2021 NHL Draft Results: Full Grades Review for All Franchises

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJuly 25, 2021

2021 NHL Draft Results: Full Grades Review for All Franchises

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    The 2021 NHL draft began with the Buffalo Sabres taking Michigan defenseman Owen Power on Friday. It ended when the Tampa Bay Lightning selected Finnish forward Niko Huuhtanen on Saturday.

    Between those two picks, 221 other players were drafted during the seven-round event, which was held in a virtual format for the second year in a row because of the coronavirus pandemic. That didn't dampen the excitement of the players and teams, though, as another wave of young talent moved closer to the NHL ranks.

    Many of these prospects won't be entering the league in the near future. It will take time before most are ready to make an impact in the NHL. However, it's not too early to evaluate how the league's 32 teams appear to have done with their selections in the draft.

    Here's a list of grades for all 32 teams for the players they selected during the 2021 NHL draft.

NHL Draft Grades

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    David Zalubowski/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- 

Kraken Complete 1st Draft in Franchise History

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    Sergei Grits/Associated Press

    Two days after selecting 30 players during the expansion draft, the Seattle Kraken went to work in the NHL draft for the first time. Using its seven selections, Seattle added a group of prospects who could help the franchise achieve success in the future.

    The Kraken's most exciting draft selection is Michigan center Matthew Beniers, who was the first offensive player taken at No. 2 overall. Whether this was a successful draft for Seattle will likely highly depend on Beniers' development and if he can realize his potential.

    "Being drafted in the first place, going second overall and going to a new expansion team, I’m so unbelievably excited and thankful for everything," Beniers said, per Tim Booth of the Associated Press.

    On the other side, the Kraken should be thrilled that they landed a player who has the potential to become a top scorer for them at some point. It may not happen too soon (especially if Beniers goes back to Michigan for another season), but it was still an exciting way for Seattle to make its first draft selection.

Trades Shook Up the Draft, Especially in 1st Round

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    It's difficult to predict how the NHL draft is going to unfold. It's even more challenging to guess which teams may not even use their picks and instead trade selections to rivals. And during Friday's opening round, the draft order had some big shakeups.

    The Buffalo Sabres traded defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Columbus Blue Jackets dealt defenseman Seth Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks. And the Arizona Coyotes sent both defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and forward Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks. But in return, those teams landed draft picks that could pay huge dividends.

    Because of the trades, Buffalo and Columbus each came away from the first round with multiple players. Both teams now boast numerous top prospects from this year's draft class, which could lead to big things for the franchises down the line.

    Arizona didn't even start with a first-round pick, losing its selection because of combine-testing violations in 2019-20.

    These trades seem to be beneficial to all parties. And for the teams that landed draft picks, all three did a great job of adding players who should develop into key contributors.

Devils Unite Luke Hughes with Older Brother

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    When the New Jersey Devils took Luke Hughes with the No. 4 overall pick, they added one of the top defensemen in this year's draft class. They also acquired the younger brother of one of their former top draft selections.

    In 2019, New Jersey took center Jack Hughes with the No. 1 overall pick. And now, the siblings could be part of the franchise's core for years to come.

    "It's a dream come true to play in the NHL, and it's also a dream come true to play with your brother," the younger Hughes said, per Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press.

    But New Jersey's selection of Hughes was more than just a feel-good pick. After playing for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, he should end up becoming a strong defenseman for the team to build around in the future.

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