There was no shortage of storylines that emerged from the 2021 NHL draft, which just wrapped up Saturday night.
All 223 picks over seven rounds are in the books. It began with the Buffalo Sabres doing what everyone anticipated and selecting Michigan defenseman Owen Power with the top choice.
That turned out to be the start of a very memorable draft for all 32 teams. The Seattle Kraken continue to fill out the roster heading into their inaugural season.
While the final results from the draft won't be known for a number of years, it's never too early to react to what happened with grades based on what the future looks like for every NHL franchise.
2021 NHL Draft Grades
Anaheim Ducks: B+
Arizona Coyotes: A-
Boston Bruins: B+
Buffalo Sabres: A-
Calgary Flames: B-
Carolina Hurricanes: B+
Chicago Blackhawks: B
Colorado Avalanche: B+
Columbus Blue Jackets: A-
Dallas Stars: B
Detroit Red Wings: C+
Edmonton Oilers: B
Florida Panthers: B
Los Angeles Kings: B+
Minnesota Wild: A (Best)
Montreal Canadiens: N/A
Nashville Predators: B+
New Jersey Devils: C-
New York Islanders: C
New York Rangers: B+
Ottawa Senators: C- (Worst)
Philadelphia Flyers: B
Pittsburgh Penguins: C
San Jose Sharks: B-
St Louis Blues: C
Seattle Kraken: B-
Tampa Bay Lightning: B-
Toronto Maple Leafs: B
Vancouver Canucks: C
Vegas Golden Knights: B+
Washington Capitals: B
Winnipeg Jets: B+
As you can tell from the list above, the Montreal Canadiens were not given a letter grade. The reasoning for that stems from their decision to select Logan Mailloux with the 31st overall pick.
Mailloux was fined in December for offensive photography constituting an invasion of privacy and defamation. In November, he circulated a photograph he took of a woman performing a sex act on him without her consent to some of his SK Lejon teammates in Sweden.
On Tuesday, three days prior to the start of the draft, Katie Strang and Corey Pronman of The Athletic published a story in which the woman in the photo said in an email she hasn't forgiven Mailloux because he hasn't "understood the seriousness of his behavior."
The woman also told Strang and Pronman she has been seeking "a heartfelt apology for his behavior," but Mailloux only previously sent her "a text that was no longer than three sentences."
Mailloux issued a statement that same day renouncing himself from this year's class because he doesn't "feel I have shown strong enough maturity or character to earn that privilege in the 2021 draft."
After making the pick, the Canadiens issued a statement explaining the decision:
"By drafting prospect Logan Mailloux with the 31st overall pick, the Montreal Canadiens organization not only selected a promising hockey player, but also a young man who recently admitted to making a serious mistake. The Canadiens are aware of the situation and by no means minimize the severity of Logan's actions. Logan understands the impact of his actions. His recent public statement is a genuine acknowledgement of his poor behaviour and the first step on his personal journey. We are making a commitment to accompany Logan on his journey by providing him with the tools to mature and the necessary support to guide him in his development. We are also committed to raising awareness among our players about the repercussions of their actions on the lives of others."
The rest of Montreal's draft was solid overall. Oliver Kapanen (No. 64 overall) is a 17-year-old scorer who has the potential to be a solid all-around player with more seasoning.
Finnish Jr Hockey @FINjrhockey
Montreal selects Oliver Kapanen with the 64th overall pick. The center reads the game well and packs offensive punch. A natural goal-scorer, dangerous around the net and can score in a variety of ways. Has improved significantly in the last two seasons. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Habs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Habs</a>
Third-round pick Dmitri Kostenko is an excellent passer. The 18-year-old is still refining his defensive game, but there's a lot of upside given where he was selected.
With the No. 87 pick in the 2021 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLDraft?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHLDraft</a>, the Montreal Canadiens select D Dmitri Kostenko of Ladia Togliatti. <a href="https://t.co/WwyCzqOeof">https://t.co/WwyCzqOeof</a><br><br>"Has the potential to be a true difference-maker if he learns to play with more confidence and develops more of a killer instinct." <a href="https://t.co/tmq1DzGVIU">pic.twitter.com/tmq1DzGVIU</a>
Regardless of what positives can be said about what the Canadiens did Saturday, their start to the draft has a massive red flag that can't be brushed to the side.
As for the positive takeaways from the draft, the Sabres did exactly what a team with the No. 1 pick should do. They didn't try to get fancy or clever. They simply took the best player in the class.
Tonight's #1 overall pick in the <a href="https://twitter.com/NHL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHL</a> Draft, Owen Power is a big box lacrosse guy!<br><br>"Box lacrosse, Power said, helped him understand spacing -- finding ways to get open, finding the open teammate -- which he thinks translates to his play on the blue line"<a href="https://t.co/TthoSYdPYj">https://t.co/TthoSYdPYj</a>
Buffalo's front office was incredibly busy during the draft. Rasmus Ristolainen was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for Robert Hagg, the 14th pick in this year's draft and a 2023 second-rounder.
The 14th pick was used to take Swedish winger Isak Rosen to boost Buffalo's offense.
John Vogl @BuffaloVogl
NHL Central Scouting ranked Isak Rosen as No. 8 international skater, saying he's offensive-minded finesse wing. Speedy skater with excellent acceleration and fine balance. Strong and effective in the offensive zone using smart decisions, smooth hands and quick, surprising moves
The Sabres have taken calls from teams interested in Jack Eichel, but there's no indication at this point that a deal is imminent.
If Eichel remains with the team and returns to full strength after missing 35 games last season with a spinal disc herniation that required surgery, he can lead a young core that includes Power and Rosen.
Fresh off their expansion draft, the Kraken used the proper draft to add a player they hope will become the face of their franchise very soon. Matty Beniers, who played with Power at Michigan, could emerge as the most impactful offensive rookie in 2021-22.
Matty Beniers: The Pride of Hingham, Massachusetts <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLDraft?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHLDraft</a> <br><br>📺: 8p ET on ESPN2 and <a href="https://twitter.com/Sportsnet?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Sportsnet</a> <br><br>(🎥 <a href="https://twitter.com/umichhockey?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@umichhockey</a>) <a href="https://t.co/xSptQABJMH">pic.twitter.com/xSptQABJMH</a>
Ryker Evans at No. 35 looks like a massive reach because of his age (he turns 20 on Dec. 13) and uncertainty about how much his improved performance in the WHL season (28 points in 24 games) is related to talent and how much could be attributed to the limited travel schedule due to the pandemic.
Chris Peters @chrismpeters
Evans looks a little more favorable in <a href="https://twitter.com/ByronMBader?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ByronMBader</a>'s model since he had such a huge pop in his numbers. The question I have is how much can we read into this year's WHL numbers given the abridged season with divisional play. <a href="https://t.co/o5Blf2F3Os">https://t.co/o5Blf2F3Os</a>
Peter Baracchini of The Hockey Writers projected Evans to be a fourth-round pick in his final mock draft.
My pick for the best draft class is the Minnesota Wild. They got the best value pick in the first round when they traded up to select goalie Jesper Wallstedt at No. 20.
He had a 2.23 goals-against average and 90.8 save percentage in 22 starts for Lulea HF in the Swedish Hockey League as an 18-year-old during the 2020-21 season.
Minnesota Wild PR @mnwildPR
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLDraft?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHLDraft</a> prospect profile for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mnwild?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#mnwild</a> draft pick Jesper Wallstedt <a href="https://t.co/UOEEcAxfBE">pic.twitter.com/UOEEcAxfBE</a>
In addition to drafting their future goaltender, the Wild landed defenseman Jack Peart in the second round (No. 54 overall). The Minnesota native is already fundamentally sound on the defensive end, and he's become a solid passer with 14 assists in 24 games with the Fargo Force in the USHL last season.
NHL Draft 2021 <br>Round 2<br>Pick 54<br><br>The Minnesota Wild select Grand Rapids defender Jack Peart <br><br>High-IQ defender led Grand Rapids to 15-2-1 record in ’20-’21 season<br><br>Paced Thunderhawks in scoring with 11-24-35 en route to winning 2021 Mr. Hockey Award<br><br>Ended season in Fargo w/USHL <a href="https://t.co/Hics3zeEvc">pic.twitter.com/Hics3zeEvc</a>
Kyle Masters and Josh Pillar are high-risk, high-reward talents the Wild got in the fourth round.
The Wild are coming off a successful 2020-21 season. They made the playoffs and posted the highest single-season winning percentage in franchise history (.670). They were eliminated in the first round but took the Vegas Golden Knights to seven games before bowing out.
Adding Wallstedt and Peart to Minnesota's roster only makes the franchise's already-promising future look even brighter.