Updated 2021 NHL Mock Draft Predictions
On Jan. 5, we published a way-too-soon first-round NHL mock draft. With the 2021 NHL draft (July 23-24) on the horizon, it's time to revisit and update our predictions.
As the 2020-21 NHL season hadn't started at the time of our predictions, we based each club's draft position on NHL.com's most recent preseason fantasy team power rankings. This time, however, we have a clearer picture of where most teams will be in the draft order.
The first 15 draft positions were selected via the NHL draft lottery on Wednesday, comprising the non-playoff clubs and the expansion Seattle Kraken. The Arizona Coyotes are not among that group as they forfeited their first-round pick for violating draft combine regulations before the 2020 NHL draft.
The remaining 16 positions will be determined by the basis of elimination from the 2021 NHL playoffs. The final four picks are reserved for the semifinalists, with the last two belonging to the Stanley Cup finalists.
Here are our modified 2021 NHL mock draft predictions based on the regular-season standings and playoff positions. The placement of teams participating in the playoffs could change depending on the outcome of the second round.
Nos. 1-5: Sabres, Kraken, Ducks, Devils and Blue Jackets
1. Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power
With the first overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft, the Buffalo Sabres will likely target University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power. NHL Central Scouting ranked the 6'6", 213-pounder as this year's top prospect among North American skaters. Projected as a future top-pairing blueliner, his size and all-around skills would make him a welcome addition to the Sabres defense corps.
2. Seattle Kraken: Luke Hughes
This draft is the first for the expansion Seattle Kraken. They could set their sights on Luke Hughes from the United States National Team Development Program. The 6'2" 180-pound defenseman is a strong skater and plays a smart defensive game. Brother of NHLers Quinn and Jack Hughes, Luke could one day become the linchpin of the Kraken blue line.
3. Anaheim Ducks: Matthew Beniers
The Anaheim Ducks have a promising center in Trevor Zegras, but they could add more depth at that position in Matthew Beniers from the University of Michigan. A lack of skilled centers contributed to the Ducks being this season's lowest-scoring team. His strong, two-way game and energetic style garnered praise from TSN analyst Bob McKenzie.
4. New Jersey Devils: Dylan Guenther
The New Jersey Devils need scoring wingers to complement young centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. Right wing Dylan Guenther of the Western Hockey League's Edmonton Oil Kings could fit the bill. A highly skilled offensive winger, he could be a perfect fit with Hischier or Hughes.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets: Kent Johnson
After finishing among this season's lowest-scoring teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets could seek a scoring forward in this year's draft. The University of Michigan's Kent Johnson could be on their radar. Lauded as a creative offensive player, he has the making of a future NHL scoring star. A versatile forward, he can skate at center or left wing.
Nos. 6-10: Red Wings, Sharks, Kings, Canucks and Senators
6. Detroit Red Wings: Jesper Wallstedt
The Detroit Red Wings lack depth in goaltenders among their 10 best prospects. They could turn to Jesper Wallstedt from Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). Central Scouting ranked him as the top international goalie prospect. The 6'3", 214-pound Wallstedt is a big, athletic netminder with a hybrid butterfly style. He could become a future starter for the Wings.
7. San Jose Sharks: William Eklund
A lack of scoring depth sank the San Jose Sharks this season. William Eklund of Djurgardens in the SHL could be part of a long-term solution. Ranked the best international skater by Central Scouting, the 18-year-old possesses good speed and offensive skills. With the Sharks' top forwards aging, they will need young talent like Eklund in the near future.
8. Los Angeles Kings: Simon Edvinsson
The Athletic's Scott Wheeler ranked the Los Angeles Kings No. 1 in his NHL prospect pool ranking. However, their best defense prospect (Helge Grans) was ranked sixth. They could seek a defenseman with more upside such as Simon Edvinsson of Frolunda in the SHL. At 6'4" and 198 pounds, Edvinsson has good size, plays a physical style, and possesses a big shot and solid puck-moving skills.
9. Vancouver Canucks: Brandt Clarke
A lack of skilled blue-line depth contributed to the Vancouver Canucks giving up the third-most shots-against per game (33.4) this season. They could use a defenseman such as Brandt Clarke of the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts. The 6'2" 185-pound blueliner played well this season on loan with Nove Zamky in the Slovak Extraliga. TSN's Bob McKenzie cited his high-end, two-way game as a standout attribute.
10. Ottawa Senators: Chaz Lucius
Several of the Ottawa Senators' top prospects entering 2020-21, such as Tim Stutzle, Drake Batherson and Josh Norris, made their roster by the season's end. To maintain their deep pipeline of young talent, they could select Chaz Lucius of the USNTDP. A hard-shooting forward who can play center or wing, the 18-year-old missed half the season with a knee injury but is still considered a gifted offensive player.
Nos. 11 to 15: Blackhawks, Flames, Flyers, Stars & Rangers
11. Chicago Blackhawks: Xavier Bourgault
With veteran scorers Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews now in their 30s, the Chicago Blackhawks could be seeking long-term offensive depth. Xavier Bourgault of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Shawinigan Cataractes could be enticing. A dynamic offensive forward who's a danger to score whenever he touches the puck, Bourgault can play center or wing.
12. Calgary Flames: Carson Lambos
The Calgary Flames will one day need a suitable replacement for 37-year-old defenseman Mark Giordano. Carson Lambos of the Western Hockey League's Winnipeg Ice could attract their interest. The 6'1", 197-pounder is considered a solid two-way blueliner. While limited to just two WHL games by injury, he had 11 points in 13 games on loan to JYP of Finland's SM Liiga Jr.
13. Philadelphia Flyers: Sasha Pastujov
With left winger Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk in their early 30s, the Philadelphia Flyers will need to eventually replace them. Sasha Pastujov of the USNTDP could be a good choice. A talented left winger, he led the NTDP Under-18 squad with 65 points and plays a good two-way game.
14 Dallas Stars: Nikita Chibrikov
Nikita Chibrikov could draw the attention of the Dallas Stars if they seek a long-term replacement for aging right wingers Alexander Radulov and Joe Pavelski. The 18-year-old made his debut this season with the KHL's SKA Saint Petersburg and had nine points in 11 games with their junior squad. He can skate at either wing, possesses great speed and is an adept puck handler.
15. New York Rangers: Mason McTavish
The New York Rangers could seek some long-term depth at center, especially in the second-line position if Ryan Strome departs via free agency. Mason McTavish of the Ontario Hockey League's Peterborough Petes could be a good option. The 6'1", 207-pounder played well on loan with EHC Olten in the Swiss League with 11 points in 13 games. He's considered a strong-skating two-way center.
Nos. 16-20: Canadiens, Blues, Predators, Devils and Oilers
16. Montreal Canadiens: Corson Ceulemans
The Canadiens would pick from this spot if they fail to advance beyond the second round of the 2021 NHL playoffs. The Athletic's Scott Wheeler indicates they have just one right-handed defenseman among their top prospects. They could select Corson Ceulemans of the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Brooks Bandits. He has good size (6'2", 201 pounds) and the potential to become a top-four NHL blueliner.
17. St. Louis Blues: Matthew Coronato
Vladimir Tarasenko's shoulder injuries and David Perron's free-agent status next summer could send the St. Louis Blues looking for scoring wingers in this year's draft. Matthew Coronato of the United States Hockey League's Chicago Steel could be a good option. Blessed with a good wrist shot, he tallied 48 goals and 85 points this season.
18. Nashville Predators: Cole Sillinger
The Nashville Predators have an ongoing need for secondary scoring depth at center. Perhaps they'll turn to Cole Sillinger of the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede. Son of former Predators center Mike Sillinger, the 18-year-old netted 46 points in 31 games this season. He's a skilled offensive forward with excellent playmaking abilities.
19. New Jersey Devils (from New York Islanders): Fabian Lysell
Having acquired the New York Islanders' first-round pick in the Kyle Palmieri trade, the Devils could use it to address their need for scoring wingers. Fabian Lysell of Lulea in the SHL could be a suitable candidate. A small forward at 5'10" and 172 pounds, Lysell is considered a speedy, creative winger.
20. Edmonton Oilers: Sebastian Cossa
With Mike Smith a free agent and Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock in their early 30s, goaltending is a long-term issue for the Edmonton Oilers. A solution could be in their backyard in Sebastian Cossa of the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings. The 6'6", 210-pounder has excellent size and athleticism. Central Scouting ranked him No. 1 among North American goaltending prospects.
Nos. 21-25: Wild, Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Panthers and Golden Knights
21. Minnesota Wild: Simon Robertsson
The Athletic's Scott Wheeler indicated the Minnesota Wild have just two right wings among their top 20 prospects. They could attempt to bolster that depth by selecting Skelleftea AIK winger Simon Robertsson. He's considered a skilled hard-working two-way forward, tallying 20 points in 15 games with Skelleftea's junior team.
22. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Tampa Bay Lightning): Aatu Raty
This selection came to the Blue Jackets as part of the return in the David Savard trade. Their ongoing search for skilled offensive depth at center could lead them to Aatu Raty of Karpat in Liiga, Finland's top pro league. The 6'2", 185-pound Raty is a swift-skating forward with creative offensive abilities.
23. Detroit Red Wings (from Washington Capitals): Francesco Pinelli
The rebuilding Detroit Red Wings got this pick as part of the return for sending Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals. They could add to their center depth with Francesco Pinelli of the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers. Considered an elite skater with a strong work ethic, he had 11 points in 13 games on loan with Jesenice of Slovenia's Alps Hockey League.
24. Florida Panthers: Daniil Chayka
With only one defenseman (Michael Benning) among their top 10 prospects, the Florida Panthers could attempt to address that issue by selecting Daniil Chayka of the OHL's Guelph Storm. The 6'3", 187-pound Russian blueliner saw action in 11 games this season on loan with the KHL's CSKA Moscow. Chayka's skating and confidence with the puck could make him a future top-four NHL rearguard.
25. Vegas Golden Knights: Oskar Olausson
The Vegas Golden Knights could look at adding a winger to their prospect pool. Oskar Olausson of HV71 in the SHL could be a suitable option. He's can skate on either wing, has terrific speed and a solid work ethic, and handles the puck well.
No. 26-31: Blue Jackets, Wild, Jets, Bruins, Hurricanes and Avalanche
26. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Toronto Maple Leafs): Zachary Bolduc
This pick was part of the return to the Blue Jackets in the Nick Foligno trade. As with their previous two selections in this round, they could opt for an offensive center. Zachary Bolduc of the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic could fit the bill. Blessed with speed and good hockey smarts, he tallied 29 points in 27 games this season.
27. Minnesota Wild (from Pittsburgh Penguins): Samu Tuomaala
The Wild got this pick as part of the return in the trade that sent Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins last year. They could choose Samu Tuomaala of Karpat's junior team in Finland if they opt to bolster their right wing depth among their prospects. Not big in stature at 5'10" and 175 pounds, Tuomaala is an energetic, speedy winger.
28. Winnipeg Jets: Zachary L'Heureux
If the Winnipeg Jets defeat the Canadiens in their second-round series they will be in this position among the playoff semifinalists. Zachary L'Heureux of the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads could be an interesting selection. A scoring forward with a physical edge, he finished second on the Mooseheads with 39 points in 33 games.
29. Boston Bruins: Mackie Samoskevich
The Boston Bruins could reach this position if they qualify for the semifinals. Thin in right-wing depth among their top prospects, they could consider Mackie Samoskevich of the USHL's Chicago Steel. He's a smooth-skating, agile forward with good stickhandling ability. The young winger tallied 37 points in 36 games this season.
30. Carolina Hurricanes: Stanislav Svozil
With Jake Bean now in the lineup, the Carolina Hurricanes lack a left-shot defenseman among their 10 best prospects. Stanislav Svozil of HC Kometa Brno in the Czech Extraliga could fill that need. The 6'1", 182-pound blueliner is considered an excellent puck-mover and passer who sees the ice well.
31. Colorado Avalanche: Isak Rosen
The Colorado Avalanche are this year's Presidents' Trophy winner and the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If they do, they could use this pick to select right wing Isak Rosen of Leksand in the SHL. He's not a big forward at 5'11" and 156 pounds, but he's considered a speedy, competitive player. He had 12 points in as many games with Leksand's junior team this season.
Prospect evaluations as per NHL.com's top 32 prospects and NHL Central Scouting's final rankings of the top North American and European Players. Player information via Elite Prospects, with team prospect info via The Athletic's 2021 NHL prospect pool rankings.