The 2021 NHL draft is upon us, with many teams looking for franchise-altering players.
The Buffalo Sabres are on the board first after a rough 2020-21 season saw them finish with a league-worst 37 points. The Seattle Kraken will make their first-ever draft pick at No. 2 as the expansion team seeks long-term talent to build around. The Columbus Blue Jackets also represent a big storyline of the draft with three first-round selections.
It creates plenty of excitement for the first round, scheduled to start on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.
1st Round Mock Draft
1. Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power, D, Michigan
2. Seattle Kraken: Matthew Beniers, C, Michigan
3. Anaheim Ducks: William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden
4. New Jersey Devils: Luke Hughes, D, USA U-18
5. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton
6. Detroit Red Wings: Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie
7. San Jose Sharks: Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda Jr.
8. Los Angeles Kings: Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough
9. Vancouver Canucks: Kent Johnson, C, Michigan
10. Ottawa Senators: Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea
11. Arizona Coyotes: Forfeited pick
12. Chicago Blackhawks: Chaz Lucius, C, USA U-18
13. Calgary Flames: Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago
14. Philadelphia Flyers: Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls
15. Dallas Stars: Fabian Lysell, RW, Lulea
16. New York Rangers: Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks
17. St. Louis Blues: Fedor Svechkov, C, Togliatti
18. Winnipeg Jets: Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint
19. Nashville Predators: Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg
20. Edmonton Oilers: Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton
21. Boston Bruins: Zach Dean, C, Gatineau
22. Minnesota Wild: Aatu Raty, C, Karpat
23. Detroit Red Wings (from WSH): Isak Rosen, RW, Leksands
24. Florida Panthers: Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan
25. Columbus Blue Jackets (from TOR): Nikita Chibrikov, RW, St. Petersburg
26. Minnesota Wild (from PIT): Daniil Chayka, D, CSKA
27. Carolina Hurricanes: Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski
28. Colorado Avalanche: Francesco Pinelli, C, Kitchener
29. New Jersey Devils (from NYI): Oskar Olausson, RW, HV71
30. Vegas Golden Knights: Logan Stankoven, C, Kamploops
31. Montreal Canadiens: Zachary L'Heureux, LW, Halifax
32. Columbus Blue Jackets (from TBL): Sasha Pastujov, RW, USA U-18
Full order available at NHL.com.
Owen Power, D, Michigan
At 6'6", 213 pounds, Owen Power is an imposing presence on the ice for an 18-year-old...or really at any age.
The defenseman knows how to use his size to get in the way of opposing players, while his reach is especially valuable in taking the puck away.
Power can also contribute on the other end, as he showed with 13 assists in 26 games for Michigan last season. He was even better for the Chicago Steel in the USHL with 12 goals and 28 assists in 45 games during the 2019-20 season.
"What makes him special is, he's very, very humble, but he's very, very driven," Steel coach Ryan Hardy said, per Emily Kaplan of ESPN. "He's coachable. He always wants more information. He never ever thinks he's above anything. He just wants more and more and more so he can study and become better, and become great."
With his upside, Power can be an elite two-way defender in the NHL before too long.
Matthew Beniers, C, Michigan
Considering all the sources of draft-eligible players around the world, it's somewhat bizarre that the top two players could come from the same United States college. It's still the talent that matters, and Powers and Matthew Beniers each have a lot of it.
Assuming Powers goes No. 1 overall, Beniers has a good chance to go right after him.
"I'd be just as stunned if Matty Beniers doesn't go to Seattle [at No. 2]," one scout told Kaplan.
The center is another quality two-way player who had 10 goals and 14 assists in 24 games for Michigan. He finished plus-27 on the ice for a team that went just 15-10-1 last season.
Most importantly, he has a high work rate in all phases of the game and would be a great future leader for Seattle.
William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden
Swedish prospect William Eklund described his own strengths on a recent interview with FC Hockey:
The winger noted his hockey sense, which is apparent on the ice with his ability to find teammates throughout his young career.
Eklund is rated the No. 1 European skater in the class by NHL Central Scouting as a player with a complete skill set, excelling as an offensive threat despite being slightly undersized at 5'10", 176 pounds. He had 11 goals with 12 assists with Djurgarden IF in Sweden, winning the SHL Rookie of the Year award in the process.
Though he might not be in the NHL right away, he could be a difference-maker down the line.
Luke Hughes, D, USA U-18
Hockey fans already know the Hughes family.
Quinn Hughes was the No. 7 overall pick in 2018 and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy in 2019-20, establishing himself as a quality defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks. Jack Hughes was the No. 1 overall pick in 2019 and has flashed his upside with the New Jersey Devils.
Luke Hughes should be the third brother to be selected in the top 10 of the draft, and he could be as good as any of them.
The 6'2", 184-pound defenseman is considered the "best skating defenseman in this draft class" by multiple scouts, per Victoria Matiash of ESPN.
Adding in the passing ability that he showed with the United States U-18 team (28 assists in 38 games), Hughes is everything you want in a blueliner.
Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton
There might not be a more productive player in the class than Dylan Guenther, who has excelled offensively at every stop of his career.
The right wing had 59 points in 58 games for the Edmonton Oil Kings during the 2019-20 WHL season and followed it up with an incredible 24 points in 12 games in 2020-21. He also appeared in four games for the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and tallied three goals and two assists.
Guenther also consistently found the back of the net with Team Canada at the U-18 World Championships:
The 18-year-old has proved he can produce at a high level, and one team will bet he can keep this up in the NHL.