Scout Survey: Post 2021 NHL Draft
The 2021 NHL Draft has come and gone and needless to say, it went predictably unpredictable.
Consensus wasn’t a thing on the virtual draft floor this season, with sharp risers and fallers both in the first round on Friday, as well as the remaining rounds on Saturday.
Still, some teams did better than others — at least in public perception.
We polled eight FCHockey scouts, including video scouts Josh Bell, Austin Broad, Brandon Holmes and Sebastian Death, as well as regional scouts Dylan Krill, Joseph Aleong, Donesh Mazloum and Viktor Bergman, to get their impressions on what went down on NHL Draft day.
What was your favorite pick of the 2021 NHL Draft?
“The Minnesota Wild picked up one of my favourite players in this class, drafting Jack Peart down at No. 54. Peart was a first-round prospect for me, bringing excellent value to the Wild here. He is an extremely intelligent player that plays an extremely mature game. Often in high school players, they haven’t figured out the defensive end of the ice and they’re carried by their offensive game. Peart plays above his age while bringing patience and creativity to his play as well. Named Mr. Hockey as the top high school player in Minnesota, it’s great to see a homegrown player of Peart’s caliber selected by his local team.” — Bell
“My favorite pick of the 2021 NHL Draft was William Eklund to the San Jose Sharks at No. 7. I think Eklund has the potential to be the best offensive player in this draft class. He had excellent production in the SHL during his draft year and projects to be a very good top-six offensive player in the NHL. I thought he’d go in the top four, and for San Jose to grab him at seven makes this my choice for my favorite pick in this draft.” — Broad
“In the first round, I loved the Minnesota Wild trading up to select Jesper Wallstedt. Beyond being a fantastic value at No. 20, Wallstedt fills a true void in the Wild’s prospect pool by adding an elite goaltender of the future that will likely be NHL ready sooner than we think. Wallstedt should have been gone sooner than he did, and the Wild were able to take significant advantage of that.” — Holmes
“Dylan Guenther was my favourite pick of the draft, going at No. 9 to the Arizona Coyotes. Prior to the 2021 draft I had Guenther ranked No. 2 prospect overall. His Hockey IQ and ability to play in-between checks is already NHL calibre. Mix in his quick release, powerful shot and ability to create plays for his teammates and I believe that Guenther will help rejuvenate the Coyotes’ struggling offense.” — Death
“My favourite pick was the Florida Panthers No. 24 selection, Matthew Samoskevich. He’s a player that I’ve loved all season and have thought he was worth a first round pick, so seeing him go then was a great feeling. His high-end skills and agile skating will standout to Panthers fans.” — Krill
“There were many picks that I really liked, but Eklund at No. 7 overall to the San Jose Sharks is probably my favorite. He was a top-five player, in my books, and fell a bit further than expected, which surprised me as he is one of the most NHL-ready prospects in this draft. Good pick by the Sharks.” — Bergman.
“Francesco Pinelli was underwhelming in the low-tier AlpsHL this year, but he shined at the Under-18s against his own peers. He is still wiry and a raw skater, but his high hockey sense and dual-threat offensive ability was first-round caliber; the Los Angeles Kings were able to stop his draft-day slide when they aggressively traded up to select him midway through the second round.” — Aleong
“There are a lot of options to choose from but one that stood out was Kent Johnson pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets. I feel like he has been a little undervalued in the public sphere and I liked the decision by the Blue Jackets to bet on skill. I don’t think there was a player with a higher offensive ceiling available.” — Mazloum
What pick do you feel is the best value?
“Dylan Duke of the National Team Development Program was a fringe first rounder for many, sitting just outside there for me. He fell all the way to the fourth round at the No. 126 pick, and into the laps of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Duke is a highly competitive player that has a nose for the net, bringing a fearless attitude to some impressive skill. He fits the mold of a Lightning player as the tenacious forward that can produce. A near point-per-game player, Duke could be one of the biggest steals of the class.” — Bell
“I think Sasha Pastujov at No. 66 for the Anaheim Ducks is the best value in the draft. Pastujov has some wrinkles in his skating but when you look at this offensive skillset and how he produced with the National Team Development Program, he had the makings of a potential late first-rounder. The Ducks grabbing a potential first-round talent in the third round is a fantastic value pick and I think the rest of the league will be wondering how he fell to so far in a few seasons.” — Broad
“Nikita Chibrikov falling all the way to the No. 50 pick I thought was fantastic value for the Winnipeg Jets. Chibrikov was someone I really enjoyed watching all year, he’s an exciting and dynamic player to watch, and captained Russia at the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Championship this past Spring. I had Chibrikov pegged as a mid-first round pick on my personal board, so getting a top talent like him a full round later I thought was excellent on the Jets behalf.” — Holmes
“Despite being rumoured to have a shot of going No. 1, Eklund fell to No. 7 to the San Jose Sharks. How a player of Eklund’s calibre fell to 7th overall is confusing and is why I believe he was the best value pick out of the draft. While he may not have a fantastic shot, Eklund possesses one of the highest motors in the draft and he is able to back up his compete with fantastic hockey IQ which ensures that he is always in the right place at the right time. Eklund cycles well in the offensive zone and comes back hard on defense. He is a complete player whose creativity, drive and awareness reminds me a lot of Mitch Marner. He has the potential to be one of the best players in this draft.” — Death
“I believe the Dallas Stars got the most value with their No. 47 pick in Logan Stankoven. In my personal ranking, I had Stankoven at No. 15, so for them to get him with a mid-second round pick is amazing value in my opinion. His size absolutely does not define him, as he plays like he’s 6-foot with a great motor, not backing down from any opponents, willing to battle and get into the dirty areas to contribute for his team.” — Krill
“Wallstedt. The Minnesota Wild traded up to select a potential franchise goaltender, and I love to see that. I, just like many others, had Wallstedt higher up on my draft board. Goalies are hard to predict, but I believe that he is a top-five player in this class. In my opinion, selecting him at No. 20 is one of the biggest steals in this draft.” — Bergman
“The San Jose Sharks haven’t had much lottery luck in recent years, but they were able to snag a player at seventh overall that compares favourably with the top forwards in this draft class and some of the best prospects to ever come out of Sweden. A midseason injury and bout with COVID-19 may have been a factor in Eklund’s drop, but multiple forward-needy teams passed on him, leaving the Sharks to scoop up a potential top-line scorer outside the top five.” — Aleong
“Simon Robertsson had no business still being available in the third round and is fantastic value for the St. Louis Blues at No. 71. While he didn’t have the best Under-18s tournament, his play in the SHL inspires confidence that he can be effective against men at the pro level. With an unstoppable motor and burgeoning skill I think he’s just scratching the surface of his potential.” — Mazloum
What pick do you feel is the biggest reach?
“I think this is the obvious answer here, but the Ottawa Senators selecting Tyler Boucher at No. 10 is the biggest reach for me. Boucher is a competitive, physical player, and one that I would consider in the third round over the top 10. I understand that Ottawa is trying to build a team that is hard to play against, but you also need top-line, skill players to provide offense. The Senators passed on some of those skill players at this spot for Boucher. While he could very well turn into an NHL regular, I think he’ll be a faller in redrafts.” — Bell
“Boucher at No. 10 to the Ottawa Senators is the biggest reach in my opinion. Boucher’s ranking had a wide range in the scouting community heading into the draft, but I don’t think anyone would have pegged him as a top-10 pick in this class. He’s a solid player and will be able to develop in the NCAA but I find it difficult to justify taking him that high.” — Broad
“Boucher was an absolute shock going as high as he did, and that’s coming from someone who advocated for him all year long. Players like Boucher who can play with bite and physicality while also having offensive skill are a rare commodity in the NHL these days, but I’m just not sure the offensive upside was high enough to justify a pick inside the first round, let along the top-10.” — Holmes
“Boucher at No. 10 to the Ottawa Senators had to be the biggest reach due to very little draft boards having him going in the first round, yet alone the top 10. I feel that the Senators drafted Boucher to fill an organizational need around team toughness, however they should have waited until the second round to select him. Instead, they passed on more talented players that also play a physical game such as Zachary L’Heureux and Brennan Othmann.” — Death
“I thought Chicago Blackhawks grabbing Nolan Allan at No. 32 was the biggest reach. I believe he’s a sturdy, mobile defensive defensemen with a responsible game in the defensive zone with a physical presence. Despite being strong defensively, I didn’t see much offense from him in my views and nothing stood out to me to rank him in the first round.” — Krill
“The selection of Boucher by the Ottawa Senators at No. 10, without a doubt. Zack Ostapchuck at No. 39 is another one, also picked by Ottawa. I do believe that Boucher would be available in the second round, so the fact that Ottawa didn’t trade down is almost mind-blowing to me. It will be very interesting to follow both Boucher and Ostapchuck as Ottawa has proven to be right in their selections before. But as of today, I’d say both these picks are big reaches. ” — Bergman
“Boucher was very impressive in a small sample size for the USA U-18 program, leading some to believe he could slip into the back of the first round. His electric physical play and scoring touch he displayed this year were obvious traits that intrigued NHL teams, but the Ottawa Senators stepped up and took Boucher at No. 10. While Boucher is a relatively safe bet to play a supporting role in a few years, Ottawa passed on multiple franchise-level goaltending prospects and a couple of forwards that outscored Boucher on his own team. Armed with multiple early-round picks, Ottawa likely could have targeted Boucher outside of the lottery.”
“It’s hard to pick anyone in this draft other than Tyler Boucher. While I think he brings some translatable physical tools to the table you just don’t draft players with his skill profile in the first round in this day and age. He may be an NHL player however I think it will be difficult for him to ever live up to his draft slot.” — Mazloum
Who are you most surprised didn’t get selected?
“David Gucciardi of the Waterloo Black Hawks is the first name I thought of here. He’s a mobile defender that excels in transition, whether that’s with his feet or with his puck-moving ability. He’s a competitive player, always engaged in the play, and constantly jumping into puck battles. He has a strong shot and excellent anticipation. His decision making and processing could use some improvement, which is likely while he was passed over, but I believe that he was a better option than some of the other players selected, especially in the later rounds.” — Bell
“There are a lot of names that didn’t get picked in the draft that I expected to hear their names called, but Dmitri Katelevsky was the biggest surprise to me. He plays a well-rounded, mature two-way game with some offensive upside. Although his ceiling might not be the highest of the undrafted players I feel he was a safe pick and would have been a surefire bottom-six NHL forward.” — Broad
“I was very surprised to see Trevor Wong go undrafted. He fit the bill as the exact type of player that could be swung on in the mid-to-late part of the draft with good upside, and I was surprised no one stepped up to make that swing. Wong is a quick and active attacker, was a point-per-game contributor for the Kelowna Rockets this past season, and was a star in AAA before headed to the WHL. He will be a prime overage candidate for next summer’s draft.” — Holmes
“Ethan Burroughs is a player that I was surprised did not get selected. Even though Burroughs was not ranked very high on a lot of public draft boards, I thought that he would have made a good late-round selection. He is an intelligent forward who plays a solid two-way game. He excels at finding soft spots in the offensive zone off the rush and cycle. Burroughs has a high motor and moves in-between checks well. His quick release makes him dangerous when he gets to open ice. If there were an OHL season this year Burroughs would have 100 percent been drafted. However, I believe that he will get drafted in 2022 after a very strong showing in the 2021-22 OHL season.” — Death
“I was very surprised defenseman Jake Martin from the National Team Development Program didn’t get selected. In my views on him he displayed great defensive awareness, stick placement and gap control. Enough that it made me believe he was worth being drafted in the third round. He was very consistent with his responsible decision making with and without the puck and was one of the only defensively reliable defenseman on the USNTDP throughout the year.” — Krill
“I really believed that Peter Reynolds of the Saint John Sea Dogs would get selected, and probably in the top-100. So that surprised me the most. Another one I was surprised that didn’t get selected was Wong. If we look at players from my region I was surprised that Victor Sjoholm and Marcus Almquist didn’t get selected. There are many interesting re-entries for next year.” — Reynolds
“Reynolds didn’t rack up a huge amount of points in his rookie QMJHL season, but he still played a crucial all-situations role at centre for a competitive team. Reynolds is still susceptible to grinding, physical play as a thin-framed pivot. However, he shows great awareness in all three zones and is adept at moving the puck in transition and through heavy traffic. With a full CHL season in place next year, Reynolds could be a candidate to be drafted as an overager with a more robust scoring line in the QMJHL.” — Aleong
“Sasha Teleguine was far and away my highest ranked player who went undrafted. While he has his warts there weren’t many options with his speed and skill available in the later rounds. Add in the fact that he’s college bound and has more years of development available before team’s have to sign him, and I was surprised he didn’t hear his named called.” — Mazloum
Which team do you think won the draft?
“For me, I really love what the Columbus Blue Jackets were able to do. In the first round, they bet high on skill with forwards Kent Johnson and Cole Sillinger, also selecting mobile, physical defender Corson Ceulemans. They then adjusted in the back half, taking highly competitive players like James Malatesta and Martin Rysavy. Guillaume Richard could also become a nice depth piece. The Blue Jackets had a lot of picks and made them count. Looking back on this draft in a few years, I think Columbus will be the big winner.” — Bell
“I think the Dallas Stars won the draft this year. Wyatt Johnston is a very strong prospect, but the Stars got immense value with Logan Stankoven at No. 47 and Ayrton Martino at No. 73. Then adding Jack Bar in the fifth round and Francesco Arcuri in the sixth round were excellent selections. This Stars class has a ton of potential, and I think there’s a strong chance that a majority of their 2021 group will not only make it to the NHL one day but also have an impact once they make it into the league.” — Broad
“If you want to look at a team that really re-energized their team with their selections over the weekend, I would look no further than the Columbus Blue Jackets. Adding two potentially dynamic offensive forwards in Johnson and Sillinger gives the Jackets great building blocks up front to work around, while adding Ceulemans and Stanislav Svozil to help replenish the blue line.” — Holmes
“The San Jose Sharks had the best draft in my opinion. Stealing Eklund at No. 7 was a fantastic selection, and so was trading down to take Benjamin Gaudreau at No. 81 — even though I was high on Simon Robertsson. Overall, the Sharks made a lot of very good selections throughout the draft. Some noteworthy names that I like include Ethan Cardwell, Artem Guryev, Max McCue and Liam Gilmartin. These are all players with NHL potential and to select them in the later 4th-7th rounds is nothing short of a home run.”
“I believe the Columbus Blue Jackets won the draft after hitting gold on their three first round picks. Leaving the first round with Johnson, Sillinger and Ceulemans is exactly what the Blue Jackets prospect system needed. Three high-ceiling talents that could become core impact players for them in the future. Also coming away with Svozil in the third round is great value that could turn out to be a pick that we look back on as a steal.” — Krill
“In my opinion, the Carolina Hurricanes or Columbus Blue Jackets both had a really strong draft. I really, really liked the first round selections of Johnson, Sillinger and Cuelemans by the Blue Jackets, but also Svozil at No. 69. I also think that Carolina had a really strong draft despite trading away their first round pick, especially with the selections of Scott Morrow, Aleksi Heimosalmi and Ville Koivunen in the second round. One of my favorite picks in this draft is the selection of Joel Nystrom in the seventh round by the Hurricanes.” — Bergman
“The Carolina Hurricanes were without a first-round pick after trading down on Friday night, but they were able to make the most of their record-tying 13 draft picks on Saturday. The Hurricanes were able to grab a wide array of interesting projects, from near-pro ready options like Heimosalmi to more high-upside bets like Morrow or Jackson Blake. They were even able to grab a potential goalie of the future in Patrik Hamrla, a prescient move given their reluctance to commit to Alex Nedeljkovic.” — Aleong
“I don’t think any team added more impact talent than the Columbus Blue Jackets. Johnson is one of only a few players in this draft who I think could develop into a bonafide star, Sillinger is one of the better scorers available, and Ceulemans is another high ceiling player that I had ranked higher than he was picked. Stealing Svozil in the third round is just the cherry on top.” — Mazloum