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Canes Country 2021 Mock Draft

Four writers from the Canes Country staff project how the first round will go, barring any trades.

2020 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Rebecca Fiorentino/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s time for the Canes Country mock draft, where we do our best to predict how the first round will shake out. This is a bit of an interesting draft as there isn’t a true franchise-defining player available at first overall, at least not as of right now. Couple that with the fact that viewings of most players were limited due to COVID-19 and you’re bound for some surprises along the way. I am joined by Andrew, Brett, and Kaydee for this mock draft. Each of us will be picking for a handful of teams and there will be a brief explanation of the pick to follow.

1st overall. Buffalo Sabres - Owen Power, D

Staff member: Andrew

The Buffalo Sabres kick off the draft by selecting Owen Power, the current favorite to go first overall in the draft. Power projects to be a top-four defenseman at the NHL level with a similar play style to Dougie Hamilton. It’s clear that the Sabres need to turn a corner in a major way, so drafting a top four defenseman would be a good starting point for the Sabres. Power may take some time to develop, and the going might be tough at first, but the risk could be worth the reward four or five years down the line. A pairing of Power and Rasmus Dahlin could be a force once both of them enter their prime.

2. Seattle Kraken - Matthew Beniers, C

Staff member: Brett

There’s a good chance that the University of Michigan sees two of their players selected in the top three of the 2021 draft. Beniers is a great prospect for Seattle to build their pipeline around. Beniers arguably has the highest upside out of any forward in this draft class, with William Eklund being the other forward in question here. Beniers is probably safer, and playing it safe is the name of the game for Ron Francis.

3. Anaheim Ducks - William Eklund, C/LW

Staff member: Kaydee

Anaheim picks the best player available and is thrilled to land Eklund here. If Eklund hits his ceiling, he’ll be a first-line forward with 60+ point upside. There’s plenty to like about Eklund’s game, such as his elite hockey sense and his offensive upside. Anaheim’s prospect pool is relatively weak even with Trevor Zegras emerging as an NHL forward. The Ducks could opt to take a defenseman here, but this seems like the best pick.

4. New Jersey Devils - Brandt Clarke, D

Staff member: Matthew

New Jersey may have Ty Smith, but the Devils’ depth at defense in the pipeline is fairly weak. Shakir Mukhamadullin was certainly a choice in the first round last year, so the Devils will need a legitimate top four defenseman in this draft. Enter Brandt Clarke. There’s plenty to like about Clarke’s game, and if he can continue to grow offensively, the Devils could have a two-way threat on their hands. Clarke is an active and mobile right-handed defenseman with size. This season, I saw more of the offensive game that appeared in flashes during his rookie year in the OHL. I have no doubt in my mind that he’s a top five prospect in this draft.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets - Luke Hughes, D

Staff member: Andrew

Columbus appears to be in rebuild mode after a disappointing season and the not-so-well-kept secret that Seth Jones wants out. The Blue Jackets have one of the NHL’s weakest prospect pools as well, so they need to start this draft off with a bang. Luke Hughes is the perfect pick here. While it’s not a guarantee that he’ll make the NHL, he has the skills to become a legitimate offensive defenseman at the next level. Sure, there may be better players available, but Hughes has some of the highest upside out of the players remaining. Columbus needs another franchise defenseman in order to build a contender, and Hughes is the guy. His skating is flawless and there’s plenty to love about his offensive game.

6. Detroit Red Wings - Kent Johnson, C

Staff Member: Brett

Detroit takes a shot at Kent Johnson, making him the fourth player with University of Michigan ties to be selected in this draft. (Note: Hughes is committed to Michigan) Johnson is a bit of a reach for the Wings, but there’s a lot to like about the player. His hockey sense is elite and there’s a good chance that he’ll be ready to turn pro around this time next year. Johnson could fill a 2C role nicely with the Red Wings in the next two years, making him an interesting pick for Steve Yzerman and his crew.

7. San Jose Sharks - Jesper Wallstedt, G

Staff member: Kaydee

The Sharks need help everywhere in their lineup, especially in net. After all, this is the team that thought icing a tandem of Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk would win them games in 2021. Wallstedt has the potential to become an NHL goalie in a few years due to his success in Sweden. He has the ability to steal games for his team and he’s a fantastic netminder. There’s a legitimate chance that Wallstedt could become a top-10, perhaps even top-five, goaltender in this draft. Given his potential and the Sharks’ needs at every position, Wallstedt is a great choice.

8. Los Angeles Kings - Dylan Guenther, LW/RW

Staff member: Matthew

I was hoping that Wallstedt fell to the Kings because I feel that he and LA are a perfect fit. The Kings have built one of the NHL’s most impressive prospect pools over the past few years, and if they were to add a top goalie prospect, they’d further cement themselves as the top pipeline in the NHL. Guenther is a nice pick at eighth overall, however. He’s one of the draft’s most potent scorers and could be a top line scorer at the NHL level.

9. Vancouver Canucks - Mason McTavish, C

Staff member: Andrew

Cam Robinson of EliteProspects exhales as his beloved Canucks pass on Simon Edvinsson and take the best player available. McTavish is a great prospect that could have gone even higher in this draft if the OHL had a season. He has everything you want in a top-10 pick. Size, skill, speed, hockey sense, top six upside, you name it. This is a fantastic pick for the Canucks, who have some work to do in their pipeline. McTavish instantly becomes Vancouver’s best prospect after being selected by the Canucks.

10. Ottawa Senators - Chaz Lucius, C

Staff member: Brett

We have an early contender for the unofficial “Name of the Draft” award. Ottawa takes a swing at Chaz Lucius, hoping that his injury issues don’t become a concern moving forward. Lucius missed the majority of this season due to knee injuries and is still a top-10 pick in spite of all of that. Lucius is one of the draft’s best goal scorers and comes from a program that the Ottawa Senators are very familiar with. The Senators seem content with stocking up on NTDP players while they can.

11. Arizona Coyotes - Forfeit

12. Chicago Blackhawks - Fyodor Svechkov, W/C

Staff member: Kaydee

Svechkov is an interesting pick for the Blackhawks. It’s a bit of a reach, but there’s a lot to like about his game on both sides of the puck. He’s a solid two-way forward with second-line offensive upside, making him one of the safer picks in the draft. Of course, you never know with Russian players since KHL teams tend to shelter U20 skaters. Svechkov did see a lot of time in the VHL, Russia’s second-tier league, this past season, however. The Blackhawks are getting a mature player with solid upside, making this a solid albeit “safe” pick.

13. Calgary Flames - Simon Edvinsson, D

Staff member: Matthew

Edvinsson is a bit boring when you compare him to the other defensemen that have been selected thus far, but he’s a safe pick for the Flames. You’re likely getting a top four, maybe even top pairing two-way defenseman with this pick. Edvinsson might not be the flashiest defenseman in this draft, but I’d argue that he’s the best defensively at this point in time. Some scouts rank Edvinsson as the second best defenseman in this class, right behind Owen Power. The size and skating ability are enticing, which is why the Flames pick him up. Honestly, I’d be shocked if Edvinsson falls this far.

14. Philadelphia Flyers - Matthew Coronato, LW

Staff member: Andrew

This is the first pick of the draft that truly seems out of left field. Coronato is a good prospect, but I don’t believe that he’s the best USHL skater in this draft. With names like Lysell, Olausson, and Sillinger on the board, it seems like the Flyers are leaving talent on the table. Don’t get me wrong, Coronato is a fine prospect. There’s even a good chance that he becomes a middle-six forward at some point in the future. I feel that fans wouldn’t like this pick, so I’m all for seeing Flyers fans get mad. On second thought, this is a fantastic pick. Great job, Andrew.

15. Dallas Stars - Cole Sillinger, C

Staff member: Brett

Sillinger might be the best non-NTDP skater from the USHL in this draft. He’s a great shooter, a play driver, and has some strength, making him a strong offensive center at that level. Sillinger is a fantastic pick for the Stars, who will add another strong forward to their young core of NHL players and prospects. It’s possible that the Stars ice a lineup featuring Sillinger, Robertson, Dellandrea, Gurianov and Hintz in the not so distant future.

16. New York Rangers - Brennan Othmann, LW

Staff member: Kaydee

Othmann is a bit of a reach for the Rangers, but they’ve proven to be comfortable with taking a few reaches in the past. There’s a lot to like about Othmann besides his goal-scoring abilities, too. He plays with a ton of pace, which seems to be how the Rangers are trying to build their game. A player like Othmann would likely be ranked higher had the OHL conducted a season, so the Rangers might end up getting a steal here. Sure, there’s always the risk that he doesn’t work out, but Othmann is one of the best players available in this situation.

17. St. Louis Blues - Aatu Raty, C

Staff member: Matthew

St. Louis hopes that they’re getting first overall level Aatu Raty instead of whatever this past season was for Aatu Raty. Raty’s size and skating ability should make him a top prospect in this draft class, but nothing has worked for him yet. Raty is a power forward that fits St. Louis’ system, though, and if he figures things out, the sky’s the limit. He could be one of the league’s best power forwards if he reaches his full potential. St. Louis is taking a big risk with this pick, hoping that Raty is able to figure things out.

18. Winnipeg Jets - Zachary L’Heureux, C

Staff member: Andrew

This seems like a Winnipeg pick, doesn’t it? They’re getting an agitator that could be a solid offensive presence as well, making L’Heureux the perfect fit for the Jets. They’ll need to wait a while for L’Heureux to mature and figure out how to toe the line instead of cross it. This is a reach but not too far out of the question given the amount of question marks surrounding most of the remaining players on the board.

19. Nashville Predators - Carson Lambos, D

Staff member: Brett

Nashville sure loves to take defensemen in the first round. Lambos isn’t a bad player by any stretch of the imagination, but I would have thought that they’d go with a forward here. He’s a good shooter with size and top four upside, but his performance this season left a lot to be desired. Scouts worried about his skating as well as some other issues, so this might be a case of a player falling into Nashville’s hands rather than the Predators reaching for him. I don’t hate the pick, but Lambos is far from a sure thing.

20. Edmonton Oilers - Sebastian Cossa, G

Staff member: Kaydee

The Oilers do a terrible job of developing their prospects. Before you come at me with the “But McDavid and Draisatl” takes, I’d like for you to look at the rest of their roster and tell me with a straight face that they’re good at developing young talent. Thought so. The Oilers have a few goalies that could turn out to be average NHL goalies, but none of their prospects or current NHL goalies have starter potential. Cossa is a boost to their pipeline, and while I don’t advocate for drafting based off of positional need, this pick makes more sense than most.

21. Boston Bruins - Fabian Lysell, RW

Staff member: Matthew

The Bruins thank 20 other teams for passing on Lysell and sprint up to the imaginary podium in order to draft the Swedish right winger. I am shocked that Lysell fell this far in the draft, but teams might be looking at his SHL production as a cause for concern. I sure wouldn’t, though. The Bruins draft quality over quantity most of the time, so they’ll draft the best player available with this pick.

22. Minnesota Wild - Zachary Bolduc, C

Staff member: Andrew

Bolduc is a strange pick here. He showed us this past season that he can be a bit of a passenger at times, causing concerns for his NHL ceiling. Still, he has some skills that can translate to middle six upside if he’s developed properly. Minnesota makes this pick in the hopes that they can help guide Bolduc to stardom.

23. Detroit Red Wings - ?

Staff member: Brett

The Detroit Red Wings proudly announce that they will select Brennan Othmann and stand around awkwardly looking out into the crowd. Bill Daly comes up to Yzerman and whispers to him, clearly saying something along the lines of “Othmann was picked seven picks earlier, Steve.” Yzerman sheepishly returns to the podium filled with embarrassment and announces that Detroit has taken Nikita Chibrikov.

Note: This was a real thing that happened during our mock draft and I had to poke fun at Brett for this mistake.

24. Florida Panthers - Daniil Chayka, D

Staff member: Brett

Florida is confused by Detroit’s mistake but carries on without making a comment. Selecting Daniil Chayka is a major risk for GM Bill Zito and his staff. He has the size and reach that you look for in a defenseman, but everything else in his game leaves much to be desired. It’s almost as if the player has all of the tools, he just hasn’t figured out how to make anything of his game yet. This is why so many scouts are hesitant to put Chayka in the first round, with some going as far as to leave him out of the top 50 entirely. It’s a major swing for the fences here.

25. Columbus Blue Jackets - Zach Dean, C

Staff member: Andrew

Dean is a player that might fly under the radar at the draft due to the fact that he plays on a bad QMJHL team. Columbus is happy to scoop him up at 25. Dean is lightning fast and does a lot of things well in the offensive zone. I’d argue that he plays at a higher level and pace than his teammates, which is why his production has been mediocre thus far. This is a solid pickup for the Blue Jackets, who have already picked Luke Hughes.

26. Minnesota Wild - Isak Rosen, LW/RW

Staff member: Andrew

Minnesota opts for a safer pick here after taking a risk with Bolduc just a few picks ago. Rosen projects as a solid middle six winger with decent but not fantastic upside. He’ll play on the second power play unit and see some starts on both ends of the ice, but he probably won’t be a star. Still, with two first round picks, it’s okay to take a player that has a high floor and a not so high ceiling.

27. Carolina Hurricanes - Oskar Olausson, LW/RW

Staff member: Matthew

The Hurricanes are likely very familiar with Olausson due to the fact that he was on a line with Zion Nybeck for a while. Olausson is also the best player remaining on the board and can be a legitimate second-line winger if his puck handling improves. He has top-15 skill in this class and the Hurricanes are running, jumping, dancing and singing up to the podium to make this pick. And not just because I made it. OK, maybe a little.

28. Colorado Avalanche - Tristan Broz, F

Staff member: Kaydee

Broz is an off the board pick for the Avalanche, that’s for sure. I’m surprised that they didn’t opt to take someone such as Stankoven or Pinelli here, but that’s just me. The Avalanche have time to let Broz develop into a middle six playmaking forward, which might be why they felt comfortable making this pick.

29. New Jersey Devils - Samu Tuomaala, RW

Staff member: Matthew

Tuomaala seems like the right pick for New Jersey here. He’s quick, has a ton of tools offensively, and could be another top six forward in their pipeline. The draft is so unpredictable at this point that teams are trying to pick the players that fit their systems the best. Tuomaala is a good fit for how New Jersey is trying to play.

30. Vegas Golden Knights - Benjamin Gaudreau, G

Staff member: Andrew

I think that Gaudreau could be one of the best North American goalies in the draft. I loved watching him play for Sarnia back when the OHL had a season and it’s clear that he can steal games for his team. The sky is the limit for Gaudreau and I believe that he could have a higher ceiling than a goalie such as Sebastian Cossa. Vegas gets a great pick here.

31. Montreal Canadiens - Logan Stankoven, C/RW

Staff member: Matthew

Montreal takes a contender for “Name of the Draft” as well as a player under five-foot-ten. Stankoven is small, but we’ve seen Cole Caufield work wonders for Montreal and I’m fairly sure that Stankoven could be the same way. If Stankoven was six feet tall, there’s no question that he would be a top 20 pick in this draft.

32. Columbus Blue Jackets - Brent Johnson, D

During the 2020 draft, Columbus proved to us all that they won’t hesitate to reach for a player if they believe that he is the best player available. Johnson is definitely a reach due to the fact that only two scouting services have him in their top 40 and only four have him in their top 50. Regardless, this is one player that Columbus likely won’t see for a while. He is committed to the University of North Dakota for the fall of 2022, meaning that he has one more year of USHL play before college. Columbus hopes that the slow cooking process works out for Johnson and he becomes a top four play driver on the back end.

What a draft! With all of the uncertainty surrounding this draft class and the sheer lack of high-end talent, it’s safe to say that there will be a few surprises come draft day. If you’ve made it this far, here are some of the top players that were not selected in the first round:

  • Xavier Bourgault
  • Francesco Pinelli
  • Scott Morrow
  • Sasha Pastujov

These picks are all correct and any deviation in real life will result in a visit from the TVA.