NHL Draft 2021: Team-by-Team Results, Grades and Analysis

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJuly 25, 2021

NHL Draft 2021: Team-by-Team Results, Grades and Analysis

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    Sergei Grits/Associated Press

    Over seven rounds spanning Friday and Saturday, there were 223 players taken during the 2021 NHL draft. Now, the event is over, and these prospects are one step closer to making it to the NHL.

    It will take some players longer than others to reach the top level. There may have been some future stars taken during the draft, as well as some busts. But we won't know which players were steals or reaches for several years. For now, there's nothing but a ton of potential among the players who have joined the NHL's 32 franchises.

    Still, it's clear which teams may have fared better than others during the draft. And while final grades can't be given until we know how these players' careers pan out, we can assess how things appeared to have gone at this point given the knowledge and scouting reports we have.

    With the draft over—complete results available at NHL.com—here are grades for all 32 teams, as well as some analysis of the franchises that appear to have come away with the best classes.

NHL Draft Grades

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    Anaheim Ducks: B

    Arizona Coyotes: A-

    Boston Bruins: B

    Buffalo Sabres: A

    Calgary Flames: B

    Carolina Hurricanes: C+

    Chicago Blackhawks: C+

    Colorado Avalanche: C

    Columbus Blue Jackets: A

    Dallas Stars: B+

    Detroit Red Wings: A-

    Edmonton Oilers: C-

    Florida Panthers: C-

    Los Angeles Kings: B-

    Minnesota Wild: B

    Montreal Canadiens: F

    Nashville Predators: A-

    New Jersey Devils: B+

    New York Islanders: B-

    New York Rangers: C+

    Ottawa Senators: C-

    Philadelphia Flyers: C

    Pittsburgh Penguins: D

    San Jose Sharks: A-

    Seattle Kraken: B

    St. Louis Blues: C+

    Tampa Bay Lightning: D

    Toronto Maple Leafs: D

    Vancouver Canucks: D-

    Vegas Golden Knights: B-

    Washington Capitals: D+

    Winnipeg Jets: B-

Buffalo Sabres: A

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    David Duprey/Associated Press

    First, the Sabres did the obvious by taking Michigan defenseman Owen Power with the No. 1 overall pick. It may not have been a surprise, but if Buffalo had gone a different route, it likely would have been the wrong decision. Power seems to be the best player in this class, and he could become a key part of the team's core.

    Buffalo didn't stop there Friday night. It acquired a second first-round selection by dealing Rasmus Ristolainen to Philadelphia in exchange for the No. 14 pick, which it used to land Swedish forward Isak Rosen. It was a great move that gives the Sabres another young prospect to build around.

    "He's an outstanding skater, too, and can get great separation from skaters—one or two steps, which is so key in this game," NHL Network's Kevin Weekes said, per Chris Ryndak of the Sabres' official site. "Because the pace is so high, it's harder and harder to find seams to be able to make plays and he complements that skating ability with his shot."

    On Saturday, the Sabres added a few more high-potential players, including Russian wings Prokhor Poltapov and Aleksandr Kisakov in the second round.

    Buffalo came away with a lot of talented young players, some of whom could be key in helping the team return to the playoffs after missing out every year since 2011.

Columbus Blue Jackets: A

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    It's not too surprising that the Columbus Blue Jackets came out of the draft with one of the best classes. They owned three first-round picks, so they had opportunities to add numerous strong prospects Friday night. And Columbus did a great job of capitalizing on those selections.

    The Blue Jackets added two top offensive prospects in Kent Johnson (No. 5 pick) and Cole Sillinger (No. 12) before taking defenseman Corson Ceulemans at No. 25. It's a strong trio, and all three have the potential to make it to the NHL and be contributors.

    That might not be for several years, but Columbus isn't going to rush its draft picks to the NHL.

    "We look at who we think will have the best career," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said, per Bailey Johnson of The Columbus Dispatch. "... It's not a sprint. It's a marathon for who's going to make the bigger impact on the organization."

    There's a good chance that Columbus' patience will pay dividends for the franchise down the line considering the talent of these top prospects.

Arizona Coyotes: A-

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Considering the Arizona Coyotes didn't even own a first-round pick when Friday began, the draft went better for the franchise than anybody could have expected. And that's because Arizona completed a big trade that could help it rebuild into a contending team.

    In a trade that sent captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks, the Coyotes acquired the No. 9 pick in this year's draft among the return package. They used that selection to land forward Dylan Guenther, a prospect who was predicted to get taken earlier in many mocks.

    "He's really exciting because he's really well-rounded. He can score. He can make plays. He can go to the net. He can do it all," Arizona general manager Bill Armstrong said, per Alex Kinkopf of the Coyotes' official site. "He can play on the power play, and he can kill penalties. He's just a player who has a huge impact when he's on your team because he can jump into so many different roles."

    With Guenther and other prospects such as forwards Josh Doan and Ilya Fedotov and defenseman Janis Moser (the latter three all being second-round selections), Arizona brought in a group of players with a ton of potential. And in the future, we may look back at this draft as a pivotal turning point in the Coyotes' fortunes.


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