2021 NHL Mock Draft – Holmes Edition
It’s April, which means we only have about another month and a half left of this NHL regular season. With the draft staying at its original date in July, for many teams and fanbases, it’s time to start looking towards the draft for the future of the club.
This year has been unprecedented in terms of how much teams and prospects have been able to play in leagues across the world, but also unprecedented in how little consensus we have at the top of the draft and throughout the rest of the first round.
A lack of consensus breeds chaos, which generates plenty of fun discussion for the coming months. Perfect food for thought – and a mock draft.
Important to note: Pick No. 13, belonging to the Arizona Coyotes, is skipped here as part of the NHL’s punishment to the club as the team must forfeit that selection.
1. Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power, D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
It’s been a trying time for the Sabres this season, to put it kindly, and with the first-overall pick, Buffalo will hang its hat on the six-foot-five tower of…power. Power. Power could be a foundational piece for the Sabres on their blue line, bringing a combination of size, mobility, and both offensive and transitional smarts. At 18 years old, Power has a growing resume that includes being named the 2020 USHL Defenseman of the Year as well as being named to the Big Ten’s All-Rookie Team and Second All-Star Team during his freshman season at Michigan.
2. Anaheim Ducks: Luke Hughes, D, USNTDP (USHL)
After selecting right-shot Jamie Drysdale in the 2020 NHL Draft, the Ducks shore up their blue line for the future by adding another high-intelligence, puck-moving defenseman in Hughes. Though not as offensively gifted as his brothers Jack Hughes and Quinn Hughes, the youngest of the three is as smooth as they come on his skates and can jump into the offensive zone with ease and break pucks out of the defensive zone with fantastic edgework and a strong first pass. Hughes and Drysdale together would be phenomenal building blocks for the Ducks on the backend as they look to the future.
3. Seattle Kraken: Matthew Beniers, C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
With the first-ever draft pick in Kraken history, the Kraken select Beniers to begin building their forward core of the future. Beniers is a coach’s dream with fantastic intelligence and two-way sense while also being a zone entry wizard with the puck on his stick. Coming off a point-per-game freshman season at Michigan, Beniers was named to the Big Ten All-Rookie Team and would be absolutely deserving of being Seattle’s first selection in team history.
4. Detroit Red Wings: Jesper Wallstedt, G, Luleå HF (SHL)
The Red Wings have key pieces in place for the future in the form of Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider, and Filip Zadina, but the one thing they’re truly missing they can grab here in the form of Wallstedt. Wallstedt is among the best goaltending prospects to come through the draft in recent years, in contention with the likes of Yaroslav Askarov and Spencer Knight, and could be a star goaltender in Detroit for years to come.
5. Ottawa Senators: Brandt Clarke, D, HC Nove Zamky (SVK)
The Senators grabbed future star forward Tim Stutzle and left-shot two-way defenseman Jake Sanderson in the top five of last year’s draft, and at fifth overall Ottawa takes a high-end piece for the right side of their defense in Clarke. Clarke has demonstrated this season he’s capable of playing against men in the top professional league in Slovakia, using his edgework and high-end sense to contribute at both ends of the ice. After a year or two of development, Ottawa could have something on their hands with a blue line of Thomas Chabot, Erik Brannstrom, Sanderson, and Clarke.
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6. New Jersey Devils: William Eklund, LW/C, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
The temptation may be there to go defense at sixth overall, but after selecting Alexander Holtz one year ago, the Devils pick up his SHL linemate in Eklund. Eklund has contributed in a big way this season in the SHL thanks to his ability to create space in the offensive zone with his edgework and spatial awareness, while also showing commitment to a two-way style of game. Plugging Eklund alongside Jack Hughes and Holtz could solidify New Jersey’s top-six forward group for the foreseeable future.
7. Vancouver Canucks: Simon Edvinsson, D, Frölunda HC J20 (J20 Nationell)
Quinn Hughes is fantastic, but he can’t do it on his own on the blue line in Vancouver and here they grab defensive help in Edvinsson. Edvinsson is a towering Swedish blueliner at six-foot-five who brings plenty of mobility and transitional upside. Splitting time between three leagues in Sweden this year, Edvinsson has shown himself capable of playing in the pro leagues in spurts and would be a strong complement to Hughes in the Canucks defensive core.
8. Calgary Flames: Kent Johnson, C/LW, University of Michigan (NCAA)
At eighth overall, the Flames pick up one of the draft’s most purely skilled players in Johnson, who would be the third Michigan Wolverine to go in this year’s top 10. Johnson is a fantastic stick handler who can open space in the offensive zone with his puck skills and agility. A gifted playmaker who finished second on Michigan this season in both points and assists, earning him a nod on the Big Ten’s All-Rookie Team alongside Power and Beniers.
9. Dallas Stars: Aatu Raty, C/LW, Kärpät (LIIGA)
The Stars step up and select Raty, a toolsy center who has spent the better part of the past two seasons playing for Karpat in the Finnish Liiga. Once thought of as the top prospect in the 2021 NHL Draft, Raty’s overall standing has slipped from where it once was, but the Stars would still be receiving a player with plenty of high-end tools including a strong shot, good overall mobility, and ability to stickhandle in traffic.
10. San Jose Sharks: Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
The Sharks add a piece to rebuilding their blue line with Lambos, a well-rounded two-way defenseman from the WHL who spent time this season in the Finnish junior ranks. Lambos lacks some of the high-end defining features that some of his defensive contemporaries possess in this class, but the young western Canadian does everything well and has what it takes to be a reliable top four NHL defenseman.
11. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dylan Guenther, LW/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
The Blue Jackets add some goal-scoring punch to their forward group with the addition of Guenther. Guenther, who has gotten off to a hot start this year in the WHL with nine goals and 18 points in nine games, complements Columbus’ style of play very well with his willingness to play with pace and drive high-danger areas of the ice to generate offensive scoring chances and score goals.
12. Los Angeles Kings: Fabian Lysell, RW, Luleå HF (SHL)
The Kings add another high-end piece to their ever-growing pool of young talent in Lysell. Lysell is a dual-threat winger who can attack in the offensive zone with skill, shiftiness, and can generate offensive opportunities for his teammates with his playmaking vision while also having the ability to finish chances himself with his strong wrist shot. Lysell will need to bulk up, but there’s plenty of talent here that could fit in nicely alongside Quinton Byfield and Alex Turcotte.
14. New York Rangers: Mason McTavish, C, Olten (SL)
The Rangers add to a position of need by grabbing one of the best centers available in McTavish, a young Canadian who has found success overseas while playing in Switzerland. McTavish is an intelligent center who excels at scoring goals below the hash marks due to his ability to play in dirty areas, use spatial awareness in the offensive zone to find open areas of the ice, and has a quick release on his wrist shot to score goals. McTavish could be a great fit alongside the likes of Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.
15. Chicago Blackhawks: Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
The Blackhawks pick up Ceulemans, a smooth-skating two-way defenseman from the same Junior A program that has produced talents such as Cale Makar and Curtis Glencross. With Ceulemans in tow, the Blackhawks could be well on their way to a strong defense core for the future with Adam Boqvist, Ian Mitchell, and Nicolas Beaudin after Ceulemans spends a couple of years of development with the Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA.
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16. Nashville Predators: Chaz Lucius, C/RW, USNTDP (USHL)
Lucius goes to the Predators, who are securing a dangerous goal-scoring threat to bolster their offensive group. Lucius, capable of playing both wing and center, is among the most dangerous pure goal scorers available in this class due to his ability to play in high-danger areas, identify soft spots in coverage, and has the quick release and hands in tight to finish off opportunities in around the net.
17. St. Louis Blues: Stanislav Svozil, D, Kometa Brno (CZE)
After spending significant draft capital in recent years bolstering the future of their offense, the Blues pick up Svozil, a Czech two-way defenseman with strong overall sense and fantastic mobility. Svozil may not have the dynamic skill that others may have, but the young left-shot defenseman is incredibly smooth on his skates and can transition pucks out of his own zone with ease, boosting the Blues ability to break the puck out and play more in the offensive zone.
18. Philadelphia Flyers: Zachary L’Heureux, LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
The Flyers pick up a player that plays a classic Philadelphia brand of hockey in L’Heureux, who is one of the most interesting forwards in this draft. L’Heureux is a skilled forward who relishes playing the role of pest, antagonizing opponents, and playing unafraid of dirty areas on a nightly basis. Discipline can be an area of concern for L’Heureux, but his blend of skill and grit has drawn some vague comparisons to the likes of Brad Marchand.
19. Edmonton Oilers: Cole Sillinger, LW, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
Sillinger finds his way back to Alberta by joining the Oilers, who secure one of the USHL’s most potent scorers this season after Sillinger made his way south of the border from the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. Sillinger may lack the pace and mobility some scouts would like to see, but his ability to make quick decisions on the ice and find his way to scoring areas on the ice has allowed him to contribute on a nightly basis this season. Sillinger also owns one of the best shots in this class, which certainly does not hurt.
20. Montreal Canadiens: Nikita Chibrikov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
The Canadiens snag Chibrikov to bolster their offense and add some scoring punch alongside Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Chibrikov is the top draft-eligible skater coming out of Russia’s pro and junior ranks this season in large part thanks to his ability to play with tons of pace. Chibrikov is one of the quickest skaters in this class and can burn defenders wide with speed and quick puck skills to generate offensive opportunities.
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21. Winnipeg Jets: Brennan Othmann, LW, Olten (SL)
After the trade of Patrik Laine, the Jets could use a re-injection of goal-scoring talent on the wing and look no further than Othmann. Another OHL forward who found his way to Olten in Switzerland, Othmann has long been one of the top goal-scorers in this class dating back to his prolific years for the Don Mills Flyers in the GTHL alongside Shane Wright. Othmann is an incredibly intelligent attacker who excels at finding soft ice and complements his linemates well by supporting pucks in the offensive zone.
22. Boston Bruins: Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
The Bruins pick up one of the top talents in the QMJHL this season with Bolduc, who plays a very well-rounded game that would nicely complement Boston’s puck-possession style of play. Bolduc has consistently impressed with his two-way sense and north-south game, displaying good speed that allows him to attack in transition or hound pucks on the forecheck. His production has dipped since playing with Lafreniere a season ago, but Bolduc is a very intelligent player that seems to destined to crack an NHL lineup in the near future.
23. Minnesota Wild: Francesco Pinelli, C/LW, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
With their first first-round pick, the Wild select Pinelli, a playmaking center who is able to attack in the offensive zone with fantastic on-puck intelligence and finesse. Pinelli’s vision is top-notch, allowing him to survey the offensive zone for passing lanes and can deliver the puck to teammates with crisp passing ability. Pinelli also displays good puck skills and control the puck under duress well; his 11 points in 13 games this season in Slovenia’s pro ranks speaks to his ability as an offensive contributor.
24. Minnesota Wild (via PIT): Scott Morrow, D, Shattuck St. Mary’s (USHS)
With their second pick of the first round, acquired from the Penguins in the Jason Zucker trade, the Wild take a big swing on upside with Morrow, who plays right in Minnesota with Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep. Morrow is a highly-skilled, yet raw, offensive defenseman who has dominated the high school ranks this season with his ability to pick apart opposing teams from the offensive blue line with his smooth mobility, playmaking vision, and smooth puck skills. There is work to do in his defensive game, but Morrow could be a very worthwhile project as he heads to North Dakota in the NCAA.
25. New York Islanders: Xavier Bourgault, C/RW, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
The Islanders add some punch to their offensive game with the addition of Bourgault, who plays for the same former junior team as current Islander Anthony Beauvillier. Bourgault is a creative goal-scorer who can make plays happen in the offensive zone with his quick hands in tight and willingness to play between the dots to make himself available for linemates. Capable of playing both wing and center adds some versatility to how Bourgault could fit alongside the likes of Mathew Barzal, Beauvillier, and Oliver Wahlstrom.
26. Toronto Maple Leafs: Sebastian Cossa, D, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
The Maple Leafs boast an embarrassment of riches at forward and some help along the way on defense with Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, and here they add a big piece to an area of need with Cossa. Cossa has been among the best goaltenders in all of junior hockey season, boasting an undefeated record of 8-0-0 to this point in the season with a remarkably stingy stat line with a 1.50 goals-against-average and a .945 save percentage, also notching one shutout along the way. Cossa has well above average NHL size at six-foot-six, and makes the most of it with strong positioning and puck tracking ability.
27. Florida Panthers: Daniil Chayka, D, CSKA Moskva (KHL)
The Panthers add a piece to their blue line in the form of Chayka, who has long been on the prospect radar as an incredibly steady and reliable two-way defenseman capable of playing tough minutes. Chayka isn’t one of those players that has that “wow” factor to his game, but the 18-year-old has already found playing time in the KHL, performed at the World Junior Championships for Russia, and could make it as a top-four NHL defenseman thanks to strong defensive and positional awareness and ability to move pucks out of his own zone efficiently.
28. Washington Capitals: Simon Robertsson, RW, Skelleftea AIK (SHL)
Washington dips back into Sweden for forward reinforcements, selecting Skelleftea’s Robertsson, who has spent time in both the SHL and Sweden’s junior ranks this season. Prior to the junior league’s stoppage of play, Robertsson was having a great offensive season with nine goals and 20 points in 15 games for Skelleftea J20, earning him time with 22 games at the pro level this season. Robertsson’s greatest asset is how well he sees the ice in the offensive zone, using intelligence to get himself into position to use his shot and generate offense for his linemates.
29. Colorado Avalanche: Isak Rosen, LW/RW, Leksands IF (SHL)
Rosen packs his bags for the Rockies as the Avalanche step up to select the dynamically skilled winger near the end of the first round. Rosen is an elusive and skilled winger who fancies himself a goal scorer, consistently putting up gaudy goal totals in Sweden’s junior ranks throughout the years. Rosen will need to gain strength considerably before making a meaningful transition to pro hockey, but the young Swede has all the skill and creativity to develop into an offensive contributor for a patient club.
30. Tampa Bay Lightning: Fyodor Svechkov, C/LW, Lada Togliatti (VHL)
The Lightning select one of the most intelligent forwards in this draft in Svechkov, who has spent his time in Russia’s second-tier pro league this season and been one of his team’s most prominent bright spots throughout the season. Svechkov is already an incredibly well-refined defensive player, doing an excellent job of supporting pucks for his defensemen, coming back to break up transition plays by the opposition on the backcheck, and playing key minutes on the team’s penalty kill. Svechkov is no slouch offensively, as he performed at a point-per-game pace in his 15 games in Russia’s junior ranks this season.
31. Carolina Hurricanes: Brett Harrison, C, KOOVEE U20 (FIN-U20)
The Hurricanes add some finishing talent to their forward group with Harrison, who like many OHL forwards found success this season while playing overseas. In Finland’s top junior league with KOOVEE U20, Harrison found immediate success with nine points in seven games, earning him a game with the main club in Finland’s second-tier pro league. Harrison is another forward who excels at scoring goals thanks to his ability to find open areas of ice and read off his linemates in the offensive zone, which would be a good fit with Carolina’s plethora of play-driving forwards.
32. Vegas Golden Knights: Anton Olsson, D, Malmo Redhawks (SHL)
To close out the first round of the draft, the Golden Knights select Olsson, a two-way defenseman who has found steady minutes with Malmo in the SHL thanks to his mature defensive game. Olsson is not a dynamic skater or offensive mind, but he is as steady as they come in his own zone and can make one-on-one defensive plays, make efficient plays on the breakout to get the puck on to the sticks of his team’s forwards, and can play tough minutes in key situations.