2021 NHL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions and Top Prospects on the Rise
The top of the 2021 NHL draft is expected to be dominated by Michigan Wolverines players.
Owen Power and Matthew Beniers could be the first two players off the board to the Buffalo Sabres and Seattle Kraken.
Michigan has a chance to produce a third top-10 pick thanks to the development of Kent Johnson, who has been projected to be a high first-round selection as well.
Johnson may receive a boost in the draft order due to the lack of high-quality centers predicted to land in the top 10. A majority of the opening choices could be defensemen, starting with Power.
If Power, Luke Hughes and other top defensemen are taken high in the top 10, that could open the door for other defenders to move higher in the draft order, including a few that are coming from Europe.
1st-Round 2021 NHL Mock Draft
1. Buffalo: Owen Power, D, Michigan
2. Seattle: Matthew Beniers, C, Michigan
3. Anaheim: Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL)
4. New Jersey: Luke Hughes, D, USA U-18
5. Columbus: Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda (Sweden)
6. Detroit: Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL)
7. San Jose: Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie (OHL)
8. Los Angeles: William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden (Sweden)
9. Vancouver: Kent Johnson, C, Michigan
10. Ottawa: Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea (Sweden)
11. Arizona: Pick vacated
12. Chicago: Chaz Lucius, C, USA U18
13. Calgary: Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls (USHL)
14. Philadelphia: Fyodor Svechkov, C, Togliatti
15. Dallas: Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL)
16. New York Rangers: Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL)
17. St. Louis: Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago (USHL)
18. Winnipeg: Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint (OHL)
19. Nashville: Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawnigan (QMJHL)
20. Edmonton: Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski (QMJHL)
21. Boston: Isak Rosen, RW, Leksands (Sweden)
22. Minnesota: Daniil Chayka, D, CSKA (Russia)
23. Detroit (from Washington): Aatu Raty, C, Karpat (Finland)
24. Florida: Wyatt Johnson, C, Windsor (OHL)
25. Columbus (from Toronto): Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL)
26. Minnesota (from Pittsburgh): Nikita Chibrikov, RW, St. Petersburg (Russia)
27. Carolina: Shai Buium, D, Sioux City (USHL)
28. Colorado: Mackie Samoskevich, RW, Chicago (USHL)
29. New Jersey (from NY Islanders): Oskar Olausson, RW, HV71 (Sweden)
30. Vegas: Colton Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL)
31. Montreal: Zach Dean, C, Gatineau (QMJHL)
32. Columbus (from Tampa Bay): Matthew Knies, LW, Tri-City (USHL)
Kent Johnson, C, Michigan
Johnson flew under the radar a bit on the NHL draft buzz because two of his collegiate teammates are projected to land first and second.
The Canadian center produced 27 points over 26 games for Michigan and could be a solid choice for a team at the bottom of the top 10 in search of a two-way center.
The 18-year-old might be a great fit for the Vancouver Canucks at No. 9. Not only would that allow Johnson to play for the franchise in his own province, it would give the team more young scoring depth.
When Johnson played in the British Columbia Hockey League, he put up 46 points in the 2018-19 season and 101 points in the 2019-20 campaign before shipping off to the American collegiate ranks.
The over a point per game pace from his last two seasons of hockey should push Johnson up the board. Los Angeles and Ottawa may be in the mix for him if Vancouver does not go after a hometown prospect.
No matter where he lands, Johnson is expected to be the third collegiate player off the board behind Power and Beniers due to the heavy presence of junior hockey and international prospects.
Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL)
There are four defensemen expected to be chosen in or right around the top 10.
Power is widely expected to be the No. 1 overall pick. Luke Hughes, Simon Edvinsson and Brandt Clarke could all be gone before Chicago picks at No. 12.
If the draft goes as expected, Carson Lambos will be one of the most coveted players in the middle of the first round.
The Dallas Stars may be willing to add a young defenseman to their top-tier players to strike a nice balance of youth and experience in the coming years.
NHL.com's Mike Morreale wrote in a recent mock draft that Lambos has the potential to be on a top defensive pairing in the league.
"Lambos (6-1, 197) has the potential to become a future top-pair NHL defenseman, with his patience in the defensive zone and in transition among his best qualities," Morreale wrote.
If Dallas comes away with a player of that quality at No. 15, it could be viewed as one of the steals of the draft.
Lambos did not play much over the last 12 months due to an injury, but if he stays healthy, the potential is there to be one of the better choices from the draft class.
Statistics obtained from EliteProspects.com.