This weekend, the Nashville Predators' last pick—for now—in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft will come in round six at 179th overall.
Below I’ve mocked what Nashville’s draft board could look like in the sixth round, with players who will likely be available and would be worthwhile to target.
Nashville’s Draft Board: Round 6
|Ilya Ivantsov||F||SKA-1946 St. Petersburg||MHL||53||8||25||33||2003|
|Viljami Juusola||D||Kärpät U20||U20 SM-sarja||16||1||5||6||2003|
|Lucas Forsell||LW||Färjestad BK J20||J20 Nationell||13||4||7||11||2003|
|Tyson Hinds||D||Rimouski Océanic||QMJHL||23||6||9||15||2003|
SKA-1946 St. Petersburg [MHL] | F | 5’10”, 154 lbs. | OTF Rank: NA
With the 2021 NHL Entry Draft containing a decent crop of Russian players, Ivantsov has drifted out of the spotlight. But the versatile forward and SKA product could be a late-bloomer coming out of the back half of the draft on Saturday.
In his second MHL season, Ivantsov was fourth on SKA-1946 in scoring with eight goals and 33 points in 53 games. On a deep St. Petersburg team, Ivantsov finished 15th among draft-eligible MHL forwards in primary points per game (0.453) and 25th in even-strength primary points per game (0.302) while average a little more than 16 minutes of ice time per night.
Serving as an assistant captain for Russia at the U18 WJC, Ivantsov potted five assists in seven games.
Mostly lining up at center, Ivantsov is an assist machine. He’s constantly scanning to set up his teammates and create plays instead of shooting. He recognizes how to lead teammates into open space or better shooting lanes with his touches and that should translate well to higher levels. When possessing the puck, he’s creative in how he manipulates the puck to keep it out of harm’s way.
Defensively, Ivantsov has been inconsistent. In some viewings of mine, he was floating all over the map, watching the puck and not making an impact; In other viewings, he was an ace at picking off passes in transition and pressuring opposing forwards into giveaways in his defensive zone.
His skating needs some work, but there’s a cerebral player here who could turn into something.
Kärpät U20 [U20 SM-sarja] | D | 5’10”, 165 lbs. | OTF Rank: NA
Juusola had an interesting 2020-21 season to say the least. The year prior, he showed tons of promise as a 16-year old playing in Finland’s U20 circuit. This year, he struggled a bit in the same league and then jumped from the U20 SM-sarja to Sweden’s third-tier league—the HockeyEttan to finish the year.
All in all, he collected three goals and 12 points in 28 games across both leagues before adding one goal and six points in seven games for Finland at the U18 WJC—second-best among team defenders.
Juusola plays bigger than his 5’10” frame suggests when he’s at his best. He engages physically when smart and uses his full weight to deliver forceful exit passes to jump-start transitions. He maps the ice well with the puck on his stick and rarely makes careless errors. His puck retrieval skills are solid, but he lacks an accelerating gear that can get him into some trouble beneath the goal line.
Offensively, I think Juusola’s shooting talent could translate to higher levels. He has experience running a power-play unit and is adept at getting low shots on-net. He’ll need to bulk up and improve his gap closure and puck protection skills to make a bigger impact in the future.
Färjestad BK J20 [J20 Nationell] | LW | 6’0”, 165 lbs. | OTF Rank: NA
Another very young player for this draft class, Forsell has a tantalizing combination of size and skill for someone his age. This season, he jumped from the U18 level in Sweden to the J20 Nationell and even earned a one-game SHL appearance.
At the U20 level, he scored four goals and 11 points in 13 games and was 13th among draft-eligible J20 Nationell forwards in primary points per game (0.692) and tenth in even-strength primary points per game (0.539).
There’s a decent foundation to Forsell’s skating mechanics, but he plays with a lot of inconsistencies. Luckily, they’re all easily fixable, including his knee bend, crossover acceleration, and wider stance. If he tidies those things up, he’ll be able to more effectively deploy his puck skills and offensive awareness.
Forsell plays with incredibly soft hands in all three zones. He can handle the puck and evade defenders at his top speed, or he can complete subtle puck touches from difficult spots to set up his teammates. In my viewings, he was very much a complementary player who didn’t drive a ton of transition, but with better skating skills, I think he can get there.
Rimouski Océanic [QMJHL] | D | 6’3”, 179 lbs. | OTF Rank: NA
Tyson Hinds received a massive boost in his draft year via a mid-season trade to Rimouski from Shawinigan. With the latter, he notched just one assist in ten games to start his sophomore QMJHl season; with the former, he exploded for six goals and 15 points from the blue line in 23 games.
Among all draft-eligible QMJHL defenders, he finished fourth in primary points per game (0.272)—ahead of players like Evan Nause and Oscar Plandowski— and third in even-strength primary points per game (0.212).
At 6’3”, he’s not the most fluid skater in the world but there are some really solid mechanics in place in his game. Issues arise as he transitions from defense into puck recovery and onto puck advancement, but overall he demonstrates solid edge-work, knee bend, and stride extension moving forward and backward.
He doesn’t panic in puck retrieval often, but he is quick to dispense the puck up to his forwards and can be more intentional in his decision-making there. He maintains an active stick and plays physically around the net-front too. On offense, Hinds won’t drive transitions, but he’s got a forceful shot from the point that any team would love.