NHL Draft 2021: Predicting Where Elite Talent Will Land in 1st-Round Mock Draft

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMay 14, 2021

NHL Draft 2021: Predicting Where Elite Talent Will Land in 1st-Round Mock Draft

0 of 4

    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    The 2020-21 NHL regular season is mostly over. The 16-team field for the Stanley Cup Playoffs is set, and while some North Division teams still have one or a few games to play, those contests won't have much of an impact on the standings.

    For the 15 teams that missed out on the postseason (as well as the expansion Seattle Kraken, who will join the league next season), it's time to start looking ahead to the offseason. And that includes the 2021 NHL draft, which is scheduled for July 23-24.

    The order won't be set until after the draft lottery, which doesn't yet have a date but will take place in June. However, it's not too early to start predicting where some of the top prospects in this year's class could end up.

    Here's the latest mock for the first round of this year's draft. The order shown is courtesy of Tankathon's projections, but things will likely change before the draft, based on game results and the draft lottery.

1st-Round Mock Draft

1 of 4

    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    1. Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power, D, Michigan

    2. Anaheim Ducks: Matthew Beniers, C, Michigan

    3. Seattle Kraken: Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda (SHL)

    4. New Jersey Devils: Luke Hughes, D, USA Hockey NTDP

    5. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL)

    6. Detroit Red Wings: Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea HF (SHL)

    7. Vancouver Canucks: William Eklund, C/LW, Djurgardens (SHL)

    8. San Jose Sharks: Kent Johnson, C, Michigan

    9. Los Angeles Kings: Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie (OHL)

    10. Ottawa Senators: Fabian Lysell, LW/RW, Frolunda J20 (SuperElit)

    11. Calgary Flames: Aatu Raty, C, Karpat (SM-Liiga)

    12. Arizona Coyotes: n/a (pick forfeited because of combine testing violations)

    13. Chicago Blackhawks: Chaz Lucius, C, USA Hockey NTDP

    14. Philadelphia Flyers: Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL)

    15. Dallas Stars: Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL)

    16. New York Rangers: Cole Sillinger, C/LW, Medicine Hat (WHL)

    17. Montreal Canadiens: Zachary L'Heureux, C, Halifax (QMJHL)

    18. Winnipeg Jets: Stanislav Svozil, D, HC Kometa Brno (CZE)

    19. St. Louis Blues: Matt Coronato, LW/RW, Chicago (USHL)

    20. Nashville Predators: Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski (QMJHL)

    21. New Jersey Devils (via New York Islanders): Simon Robertsson, RW, Skelleftea J20 (SuperElit)

    22. Boston Bruins: Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint (OHL)

    23. Edmonton Oilers: Oskar Olausson, LW/RW, HV71 (SHL)

    24. Minnesota Wild: Francesco Pinelli, C, Kitchener

    25. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Tampa Bay Lightning): Daniil Chayka, D, Moskva (KHL)

    26. Detroit Red Wings (via Washington Capitals): Sasha Pastujov, LW, USA Hockey NTDP

    27. Florida Panthers: Isak Rosen, LW, Leksands IF J20 (SuperElit)

    28. Vegas Golden Knights: Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL)

    29. Minnesota Wild (via Pittsburgh Penguins): Nikita Chibrikov, RW, SKA St. Petersburgh (MHL)

    30. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Toronto Maple Leafs): Samu Tuomaala, C/LW, Karpat (SM-Liiga)

    31. Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL)

    32. Colorado Avalanche: Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Power Expected to Be Among Top Players in Class

2 of 4

    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    It's not a given that Owen Power will be the first player selected in the 2021 NHL draft. But there's a solid chance the 18-year-old defenseman could go No. 1 overall.

    Power is coming off a solid first season at Michigan in which he was named to the All-Big Ten second team, tallied 16 points (three goals and 13 assists) and had a plus-minus rating of plus-18. The 6'5" left-handed shooter has a ton of potential and should continue to get better as he gains experience.

    "Power is a big presence with good vision and strength, and has the look of a top-pair NHL defenseman," NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale wrote.

    No matter which team ends up with the No. 1 pick, it could be hard to pass over Power, who could become a staple on the blue line for that franchise for years to come. So don't be surprised if the Wolverines standout is the first player to have his name called on draft night.

Several Other Defenseman Could Be Drafted Early

3 of 4

    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    Power won't be the only defenseman drafted early in the first round. There are several other strong prospects likely to come off the board at least in the top 10, if not the top five.

    Among them are Luke Hughes (USA NTDP), Brandt Clarke (Barrie, OHL) and Simon Edvinsson (Frolunda, SHL). Morreale has Hughes as the No. 2-ranked player in the draft class behind Power, while Sportsnet's Sam Cosentino has Clarke as the second-highest-ranked defenseman at No. 3 overall in the class.

    Cosentino praised Clarke's ability to see the game "two steps ahead," while also noting the 18-year-old is "terrific on the power play." Clarke had a strong showing for Team Canada at the U18 Hockey World Championship recently, tallying seven points (two goals and five assists) and posting a plus-minus rating of plus-12 over seven games.

    Morreale wrote that Hughes "is a great skater capable of playing a smart defensive game with good poise and reads." The 17-year-old is committed to play at Michigan, and he already has two brothers in the NHL: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes and New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes.

    These top defensemen should be drafted early, and if they aren't taken before Power, they'll likely be selected shortly after him.

Bolduc Could Be a Youngster to Keep an Eye on

4 of 4

    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    One intriguing prospect to keep an eye on during the mid-to-late first round of the draft will be center Zachary Bolduc. The 18-year-old has a ton of potential, even if he may not be quite ready to make the jump to the NHL level quite yet.

    "His skill set jumps off the page immediately," Cosentino wrote. "This player may need additional seasoning time, especially after being injured in 2021, but he can make plays and create offense consistently."

    Although Bolduc missed some time due to injury, he had 10 goals and 19 assists in 27 games for Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. If he continues to build on that offensive production and his game keeps improving, he could potentially develop into a big-time NHL player.

    While Bolduc likely won't be among the first players drafted, he should be selected at some point in the opening round. And he could end up being a mid-round steal for a team.