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Alex Medina takes a shot at predicting the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft

by ALEX MEDINA @alex_medina5 /

Ahead of the draft, which will be held virtually July 23 & 24,'s Alex Medina took a shot at predicting the first round:

1. Buffalo Sabres - William Eklund - LW - Djurgarden (SHL)

Stating things off with a twist! It was an impressive season for the Swede, earning SHL Rookie of the Year honours with 23 points (11G, 12A) in 40 games showcasing his skill, speed and best of all his creativity. When the puck is on his stick, he already knows what he is going to do and that serves well when running out of time and space. Even when he doesn't have the puck he makes an impact, pressuring opponents to turn it over. There's so much he can do to help make his team better and although he will go back to the SHL for another year, he very well could play in the NHL right away.

2. Seattle Kraken - Owen Power - D - Michigan (NCAA)

Adding a potential top-two defenceman in Power would go a long way for the Kraken. The 6-foot-6 rearguard who has the smooth skating and skill to back up his size, has the potential to be an all-around 200-foot defenceman in the league and play in all situations. His ability to read the ice and seamlessly transition into the offence is done with such ease and defensively he possesses great gap control and effective at separating the puck away from skaters.



3. Anaheim Ducks - Matty Beniers - C - Michigan (NCAA)

Beniers plays a very well-rounded game with his hard working style always seeming to be involved in the play in all three zones. He never stops moving his feet and is one of the smartest players in the entire draft, making him any coaches dream player to have. His all-around game can see him play any role whether it's creating something offensively or shutting down the other top lines, never seeming to be out of position or a step behind. Not to mention what a one-two punch down the middle the Ducks would have with Trevor Zegras and Beniers.

4. New Jersey Devils - Luke Hughes - D - USA U-18 (NTDP)

Funny how things just seem to work out. It'll be hard for the Devils to pass on another Hughes, especially in Luke who is arguably the best skater in the draft. He uses his skating to break into transition in a flash and showcases excellent vision and patience with the puck. Whether it's quick passes out of danger or long stretch passes, he can execute them all consistently which is something that every team would love to have in their pipeline of prospects. His season may have been cut short due to injury but there's no denying when healthy how valuable he is.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets - Brandt Clarke - D - Barrie (OHL)

An offensive defenceman with soft hands who isn't afraid to drive the play, Clarke has all the tools to be the go to point producer on the blueline. He oozes confidence with the puck on his stick in both ends and is very creative with the puck in getting it to his teammates in open space. He is very deceptive with the puck making him a dream to quarterback a powerplay. When he went to play in Slovakia against men, he really looked comfortable as the season went on finishing with 15 points in 26 games.

6. Detroit Red Wings - Mason McTavish - C - Peterborough (OHL)

With the size and strength that are NHL-ready, McTavish is just as equal parts skill as he is toughness. The centreman has smooth mitts to confidently stick handle with the puck into the offensive zone while being impossible to knock off. His shot is crazy fast and powerful, using the dangerous shot to score consistently in transition, off turnovers in front and with one-timers. With an impressive 11 points (5G, 6A) at the U-18's his stock rose significantly especially with his season in Switzerland on a loan with EHC Olten, ending with nine goals and 11 points in 13 games.

7. San Jose Sharks - Jesper Wallstedt - G - Lulea (SHL)

The Sharks bite (pun intended) on selecting Wallstedt, giving them a franchise goaltender for years to come. The 6-foot-3 puck stopper already looks NHL ready and has the size that clubs seek for. There is such calmness to his game and he has excellent positioning, always set to make the stop. He plays with a lot confidence, is excellent at tracking the puck making each save look so easy and outstanding rebound control for such a young goaltender. Wallstedt is very well rounded and has proven why the hype is real.



Mock Draft - Dittrick | Mock Draft - Peterson


8. LA Kings - Simon Edvinsson - D - Frolunda (SHL)

With a boatload of talent in the prospect pool up front, the Kings land a high-potential prospect in Edvinsson for their defensive group. Edvinsson skates so fluidly, making it look effortless, which is even more impressive considering he towers at 6-foot-4. He has no problem moving the puck in transition and jumping up into the rush stays calm under pressure each time. He possesses a ton of offensive upsideand that paired with his mobility could see him develop into a top two defenceman that can be counted on in various situations.

9. Vancouver Canucks - Dylan Guenther - RW - Edmonton (WHL)

A threat playing on and off the puck, look out when he unloads his wicked shot. Guenther is a very well rounded forward, being a strong skater, great at puck control and defensively has a hunger and relentless drive to get the puck back and run off in transition. His goal scoring is what leaps right at you as he had 12 goals in as many goals this season and even as a 16-year-old the campaign prior, posted 26 points and 59 points in 58 tilts, quickly becoming a star for the Oil Kings.



10. Ottawa Senators - Kent Johnson - C - Michigan (NCAA)

There may not be anyone else in the draft class who think the way Johnson does. He seems to think a million steps ahead, processing what to do with the puck on his stick. He can make magic happen out of nothing with his incredible creativity, thriving best with the puck on his stick. Adding some strength will push him even further with the potential to be a top-point producer for the club that takes him. After all, he did light up the BCHL two years ago with 101 points in just 52 games. 

11. Forfeited Pick

The NHL directed the forfeiture of this pick in sanctions against the Arizona Coyotes.

12. Chicago Blackhawks - Fabian Lysell - RW - Lulea (SHL)

With an insane quick step that helps him reach his top speed seamlessly, Lysell zips around the ice with ease finding open space. He can play fast but when needed, he can slow the pace down really dictating to what he wants to do. While on the rush he is a constant threat, he is just as dangerous when cycling playing keep away with his puck handling before zipping crisp accurate passes. With quick feet and hands he is a dynamic offensive threat being able to create for himself and others with a strong work ethic to go along with the boatload of skill. 

13. Calgary Flames - Cole Sillinger - C - Sioux Falls (USHL)

With elite creativity, Sillinger is someone you always notice when he is on the ice. He has great vision with the puck being able to set up teammates even in tight space and has one of the best shots in the draft. The way he understands the game is a treat to watch as he finds creative ways to create scoring chances. Even as a 16-year-old, Sillinger blossomed into the go-to guy for the Medicine Hat Tigers, constantly driving the play or finishing it off ending with 53 points in 48 games. This past season, his stock rose even more with 46 points in 31 games while skating in the USHL.   

14. Philadelphia Flyers - Chaz Lucius - C - USA U-18 (NTDP)

A pure goal scorer, Lucius has a lethal shot with power and accuracy behind it and a knack of picking the top corners consistently. With 13 goals in as many games this past season, he shows great patience with the puck as he skates into the offensive zone and his playmaking has improved significantly making him a constant threat when he has possession. His improved passing leaves defenders play a dangerous guessing game in what to give him.

15. Dallas Stars - Logan Stankoven - C - Kamloops (WHL)

Don't let his size (5-foot-8) scare you away, this kid is going to be one of the steals of the draft. Stankoven took the WHL by storm as a 16-year-old a year ago, with 29 goals in 59 games. He followed it up with seven markers in six contests in the 'Dub and in seven games collected eight points at the U-18's. He always finding ways to get into high danger spots and finish it off with his great shot. He plays with a high-motor in all three zones, playing with an aggression to win possession on and has blistering foot speed. 

16. New York Rangers - Aatu Raty - C - Karpat (Liiga)

He's seen his stock dip after a tough season statistically, but there's no questioning the potential. A year ago he was considered a possible first overall pick and with reason being an outstanding playmaker pulling off feeds on his forehand and backhand with ease. He is at his best when the puck is on is stick with excellent vision and fast hands to stickhandle away from defenders before setting up the play. A high risk, high reward pick that could pay off immensely in the end.



17. St. Louis Blues - Corson Ceulemans - D - Brooks (AJHL)

Right-shot defenceman are always highly sought after in the NHL. Ones that can drive the play are even better. Ceulemans is a great skater which he uses to his advantage to create opportunities for himself and others as he comfortably plays in transition. His game is heavy and aggressive and he is always looking to get involved especially offensively, keeping his feet moving to make himself an option and support the puck. Defensively he can angle skaters away and uses great body positioning to prevent skaters from cutting to the inside.

17. Winnipeg Jets - Carson Lambos - D - Winnipeg (WHL)

His season came to an end early due to injury but a year ago there was a reason why he was considered a top-five pick. He's an agile skater that plays in all situations thanks to his calm and collected approach. He brings great awareness wherever he is always making sure the pass he is making is the best option to take while being in the right spots defensively to break up the play. Whether needing to push for a goal or defend a lead, he can be trusted in big moments to play to the situation. 

19. Nashville Predators - Matthew Coronato - RW - Chicago (USHL)

An offensive threat every time he's out on the ice, with an outstanding transition game, Coronato is a danger with the puck on his stick as he can easily do it all himself or set up his teammates. A highly competitive player that never takes his foot on the gas, his bread and butter is leading the charge offensively but he can just as easily be trusted in the defensive end and on the penalty kill with his relentless play. With 85 points in 51 games, he is just as equal levels effective as he is reliable.

20. Edmonton Oilers - Brennan Othmann - LW - Flint (OHL)

The speedy winger can do it all offensively with his toolset. With a powerful shot that he can unleash from anywhere, Othmann is an excellent puck carrier with the ability to keep it simple or use some flash to open up space. He is an underrated playmaker largely because he can light up the lamp himself. The 6-foot forward plays with some grit as well and can adapt easily to playing with the puck or off of it making him versatile in any situation.  

21. Boston Bruins - Francesco Pinelli - C - Kitchener (OHL)

A player that is always looking to make a big impact, Pinelli keeps defenders on their toes with his deceptiveness and seemingly finds open ice even when it seems there is none. He's an excellent passer getting them through tight coverage and loves driving the play using his outstanding edgework to push the pace. In 7 games at the U-18's he impressed with 11 points, tied for fifth in tournament scoring.

22. Minnesota Wild - Fedor Svechkov - C - Togliatti (VHL)

Being one of the most well rounded forwards of the draft, Svechkov really focuses in on the details of the game to excel. He is a very responsible centre who plays consistent at both ends, highlighted by his strong defensive game stealing pucks and breaking up the play. Offensively he is very comfortable handling the puck, drawing pressure from defenders to then find the open man or getting into the slot to finish. He had a strong season playing against men in the VHL with 15 points in 38 games.



23. Detroit Red Wings (via Washington) - Sebastian Cossa - G - Edmonton (WHL)

And there it is, the second netminder to be taken in the first round. Cossa has been lights out in his first two seasons in the WHL, with a career 1.20 GAA and .935 save percentage. Not only does he bring size, standing at 6-foot-6, but also amazing athleticism, strong positioning and excellent rebound control. What's also to love about his game is his calm demeanor, never rattled and keeping the same approach to his game regardless what the score may be. He has all the tools to be a potential franchise goaltender.

24. Florida Panthers - Xavier Bourgault - C - Shawinigan (QMJHL)

With amazing puck handling skills that can beat any defender, Bourgault has a lot of tools to threaten to score each time out. He has great puck control and protection, creating space for himself consistently and isn't shy to pull dekes out of nowhere to dazzle. A creative attacker with tremendous footwork, he's lit it up with the Characters with career totals of 131points in 154 games, highlighted by 60 goals. 

25. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Toronto) - Zachary Bolduc - C - Rimouski (QMJHL)

With the ability to control the pace, Bolduc always seems to make the right play and showcases tremendous poise. He's developed a reputation of being a sniper and for good reason with 40 career goals in 82 games, but this past season saw him emphasis playmaking into his arsenal with 19 of his 29 points being assists. Particularly on the rush, he shows great patience in finding the right option and plays it cool when under pressure to still setup teammates.

26. Minnesota Wild (via Pittsburgh) - Nikita Chibrikov - RW - Neva St. Petersburg (VHL)

A very talented playmaker, Chibrikov is always looking to set up teammates with his excellent vision once he enters the offensive end. He has the speed to back it up as well, as if he is given too much time and space he can easily beat defenders wide. Standing at 5-foot-10, his size could see him slip a bit but doesn't hold him back but playing in the VHL and KHL this past year saw him show great pose and composure with the puck and a high competitive drive.

27. Carolina Hurricanes - Isak Rosen - RW - Leksand (SHL)

Blink and you might miss him. Rosen is a quick player who always keeps his feet moving in the offensive zone looking to create space for himself and teammates at all times. With great puck handling especially while moving at full speed, he also has proven to be reliable in the neutral and defensive end. He'll need to add strength to excel at the pro level but even so, he has shown no fear in getting into board battles and fights hard to win possession. 

28. Colorado Avalanche - Oskar Olausson - RW - HV71 (SHL)

There is no shortage of creative wingers in this draft and Olausson keeps the trend going. With this strong puck skills and agility, the Swede time and time again creates separation for himself which he uses to either patiently wait for the play to develop or fire himself. He always looks for different ways to enter the zone, making it hard for defenders to guess what he will do and slow him down. Yet another talented player for the Avs to groom into being a top-six forward.

29. New Jersey Devils (via New York) - Sasha Pastujov - LW - USA U-18 (NTDP)

Pastujov plays the game so smooth that he makes it look effortless. He has a great ability in slowing the game down while working under pressure from multiple defenders and never seems fazed by it. His work on the power play is impressive along with his shot especially with his one-timer, as showcased with 30 of his 65 points this season being goals. A very strong stickhandler, he can be trusted to drive the play and find the open man consistently.



30. Vegas Golden Knights - Zachary L'Heureux - LW - Halifax (QMJHL)

A heavy hitting power forward with a lot of bite to his game, L'Heureux is a prospect which any team would love to have and one that others would hate to face. He dominates battles in the corner, knocking opponents down with heavy hits while being near impossible to knock off thanks to his balance and overall strength. And then there's his shot, a quick and powerful wrister saw him post 19 goals in just 33 games this season while notching with 39 points overall.

31. Montreal Canadiens - Simon Robertsson - RW - Skelleftea (SuperElit)

With good size and strength, Robertsson is relentless in his pursuit of the puck and has shown great awareness in all three zones. A strong work ethic mixed with great skill makes him a player you can throw out at any time and know that you'll get a full effort from him every shift. He is very well rounded, posing as a threat when crossing the opponents blueline knowing where his teammates are, and quick decision making in firing a pass, shot or keeping possession of it and waiting for the perfect time to attack.

32. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Tampa) - Samu Tuomaala - RW - Karpat Jr. (Jr. A SM-Liiga)

Closing out the first round with a sharpshooter. Tuomaala's wrist shot is a thing of beauty with how quick, powerful and accurate it is and with this he is always looking to let it fly. He has good vision to find open spots in the holes of defenders and even with the puck he is capable of hard passes on the money. There is definitely top-six upside with more consistency needed to reach that potential but with that shot of his, he very easily can accomplish that.

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