Despite a whirlwind of trades leading up to the 2021 NHL Entry Draft today, the prospect selection didn’t disappoint either. Here are my instant grades from each first-round pick.
#1 - Buffalo Sabres - Owen Power (D)
Power has been destined for Buffalo for weeks now, so this pick was no surprise. Overall, he wasn’t my top player in this class, but I get why the Sabres see him as a future number-one defender.
#2 - Seattle Kraken - Matthew Beniers (F)
Beniers is an excellent inaugural pick for Seattle. He could feasibly play in the NHL this season, but no matter when he arrives, he’ll be a long-time presence in the Kraken’s top-six.
#3 - Anaheim Ducks - Mason McTavish (F)
McTavish has grown on me much like he has many scouts this season, but never did I have him this high. I think he’ll become a solid NHL pro, but there was better talent available at third overall.
#4 - New Jersey Devils - Luke Hughes (D)
Another pick of seeming destiny. Hughes is a fine pick and has all the tools to become a premier defender in the NHL, but there were other players I liked at fourth overall.
#5 - Columbus Blue Jackets - Kent Johnson (F)
Similar to Hughes, Johnson is a top-ten talent, but I do have concerns about him lacking translatable skills. Columbus went for a big, potentially fruitful, swing here.
#6 - Detroit Red Wings - Simon Edvinsson (D)
I love this pick from Detroit. Edvinsson is raw, but if he can pack all of his talents together, he and Moritz Seider could be dominant on Detroit’s blue line.
#7 - San Jose Sharks - William Eklund (F)
My number-one ranked prospect in this class, Eklund falling to the Sharks is an absolute gift. San Jose knocked this out of the park.
#8 - Los Angeles Kings - Brandt Clarke (D)
Much like Eklund, Clarke falling to Los Angeles adds another great player to their stacked pipeline. He could very well pan out to be a long-time top-pair defender for the Kings.
#9 - Arizona Coyotes (via VAN) - Dylan Guenther (F)
Entering today without a first-round pick and leaving with Guenther is a tidy bit of business for Arizona. He provides an excellent scoring punch and NHL-ready shooting talent.
#10 - Ottawa Senators - Tyler Boucher (F)
I’m still getting over this pick; I literally cannot believe it. I anticipated Boucher would go in the second round, but tenth overall is shocking.
#11 - Forfeited
#12 - Columbus Blue Jackets (via CHI) - Cole Sillinger (F)
I’m not very high on Sillinger relative to others, but I gave Columbus a bit of a bump here since they have flexibility with multiple first-round picks. He’s the best shooter in this draft class, but there’s a lot of work to be done on his skating.
#13 - Calgary Flames - Matthew Coronato (F)
Coronato was a reach here for me. I’m really intrigued to see how he performs at Harvard next season, but I wouldn’t have selected him until near the end of the first round.
#14 - Buffalo Sabres (via PHI) - Isak Rosén (F)
Buffalo walking away with Power and Isak Rosén is a very nice first round. I had the latter at 12th on my board and love the offensive flash and creativity he brings.
#15 - Detroit Red Wings (via DAL) - Sebastian Cossa (G)
It was a big surprise seeing Cossa go ahead of Wallstedt, but I don’t mind it so much. Both were first-round picks for me, but I probably would’ve gone with the Swede instead.
#16 - New York Rangers - Brennan Othmann (F)
Othmann, like Coronato, was a first-round talent to me, but not until after pick 25 or so. If this was the Rangers’ guy, I hope they made a serious effort to trade back first.
#17 - St. Louis Blues - Zachary Bolduc (F)
I had Bolduc exactly at 17th on my draft board. He’s a forward who already plays with an NHL profile night-in and night-out, but I think there were a few players with higher ceilings still available here.
#18 - Winnipeg Jets - Chaz Lucius (F)
Lucius was 15th on my draft board, and I think Winnipeg was very happy to see him fall into their laps. I have some concerns about his skating and off-puck play, but this kid can score like crazy.
#19 - Nashville Predators - Fyodor Svechkov (F)
Though I would’ve preferred someone like Lysell or Olausson, Svechkov is an excellent pick for Nashville. I had him at 21st on my final draft board and am fairly confident he’s got a long NHL future ahead of him as a second-line(ish) center.
#20 - Minnesota Wild (via EDM) - Jesper Wallstedt (G)
If you told me before tonight that Minnesota could have Wallstedt at 20th overall, I’d probably say you were dreaming. Excellent move by the Wild to trade back and still snag their goalie.
#21 - Boston Bruins - Fabian Lysell (F)
Going into round one, it was clear a lot of teams were going to pass on Lysell, so it wasn’t surprising to see him fall this far. If Boston can develop him, he’s got massive ‘boom’ potential as a top-six scoring forward.
#22 - Edmonton Oilers (via MIN) - Xavier Bourgault (F)
I like Bourgault, and I wouldn’t have been opposed to any argument the Oilers made to take him here, but I had him slightly lower on my board—hence the B-grade.
#23 - Dallas Stars (via WSH and DET) - Wyatt Johnston (F)
I was almost certain Johnston would go in the first round based on what I was hearing going into tonight. I don’t love the pick, but it’s hard to be definitively critical with him losing a whole season to COVID-19.
#24 - Florida Panthers - Mackie Samoskevich (F)
In a best-case scenario, Samoskevich grows into a 20- to 30-goal guy in the NHL, but I’m not sold that will happen. I also think he would’ve been available later on—even in round two.
#25 - Columbus Blue Jackets (via TOR) - Corson Ceulemans (D)
Ceulemans is a solid pick and, as their third in round one, the Blue Jackets could go a bit off the board. He was a second-round pick to me but flirted with the top-32.
#26 - Minnesota Wild (via PIT) - Carson Lambos (D)
Lambos was 26th on my draft board, and I think Minnesota could have an excellent top-four defender on their hands here. Great night for them to walk away with both Wallstedt and the Winnipeg Ice defender.
#27 - Nashville Predators (via CAR) - Zachary L’Heureux (F)
L’Heureux came in at 28th on my final draft board. I love the pick for the draft slot, but I’m not sure I would’ve given up both second-round picks to get him.
#28 - Colorado Avalanche - Oskar Olausson (F)
Olausson is a phenomenal pick for Colorado. The Swedish forward—ranked 11th on my draft board—could pan out to be a flashy power forward in the Avs’ top-six.
#29 - New Jersey Devils (via NYI) - Chase Stillman (F)
Similar to Johnston, Stillman lost a lot of ice time this season due to COVID-19. In a normal year, he’d likely be higher than the 66th ranking I had him at on my board, but still nowhere near the first round.
#30 - Vegas Golden Knights - Zach Dean (F)
Dean falling to 30th overall was a bit surprising, but I love the player Vegas is getting. I had the Gatineau forward ranked 18th on my draft board.
#31 - Montreal Canadiens - Logan Mailloux (D)
If I could give this pick less than an “F”, I would. Montreal’s selection here is entirely unacceptable; Not only is Mailloux not a first-round player on the ice, but he’s also done nothing to suggest he’s truly remorseful for his off-ice actions nor is he deserving of being selected in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Absolute “Do Not Draft.”
#32 - Chicago Blackhawks (via TBL and CBJ) - Nolan Allan (D)
I had Allan ranked at 88th on my draft board. He’s got one of the lowest offensive ceilings, even for a defender, of a prospect in recent memory, and I cannot imagine he wouldn’t have been available on day two.