Sabres.com is profiling some of the top available prospects in the days leading up to the 2021 NHL Draft, which begins with Round 1 on Friday, July 23 at 8 p.m. The Sabres hold the No. 1 pick.
Mason McTavish, C - EHC Olten (Swiss League)
6-foot-1, 207 pounds
2020-21: 13 GP, 9 G, 2 A, 11 P
McTavish took his talents overseas with the OHL season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He scored nine goals in 13 games playing against men in Switzerland's second-tier pro league and then shined against his peers at the U-18 World Championship, where he tallied 11 points in seven games to help lead Canada to the gold medal.
It all added up to the No. 2 ranking on NHL Central Scouting's list of North American skaters, behind University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power.
"I think the thing that Mason McTavish does that separates him from the group is he is nasty to pay against," Chris Peters of Hockey Sense told Brian Duff and Martin Biron. "He's got some physicality, he's good defensively, he makes a lot of plays.
"He doesn't quite have the pace of (fellow draft-eligible center Matthew) Beniers which is why I believe there's kind of a separating factor between those two, but a lot of scouts that I talk to [say] Mason McTavish is going to help you win hockey games because of how hard he plays and the way that he handles himself at both ends of the ice."
Video: 2021 Draft Preview: Top Forwards
What they're saying
An anonymous evaluator to NHL.com on why they would select McTavish over fellow two-way centerman Beniers:
"He's going to be a weapon. He just goes out and plays and he does whatever it takes to contribute, and scores goals in multiple ways. When Shane Wright (2022 NHL Draft eligible) got hurt for Canada at the U-18s, he showed he could be the driver of a team and in crucial situations. I kind of see a Ryan O'Reilly with a little more offensive upside. He's a guy that's going to be a team leader, a face-of-a-franchise type guy that's going to do what it takes to win. I think that there's just a little bit more to like about McTavish than Beniers, long term."
What he's saying
On which NHL players he tries to emulate:
"I really admire the way Ryan Getzlaf plays. He is a big center, he gets around pretty well and obviously as you know has high-end skills."