2021 NHL Draft Winners & Losers

Nick Richard

2021-07-26

By: Zack Szweras

DobberProspects Russian Regional Scout

 

It has been a difficult season to scout players due to COVID-19 restricting in-person viewings, as well as some leagues, like the OHL, not playing at all. That being said there were some teams that took advantage of this scenario and nabbed a lot of value with their selections. On the other end of the spectrum, there were some teams that left us scratching our heads.

Winners:

Carolina Hurricanes

Scott Morrow | RHD | Drafted: Second round, 4oth overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 27

The Hurricanes’ first selection in this draft is the definition of boom or bust in Scott Morrow. Morrow is a 6-2 defenseman with elite speed and puck skills who played the majority of the year in high school at Shattuck St. Mary’s, putting up 48 points in 30 games. The biggest concern with Morrow is whether his game can translate against tougher competition, which was tested in his brief stint with the Fargo Force of the USHL in 6 playoff games where he struggled to put up the same production. Overall, Morrow is a long-term prospect with tremendous upside.

Aleksi Heimosalmi | RHD | Drafted: Second round, 44th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 30

The Hurricanes, known by some as the kings of Finland, took versatile, offensive-minded defenceman Aleksi Heimosalmi with their second pick on day two. Heimosalmi was named defenseman of the tournament at the 2021 U18 World Championships after posting 8 points in 6 games. He is known for his ability to move the puck, using his combination of good vision and puck skills. With Heimosalmi, the Hurricanes took another high upside, low floor player.

Ville Koivunen | W | Drafted: Second round, 51st overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 35

With their third selection, the Hurricanes took another Finnish player in Ville Koivunen. Not the fastest or most dynamic player, the best aspect of Koivunen’s game is his hockey IQ. The Rookie of the Year in Finland’s top junior league, Koivunen put up 49 points in 38 games. His puck skills are another strength of his game as he combines them with his brain to create scoring chances for both himself and his teammates. He needs some work on his physicality and skating, but Koivunen has the potential to be a middle-six point-producing winger.

Justin Robidas | C | Drafted: Fifth round, 147th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 50

The son of former NHL player Stephane Robidas, Justin is a tenacious 5-8 center with quick feet and good hands. The size concern is a common theme in the NHL, which is why it wasn’t a shock that he fell this far. The Hurricanes were smart enough to take a gamble on the undersized, offensively skilled forward. He needs some work on his two-way game and play away from the puck but there is enough offensive skill that this was worth the gamble for the Hurricanes.

Dallas Stars

Logan Stankoven | W | Drafted: Second round, 47th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 23

Logan Stankoven is a first-round talent who slipped into the second round for one reason; because NHL teams are afraid of taking undersized players. Although he is 5-8, he plays a rambunctious game, always driving the play and he can finish with elite offensive skill. He isn’t an elite skater for his size, but he is not slow. He has quick crossovers and blazing speed. Like Alex Debrincat and Brayden Point, I think people are going to look back at this pick and laugh at the fact that Stankoven fell to the second round.

Ayrton Martino | W | Drafted: Third round, 73rd overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 32

The next steal of the draft for the Stars came with the selection of Ayrton Martino in the third round. Martino is an explosive skater with good straight-line speed and great offensive skill. He uses his silky hands to evade pressure and open up passing lanes for his teammates. Playing for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL, Martino put up 56 points in 38 games. He is an elite playmaker averaging an assist per game. He could work on adding strength and improving his physicality, but Martino has the potential to become a point-producing winger for the Stars.

Jack Bar | RHD | Drafted: Fifth round, 138th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 47

A part of the Clark Cup champion Chicago Steel, Bar was over-shadowed by stars like Matthew Coronato, Sean Farrell, and Mackie Samoskevich. Bar plays a physical defensive game combined with good speed. He also has the ability to get deep in the offensive zone and use his vision to find a teammate or shoot the puck to create a rebound. Bar is a Harvard commit who, if he refines his tools, could end up as a strong two-way defender.

Minnesota Wild

Jesper Wallstedt | G | Drafted: First round, 20th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 4

The Minnesota Wild took one of the steals of the draft after trading up from 22 to 20 to select a potential franchise goaltender in Wallstedt. It still boggles my mind that teams would be so hesitant to select a goaltender like Wallstedt in the top 10, let alone the first round. Wallstedt played the entire season in the SHL, a feat rarely accomplished by goaltenders in their draft year. Wallstedt, not the tallest or most athletic goalie, has elite vision and puck-tracking ability. He is always calm in his net and makes ridiculously hard saves look effortless. I think people will look back at this selection and wonder how Wallstedt was taken so late, kind of like Vasilevskiy back in 2012.

Jack Peart | LHD | Drafted: Second round, 54th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 52

With their third selection in the draft, the Wild took the Mr. Hockey award winner for best Minnesota high school player in Jack Peart. Peart is more than a high school defenseman though as he spent most of his season playing top-four minutes for Fargo Force of the USHL, helping them reach the Clark Cup final while producing seven points in 9 playoff games. With Fargo he showed off his hockey IQ in both the defensive and offensive zones, making plays to better position his team. The one area Peart could improve on is his shot from the point, but other than that he is a well-rounded defenseman who could end up as a top-four blueliner for the Wild.

Anaheim Ducks

Sasha Pastujov | W | Drafted: Third Round, 66th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 38

Sasha Pastujov is always a threat when he has the puck on his stick. He has a very good shot and puck skills which he combines with his hockey IQ, allowing him to find the back of the net consistently. Pastujov produced 65 points in 41 games for the USNDTP, where he was especially good on the half wall of the powerplay. The big concern, which is probably the reason he fell, is his skating. It is a below-average tool of his, which lacks speed. It didn’t seem to hurt his production in junior but it could affect him at the next level. If he is paired with fast, skilled linemates, he could be an effective trailer with good skill to complement.

Sean Tschigerl | W | Drafted: Fifth round, 130th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 53

Tschigerl is a former fourth overall selection in the WHL draft who has a lot of offensive skill which he pairs with above-average speed. He ended the shortened WHL season on a tear finishing the season with a 12 game point streak, ultimately putting up 18 points in that span. Tschigerl has the potential to produce in the NHL, making this a low-risk/high-reward pick in the fifth round.

Winnipeg Jets

Nikita Chibrikov | W | Drafted: Second round, 50th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 17

Chibrikov starred at the U18s where he produced 13 points in seven games. Chibrikov plays a high pace game with bursts of speed, which he combines with elite puck skills. He is a very skilled playmaker, is smart with the puck, and has good vision to find open teammates. There are areas of his game that need improvement, including his physicality and consistency. There are times where he looks like he is taking a shift off, which you can’t do in the NHL. There is risk in this pick but if he reaches his full potential he can be a top-six winger.

Dmitri Kuzmin | LHD | Drafted: Third round, 82nd overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 63

Kuzmin is a high-flying offensive defenseman who landed on the draft radar with his play at the U18s. The speedy defenseman showed off his highlight reel skill, pulling off a Michigan goal in that tournament. He shows great mobility, walking the blue line in the offensive zone as well as in transition from end to end. Kuzmin has the skill to play quarterback on the first powerplay. He could work on his physicality but, all in all, Kuzmin’s speed and puck skills should enable him to be an effective NHL defenseman.

Losers

Chicago Blackhawks

Nolan Allan | LHD | Drafted: First round, 32nd overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: 93

Nolan Allan has a good chance to be an NHL defender – his defensive game is good with his combination of size and reach. The offensive upside to his game is close to none and he is more likely to be a stay-at-home defender in the NHL. At this pick, there were a lot of players left on the board with higher upside and floor.

Colton Dach | C/W | Drafted: Second round, 62nd overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: –

You have to wonder if Dom Toretto was whispering in the ears of the Blackhawks as they leaned heavily into the family element. After acquiring the Jones brothers through separate trades, the Blackhawks selected Kirby Dach’s brother Colton with the 62nd overall pick. Colton is a big, offensively skilled forward who is probably better suited for the wing. The big difference between him and his brother is that he is not nearly as good a skater as Kirby is. If he improves the pace of his game, he could grow into a bottom-six, or low-end third line forward for the Blackhawks, but there were better options available at 62.

Arizona Coyotes

Josh Doan | W | Drafted: Second round, 37th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: –

As mentioned in the Blackhawks section, it seems as if family is more important than drafting wisely. Josh Doan, a re-entry, is the son of Coyotes legend Shane Doan. Josh did put up some good numbers for the Chicago Steel with 70 points in 58 games. He definitely showed enough improvements from last year, especially in the way he processes the game, to warrant a selection in the draft but at the top of the second round, there were better choices.

Ilya Fedotov | W | Drafted: Second round, 43rd overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: –

Fedotov is an interesting case, he has a really impressive shot and legitimate offensive potential. He is another boom or bust prospect who needs to add strength and work on his off-puck game but he could turn out as a top-six winger if he reaches his full potential. However, Fedotov is someone where the negatives really outweigh the positives and he would have been a better selection in the third or fourth round.

Ottawa Senators

Tyler Boucher | W | Drafted: First round, 10th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: –

Granted we probably should have ranked Boucher inside our top 100, but he is still not even close to being worth the 10th overall selection in this draft. Boucher missed most of the year due to a knee injury but showed promise as a gritty power forward in his 12 games before the injury, featuring more offensive skill than he had displayed in previous years. Although there is potential and mystery given his injury, at 10th overall, there were several more proven players for the Senators to select. If they were really set on Boucher, they probably should have traded down and grabbed more picks before selecting him.

Zack Ostapchuk | W | Drafted: Second round, 39th overall | DobberProspects Final Rank: –

The trend of the Senators’ draft seems to be big, physical players. I liked Ostapchuk’s game in my viewings of him. He is a strong straight-line skater with some inconsistent offense. However, I thought he would be good to take a flier on in the fourth or fifth round, not in the early second with so many talented players left on the board.

Ben Roger | RHD | Drafted: Second round, 49th overall  DobberProspects Final Rank: –

Another confusing pick that fits the theme of the Senators’ draft, Roger is a towering defenseman at 6-4 and 200 pounds. Unfortunately, due to the cancellation of the OHL season, Roger has not played for a full calendar year. The unknown of Roger is intriguing and could pan out, but his lack of offensive skill and limited sample size of game action is concerning. Like Boucher, they probably could have traded down and still selected Roger.

 

Follow Zack on twitter @Zack_Szweras

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