Aaron
Vickers
October 12, 2021

Trio of 2021s crack NHL Opening Day rosters

Mason McTavish, William Eklund and Cole Sillinger will headline the 2021 NHL Entry Draft class that will start the season in the National Hockey League. 

The trio are the only three from the class to make their respective Opening Day Rosters. 

McTavish, selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2021 draft by the Anaheim Ducks, could open the season with Isac Lundestrom and Jakob Silfverberg in third-line duty. 

He was No. 10 in FCHockey’s Final ranking for the 2021 draft.

McTavish’s inclusion on the Anaheim Ducks roster was no surprise for Ontario-based FCHockey scout Olivia Carter. 

“McTavish is a player who stands out on the ice and is a very good, strong skater who will be able to keep up with the pace of the NHL with little to no problem,” McArter said. “I think with his hockey sense and being able to process plays as well as he does he’ll do very well. 

“When he’s carrying possession of the puck, he has very good control of it and is able to deke around his opponents not giving up his possession and he is able to slow his pace right down when entering the home plate area to look for an opening in and around the goalie and as soon as he finds it he’ll give a quick shot to finish on the play which will benefit his game in the NHL.”

McTavish had 11 points (nine goals, two assists) in 13 games with EHC Olten in Switzerland last season, and added 11 points (five goals, six assists) in seven games to help Canada to gold at the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Championship last spring.

“McTavish is a mature player who has shown huge gains year over year since his first season in the OHL,” Ontario-based FCHockey scout Dylan Galloway said. “His intelligence combined with his low centre of gravity and ability to compete physically for the puck has obviously given the Ducks faith to give him a chance in the NHL. As he matures I think his competence with the puck is going to make him dangerous offensively and he has a nice toolset to compliment that competence and finish plays.”

Eklund, No. 5 in FCHockey’s Final ranking, will start the season with the San Jose Sharks. 

He was the No. 7 pick in the 2021 draft. 

“In my opinion Eklund was one of the most NHL-ready prospects in the 2021 draft, but I believed he would have another year in the SHL with Djurgarden before competing for a roster spot with the Sharks,” Swedish-based FCHockey scout Viktor Bergman said. “But he has adapted well to the smaller rinks and style of play in North America and has earned his spot in the roster during the preseason. I believe that Eklund will be an impact player for the Sharks over time, even if we shouldn’t have such expectations on him this season.”

Eklund had 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 40 games with Djurgarden in the SHL last season.

He ended the NHL preseason on a line with Tomas Hertl and Rudolfs Balcers. 

“Eklund has been so much fun to watch from his journey from U18 leagues in Sweden to the NHL level,” Swedish-based FCHockey scout Fredrik Haak said. “He plays with so much intensity in his game and does always know what’s happening around him. He could play so many roles in a team and has the ability to be creative and produce combined with huge work ethic and an engine that never stops. Thats why I think he will continue to succeed in NHL.”

Sillinger, the No. 12 pick in the 2021 draft, will start the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

He practiced on a line, Columbus’ third, with Boone Jenner and Max Domi on Monday. 

“To play in the NHL right out the gate, you need at least one of a few attributes,” Saskatchewan-based FCHockey scout Joel Henderson said. “Cole possesses the size, physicality, and ability to catch and shoot with high-level reception and strength of release. He certainly has the potential to be the best goal scorer in the entire 2021 draft class.”

Sillinger, ranked No. 13 among 2021 eligibles at FCHockey, had 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) in 31 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the United States Hockey League last season, and was named the league’s rookie of the year.

He had 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 48 games as a 16-year-old with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League in 2019-20. 

“There’s no doubt that Sillinger has a lot of talent,” Alberta-based FCHockey scout Derek Neumeier said. “You don’t see many players his age who are that dangerous as both a shooter and a playmaker, and he combines those skills with high hockey sense and a serious demeanor.”

Owen Power, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, did not participate in training camp with the Buffalo Sabres. He instead opted to return to the University of Michigan for his sophomore season. 

Power is joined at Michigan by Matty Beniers, the No. 2 pick of the Seattle Kraken, Luke Hughes, who was selected fourth overall by the New Jersey Devils, and Kent Johnson, who was selected by the Blue Jackets with the fifth pick. 

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