July 25, 2021

2021 NHL Draft grades: Full results, analysis for every first-round pick

The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft is in the books. 

Entering one of the most wide-open drafts in recent history, NHL fans were able to finally see how teams value certain prospects. The speculation that has been ongoing for nine months since the 2020 NHL Draft finally has its answers.

The first answer came with the first-overall pick, with the Buffalo Sabres selecting Owen Power with the top selection. The Seattle Kraken followed behind, starting off their prospect pool with Power’s teammate Matthew Beniers.

The first surprise came at the end of the top-10, with the Ottawa Senators selecting Tyler Boucher at No. 10. It wasn’t the only surprise though, as there were several slides, rises, and one extremely controversial selection from the Montreal Canadiens to round out Day 1 of the draft.

FCHockey was on the virtual draft floor for the 2021 NHL Draft, handing out grades and providing instant analysis of every selection made during the first round.

  1. Buffalo Sabres — Owen Power, D, Michigan (NCAA) | Grade: A

As expected, the Sabres take the prospect that has been widely considered the top prospect available. With Rasmus Dahlin as the 1D, this has the potential to be an excellent fit for Owen Power. He won’t need to be the top guy, but he should be an excellent No. 2. The NCAA defender brings high intelligence, an excellent transition game, a long reach and impressive four-way mobility. Combined with his 6-6 frame, this was a very expected selection.

  1. Seattle Kraken — Matty Beniers, C, Michigan (NCAA) | Grade: A

With the first-ever selection for the NHL’s newest team, the Kraken took the first forward off the board in Matthew Beniers. One of the most competitive players in the class, he has top-line potential thanks to his ability to impact the game at both ends of the ice. The NCAA standout is an excellent piece to build around as the Kraken look to fill out their prospect pool.

  1. Anaheim Ducks — Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL) | Grade: A-

The Ducks made the first surprise pick of the 2021 NHL Draft. Mason McTavish is a strong power forward that will fit excellently behind 2019 first-rounder Trevor Zegras down the line. McTavish had a late-season push up draft boards after seeing his development overseas and his performance at the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship. He has one of the best shots in the class and plays an excellent two-way game. McTavish has the tools to be a future leader on this young team.

  1. New Jersey Devils — Luke Hughes, D, USNTDP (USHL) | Grade: A

The Devils are uniting two brothers with the selection of Luke Hughes, who will be playing with 2019 first-overall selection Jack Hughes. The younger Hughes fits the organizational needs of the Devils extremely well as a potential x-factor on the blue line. One of the youngest players in this class, the ceiling is sky-high. He’s an excellent skater who excels in transition. Imagining a future with Hughes and Ty Smith should get Devils fans very excited.

  1. Columbus Blue Jackets – Kent Johnson, C/W, Michigan (NCAA) | Grade: A-

With their first pick of the first round, the Blue Jackets selected the highest-skilled player in this class. Kent Johnson has the best hands of any prospect in the draft, leading to eye-popping creativity. He has a high hockey IQ and is a walking highlight reel. He really impressed with his smooth transition from the BCHL to the NCAA, putting up a point-per-game this season.

  1. Detroit Red Wings — Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda (SHL) | Grade: A- 

After taking Frolunda’s Lucas Raymond last season, the Red Wings stuck to the team for this selection. Simon Edvinsson is a smooth-skating defender that has the size that NHL teams love at 6-4. He’s a very strong puck handler that can stun the opposition with his creativity. While his game is a little raw still, the potential is very high as he has top-line potential. He should be an excellent complement to 2019 first rounder Moritz Seider.

  1. San Jose Sharks — William Eklund, C/W, Djurgarden (SHL) | Grade: A

In what might have been the first steal of the draft, the Sharks take William Eklund after he stepped into the SHL this season and excelled. For a draft-eligible prospect to play regular minutes in the top Swedish league and produce is a very big deal. The forward is arguably one of the most NHL-ready prospects in this class thanks to his strong possession and high-end offensive skill.

  1. Los Angeles Kings — Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie (OHL) | Grade: A

The Kings have one of the best — if not the best — prospect pools in the league, and adding Brandt Clarke is a big addition to the system. The highly offensive defender has top-line potential and could be the heir to Drew Doughty. His skating mechanics need some adjustment as he is knock-kneed, but the rest of his package is very promising.

  1. Arizona Coyotes (via VAN) — Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL) | Grade: A

The Coyotes traded for this selection in the Oliver Ekman-Larsson deal earlier in the day. There were rumours that they were looking at Johnson but with him off the board, Dylan Guenther is an excellent selection. He is a strong forward with a high competitive edge. He’s a skilled offensive player, as was seen with his dominant play in the WHL this season. The winger joins the Coyotes system and immediately becomes the top forward in the prospect pool.

  1. Ottawa Senators — Tyler Boucher, RW, USNTDP (USHL) | Grade: D

The Senators are the first team to go off-board, taking Tyler Boucher from the United States National Team Development Program. Boucher is one of the most competitive players in the class that works hard on and off the ice. He plays a very heavy game and is hard on the forecheck. He does struggle with his consistency and his offensive upside leaves some to be desired. This is a reach considering the players still available.

  1. Forfeited by Arizona Coyotes

  2. Columbus Blue Jackets (via CHI) — Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls (USHL) | Grade: A

After acquiring this selection earlier today in the Seth Jones trade, the Blue Jackets make their second pick of the day count by landing Cole Sillinger. The highly-skilled forward was a strong candidate to go in the top-10, adding to the value of this pick. Sillinger has an excellent shot and high-end playmaking ability to go with it. He’s an offensive weapon. After taking Johnson at No. 5 and Sillinger here, the Blue Jackets are betting on skill which is always a smart tactic.

  1. Calgary Flames — Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago (USHL) | Grade: B+

Matthew Coronato exploded this season, shooting up draft boards thanks to his impressive point total and relentless motor. He boasts an excellent shot, excellent possession and a strong transition game. He projects as a potential top-six forward but there are some questions as to whether his game will translate to the next level. Coronato joins the Flames and instantly becomes one of their top prospects.

  1. Buffalo Sabres (via PHI) — Isak Rosen, RW, Leksands (SHL) | Grade: A-

After selecting Power first overall, the Sabres turned their attention to the forward corps, drafting the skilled forward Isak Rosen. He’s a dual-threat offensive weapon, with a high-end shot and excellent vision. He drives to the net hard and, despite a smaller frame, has some fearlessness to his game. He’s very mobile and reads the game extremely well. This is shaping up to be a very strong draft for Buffalo.

  1. Detroit Red Wings (via DAL) – Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton | Grade: B

After trading up on the draft floor from No. 23, the Red Wings selected the first goaltender off the board in Sebastian Cossa. This is a bit of a surprise due to Jesper Wallstedt still on the board but there was some discussion prior to the draft about who exactly would go first. The 6-foot-6 netminder is very mobile, athletic and tracks the puck very well. He’s been absolutely dominant in the WHL over the past two seasons and should be the Red Wings goalie of the future.

  1. New York Rangers — Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint (OHL) | Grade: A-

The Rangers selected forward Brennan Othmann, a powerful winger with one of the best shots in the draft. He gets so much power behind his shot and is remarkably accurate with it. He is constantly pushing the play, driving the game forward and making an impact. He never takes his foot off the gas. Despite being a goal scorer, he also plays a hard game and is not afraid to throw his body around or battle hard. He should fit in well with the young core in New York.

  1. St. Louis Blues — Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski (QMJHL) | Grade: B

There’s been an ongoing discussion all season regarding who the top prospect out of the QMJHL would be. Zachary Bolduc has been in that conversation and cements that position with the Blues selecting him here. The centerman has strong puck skills and an excellent shot. He also brings good vision and puck control. Bolduc could slide to the wing at the next level but does have the talent to stick to the middle.

  1. Winnipeg Jets — Chaz Lucius, C, USNTDP (USHL) | Grade: A

Chaz Lucius is the first steal of the draft, as he was widely considered a fringe top-10 prospect. He had some injury problems this season, which may have played a factor in this slide into the Jets’ lap. Lucius is one of the best goal-scorers in the league, coming back after his first injury and putting up a goal-per-game in 13 games with the National Team. He has a knack for getting into the high-danger areas and his determination and hard work stand out both on and off the ice.

  1. Nashville Predators — Fyodor Svechkov, C, Lada Togliatti (VHL) | Grade: A

After selecting goaltender Yaroslav Askarov with their first-rounder last season, the Predators took a forward — but stuck to Russia — with the selection of Fyodor Svechkov. A riser on draft boards through the season, the center has good size and is one of the best two-way players in the draft. He proved at the Under-18s that he can contribute offensively as well. Svechkov has the ability to make those around him better and should fit well with the Predators.

  1. Minnesota Wild (via EDM) — Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea (SHL) | Grade: A+

The Wild traded up for Jesper Wallstedt, following the Red Wings who traded up for Cossa. Wallstedt was widely considered a top-10 selection in this draft class. The netminder just spent his entire draft year in the SHL, a feat that is extremely rare on its own, where he took over the starting role for a period of time. A highly technical goalie, he’s remarkably calm and composed in the net. With Wallstedt’s slide and the Wild trading up, this is an excellent selection.

  1. Boston Bruins — Fabian Lysell, RW, Lulea (SHL) | Grade: A

With the second-straight selection from Lulea, the Bruins take a highly skilled forward that was rumoured to slide down the draft board in Fabian Lysell. The left winter is widely considered a top-10 or top-15 pick in the public sphere, adding to the perceived value of this selection. He’s extremely creative with the puck thanks to his quick hand and impressive speed. While there have been rumours regarding his coachability, the Bruins are betting on skill here.

  1. Edmonton Oilers (via MIN) — Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL) | Grade: A

The Oilers traded down and drafted highly dynamic center Xavier Bourgault. The forward is an extremely intelligent player, with strong skating, exceptional positioning and impressive awareness. Bourgault has some creativity in his game that he utilizes to drive to the net. There is likely a belief that he’ll shift to the wing with the Oilers or he could eventually be the third-line centre if he does stick to the middle.

  1. Dallas Stars (via DET and WSH) — Wyatt Johnston, C, Windsor (OHL) | Grade: B

Wyatt Johnston is a bit of a surprise here given the fact that he didn’t play this season outside of the Under-18s but there were some rumours prior to the draft that multiple teams were looking at him at the back half in the first round. Johnston is a highly competitive player that can play up and down the lineup. He plays a mature, responsible game but he’s not likely to be a player to light up the scoresheet with a limited offensive ceiling.

  1. Florida Panthers — Matthew Samoskevich, RW, Chicago (USHL) | Grade: A-

While Coronato stole the show on the Steel this season, Matthew Samoskevich was right there with him en route to the Clark Cup. He has a high skill set in the offensive zone and has the ability to cut through defenders with his speed and impressive hands. He battles hard for the puck and constantly pushes the pace of play while being a very strong playmaker who seems to find lanes to the net with ease.

  1. Columbus Blue Jackets — Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL) | Grade: A

After selecting high-skilled forwards Johnson and Sillinger with their first two selections, the Blue Jackets turned their attention to the blue line and took one of the top defenders still on the board in Corson Ceulemans. He’s a very strong, right-shot defender. A strong skater, he excels in the offensive zone yet has a physical presence to his game as well. He’s headed to the University of Wisconsin (NCAA) where he can continue to improve and develop his game.

  1. Minnesota Wild (via PIT) — Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL) | Grade: A-

Earlier, the Wild took netminder Wallstedt and now added to their defensive prospect pool with Carson Lambos. Considered a contender for the first-overall pick entering the season, Lambos struggled overseas while the WHL was delayed. When the league returned to action, he played just two games before his season ended due to a medical condition. Seeing how his development curve took a hit this season, this is a bit of a boom-or-bust selection.

  1. Nashville Predators (via CAR) — Zachary L’Heureux, LW, Halifax (QMJHL) | Grade: B+

Zachary L’Heureux entered the season as a strong contender to be the top prospect selected from the QMJHL but he had some struggles with his consistency on the ice and his discipline after four suspensions. On the plus side, he does have high-end puck skills and impressive production. He’s highly competitive, which he’ll need to learn how to properly channel in order to utilize. He does have fearlessness in his game, driving to the net and getting into the high-danger areas with ease.

  1. Colorado Avalanche — Oskar Olausson, RW, HV71 (SHL) | Grade: A-

The Avalanche have a strong prospect pool on the back end and down the middle, so adding Oskar Olausson is an excellent decision here. The forward is versatile and can be utilized up and down the lineup. He’s a very confident player, having no issues driving into the zone and driving to the net. He’s a dual threat as a strong shooter and an impressive playmaker. He should be a strong secondary scoring option down the line.

  1. New Jersey Devils (via NYI) — Chase Stillman, C, Sudbury (OHL) | Grade: C

After selecting Hughes with their first selection, the Devils turned to the forward corps and select Chase Stillman. Stillman is a bit of reach at this spot due to his inconsistency on a shift-by-shift basis and when looking at the other players available. He plays a physical game with a ton of energy and has the ability to be utilized in any role. His shot and offensive game really shone through overseas this season in the Danish league. 

  1. Vegas Golden Knights — Zach Dean, C, Gatineau (QMJHL) | Grade: A

Zach Dean is a very strong centerman with high-end skills. His season was delayed due to an injury but after setting in, he was one of the most productive forwards in the QMJHL. He combines an impressive two-way ability with a nose for the net, driving to the high-danger zone both with and without the puck. He has excellent hands and is fearless in his pursuit. If he had a full season under his belt, he’d likely be a higher selection.

  1. Montreal Canadiens — Logan Mailloux, D, London (OHL) | Grade: F

This is a shocking selection from the Canadiens. Logan Mailloux was recently charged in Sweden for taking and distributing an offensive photo without the other party’s consent. He publicly withdrew from the 2021 NHL Draft on Tuesday. Given the severity of the charge, this is an unexpected pick that likely should not have occurred.

  1. Chicago Blackhawks (via CBJ and TBL) – Nolan Allan, D, Prince Albert (WHL) | Grade: C-

With the final selection of the first round, the Blackhawks finished off with a reach, drafting defender Nolan Allan. The WHL defender has good size and speed combined with impressive defensive awareness. He’s a physical presence that could be a shutdown defender at the next level. While he doesn’t project to bring much in terms of offense, his defensive contribution could be big.

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