2021 NHL Entry Draft: June Ranking

A look at the players heading into the final few weeks before the draft.

We’re roughly one month out from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

I know. It feels like an eternity since last year’s annual selection—not just eight months. But we finally have a bit of clarity since my April ranking. The Nashville Predators will pick 19th overall in round one of this year’s draft, though technically it will be the 18th selection as the Arizona Coyotes must forfeit their pick.

2021 NHL Entry Draft: April Ranking

With my penultimate ranking, the list expands to 64 players, and there has been more movement than I even anticipated. Though there seems to be somewhat of a consensus emerging around Owen Power as the first overall pick, nothing in this class is guaranteed; I’ve seen players rated as top-20 picks in some places only to be dropped to the late second or third round elsewhere.

Since my last ranking, I’ve gone back and reviewed more and more tape, especially on the players I was lower (or higher) on than other public evaluators or NHL teams. The U18 World Junior Championship is typically unreliable, but this year it will serve as the foundation for many teams’ evaluations, so I tried to scout that April showcase with that in mind.

As a reminder, this is not a mock draft. It’s a ranking of who will have the best NHL careers in 5-10 years.

2021 NHL Entry Draft: June Ranking

1William EklundDjurgårdens IFSHLFDeceptive and effective puck handler who moves through all three zones with good speed; Can evade defenders with good edgework and skill to map out passing and shooting lanes several steps ahead; Breaks out the puck with ease and is often a takeaway threat for opposing defenders; Good shooter who can expose small openings
2 (+1)Brandt ClarkeHC Nove ZamkySlovakiaDSkates well in transition with his head up and can be extremely active on offense; Solid skating mechanics but there are some tune-ups to be made; Excellent balance on his edges and maintains good gaps but not always very physical
3 (+1)Matthew BeniersMichiganNCAACHas refined a complete skill set at Michigan and looks ready to center an NHL line; Excellent skating mechanics that help him navigate the offensive zone with ease, analyzing passing and shooting lanes; Carves towards open ice to find good puck support positions
4 (+2)Simon EdvinssonFrölunda HC J20J20 NationellDTons of raw talent in Edvinsson's game; Directs pucks to the net well for rebounds and tips; Decisive in transition and an excellent puck carrier who moves with his head up; Wingspan is a difference maker when it comes to forcing opponents to the perimeter of the zone
5 (+2)Dylan GuentherEdmonton Oil KingsWHLWAttacks open space without the puck, generating good speed with sound crossover steps; Doubles back to recover loose pucks or potential giveaways; Very effective passer who can freeze defenders with his skill; Powerful shooter and unfazed under pressure with his level of puck skill
6 (-4)Luke HughesU.S. NTDPUSHLDExcellent skater with good four-way mobility; doesn't panic with the puck and eager to join - or lead - the rush; High-end puck skill for a defender with good foot speed but sometimes skates his way into dead ends or low-danger areas
7 (+3)Owen Power MichiganNCAADCommunicates well on the ice and moves well for his size; Gap closures are good but angles can improve and pivot timing may be an issue against quicker competition; Needs to fill shooting lanes quicker; Lateral agility isn't amazing; Can use his size to be more suffocating in one-on-one battles and must be more cognizant of how skill players can expose his frame
8 (-3)Jesper WallstedtLuleå HFSHLGMaintains good poise against the post but relies strongly on RVH positioning; Blocker side could be exploited there; Butterfly-to-stance speed is excellent; Seals off the bottom of the net without needing excessive cross-crease movements
9 (-1)Fabian LysellLuleå HFSHLWCreative and tenacious in finding his way to pucks, using stick lifts and good forechecking angles to terrorize defenders; Stickhandling skill is near the top of this class but finds himself skating into dead ends at times; Very impressive knee bend and stride extension; Excellent hand-eye coordination in corralling the puck through traffic but will need to make quicker decisions at pro level
10 (+2)Isak RosénLeksands IFSHLWSlippery player who can finesse his way through multiple layers of defense with impressive puck skill and explosive acceleration; Uses head fakes well in transition; Skating is good, as is dead-stop acceleration; Can be reckless when carrying out breakouts; Sometimes is too stagnant in puck support position but would be more impactful by just keeping his feet moving; Will need to work on passing skill in transition when deking doesn't work
11 (+2)Kent JohnsonMichiganNCAAFSkating mechanics are good but doesn't have elite footspeed; Stick preparation is an issue and leads him to being more reactive to loose pucks; Edgework is excellent with good pace and puck control; Creative stickhandler who can wrangle away pucks most can't in tight board battles; Gives up on too many giveaways; High-event player, for better or worse
12 (-1)Oskar OlaussonHV71SHLWGood shooter from distance and doesn't rely too much on just his wrist shot; Navigates net-front real estate well and has a nice touch of skill with the puck; Crossover steps slow down his acceleration but can be fixed; Receives passes well and can move pucks into shooting or passing positions quickly
13 (-4)Aatu RätyKärpätLiigaCShows good habits at pro level in finding good positioning and chasing the puck; Decent pace but knee bend could improve at times; Good puck handler but will need to improve foot speed for that to be a difference-making skill in the NHL; Decent shot with quick release; Needs to be more proactive in responding to puck movement
14 (+2)Nikita ChibrikovSKAKHLRWLoves his rink-wide stretch passes and isn't afraid to force defenders to match his speed by dumping in the puck; Stride extension can be choppy but he plays with good pace; Navigates offensive zone crowds well and has the tenacity to challenge opponents all over the ice on both sides of the puck
15 (+3)Chaz LuciusU.S. NTDPUSHLCHigh-end scoring and stickhandling talent but much to be desired; Can be effective at using his body to seal off opponents from the puck or force turnovers; Skating is a concern with very inconsistent mechanics and average to below-average NHL speed; Can pot nearly any rebound but also score off the rush
16 (+10)Mason McTavishEHC OltenSLCExcellent catch and release shooting ability from nearly any angle; Edgework is solid but knee bend and stride extension need work; Puck skills are good as is forechecking; Doesn't rely on pick top-shelf corners to score always; Can clean up rebounds and beat out defenders in front of the net too
17 (-3)Stanislav SvozilHC Kometa BrnoCzechDMature player who understands off-puck positioning against the forecheck well; Crossover steps are swift but skating form is interesting; Handles the puck well and can muscle off forecheckers; Sometimes makes silly decisions in transition, slapping the puck up ice with little direction; Moves very well along the blue line and directs low, hard shots to the net; Needs to establish more dominant positioning when fighting opponents in front of the net
18 (-3)Zach DeanGatineau OlympiquesQMJHLCGood pace player who can be a pest on the forecheck; Smart puck carrier who draws defenders his way and can distribute difficult passes well; Underrated puck skills; Skating mechanics are good but his footspeed is average to slightly above-average; Good speed and angles when forechecking
19 (+1)Zachary BolducRimouski OcéanicQMJHLCExtremely intelligent player who has underrated puck skill; Can be mismatched defensively or mitigated when playing center; Excellent skating mechanics complete with full extensions and smooth crossover steps; Frame could help him dominate in puck protection; Shooting skill is good not great but can clean up rebounds well and deliver pucks to high-danger areas from the perimeter well
20 (+2)Simon RobertssonSkellefteå AIKSHLRWSkating is good but breakaway speed is maybe average or slightly above; Shot release is top-notch and from different ranges too; Can legitimately score from medium and low-danger areas; Good forechecker but angles are inconsistent and would like to see him commit to an extra stride or two when attacking defenders
21 (-1)Samu TuomaalaKärpät U20U20 SM-sarjaFHigh-pace player who is very smooth on his edges; Sweeps across the neutral and offensive zones grabbing pucks off the wall and turning them into rush chances quickly; Flatter blade doesn't provide a very deceptive release but he's a forceful, accurate, and frequent shooter; Covers lots of ground from circles to point in the defensive zone
22 (-5)Fyodor SvechkovTogliattiVHLFVery mature player but not a high-end skill guy; Adept passer and moves well with the puck in transition but can rush his own passes at times; Skating is average and he doesn't generate tons of separating speed; Would like to see him move his feet earlier when preparing for breakouts; Hunts down the puck well and gets creative in how he out-muscles defenders in one-on-one battles; Very solid defensive player
23 (-4)William StromgrenMODOAllsvenskanLWExtremely impressive set of hands that he can control while moving with speed; Attacks defenders with furious north-south pace; Very good shooter who can come out of his dekes into a deceptive release...Uses good edgework to evade defenders but acceleration isn't always great; Takes him a few strides to get to top speed
24Carson LambosWinnipeg IceWHLDGood edges and lateral mobility that lets him confront puck-carriers high in the offensive zone; Adjusting his pivots to speed is sometimes good and sometimes not; Good skater but needs to work on puck protection and explosiveness in transition; Backwards skating relies on shallow C-cuts with a very wide base; Physical player but uses hands too much in one-on-one battles; Excellent shooting skill on display in the WHL
25Xavier BourgaultShawiningan CataractesQMJHLFNot always strong on the puck but has a good motor and can be tough to stop when entering the offensive zone; Also skilled at sliding into seams undetected and creating passing lanes for teammates; Slick with the puck and creative in how he navigates pressure; Wrists work faster than his feet often; Always disruptive on and off the puck
26 (-3)Logan StankovenKamloops BlazersWHLFUnique shooting talent that doesn't require a set base or weight transfer to be effective; Has explosive wrists that he can launch out into a puck from nearly any angle; Pass reception to shot speed can be lethal, but he can delay and force defenders into decisions too; High-end motor and can build into strong strides but doesn't have elite speed; Wide skating base and generally keeps his feet moving in the offensive zone
27Zachary L'HeureuxHalifax MooseheadsQMJHLFFascinating player with a unique blend of skill, anger, and undisciplined play; Puck touches are very good and he can distribute sneaky passes in tight or across the zone; Patient in handling the puck and can outwork or freeze defenders when he chooses, carving himself an easy path to the net; Too much inconsistency in his effort though
28 (-1)Daniil ChaykaCSKAKHLDPlays a more hands-off offensive game in the KHL but can be more dynamic; Forceful passer who can come out of his pivots and step right into stretch passes; Doesn't panic with the puck but can rush into transition decisions; Size will help him manage zone entries but can work on pivot timing and stick activation
29Sebastian CossaEdmonton Oil KingsWHLGTechnically sound goalie with great size; Doesn't overuse RVH positioning with the puck down low; Quick stick to reign in rebounds and uses forceful T-pushes to monitor the crease and match cross-crease chances well; Squareness to the puck is good but good cycles can mix up his angles at times
30Cole SillingerSioux Falls StampedeUSHLCSkating is a major flag; Even at the USHL level, he struggles with speed and his mechanics are all over the place; Takes too many strides to get to top speed; Possesses good offensive zone vision and can feed incoming teammates into high-danger areas; Great shooting talent, but I think he's too predictable
31 (-2)Brennan OthmannEHC OltenSLLWAverage skater but has the tools to be an effective NHL player; Receives pucks well in stride and works hard to recover pucks and win possession battles; Angles well on the forecheck; Sometimes can float too much or stare at the puck; Want to see him attack the middle of the ice more with and without the puck
32 (-1)Matthew CoronatoChicago SteelUSHLFA powerful shooter who can really drill his wrist shots home that is hindered by awkward accelerating steps and slipping skating strides; Could be a dynamic playmaker with improvements to his his puck support and transition decisions
33Francesco PinelliHDD JeseniceSloveniaCSkating and pace are concerns, as well as how often he's fully engaged, but he impressed at the U18's, shows good use of defensive angles, and is a good passer and puck support player
34Sean Behrens U.S. NTDPUSHLDSmooth-skating defender that likes to active low in the zone to create scoring opportunities; Defends well against the rush; Pace is average and decision-making can be improved
35Scott MorrowShattuck St. Mary'sUSHSDExcellent four-way mobility and strong on all his edges + decisive with his pivots; Straightaway speed isn't amazing and has inconsistencies in his gap control; Aggressive on offense
36Ville KoivunenKärpät U20U20 SM-sarjaFHampered by a wide skating base without proper leg extension and choppy recoveries but maintains good defensive positioning overall; Good bit of puck skill and moves well in transition
37Corson CeulemansBrooks BanditsAJHLDHard scouting the AJHL in a year like this but Ceulemans is a mobile, forceful defender; Can be reckless on and off the puck and develop bad habits; Mobility is great and he can jam pucks forward in transition or get good shots on net, off the rush too, despite average speed
38Matthew SamoskevichChicago SteelUSHLRWWell-rounded offensive player with good shooting skill and awareness not to skating into dead ends; Relies on his glide too much with zone entries and needs more consistency in his offensive attack
39Aleksi HeimosalmiÄssät U20U20 SM-sarjaDPatrols the blue line with good composure and plays elastically to the puck without unnecessary pinches; Pivot speed and lateral mobility are average and needs to be better at opening his body to a puck-carrier off the rush more; Can smother opponents to the perimeter when at his best
40Samu SalminenJokerit U20 U20 SM-sarjaFSkating can come off as "clunky," but he's an intriguing blend of size and skill; Not overly explosive with the puck but can deliver forceful passes in transition and helps draw out defenders with effective in-zone cycles
41Evan NauseQuebec RempartsQMJHLDVery solid skater who uses linear crossovers, excellent edge control, and small accelerating pushes to move up the ice with good vision; Top speed isn't amazing but his pinches are smart and gap control is too; Some nights he's off, it can be mistake after mistake, however
42 (-14)Sasha PastujovU.S. NTDPUSHLLWSkilled player who can connect on dazzling passes, stickhandle through a crowded offensive zone, and rifle pucks into the net from the worst angle; Off-puck aspects of his game need improvement and skating mechanics are a serious issue
43Ty VoitSarnia StingOHLFPuck Handling prowess is off the charts but I'm not mesmerized by his skill alone; Teams may balk at his size but displays good puck protection skills and can manipulate his hands well in tight situations to make a play
44Oliver KapanenKalPa U20U20 SM-sarjaCQuick-pace skater with stride hiccups here and there; Plays with a bit of a physical edge which is nice in puck battles or on the forecheck; Doesn't always have the speed to attack defenders well but could be a good possession player
45Olen ZellwegerEverett SilvertipsWHLDExtremely mobile but undersized defender who is buzzing in every zone; Excellent skating mechanics and doesn't overuse 10-2 edges; Gap control and positioning in front of the net could be issue areas
46 (-16)Joshua RoySherbrooke PhoenixQMJHLCHasn't had the season I was hoping he could but still a productive player; When he's at his best, he attacks with force in transition, is slippery around defenders, and protects the puck extremely well; Can't drive a line but could be a useful complementary scorer
47Tristan BrozFargo ForceUSHLFTenacious player with a great motor...physical, fast, and hard to stop; Skating mechanics have their hiccups and his pace can be inconsistent; High-end puck skills...can stickhandle anywhere and will attack defenders ruthlessly with the puck out in front of him
48Jack PeartGrand Rapids HighUSHSDGood skater who attempts and completes more subtle puck touches to make smart plays; Out-thinks opponents in 1-v-1 battles; Gap control can be too passive at times and slashes/stick infractions will need to be reigned in
49Ayrton MartinoOmaha LancersUSHLWNot the greatest skater in the world but powerful enough with his strides to elude defenders and find open ice; A phenomenal offensive finisher whose transition skills and off-puck play are too; Can process offensive-zone play steps ahead of most other skaters
50Dmitri KuzminDinamo-MolodechnoBelarusDSolid skater with good four-way mobility; Loves to advance the puck alone from deep in his own zone and possesses excellent weaving and stickhandling moves; Backward skating can be improved as can his puck retrieval speed and decision making against forecheckers
51Alexander KisakovMHK Dynamo MoskvaMHLFDynamic scorer who moves up the ice well at a somewhat above-average top speed; Pressures defenders on the forecheck well but can improve angles and puck support play; Well-defined shooter with a deceptive release and great one-timer
52Anton OlssonMalmöSHLDAppears to put in lots of effort to move laterally against attacking forwards and skating mechanics could be improved; Pivot timing is solid as his active stick; Moves quickly under pressure but will need to be more consistent in connecting on those outlet passes
53Conner RouletteSeattle ThunderbirdsWHLFSomewhat of a boom-or-bust player with too much extraneous movement in his skating mechanics; Needs to square up some things with his puck handling but should he get it going...combine that with excellent hand-eye, good skill, and good puck protection instincts...watch out
54Dylan DukeU.S. NTDPUSHLFStride extension isn't deep enough nor linear enough, stunted stride recovery, busy arms...skating needs work; Great complementary player who forechecks hard after pucks, can provide a solid net-front presence and could master the art of rebound scoring at higher levels
55Wyatt JohnstonWindsor SpitfiresOHLCCenter who plays with a physical edge and good positioning in the defensive zone; Can be tenacious on the forecheck and backcheck; Pushes the puck in transition but has good stop-start speed to outduel defenders; Will need to tidy up some skating errors
56Kirill KirsanovSKA St. PetersburgKHLDPosition-wise, he's solid and should get tons of credit for playing in the KHL at his age; Lumbering first step when chasing loose pucks or defending against opponents; Can make smart, quick passes from the defensive zone but won't active often himself
57Ryan UfkoChicago SteelUSHLDMoves well in transition with his head up when corralling the puck; Bit of inconsistency in his balance when defending; Like how quickly he can get shots on net or passes down low from the blue line; Smart offensive, active player but 1-v-1 defending is a work in progress
58Aidan HreschukU.S. NTDPUSHLDOffensively-gifted defender with great hands and a good shot...loves to carve deep into the offensive zone; Skating mechanics are very good...smooth edges, can make plays mid-stride, etc.; Walks the blue line well but forces himself into giveaways or silly errors in transition at times
59Victor StjernborgVäxjö Lakers HCSHLFKnee bend and stride extension are good but struggles with crossover speed despite good balance; Like the foundation to his forechecking game...won't always be the first to a puck but positions himself well; Wide (not deep) offensive portfolio...good passer, puck mover, rebound scorer, puck protector, etc.
60Samuel HeleniusJYPLiigaCMassive forward at 6'6" with wonky skating mechanics...stride extension could be better but top-speed pace is surprisingly quick; Loves to chase the play in the defensive zone; Could be very effective in transition out of the D-zone but offensive skill may be limited
61Dmitri KostenkoLadia TogliattiVHLDGood shooter from a stationary point position and when joining the rush which he does almost every shift; Puck watches too much at times and can lead with his stick in 1-v-1 battles too much too
62Ryder KorczakMoose Jaw WarriorsWHLFNice skating profile, including good change-of-direction speed; Doesn't over handle the puck but doesn't have the softest hands; Like his pass-to-pass or pass-to-shot speed and skill; Finds open space in the offensive zone well
63Prokhor PoltapovKrasniya ArmiyaMHLRWGood pace and quickness to his game but skating mechanics need work; Moves well with the puck on his stick and chases pucks with great speed; Want to see him use that speed to jump into cycles or rebound opportunities more
64Liam Dower-NilssonFrölunda HC J20J20 NationellCNo notable, above-average pace in his game but he's not slow either; Won't overtake defenders but will force them into quick decisions with great forechecking abilities; Really like his shooting skill

The change in a player’s ranking from April is denoted in the table above. Clubs listed for players who have played for multiple teams this season are the teams they played most of their games for.