1. Owen Power
Owen Power is the Top North American Skater as of right now; he is a big and mobile defender who has elite skating and the physical tools to be a top-pairing defenseman moving forward. The 2021 class is loaded with premier defensive talent, and Owen Power is one the best of the crop. The Mississauga Native is already 6’5″/214 and is just a coaches dream. He is big, strong, mobile, mature, poised beyond his years, and comfortable in all three zones and he brings a versatile offensive toolkit that makes him a legitimate power play threat. Owen Power is comparable to Victor Hedman; like Hedman, he is a two-way defenseman, who can play against other teams’ top lines, while also putting up great offensive numbers.. Owen Power is the most NHL ready defenseman in the 2021 Draft and has the potential to be a franchise-type defenseman.
2. Dylan Guenther
Dylan Guenther is the 2nd best North American Skater right now. Guenther is an elite scorer with superb playmaking abilities and puck control. Dylan Guenther is highly skilled and an elite offensive talent that has very good puck skills and can set up and finish plays at a high level. Dylan possesses good size and strength but his skating is could be improved. He is a highly skilled player who understands where his teammates will be and reads plays very well. His shot is very good and aided but a quick release. Guenther was the Edmonton Oil Kings’ most dangerous player offensively in the second half of last season, playing well above a point per game and driving results as a shooter and rush creator who can weave through or past pressure to attack into his spots. Guenther is a Travis Konecny/Brock Boeser hybrid, but he has much more potential then both those players.
3. Brandt Clarke
Brandt Clarke is the 3rd best North American Skater in the 2021 Draft. Brandt plays like a poor mans Drew Doughty, he is an elite offensive defenseman, who has all the physical tools to be the best defenseman from this draft. Clarke is an extremely mobile puck-moving defenseman with high-end hockey IQ and vision and and is an excellent passer and playmaker. Brandt boasts incredible offensive instincts and puck skills, which are complemented by his strong defensive play and skating ability. The right-hand shooting Ottawa native is a wizard on the power play, and is a quarterback from the back end that sees the ice very well, while moving the puck up ice to teammate. He has has excellent outlet passes and he creates a lot of chances at both ends of the rink with his great puck skills and ability to maneuver through traffic at a high level. He should be a lock to be a top 5 pick in the draft.
4. Kent Johnson
Kent Johnson is the 4th best North American born Skater in the draft. Compared to Mitch Marner, Johnson can be a Elite playmaking forward with excellent puck skills and offensive consistency. He is a highly skilled player who is very elusive and creative with the puck. Johnson is also a fantastic passer who can set up his teammates consistently for scoring chances. He’s always one of the most consistent players on the ice, showing off his flashy hands and playmaking abilities; like Mitch Marner, this makes him very dangerous, with his ability to create space and create scoring chances for his team. Johnson is terrific at running the power-play; similar to Mitch Marner, he is always a threat to either score a goal or set up a teammate. He has all the offensive tools to be an elite center in the NHL, which is why I can’t see him dropping far outside the top 5.
5. Matthew Beniers
Matthew Beniers is the 5th best North American Skater in this draft. Even though Beniers might not have the crazy offensive potential as some other players on this list, he might be the most complete all-around player in this draft. Beniers has a very high hockey IQ and uses that high IQ to finish and set up his teammates. He is also a responsible 200-foot player, who breaks up attacking plays, and fights to take pucks back. Beniers has great first-step quickness and is deceptively quick coupled with a great shot and quick release. Matthew Beniers is a coach’s dream and a fan favorite because he plays hard every shift and has very few holes in his game. Beniers is more fit to be a second line center but if he plays with a Star player, he could be a top line center. Due to his compete level and hockey sense, his coaches are going to love him because at the very least, they know what to expect from them.
6. Luke Hughes
Luke Hughes is the 6th best North American Skater in the 2021 draft. Luke Hughes is the younger brother of Jack and Quinn Hughes. Like his brothers, Luke is an excellent skater who has the ability to get up and down the rink with ease. Unlike his brothers, he is 6’2″ and 176lbs with room to fill out and get stronger. Luke is an offensive blueliner who plays aggressively and is constantly looking to push the pace. Hughes is most known for his skating; the young defenseman has a silky smooth stride and possesses elite edges. Luke Hughes is an excellent puck-rusher; his fluid stride and shifty edgework allow him to elude opponents as he skates up ice with the puck. Hughes shows remarkable poise with the puck at his age, sees the ice remarkably well, and is an excellent puck distributor and playmaker. Hughes will be an exciting player to watch this season as he will likely find his way onto the scoresheet a fair amount; the key to his draft stock will likely lie in the defensive zone as teams will want to know how committed this offensive-minded defenseman will be in his own end when his team is protecting the lead in the final few minutes. In a defenseman loaded with stud defenseman, Luke Hughes has the potential to be one of the best defensemen in this draft.
7. Carson Lambos
Carson Lambos is the 7th best North American Skater in this draft. Playing as a 16-year-old for the Winnipeg ICE, Carson Lambos was already averaging over 22 minutes per game. He was relied upon to defend opposing teams’ top players and never backs down from the challenge. Lambos is the ideal size for an NHL defenseman and has no glaring weakness; he is a powerful skater who can contribute in all three zones and is very good at jumping into the play to create odd-man situations. Carson has a big shot from the blue line, but he often prefers to get in goal with a hard wrist shot that is deflectable. Last season with the Winnipeg ICE, Lambos took on the role of being a number 1 defenseman and continued to show progress both as a shutdown defenseman and at the same time adding to his offensive game as well. Because of the other top defenseman in the 2021 Draft, Lambos doesn’t get as much buzz, but he can be a top pair two-way defenseman in the NHL. Much like Jaccob Slavin, who gets vastly overlooked, Lambos can be a minute-eating two-way defenseman at the NHL level.
8. Cole Sillinger
Cole Sillinger is the 8th best North American Skater in the 2021 Draft. Cole Sillinger has established himself as one of the pure goal scorers in the 2021 draft. Aside from tearing up the WHL offensively, Sillinger shined at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge; h wore the ‘A’ for Canada White and scored five goals in six games as the team finished fourth. Sillinger was consistently one of the most dominant 16-year old players in the WHL, scoring 22 goals and 53 points in 48 games. Cole brings a well-rounded skill set to the table that will make him an attractive target in 2021. His shooting is his greatest attribute; he has a heavy, explosive shot, and his release is definitely NHL-ready. Sillinger can score from anywhere on the ice and doesn’t need much space to release the puck. His skating is strong and explosive, allowing him to power past defenders on the rush; it doesn’t take him many strides to reach his top speed. Despite his weakness on the defensive end, his elite offensive abilities and pure goal-scoring talent still make him a first-round talent. Sillinger is comparable to David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins, who is an Elite scorer with heavy, explosive shot.
9. Mason McTavish
Mason McTavish is the 9th best North American Skater in the 2021 Draft. Mason McTavish led all 2003-born OHL rookies in scoring and tied-first in points this season (bested only by the 2004-born Shane Wright). Mason McTavish is a natural sniper with an excellent shot that isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas to score goals. He is a big, strong shoot-first center with soft hands and a good feel for the puck on both the forehand and backhand. Playing on the Peterborough Petes, he normally sets up in the high slot on the powerplay; similar to TJ Oshie, McTavish uses his heavy, accurate shot to beat goaltenders. Although McTavish has a terrific shot, he doesn’t only camp out in the high slot; he will get in front of the goalie for tips, similar to TJ Oshie. Mason shows incredible offensive awareness, finding ways to get himself into scoring areas before shooting or finding open teammates with hard, accurate passes. McTavish has a bomb of a shot and man strength already. At the NHL level, McTavish should be Top 6 Goal Scorer, much like TJ Oshie.
10. Zachary L’Heureux
Rounding out the Top 10 in the 2021 Draft is Zachary L’Heureux. L’Heureux is a dynamic forward who has rare mix of power and skill; he is equally as dangerous as a scorer and as a playmaker. Much like Brad Marchand, L’Heureux is not afraid to get his nose dirty. He has a low center of gravity and is really tough to knock off the puck when he is in the offensive zone. L’Heureux knows how to work himself through traffic and establish an excellent position around the net. The Mooseheads leading scorer through almost a dozen games thus far this season and has been a game-breaking player. His blend of power and skill give him a unique skill that not many forwards in the 2021 draft have; if he continues to perform with Halifax as their leading scorer and star player, he could very well work his way up the draft board. With the draft rankings for the 2021 draft so wide open, L’Heureux could end up being a top 5 pick if he ends up having a tremendous year with Halifax. At the NHL level, L’Heureux could be a top 6 playmaking power forward.
Honorable Mentions: Zachary Bolduc, Brennan Othmann