 172lbs

91 | Ty Voit | W | Sarnia (OHL) | 5-10 | 161lbs

92 | Ruben Rafkin | RHD | TPS (Liiga) | 5-11 | 190lbs

93 | Nolan Allan | LHD | Prince Albert (WHL) | 6-2 | 195lbs

94 | Linus Sjödin | C/W | Rögle (SHL) | 5-9 | 163lbs

95 | Red Savage | C/W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-11 | 180lbs

96 | Chase Stillman | W | Sudbury (OHL) | 6-1 | 180lbs

97 | Cameron Whynot | LHD | Halifax (OHL) | 6-1 | 180lbs

98 | Marcus Almquist | W | HV71 (J20 Nationell) | 5-7 | 162lbs

99 | Lorenzo Canonica | C | Shawinigan (QMJHL) | 5-11 | 179lbs

100 | Riley Kidney | C | Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) | 5-11 | 168lbs

 

The Team’s Honorable Mentions

Tony Ferrari: C/W Dmitri Zugan, LHD Valtteri Koskela

Eetu Siltanen: LHD Viljami Juusola, LHD Jimi Suomi

Jacob Barker: RHD Bryce Montgomery, C/RW Avery Hayes

Caitlin Berry: C Francesco Arcuri, C Connor Lockhart

Brayden Olafson: RHD Oscar Plandowski, C Connor Trenholm

Samuel Tirpák: LHD David Gucciardi, W Jackson Blake

Alexa Potack: W Albert Sjöberg, C/W Arvid Sundin

Nick Richard: LHD Hugo Gabrielsson, C Florian Elias

AJ Gidaro: C Cole Huckins, C Oliver Johansson

Marek Novotny: C Jakub Brabenec, LHD Aleksi Malinen

Danny Tiffany: G Alexei Kolosov, G Maxim Motorygin

 

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