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DRAFT: Top Forward Prospects in the 2021 NHL Draft

Get to know some of the top forwards available in the 2021 NHL Draft

by Staff /

It's officially NHL Draft week once again and as the Blackhawks get set to make their first-round selection on Friday night, it's time to get familiar with some of the top prospects available in this year's class. 

We kick off the week taking a look at the forward crop, as ranked by NHL Central Scouting in their final 2021 lists. 

Here are some of the top names that could be available when Chicago goes on the clock at No. 12 overall: 

North American Skaters

1. Mason McTavish, C (Peterborough - OHL)

  • "Considered a bullish, physically mature, throwback type, two-way centre who can still snipe but goes to the hard areas to get his goals. He was outstanding at the U-18 World Championship." - Bob McKenzie, TSN
  • "McTavish is a competitive, heavyset player with an NHL shot and a middle-lane approach. He's going to need to work to stay in top shape throughout his career… he's got a real case to be taken in the draft's first half-dozen picks." - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

2. Kent Johnson, C (Michigan - NCAA)

  • "The player you want to know about in this year's draft in terms of dynamic skill and playmaking ability… A very creative playmaker who can make difficult plays in small areas consistently but can overcomplicate at times… projects as a top-line NHL forward, likely on the wing, who has the most star potential in the draft but also has the most significant physical drawbacks of the top prospects." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic
  • "A high-end playmaker with great vision and some flair to his game. He's elusive carrying the puck and has elite vision and passing skills. He also showed his versatility this season, excelling on the wing and at center." - Adam Kimelman, 

3. Dylan Guenther, RW (Edmonton - WHL)

  • "Guenther is a highly skilled, elite goal scorer who is quick on his skates. He scored seven points (four goals, three assists) and had 34 shots on goal in seven games for first-place Canada at the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championship." - Mike Morreale,
  • "A scorer who can make plays and is most dangerous off the rush. His vision, skill, shot and hockey sense are all way above average, and he wants to be a difference-maker every time he's on the ice… Scouts believe his goal-scoring ability could make a top-line NHL threat." - Bob McKenzie, TSN

4. Matthew Beniers, C (Michigan - NCAA)

  • "An outstanding skater who is as relentless on the forecheck as he is on the backcheck. He was a key piece in the United States' win at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship as the youngest player on the roster and didn't look out of place playing with and against NHL players with the U.S. at the 2021 IIHF World Championship." - Adam Kimelman, 
  • "In a draft class full of players who don't necessarily play pro-style games, Beniers' is built for the next level. He's a plus-level skater who gallops around the ice, plays on the inside, pushes tempo in transition, and drives possession with his ability to win the game's 10-foot races." - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

5. Brennan Othmann, LW (Flint - OHL)

  • "Othman is a strong forechecker who is able to create scoring chances because of his speed and willingness to play physical and has a quick release on a strong shot." - Adam Kimelman, 
  • "A mini growth spurt along with an improvement in skating led to a great U18. Scored 16 points in 34 games on loan to EHC Olten in Switzerland this season." - Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet

6. Matthew Coronato, RW (Chicago - USHL)

  • "An absolute bulldog who hunts pucks and knows exactly what to do with them afterwards. Scored 48 goals in 51 games with the Steel this season, and added nine more in eight playoff games." - Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet
  • "There's no questioning Coronato's effort level or his ability to make something happen in the home-plate area. He's a determined, feisty player with the small-area skill package needed to play that kind of game. He's also got rare spatial awareness which helps him understand where he is in relation to pressure and play off of it." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

7. Cole Sillinger, C (Sioux Falls, USHL)

  • "A smart player, who can make seam passes consistently and make creative plays due to his great hands and offensive IQ… He wins battles, gets to the net, is reliable defensively and doesn't shy from playing physically." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic
  • "He's a strong skater capable of controlling the pace of the game with the puck on his stick. His father is former NHL forward Mike Sillinger, who played 1,049 games with 12 NHL teams." - Adam Kimelman, 

8. Chaz Lucius, C (U.S. NTDP)

  • "One of the best goal scorers in the draft… An underrated playmaker and passer who understands how to play pucks into space when he draws pressure. He can find pockets inside the offensive zone to get open into when he doesn't have the puck, and uses opposing defenders as decoys when he does." - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
  • "One of the most purely skilled players in the draft, with elite one-on-one skills and the ability to make defenders miss. He is known for his goal scoring, but he has good vision and can find seams and create in tight areas… Projects as a strong top-six NHL forward who can be on a top power-play unit in a bumper/net position." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

European Skaters

1. William Eklund, LW (Djurgarden - SWE)

  • "In terms of overall offensive impact - scoring, making plays, quickness, agility, hunting and battling for pucks in the offensive zone - he is in the conversation for highest ceiling. His engine revs high all the time and the skill level is high, too." - Bob McKenzie, TSN
  • "He showed top-end offensive skill combined with the ability to win battles along the boards and held up well against physical play in the SHL." - Adam Kimelman, 

2. Aatu Raty, C (Karpat - FIN)

  • "All the tools to be a high-end playmaker, with great hands and puck management skills, and his size helps him win battles along the boards. He needs to find more consistency in his game, but with further maturity and development he could grow into a solid middle-six center." - Adam Kimelman, 
  • "A pro frame, quick hands, and a hard wrist shot… When he's engaged and active, he can be an effective forechecker who wins back possession and then makes plays off of the wall to the interior. When he's playing with confidence with the puck, he's also got the tools needed to create high-danger attempts for himself." - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

3. Nikita Chibrikov, RW (St. Petersburg - RUS)

  • "The 18-year-old left-handed shot is a playmaker with great speed and strong edges who can handle the puck and backcheck." - Mike Morreale,
  • "Tremendous playmaking ability (and) ability to win battles despite his size. He can make slick one-on-one plays, creative plays under pressure and find seams consistently. He's physical and responsible defensively."- Corey Pronman, The Athletic

4. Fedor Svechkov, C (St. Petersburg - RUS)

  • "Reliable, hard-working two-way competitor with a good shot, smart passing ability, an improved skater and effective penalty killer. Svechkov scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) in seven games for second-place Russia at the U-18 World Championship." - Mike Morreale,
  • "Solid, steady, two-way player whose game may get overlooked because it lacks a dynamic element." - Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet

5. Aleksandr Kisakov, LW (Dynamo Moscow 2 - RUS-JR)

  • "One of the more fun players to watch in the draft because he's never actually in trouble with the puck on his stick, and regularly pulls and drags it through feet to beat the same defender twice… Ability to change directions, adjust on his edges in control to hang onto the puck under pressure, and flurry around the offensive zone to wreak havoc make him a first-round talent." - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
  • "Not that big or quick, but he projects to play at higher levels because of how hard he works. Kisakov attacks the net frequently, getting a lot of goals around the crease area. He pressures puck carriers well and kills penalties. He will endear himself to coaches with his effort to go with his skill. In a sentence, Kisakov projects as a bottom-six NHL winger." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic


Tune in Friday at 7 p.m. CT as the 2021 NHL Draft gets underway on ESPN 2 and Sportsnet 

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