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2021 MOCK DRAFT - RYAN DITTRICK

Ryan Dittrick takes a shot at predicting the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

Ahead of the draft, which will be held virtually July 23 & 24, CalgaryFlames.com's Ryan Dittrick took a shot at predicting the first round:

 

 

1. Buffalo Sabres - Owen Power - D - Michigan (NCAA)

No surprise. In a year unlike any other in the scouting business, Power left an immediate and long-lasting impression on everyone online. The 6-foot-6, 213-lb. defenceman plays in all situations, combining his elite skating ability with an incredible head for the game. As a freshman with the University of Michigan, the Mississauga native tallied 16 points (3G, 13A) in 26 games, before playing big minutes on the international stage and winning gold with Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane at the 2021 IIHF World Hockey Championship.

2. Seattle Kraken - Dylan Guenther - RW - Edmonton (WHL)

Two words: Complete package. With a good chunk of Seattle's first-ever NHL roster pieced together at the July 21 expansion draft, what better way to follow it up than to immediate stock the cupboards with one of the best players in this year's class? Simply put, Guenther has it all. The shot. The wheels. The engine that makes him one of the WHL's premier competitors. Known primarily as a goal-scorer, 6-foot-2, 175-lb. winger has an elite shot that can beat goalies from long range or in tight, and is most threatening off the rush, using his wheels to beat defenders one-on-one and gain entry into the offensive zone. In 12 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings this year, Guenther had 12 goals and 24 points.

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

Beniers played alongside fellow top prospects Owen Power and Kent Johnson at the University of Michigan, finishing third in team scoring with an impressive 24 points (10G, 14A) in as many games. The Hingham, Mass. native is a powerful two-way pivot that plays at a high pace and will scratch and claw for every inch of ice in the trenches. A no-brainer in the Top 3. In fact, mock drafts have him going at No. 2.

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

Over in Vancouver, older-brother Quinn might be feeling a bit left out - but the youngest of the three apple-cheeked Hughes boys could be reunited with the middle sibling on the opposite coast. "It would be unbelievable to go to the Devils," Luke said of the possibility. "My brother (Jack) clearly wants me to be there. That'd be super cool to play with him, and I'd love that." By now, 'skating' has become synonymous with the Hughes family name. Luke is no different. He also a great first pass and the vision, poise, and attention to detail that his two brothers have made famous in their short time on the big stage.

 

Mock Draft - Peterson | Mock Draft - Medina

 

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

With Hughes off the board, this - in my eyes, anyway - is a no-brainer for the Jackets, who have a need to fill on the backend. At 6-foot-2 and 185 lbs., Clarke is an exceptional two-way defender that can either skate his way out of trouble and into attack mode, or kickstart the offence with a great first pass. With the OHL shut down for the past year, Clarke honed his talents in Slovakia and played a smart, physical game against older, more seasoned professionals. In 26 games, he had five goals and 15 points.

6. Detroit Red Wings - William Eklund - LW - Djurgarden (SHL)

With Brayden Point and Cole Caufield turning heads in the Stanley Cup Final, and Johnny Gaudreau and Mangiapane doing great things right here in our own backyard, the 'undersized' argument can officially take a hike. At 5-foot-10 and 172 lbs., Eklund isn't the biggest player in this year's draft - but he certainly is one of the most talented. With 11 goals and 23 points in 40 games this year, the scrappy left-winger was named the Swedish Hockey League's Rookie of the Year. A superb playmaker with a hard, accurate release, Eklund is a threat anywhere on the ice.

 

 

7. San Jose Sharks - Mason McTavish - C - Peterborough (OHL)

Skill. Speed. Size. McTavish has all three and then some, possessing one of the most 'NHL-ready' builds in the entire first round. But as we noted with a player like Eklund, a player's frame is only part of the equation. What McTavish does well - perhaps better than anyone else in the Top 10 - is score goals. Two years ago, he had 29 tucks in 57 games with the OHL's Peterborough Petes. But with the 'O' shut down this year, he was forced to take his talents elsewhere - landing, eventually, with Olten-EHC of the top Swiss pro league. There, he appeared in only 13 games, but left the Alps with nine goals to his name. Not bad!

8. LA Kings - Cole Sillinger - C - Sioux Falls (USHL)

With the WHL's delayed start to the season, Sillinger was released by the Medicine Hat Tigers and played the entire campaign with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. There, he led the team with 24 goals and 46 points - 11 points clear of the second-place finisher in 19 fewer games. (Yes, you read that right.) Sillinger is lauded for his creativity and puck skills, and is one of the few players in this year's class that can truly become an offensive threat in almost any area of the ice. He isn't overly fast when it comes to straight-line speed, but is great on his edges and attacks in a way that's eerily similar to Mathew Barzal.

9. Vancouver Canucks - Simon Edvinsson - D - Frolunda (SHL)

It's easy to see why Edvinsson would look up to players like Miro Heiskanen and Cale Maker, along with fellow Swedes Victor Hedman, Rasmus Dahlin, and Hockey Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom. They all possess one incredible, almost effortless quality that makes them unique: "Their skating, for sure," Edvinsson says. The 6-foot-4, 198-lb. blueliner is a wonderful skater that can not only cover a big chunk of real estate with only a few, fluid strides, but he can attack in similar fashion - breaking the puck out and slaloming his way through the neutral zone, before gaining the blueline and holding off defenders with a push to the outside. It's beautiful to watch.

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

With Power and Beniers earning much of the pre-draft chatter, you better not sleep on the 'other' Michigan prospect. In fact, Johnson out-scored Beniers by three points to finish second in team scoring with 27 points (9G, 18A) in 26 games this year! The B.C.-born centre is an exceptional puck-handler that works the half walls like a magician, daring defenders to crawl out of position and open up seams. Off the rush, he has no qualms about trying the impossible and making a play for the highlight reel. Between the legs? No problem. Johnson is a master at sorcery.  

11. Forfeited Pick

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

12. Chicago Blackhawks - Jesper Wallstedt - G - Lulea (SHL)

Between Wallstedt and Sebastian Cossa, it's entirely possible we'll see one or both picked in the Top 10. That said, if both are available and the Blackhawks opt for a goaltender, I think Wallstedt is the guy. Of the five scouts I polled, he was the unanimous pick. In 22 games with Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League, Wallstedt had a 12-10-0 record, along with a .907 save percentage and a sparkling, 2.23 goals-against average. Excellent numbers for an 18-year-old in one of the top pro leagues in the world.  

13. Calgary Flames - Chaz Lucius - C - USA U-18 (NDTP)

Great name, better talent. Lucius is one of - if not the best natural goal-scorers in the draft. Honing his craft with the formidable U.S. National Development Team, he scored at a goal-per-game pace in 13 tilts with the Under-18 program last year. This, after scorching the U-17 squad the year prior, filling the net 31 times in only 46 games. Lucius is not only a gifted marksman, but he's taken great strides with his playmaking ability as well. At 6-foot-1, 185-lbs., the offensive firepower would be a boon for any club.

 

 

14. Philadelphia Flyers - Sebastian Cossa - G - Edmonton (WHL)

The second-best goalie in the draft goes to the team that probably needs one the most. And while this pick isn't necessarily about addressing an immediate need (as in, next year), the Flyers have to be cognizant of the fact that Carter Hart is coming off a tough season, and the pipeline behind him is a flowing a bit thin. The 6-foot-6 Cossa was on another planet with the Edmonton Oil Kings this year, stringing together
a mind-boggling 17-1-1 record, along with a retina-searing .941 save percentage and a 1.57 goals-against average. … No Canadian goalie has been drafted in the first round since Malcolm Subban in 2012.

15. Dallas Stars - Fabian Lysell - RW - Lulea (SHL)

Coming into the season, Lysell seemed like a lock to go in the Top 15 after putting up strong numbers with Frolunda's U20 SuperElit, Elit and Allsvenskan leagues. But after graduating to the pro ranks this year, his dynamic, offensively ability didn't immediately translate. In 26 games, he recorded only three points (2G, 1A). That said, there's plenty of upside, and his hands, wheels, and hockey sense are as good as they come at this age. I even think it's possible he slides deeper into the first round. And if so, he could be the steal of the draft.

16. New York Rangers - Matthew Coronato - RW - Chicago (USHL)

The numbers do the talking. Seriously. Don't overthink it. In 51 games last year, Coronato had a USHL-leading 48 goals - 16 (!) clear of the next-best sniper - along with 37 helpers. The 5-foot-10, 183-lb. right-winger is a threat every time he steps on the ice. He's explosive, confident, and can be used in all situations.

17. St. Louis Blues - Fedor Svechkov - C - Togliatti (VHL)

Svechkov made his mark at the World Under-18s, putting up 10 points (4G, 6A) in seven games as Russia's top centre. According to one scout that I spoke to: "Incredible two-way player. Love the bite, the compete, that he plays with. Pretty rare to see a guy at this age play with such intelligence. Great hockey sense."  

 

 

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

This is a tricky one. But personally, I think the fit will be too good to pass up. Lambos is an excellent talent with Top-4 potential, and there's no question he would help solidify a D core that could include all of Josh Morrissey, Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg, as soon as next year. The problem? Like Lambos, all three of the aforementioned blueliners are left-handed. Is that enough to veto the qualities that the Winnipeg kid could bring? Lambos is an agile skater, plays a calm, controlled game, and has a positive impact at both ends of the ice.

19. Nashville Predators - Corson Ceulemans - D - Brooks (AJHL)

Ceulemans made the most of his limited action this year. In only eight games with the Bandits thanks to COVID-19, the Regina product had four goals and 11 points, before having an outstanding showing with Team Canada at the U18s. It was a critical event for the 6-foot-2 defender, and he did not disappoint with eight points (1G, 7A) in six games. Ceulemans is an excellent puck mover, a powerful skater, and is almost impossible to push off the puck.

20. Edmonton Oilers - Olen Zellweger - D - Everett (WHL)

With Ceulemans off the board, the Oilers turn their attention to another puck-moving D. Kirill Kirsanov and Daniil Chayka are still on the board at this point, but I personally believe that Zellweger has better offensive upside. He isn't the biggest player at 5-9, 175, but he's an exceptional skater who distributes the puck as good or better than anyone in the class. Plus, Zellweger is a local product, having grown up in nearby Fort Saskatchewan - it's a great story for a team in need of young cornerstones on the backend.

21. Boston Bruins - Zachary Bolduc - C - Rimouski (QMJHL)

Bolduc didn't exactly blow the doors off the 'Q' this season - especially after putting up nearly a point-per-game, already, the year prior. But in 27 games with the Oceanic, he maintained a high level of play and recorded 29 points (10G, 19A) to lead the club in scoring. Bolduc skates well and is the responsible, two-way centre that scouts love. It's a can't-miss pick for the B's, who will likely be targeting the best player available in this slot.  

22. Minnesota Wild - Brennan Othmann - LW - Flint (OHL)

Here, we have another example of a player skating abroad thanks to COVID-19 shuttering the OHL campaign. Othmann spent the entire 2020-21 campaign with Olten-EHC of the Swiss League and had 15 points (7G, 8A) to show for it. The year prior, he registered 17 goals and 33 points in 55 games in Flint. So, which of the two offensive boxcars are we to believe? Well, look no further than the U18s, where Othmann took his game to another level and is now looking like a first-round lock. Great wheels, elite shot. 'Complete player' comes to mind.

23. Detroit Red Wings (via Washington) - Nikita Chibrikov - RW - Neva St. Petersburg (VHL)

If the VHL sounds familiar, it should. That's where the Flames drafted goaltender Daniil Chechelev from last year. Basically, it's the Russian equivalent of the AHL and provides excellent competition for amateurs that are on the cusp of turning pro. For Chibrikov, this proved to be the ultimate training ground. While he only recorded eight points (3G, 5A) in 20 games, he showed limitless potential with his exceptional skating ability and transitional play.  

24. Florida Panthers - Daniil Chayka - D - CSKA (KHL)

In the 2019-20 season, Chayka had an outstanding year with the Guelph Storm. But with the OHL season on ice, he took his talents back to Russia and was one of the only draft-eligible prospects to play professionally in the KHL this year (1-1-2 in 11 games). At 6-foot-3 and 187 lbs., the left-shot blueliner is a defensive specialist that has an insanely long reach and thrives at breaking up plays, much in the same way that Zdeno Chara does.

25. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Toronto) - Xavier Bourgault - C - Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Think: Offence. Now that the Jackets have solidified their backend with the selection of Brandt Clarke earlier in this mock, they now turn their attention to the forward corps. Bourgault is a natural goal-scorer that fills the net in a variety of ways. He can beat defenders off the rush with his dynamic puck-handling skills, escape traffic and dangle in tight, or simply beat the netminder with a well-placed shot from the slot. In 29 games with the Cataractes, Bourgault had 20 goals and 40 points.

26. Minnesota Wild (via Pittsburgh) - Francesco Pinelli - C - Kitchener (OHL)

Pinelli was loaned by the Kitchener Rangers to HDD Jesenice of the AlpsHL, where he tallied five goals and 11 points in 13 games. He went on to have a strong showing at the U18s, finishing fourth in Canadian team scoring with 11 points (4G, 7A) in seven games. Pinelli is a dynamic offensive weapon who has excellent vision, allowing him to find seams for himself and his teammates. He's great on his edges and is particularly deceptive when challenging players one-on-one.

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

Rosen had trouble finding his rhythm playing against men in the SHL this year, recording only one assist in 22 games. However, the year prior, he played the entire season with Leksands' U20 club, thriving against players his own age (21-14-35 in 38 games). So, don't let the most recent numbers fool you. This is a dynamic offensive player with a high compete level. He skates well and loves to engage physically with bigger players in the corners.

 

 

28. Colorado Avalanche - Wyatt Johnson - C - Windsor (OHL)

Johnson had one of the quietest campaigns of any of the prospects taken in the opening round. With the OHL season cancelled, the only action he saw all year was at the U18s. And, boy, did he impress! The 6-foot-1, 176-lb. pivot had four points (2G, 2A) in seven games and is now firmly in the first-round conversation.

29. New Jersey Devils (via New York) - Logan Stankoven - C - Kamloops (WHL)

Don't take it from me. Read this, from a league scout: "A force to be reckoned with." In 2019-20, he had 48 points (29G, 19A) in 48 games with the Blazers, before notching 10 points (7G, 3A) in only six games this year. He's another player who thrived at the U18s, wearing an 'A' as one of Canada's alternate captains, while putting up eight points (4G, 4A) in seven games.

30. Vegas Golden Knights - Oskar Olausson - RW - HV71 (SHL)

Like Rosen, Olausson had difficulty adapting to the Swedish pro ranks, recording only four points (3G, 1A) in 16 games. However, the tools are there. He's an exceptional skater that draws in defenders, before burning them with his nifty stick and edge work.

31. Montreal Canadiens - Zach Dean - C - Gatineau (QMJHL)

Primary known as a playmaker, Dean put up 20 points (10G, 10A) in 23 games with the Olympiques. He has a bit of flash to his game, too, as he is extremely elusive and loves to get creative while distributing the puck off the rush.

32. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Tampa) - Aatu Raty - C - Karpat (Liiga)

The scouts I've talked to have this player landing anywhere from 15-31, or out of the first round altogether. High risk, high reward. Has had issues with his consistency in the past, but certainly possesses the flash and firepower of a premier offensive weapon. I especially like this pick for the Jackets, who have made more sure-fire bets earlier in the first round. Take a swing, I say!

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