It has been a unprecedented 12 months in hockey and that actually extends to the 2021 draft, the place the pandemic has altered and in some instances halted schedules for a lot of junior and school groups. For NHL scouts, it means much more video than regular and much more forecasting – however those that know their areas inside-out nonetheless have a agency base to work off.
Having stated that, count on the sudden this 12 months as groups will probably have drastically totally different draft boards when the digital festivities get underway on July 23. Journey has been totally different and pattern sizes are smaller, so opinions will likely be fairly various.
With all of that as a backdrop, this 12 months’s World Below-18 Championship, which begins subsequent week in Texas, will likely be much more essential than ever with regards to shaping closing draft boards. A few of Workforce Canada’s OHL gamers have not performed in any respect since March of 2020, whereas a few of Finland’s youngsters from Helsinki have not performed since late November.
So it felt like the precise time to drop some draft rankings. What you will discover beneath is the place I see factor stand proper now, based mostly on conversations I’ve had with NHL crew scouts this season. Really there will likely be some motion – presumably loads of motion – between now and the precise draft, however take into account this a snapshot as we come down the house stretch.
Now, why have I gone with a high 40 right here? To start with, I would like you to purchase Draft Preview when it comes out – it is the subsequent challenge we shut and ought to be on newsstands and in our on-line store in late Could. We go to 100 there and this 12 months we’ll have extra information than ever, plus a particular “sleepers” web page and the same old options on the highest guys.
But in addition as a result of the distinction between a first-rounder and an early second-rounder is only beauty. NHL groups do not suppose this fashion; they all the time group gamers as being within the 25-40 vary. And if you concentrate on it, the distinction between No. 32 (now that Seattle is within the fray) and No. 33 is minuscule; it simply means the child who went thirty second will get to sleep higher that first night time of the draft.
With all that being stated, right here is my early high 40 for the 2021 draft.
1. Owen Energy, D, Michigan (BigTen): The actual fact Energy was capable of step right into a meaty position on good NCAA crew at 18 is exceptional. He is a two-way defenseman that does all of it and would not have any flaws, plus he can nonetheless add energy to his practically 6-foot-6 body.
2. Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda (SHL): Ending the professional 12 months in Vasteras so he may get extra ice time, Edvinsson is a very good skater with nice puck abilities and a giant body. You do not discover many 6-foot-5 defensemen that may do what he does.
3. Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL): Guenther terrorized the ‘Dub’ this 12 months and the Oil Kings star will likely be one of many high offensive drivers for Canada on the world under-18s. He is a finisher with an ideal work price and compete stage.
4. William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden (SHL): Implausible SHL season has earned him some exhibition video games with the lads’s nationwide crew. Eklund has ability, hockey sense and an ideal work ethic and his SHL manufacturing (23 factors in 40 video games) was spectacular.
5. Matty Beniers, C, Michigan (BigTen): A star for gold-medal Workforce USA on the world juniors, Beniers is an unbelievable two-way middle who can take key defensive attracts and likewise put up offense. He performs quick and he performs the precise means.
6. Luke Hughes, D, U.S. NTDP (USHL): He’ll miss the world under-18s because of a lower-body damage, however scouts know all about Hughes already. Jack and Quinn’s youthful bro has the household’s skating gene and loads of ability. His growth continues to be on the upswing, too.
7. Kent Johnson, C, Michigan (BigTen): The third Wolverines freshman on the listing, Johnson has unbelievable puck abilities and offensive hockey sense. Nonetheless uncooked, the previous BCHL star performs a really thrilling recreation with intriguing upside.
8. Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie (OHL): With no OHL to play, Clarke went to Slovakia and held his personal towards males. An offensive defenseman with a giant shot and nice energy play acumen, enjoying on the large ice in Europe helped his skating.
9. Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL): One other OHLer who went to Europe, McTavish was superior in Switzerland, getting his nostril soiled and competing exhausting. However he is additionally an offensive driver, an ideal finisher with a terrific launch.
10. Chaz Lucius, C, U.S. NTDP (USHL): Probably the most expert ahead on the NTDP, Lucius returned from a critical knee damage and by some means seemed like a greater skater than earlier than. Top-of-the-line goal-scorers within the draft, his shot choice is impeccable.
11. Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea (SHL)
12. Fyodor Svechkov, C, Lada (Rus.)
13. Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls (USHL)
14. Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL)
15. Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL)
16. Zach L’Heureux, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
17. Oskar Olausson, LW, HV71 (SHL)
18. Scott Morrow, D, Shattuck-St. Mary’s (Minn. prep)