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2021 NHL Draft: Top prospects

by Matt Tidcombe @matttidcombe

The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft takes place Friday and while the Ottawa Senators don't have three first round picks as they did in 2020, the Sens do hold the 10th overall pick.

The Sens have never drafted 10th overall in their franchise history but with that being said, there will be plenty of intriguing options for general manager Pierre Dorion and chief amateur scout Trent Mann to choose from.

For the purpose of this, we've removed the general consensus top four players in this year's draft so Michigan's Owen Power, Michigan's Matthew Beniers, Edmonton's Dylan Guenther and Luke Hughes of the U.S. NTDP aren't considered.

All scouting reports courtesy of Elite Prospects

Brandt Clarke - Defenceman (Barrie/OHL) 

Central Scouting ranking: No. 7 North American skater

Scouting report: He wants to make something happen every time the puck is on his stick and he's not afraid to push the play himself to see it through. Clarke's brain and ability to process the movement of others on the ice to make his own reads is elite. He sees things that others do not, is patient with the puck, and allows the play to develop before he makes his decision.

With the OHL not holding a season in 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Clarke headed overseas to Slovakia, lining up in 26 games with HC Nove Zamky where he had five goals and 15 points. He also claimed a gold medal at the U18 World Championships and was named to the tournament's All-Star Team after playing at a point-per-game pace in seven contests. In 2019-20 with the Colts, Clarke had 38 points (six goals) in 52 contests and was named to the OHL's First All-Rookie Team.

Matthew Coronato - Right wing (Chicago/USHL)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 9 North American skater

Scouting report: His hands form the foundation of his offensive profile. He wants to have the puck on his stick and isn't afraid to court contact to make sure he's the one driving the bus for his line. He's decisive, manipulative, and dextrous as a handler. He's got a good shot for someone who is constantly throwing pucks on net, his release is fast and he's versatile in how he gets pucks off.

Coronato had an exceptional season in the USHL as he helped guide the Steel to the Clark Cup, beating Fargo in Game 4. He led the league in goals with 48, while tallying 85 points in 51 games, and had the league's best +/- at 37. He was selected to the USHL First All-Star Team and was the USHL Forward of the Year. In 2019-20 was named to the USHL All-Rookie Second Team after a 40-point campaign. He's committed to Harvard University for 2021-22.

Sebastian Cossa - Goaltender (Edmonton/WHL)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 North American goaltender

Scouting report: He mixes things up and recovers quickly on rebounds to get in front of multiple shot sequences in order to clear his crease. He's not afraid to use his hands, and does a good job of covering up pucks before they spring loose for scoring chances. He'll use a wide array of save options to match whatever the shooter presents.

Cossa had a simply brilliant 2020-21 campaign, despite it being brief. In 19 games, he went 17-1-1 with a 1.57 GAA and a .941 save percentage, both of which led the WHL. 

Simon Edvinsson - Defenceman (Frolunda/SHL)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 2 European skater

Scouting report: Edvinsson is a detailed defender with high-level in-zone instincts, a tight neutral zone gap, well-timed physicality, and supporting instincts to match. He manoeuvres with the puck kept in his hip pocket, with his top hand in control, free from his body. With a smooth and gracious skating stride scaffolded on top of those mechanical handling skills, Edvinsson's tools sometimes take him to rarified air as a puck-carrier.

Edvinsson primarily split his 2020-21 campaign between the SHL and the HockeyAllsvenskan. In the SHL, he had an assist in 10 games with Frolunda while with Vasteras he had five assists in 14 contests. He also suited up 14 times for Frolunda's U20 squad and won a bronze medal at the U18 World Championships.

William Eklund - Left wing (Djurgardens/SHL)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 European skater

Scouting report: Eklund is a player that does not take any shifts off. He is the glue that keeps his line effective in all three zones. He plays at high pace and with thought and creativity. He adjusts his speed to the play, scans his surroundings, establishes his pocket of space, and presents himself as a pass or shot option.

Eklund spent all of 2020-21 playing in his native Sweden in their top league, appearing in 40 games while adding 23 points (11 goals). He was named SHL Rookie of the Year and led all rookies in goals and was also honoured as the Swedish Junior Hockey Player of the Year too. Eklund won a bronze medal at the 2019-20 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Kent Johnson - Center (Michigan/NCAA)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 3 North American skater

Scouting report: Johnson's creative output is the byproduct of carefully honed techniques and a gifted mind. He handles the puck with his top hand free from his body, pushed forward with precision, quickness, and agility. When he's feeling it, the game looks effortless. Johnson anticipates player movement so exceptionally well, whether they're teammates or opponents, and lets that mental map of the ice dictate his plan of attack.

In his first season of college hockey, Johnson operated at a better than a point-per-game pace notching 27 points (nine goals) in 26 contests with the Wolverines. He was named to the B1G 10's All-Rookie Team and was an honorable mention for the All-Star Team. Johnson obliterated the BCHL the season prior, scoring 41 goals and 101 points in 52 games with the Trail Smoke Eaters. He was named the league's MVP, won the Bob Fenton Trophy as the most sportsmanlike player and was named the CJHL's top player too.

Carson Lambos - Defenceman (Winnipeg/WHL)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 11 North American skater

Scouting report: Lambos is a potent shooter with the skill and instincts to manipulate defenders and improve his shooting location. With and without the puck, he activates from the point, becoming a passing option and a scoring threat. He fakes shots and passes, waits for the defender to commit, then bursts into the space he created. Constant head fakes add another layer of deception.

Lambos suited up for four teams in 2020-21, mainly in Finland. He played two games for JYP Jyvaskyla's U18 team, 11 games for their U20 side and played twice for the men's team in Liiga. He also suited up two times for Winnipeg in the WHL but his season ended in March after suffering a leg injury. In 2019-20, Lambos had 32 points for the ICE in 57 games.

Chaz Lucius - Center (USNTDP Juniors/USHL)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 12 North American skater

Scouting report: Lucius can work the one- and two-touch snapshot with power and precision. He can send the puck on net with a deceptive, downward force-loaded wrist shot. His vision is great. If someone's open, Lucius is going to find them, and he's going to get them the puck. He reads his teammates so well, anticipating developing plays, and timing his manoeuvres accordingly.

In 12 games in the USHL, Lucius tallied 13 goals and five assists this past season whilst in 2019-20 at the U17 level, Lucius had 31 goals and 50 points in 46 contests. Additionally, in six games at the U17 World Hockey Championships, he was named to the WHC All-Star Team after scoring seven goals in six games as he helped the U.S. claim a silver medal. Lucius is committed to the University of Minnesota.  

Mason McTavish - Center (Peterborough/OHL)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 2 North American skater

Scouting report: He makes the right play at the right time and in the right place every single shift. He moves one way, drags the defender that way, makes them turn their feet, and then passes to supporting teammates in the opposite direction. He's a net-front driven forward with a real knack for pouncing on loose pucks and banging rebounds home. McTavish's unrelenting work rate makes him a constant threat without the puck, too. 

Like Brandt, MacTavish headed overseas in 2020-21 with no OHL season and wound up playing 13 games with EHC Olten in Switzerland's second league where he had nine goals. McTavish captained Canada at the U18 World Championships where he won gold and was named as one of Canada's top three players on the team. In his last OHL season in 2019-20, he was named to the Second All-Rookie Team after notching 29 goals and 42 points in 57 games.

Brennan Othmann - Left Wing (Flint/OHL)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 8 North American skater

Scouting report: Othmann loves nothing more than to collect the puck on the breakout, lead the charge into the offensive zone, and turn the corner on opposing defenders. He always attacks at full speed, playing a high-pace style, and pressuring with that same level of intensity. He pressures on the forecheck, plays the body, and takes good routes to cut off the opposition's attempts at a breakout.

Othmann played with McTavish for Switzerland's EHC Olten in 2020-21 where he scored seven goals in 34 contests. Alongside McTavish and Brandt, Othmann won gold at the U18 World Championships. In 2019-20 with Flint, he had 33 points (17 goals) in 55 games and was selected to the OHL All-Rookie First Team.

Cole Sillinger - Center (Sioux Falls/USHL)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 10 North American skater

Scouting report: His wrist shot release is especially potent, with a short draw, feet pointed at the net, adequate knee-bend, a hip-snap, his leg kicked back, and exploding from his chest. It's a sight to behold. Sillinger makes the best of this shot with some stellar off of the puck instincts, an often overpowering wall game, and a penchant for driving the centre lane of the offensive zone.

In his first season in the USHL, Sillinger piled up 46 points (24 goals) in just 31 games and was promptly awarded the USHL's Rookie of the Year. He was also named to the USHL All-Rookie Team and the USHL Second All-Star Team. Previously, Sillinger played in the WHL with Medicine Hat and had 53 points in 48 games in 2019-20.

Jesper Wallstedt - goaltender (Lulea/SHL)

Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 European goaltender

Scouting report: He's a strong, fluid skater in the crease, and doesn't mind coming out to challenge oncoming threats. He'll ramp up the aggression when necessary, but only when the moment calls for it. He tracks pucks well. He doesn't get rattled when he makes a mistake. Wallstedt's precise finding his parameters around the blue paint and has a fairly evenly distributed ability to stop pucks with his hands.

Wallstedt played 22 games in the SHL last year tallying a 12-10-0 record with a .907 save percentage and a 2.23 GAA. He played for Sweden at the 2021 World Juniors and also has a U18 World Championships gold and bronze medal, an U17 World Hockey Championships bronze medal as well as a Hlinka Gretzky Cup bronze medal to his name.

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