2021 NHL Draft: 10 European Players to Watch

1. Simon Edvinsson

Simon Edvinsson is the Top European Skater in the 2021 Draft. Edvinsson has one of the most exciting tool kits in the entire draft class; standing at 6-4 with exceptional puck skills, vision, playmaking, and skating ability. He has a long, powerful stride that allows him to cover lots of ground and generates speed while retreating with backward crossovers. His skating ability and offensive toolkit are rare for a player with his size; he shines as an offensive defenseman with his ability to create scoring chances for himself and his teammates. Edvinsson is a strong defender; he shows good awareness in the defensive zone, constantly scanning for threats, utilizing his excellent reach to disrupt plays and to separate players from the puck physically. Simon Edvinsson has the potential to become a dominant NHL defenseman. Comparable to Arizona Coyotes’ Captain, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Edvinsson is an offensive-minded Defenseman with the potential to be a top pair, 40+ point defenseman in the NHL.

2. William Eklund

William Eklund is the second best European player in this years draft. He is a late-2002 birthday, so he is a bit older than most of the draft class, but his performance this year has been spectacular and impossible to ignore. Eklund has 23 points in 40 SHL games this season, which rank up there with the Sedin twins and Peter Forsberg for production at this age. While he may not be the franchise player that the Sedins and Forsberg were, Eklund should be a difference-maker at the NHL level. His play has elevated the play of the 7th overall pick in 2020 (Alexander Holtz) at times this year, proving that he is far more than a riding passenger playing with a veteran and a top prospect. Eklund can do it all offensively; he has the shooting ability to be a legitimate goal-scoring threat, added with the creativity and playmaking talent to be the facilitator. He has one of the highest IQs in the entire draft, combined with great vision and competitiveness. Despite not being the biggest player on the ice, he creates space for himself with good body positioning and has the ability to bounce off defenders. Eklund is a nightmare to match up against on nearly every shift because he is a wizard at creating scoring chances. Comparable to Teuvo Teravainen, he is a highly skilled offensive player, high IQ, elite vision and playmaking abilities and a good shot.

 

3. Jesper Wallstedt

Jesper Wallstedt is the best goalie in the 2021 NHL draft and is the 3rd best European player. Like Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, he is a big Frame Goalie with a lethal combination of size, hockey sense, and mobility. In the 2019-20 season, Wallstedt became the youngest goalie to ever play in the SHL and impressed in his debut; he has the potential to take over games from the crease. Wallstedt has the size and skill of an elite goaltending prospect, and his technical game is well ahead of his age group. You’ll rarely catch him out of position in his net. Wallstedt is an athletic goaltender that remains extremely composed no matter the situation and always seems very relaxed and poised in his net. His lateral movement is elite; he remains tight to his post when he needs to be; this gives him the ability to push off and be in exactly the right position. He is excellent in his angles and remaining square to the shooter; his rebound control is also incredible for his age. Like Yaroslav Askarov from last draft, his draft stock will depend on how desperate a team is for a franchise goalie.

4. Aatu Raty

Aatu Raty was once considered the best prospect in this draft but now he has fallen outside of the top 10. Nonetheless, Raty is still one of the top European Skaters in the 2021 draft. Raty is a Elite playmaker with high-level hockey sense and high-end puck-skills. Raty is a strong skater and is a very reliable defensive player that can be used in all situations. Don’t be fooled by his low production with Karpat because Raty has the potential is too great to pass up. He is comparable to fellow countryman, Sebastian Aho, in that at the worst he is a great playmaker with elite hockey sense and is a fantastic two-way player. Like Aho, he has the potential to become a great goal scorer in the NHL as well. Raty should be a top 15 pick in the draft.

5. Fabian Lysell

Fabian Lysell is the 5th best European player in the 2021 draft. He is a dynamic playmaking winger who breaks down opposing defenders with his great speed and puck handling ability. Fabian Lysell was a dominant offensive force at Sweden’s J18 level in 2019-2020, tallying 34 points in 14 games. He began his draft year playing for Frolunda’s J20 team before moving to Lulea’s system in hopes of a greater opportunity in the SHL; however, Lysell has failed to register a point in 6 games with the club. Lysell is an elusive playmaker who breaks down opposing defenders with his great speed and puck handling ability. He is a threat both off the rush and from the half wall on the power play. Despite lacking size and strength, Fabian does a good job of protecting the puck on his outside hip while looking to make a play. Lysell likes to curl low on the breakout to generate speed through the middle and understands how to put himself in a position to receive passes through layers while maintaining speed. He is a creative passer who can pick apart defensive coverages with seam passes in the offensive end. Along with being a dynamic offensive player, he is also a responsible defensive player who supports the play well in the offensive zone and does an even better job of tracking the play in defensive transition, taking intelligent angles in pursuit. Comparable to Kevin Fiala of the Minnesota Wild, he has the potential to top 6 playmaking winger.

6. Artem Grushnikov

Artem Grushnikov is the 6th best European Prospect in the 2021 NHL Draft. Despite his youth and talent, Grushnikov’s gap control, positioning, body and stick positions, and passing decisions all appear to be advanced well beyond his years. The Russian defenseman has great size and skating ability and is a calm and poised puck carrier with four direction mobility. Grushnikov is quick enough to stay with the smaller, elusive opposing forwards and outmuscles opposing players for pucks in the low defensive zone. Artem is a terrific stretch passer and is an excellent puck distributer all around on the attack. He knows exactly where the puck should be going and gets it there crisply. He is a solid option on the 2nd powerplay unit; he is very good at walking the blue line to open passing and shooting lanes; Grushnikov is also a deceptive attacker who uses fake shots to freeze defenders, then passing to an open teammate. Artem has the ability to be a little more involved offensively, as he has great skating ability (more in terms of edges/mobility than raw speed) and underrated hands. Artem Grushnikov has all the makings of a reliable shutdown defenseman, with the upside of a top-pair defenseman. Like Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes, Grushnikov projects to be steady shutdown defensemen that has the potential to be a top pair defenseman.

7. Simon Robertsson

Simon Robertsson is the 7th best European prospect in the 2021 draft. He is a hard working winger with good speed, great hockey sense, and a quality release. Simon Robertsson spent much of the early part of his draft year playing in the J20 Nationell for Skelleftea’s junior team, totaling 9 goals and 11 assists in 15 games. Despite only being six-foot at the moment, Robertsson is a strong power winger with great skating mechanics. He’s difficult to play against, especially along the boards because he has a sturdy stride that allows him to protect the puck well while getting up and down the ice quickly. The hard-working forward also boasts a wicked release that is just as heavy as it is fast. Robertsson has powerful strides, which helps him reach his top speed. His agility helps him to change skating directions quickly which makes him hard to defend against in the offensive zone. Robertsson has a high hockey-IQ and is excellent a making quick decisions with the puck. Like TJ Oshie of the Washington Capitals, Simon Robertsson is an all-around player, who is also a solid goal-scoring winger.

8. Samu Tuomaala

Samu Tuomaala is the 8th best European prospect in the 2021 draft. He is an exciting offensive winger who has great speed and skill, and owns a deadly shot. After tallying 10 goals and 21 points in 22 games with the Karpat U20 team, Samu Tuomaala was promoted to play for Karpat in Liiga. Although he has yet to register a point in 4 games, he has shown flashes of his potential. Tuomaala has great speed and skill; this quickness helps make up for the 5-foot-10 frame. He has the ability to get top speed in a limited amount of time, which is a crucial element in his game. Tuomaala can take the puck in his own end and create controlled zone exits and entries. His shot is his biggest weapon; whether from a catch-and-release stance or in transition, he has a terrific shot. Tuomaala has a lethal one-timer, which gives him serious power play upside. Tuomaala is an exciting offensive winger who owns a deadly shot. His release is among the best in this draft class, and he can beat goalies just about anywhere in the offensive zone. Tuomaala has the unique ability to slow the game down when the puck is on his stick. He can weave his way in and out of traffic and create plays for his teammates out of nowhere. Like Alex DeBrincat of the Chicago Blackhawks, Tuomaala has immense potential as a goal scorer at the NHL level.

9. Stanislav Svozil

Stanislav Svozil is the 9th best European Player in the 2021 Draft. Stanislav Svozil is far from a common name at this point, largely thanks to his situation. He has avoided top-end leagues or high-end juniors and instead risen through the ranks in the Czech Republic. Svozil has been a fixture of Czech hockey for years now, constantly being featured in international play. In fact, he represented Czech in each of the last three seasons, dating back to when the then-15-year-old Svozil suited up for the U16 team and scored 14 points in 16 games. Svozil even earned his entry to the Czech League, the country’s premier league, as a 16-year-old. He was the youngest player in the league by far and was faced off against some of the most experienced hockey players in all of Eastern Europe. Stanislav Svozil has the Hockey IQ, Instincts, and vision to be a top-10 pick; he also has the passing ability to be a top-10 pick as well. While his overall two-way game could use some work, and his stickhandling is a little below where it needs to be, his strengths so far outweigh his weaknesses. His ability to perform as a top-level playmaker as a 16-17-year-old in a professional league against adults is simply incredible. His amazing IQ and passing do make him absolutely great on the power-play as well. Svozil is the ideal man to quarterback the man-advantage, posing so many different threats. He’s really an all-around dynamo in the offensive-end, thanks to a level of hockey IQ that’s only matched by players like Carson Lambos, Brandt Clarke, and Owen Power; the three best defensemen in the 2021 NHL Draft. Stanislav Svozil has the talent to be a Top-10 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft; however, he is most likely going to get overlooked because he plays in the Czech league. Like Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators, Svozil has the potential to be an elite top-pair defenseman at the NHL level, but it may take 2-3 years for him to develop.

10. Nikita Chibrikov

Rounding out the list of Top 10 European players in the 2021 Draft is Nikita Chibrikov. Nikita Chibrikov is one of the most exciting and dynamic prospects in the 2021 draft class. Chibrikov started this season in the MHL and has since been called up and split time between the KHL and MHL. His team, SKA, is the wealthiest program in the KHL; the fact that they are playing a 17-year-old on their team is already a glowing endorsement of his skill level. Chibrikov is an elite skater; his quickness, edge work, and lightning speed are everything a team can ask for in a scoring forward and is the foundation of his game. Nikita has a fluid style to the way he handles the puck; he always has the puck in a position to distribute or get a quick shot off. Chibrikov has a pretty dangerous release on his wrist shot; he can get it off very quickly. Nikita uses his excellent vision and hockey sense to make quick plays; this has turned into his bread and butter, and he also has the passing ability to execute them with consistency. Despite his small stature, he is really strong on his skates and doesn’t shy away from contact. However, his physical game is only really effective when he’s moving quickly. Chibrikov can be an elite defensive disruptor but sometimes disappears when his team doesn’t have the puck. Nikita Chibrikov is very highly regarded by Russian coaches and should be the top Russian Prospect off the board in the 2021 Draft. Similar to Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Chibrikov has the potential to be an Elite-point scoring winger at the NHL level.

Notable Players: Isak Rosen, Anton Olsson, Samuel Helenius

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Published by Hockeywiz777

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