NHL Draft 2021: TV Schedule, Order and Mock Draft Predictions for Top Prospects
The Buffalo Sabres are on the clock. And soon, they'll use the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL draft to take a player who they hope will continue to help their franchise get back on course.
The first round of the draft takes place Friday night and will air live on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET. Rounds 2-7 are scheduled for Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. ET on NHL Network. Like last year, the draft is being held in a virtual format because of the coronavirus pandemic.
While there have been many predictions about how things will unfold, there will likely be some surprise selections throughout the two-day event. Regardless, a ton of young, talented players will soon be beginning their path to the NHL.
Here's everything you need to know heading into Friday's first round, including a mock draft.
1st-Round Mock Draft
1. Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power, D, Michigan
2. Seattle Kraken: Matthew Beniers, C, Michigan
3. Anaheim Ducks: Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL)
4. New Jersey Devils: Luke Hughes, D, USA NTDP
5. Columbus Blue Jackets: Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL)
6. Detroit Red Wings: Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea (SHL)
7. San Jose Sharks: William Eklund, LW, Djurgardens (SHL)
8. Los Angeles Kings: Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie (OHL)
9. Vancouver Canucks: Kent Johnson, C, Michigan
10. Ottawa Senators: Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago (USHL)
11. Forfeited pick (previously belonged to Arizona Coyotes)
12. Chicago Blackhawks: Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL)
13. Calgary Flames: Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls (USHL)
14. Philadelphia Flyers: Fyodor Svechkov, C, Togliatti (VHL)
15. Dallas Stars: Chaz Lucius, C, USA NTDP
16. New York Rangers: Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint (OHL)
17. St. Louis Blues: Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL)
18. Winnipeg Jets: Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL)
19. Nashville Predators: Isak Rosen, RW, Leksands (SHL)
20. Edmonton Oilers: Nikita Chibrikov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
21. Boston Bruins: Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski (QMJHL)
22. Minnesota Wild: Fabian Lysell, RW, Lulea (SHL)
23. Detroit Red Wings (via Washington Capitals): Olen Zellweger, D, Everett (WHL)
24. Florida Panthers: Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
25. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Toronto Maple Leafs): Aatu Raty, C, Karpat (Liiga)
26. Minnesota Wild (via Pittsburgh Penguins): Jack Peart, D, Fargo (USHL)
27. Carolina Hurricanes: Shai Buium, D, Sioux City (USHL)
28. Colorado Avalanche: Oskar Olausson, RW, HV71 (SHL)
29. New Jersey Devils (via New York Islanders): Kirill Kirsanov, D, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
30. Vegas Golden Knights: Daniil Chayka, D, Guelph (OHL)
31. Montreal Canadiens: Logan Stankoven, C, Kamloops (WHL)
32. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Tampa Bay Lightning): Sasha Pastujov, RW, USA NTDP
Will Sabres Take Power as Expected at No. 1?
It seems highly likely that the Sabres will take Michigan defenseman Owen Power to begin the draft. However, they haven't been tipping their hand, leaving open the possibilities of going a different route.
"Lots of conversations. Lots of different scenarios," Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams said, per John Wawrow of the Associated Press. "We're willing to listen to every possible thing that's going to get our franchise pointed in the right direction."
Still, Power should be the player taken at No. 1 overall. The Sabres haven't made the playoffs since 2011, but if they build their future defense around Power and Rasmus Dahlin (the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft), they could have a core to help them have sustained success in the long term.
Most mock drafts have Power going to Buffalo to start the draft. Don't expect any surprises, as the Sabres will keep it simple by taking the best available player on the board.
Who Will Kraken Take with Franchise's 1st Draft Pick?
The Kraken have had a busy week. On Wednesday, they added 30 players in the expansion draft, taking one from 30 other NHL teams. (The Vegas Golden Knights were exempt.) Now, Seattle is another step closer to its inaugural season.
However, the Kraken still have more work to do this offseason. That includes making the first draft picks in franchise history, beginning with the No. 2 overall selection in the first round. While Power is likely to be off the board, Seattle will be able to pick from every other player in the draft class.
"It’s obviously a different feel and a different entity, but equally as exciting coming out of the entry draft with players, some that may be able to help us sooner than later, no doubt, but definitely are the future of our team," Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said, per Wawrow.
Although Seattle will miss out on Power, it will have a chance to take one of his Michigan teammates. Matthew Beniers, an 18-year-old center, is the top offensive prospect in this year's class, and it's probable that the Kraken will make him the No. 2 overall pick.
Could There Be Some Surprise Selections Early?
Since March 2020, the sports world has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Although the NHL organized and got through the 2020-21 season, there were some hockey leagues around the world that weren't able to play as usual.
What's more, it's been difficult to travel, so NHL scouts had their work affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Because of that, it's possible that the league's 32 teams could have differing opinions on some prospects. And that could lead to some surprises on draft weekend.
"What you're going to see is [the draft] to go all over the board," Flyers assistant GM Brent Flahr said, per ESPN's Greg Wyshynski. "I think there are a number of players that media outlets have not seen a lot of. But teams have done their homework. You have some players that didn't even play this year. So you're going to see variances."
That means mock drafts could quickly fall apart, depending on how teams view different prospects. But there should also be plenty of excitement, because it's always fun to have surprises and uncertainty during the draft.