This is my first Mock Draft for the 2021 NHL Draft. This post is only a mock for the first round; Stay tuned for a mock draft for round 2 next week.
1. Owen Power
Owen Power will likely be the 1st overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft; 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. Power 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, Terrific 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
As of right now, Dylan Guenther projects to be the 2nd overall pick in the draft. 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, as he is a better playmaker than both players.
3. Kent Johnson
There will be many players for the team picking 3rd to consider, but I think Kent Johnson has the potential to be the best player in this draft. Compared to Mitch Marner, Kent Johnson can be an 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 forward at the NHL level.
4. Brandt Clarke
Brandt Clarke could potentially be a top 3 pick but should he fall out of the top 3, the team drafting 4th will walk away with a really good defenseman. 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. At the worst, Brandt Clarke should be a good top 4 defenseman in the NHL.
5. Simon Edvinsson
Simon Edvinsson might have the highest potential of all the defenseman 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.
6. Matthew Beniers
Although Matthew Beniers might not be as skilled as other players ranked in the top 10, he is a safe pick. 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 Beniers because at the very least, they know what to expect from him. Beniers is comparable to Patrice Bergeron, and has the potential to be a Selke Trophy Candidate someday.
7. Carson Lambos
Carson Lambos could be one of the best defensive prospects if he were in another draft, but since he is a part of this draft class he will likely be picked outside the top 5. Lambos can be 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 Ryan Suter, Lambos can be a minute-eating two-way defenseman at the NHL level.
8. Luke Hughes
Luke Hughes and Carson Lambos are both going to be great defensemen in the league, comparable to the Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski situation in 2015. Luke Hughes is the younger brother of Jack and Quinn Hughes. Luke is an excellent skater who has the ability to get up and down the rink with ease. At 6’2/176, he has room to fill get 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 likely be drafted after Lambos because Lambos is way more reliable defensively.
9. William Eklund
William Eklund is the wildcard in this draft; he is good enough to be a top 5 pick, but he could also drop out of the top 10. Eklund has 23 points in 40 SHL games this season, which rank up there with Peter Forsberg for production at this age. While he may not be the franchise player that Peter Forsberg was, 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 Johnny Gaudreau, he is a highly skilled offensive player, high IQ, elite vision and playmaking abilities and a good shot.
10. Cole Sillinger
If a team isn’t need of a franchise goalie, Cole Sillinger should be the next player off the board. Cole Sillinger has established himself as one of the pure goal scorers in the 2021 draft. 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.
11. Jesper Wallstedt
Jesper Wallstedt is the best goalie in the 2021 NHL draft and and is the only goalie consider to be a franchise caliber goalie. Similar to 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.
12. Mason McTavish
Mason McTavish is a top 10 talent, but he is one of the players who could slide in the 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 Joe Pavelski, 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 Joe Pavelski. Mason shows incredible offensive awareness, finding ways to get himself into scoring areas. At the NHL level, McTavish should be Top 6 Goal Scorer for a long time.
13. Zachary L’Heureux
After Mason McTavish, the Rankings really fluctuate, but I think Zachary L’Heureux is the best option at this point in the draft. 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.
14. Chaz Lucius
Next off the board is Chaz Lucius from the U.S NTDP. Chaz Lucius is the best goal scorer on the U.S. NTDP U17 squad; he has a lethal shot and crafty hands in tight. Lucius is an electrifying goal scorer, combining excellent hands with an even better shot. He can get high-danger shots off from anywhere on the ice, including off the rush, and with a wicked release, Lucius doesn’t need much time or space to unleash the puck. His offensive instincts are off the charts, and he knows exactly where he needs to be on the ice to capitalize. Lucius has tremendous hockey sense and has the ability to read the play and put himself in the right place at the right time shows how intelligent he is. His playmaking abilities are not talked about enough; Lucius knows where his teammates are on the ice, and when he can feed them cleanly, he will. The dynamic forward creates and dictates play every time he steps onto the ice. Lucius is a solid defensive player as well, using his instincts and vision to disrupt opponents. Comparable to Mark Scheifele, a supremely skilled Center who has elite IQ and is a gifted goal scorer, with the potential to a Top Line Center.
15. Corson Ceulemans
Corson Ceulemans should be the next player off the board. Ceulemans is a dynamic offensive defenseman, who is an explosive Skating, an excellent passer and has a terrific shot. He was the youngest defenseman on a deep Brooks Bandits team during the 2019-20 season and was second on the team in scoring among defensemen. Like Makar, Ceulemans is a dynamic offensive defenseman that is an elusive yet assertive puck mover. Corson is a confident and poised puck carrier and knows when to join the rush. He has smooth hands for a defenseman and can deke out players on the rush through the neutral zone. His vision is elite, an excellent passer, and an effective powerplay quarterback. His wrist shot has a deceptively quick release that can fool goalies or defending players. Ceulemans has taken steps forward in improving his play in the defensive zone, but he has to pay more attention to details if he wants to be a top-pair defenseman. The Alberta born defenseman possesses great agility and powerful skating stride, which makes him a dangerous offensive threat from just about anywhere on the ice, but especially off the rush. Though his forward skating is elite, Ceulemans needs to improve on his backward skating to continue his growth in the defensive end so he can keep up with much faster opponents at the next level. Ceulemans has enormous upside as an NHL defenseman because of his physical toolkit; his poise and calmness are rare for defensemen at his age. Like Makar, he should be a top pair defenseman at the NHL level.
16. Aatu Raty
Aatu Raty was once considered the best prospect in this draft but now he has fallen outside of the top 10. If Raty is still available at this point in the draft, it would be a steal. 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 could a solid second line center in the league.
17. Zachary Bolduc
Depending on the need, the team could either choose Corson Ceulemans or Zachary Bolduc. In his first season in the Q, Zachary Bolduc hit the 30-goal mark and led all rookies in goals. He also added 22 assists for 52 points in 55 games, which earned him the QMJHL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and a spot on the All-Rookie Team. Bolduc’s shot stands out as one of his greatest strengths; he boasts a full array of shots and can bring any one of them out at any moment. On top of this, Bolduc is a strong, fluid skater and can make plays on the rush. Despite being known as a goal scorer, he is also a terrific playmaker that passes well and can surprise defenders with the passes he makes. Despite owning a difficult heavy shot with a quick release, Bolduc is more than willing to go to the front to bury rebounds. Bolduc is deadly on the power play, and his skill set should allow him to mature into a 5-on-5 producer. Bolduc needs to work on his defensive zone play and be more consistent on faceoffs, so he is more suit to be a winger at the NHL level. Like a Young Jeff Skinner, Zachary Bolduc projects to be a highly skilled Scoring Forward, who thrives on the power play.
18. Fabian Lysell
Fabian Lysell is a highly talented player, but because of his lack of offensive production in the SHL, he draft stock will take a hit. Lysell is a dynamic playmaking winger who breaks down opposing defenders with his great speed and puck handling ability. 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 hasn’t been very productive offensively. Lysell 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.
19. Brennan Othmann
Brennan Othmann of the Flint Firebirds is the best player available at this point in the draft. Brennan Othmann is an excellent sniper with terrific vision, creative hands, and is an terrific playmaker. Although Othmann didn’t have the offensive production expected of him, he still had a good rookie campaign in the OHL, finishing 10th in scoring among rookies. Othmann also has all the tools to be an excellent playmaker due to his excellent vision, nifty hands, and ability to find teammates in open space. Othmann has a deadly shot; the release on his snapshot is deceptively quick and powerful, and he can get one-timed shots off fast with pinpoint accuracy. Othmann has great offensive instincts and Hockey IQ, which aid him to almost always be in the right position in the offensive zone. Brennan also showcases a willingness to be physical in tough contests, which compliments his game well and demonstrates his competitiveness. Othmann is a player to watch anytime he takes the ice, whether he is making a sweet saucer pass to a teammate cutting to the net or letting a deadly and accurate go coming off the half boards. Brennan could also benefit from adding at least 10 or 15 pounds, so he is not get pushed around at the NHL level. Brennan Othmann has the talent to be a top 10 pick in the draft, but his size could cause him to fall in the draft.
20. Brett Harrison
Brett Harrison of the Oshawa Generals is the best option at pick 20. Brett Harrison is a shifty skater with a good motor and potentially dynamic scoring abilities. He Works well off the rush and below the dots on the cycle; he can also generate scoring chances through a powerful and quick wrist shot or a cross-ice pass. Harrison is surprisingly strong on his feet and can protect the puck as well as anyone. Whether it’s on the rush or along the wall, Harrison utilizes intelligent stick and feet positioning to fend off opponents with relative ease. With an electric and booming release, Harrison has the potential to become one of the elite shooters in this year’s draft class. Harrison also has the ability to make defenders back off by changing gears with his edges and hands. He’s strong on his feet, thanks to impressive lower-body strength, which makes him nearly impossible to knock off of the puck. Brett can be relied upon in any offensive situation, as a sniper or a playmaker, thanks to his tremendous talents. With an already strong lower-half, Harrison could be an unstoppable force if he can add top-end-speed to his arsenal. Comparable to Pierre-Luc Dubois, Harrison can be good top 6 center in the NHL.
21. Francesco Pinelli
The Next player off the board is Francesco Pinelli of the Kitchener Rangers. Francesco Pinelli tallied 18 goals and 41 points in 59 games for Kitchener last season. Pinelli is a well-rounded player that can play in all situations and can one day be a captain in the league. Francesco is a skilled two-way forward who can contribute in numerous areas of the ice with his versatility and overall skillset. Francesco possesses a good, long stride and can produce good speed that should translate well to the next level. He is a five-tool player who can accomplish any assignment from his coaches and has the offensive upside to suggest that he has more to contribute down the road. Pinelli is a smart, two-way center with excellent skating abilities and high-end puck skills. He wants to win, has a bit of an edge, and does not shy away from any situation. Francesco’s dedication to his defensive play is evident; as Pinelli gets stronger, he should become more effective on his end. Pinelli leads by example; He goes to the dirty areas of the ice, fights for pucks, and plays with a physical edge. His work ethic is off the charts and never takes a shift off. Comparable to Mike Richards, he is a smart, two-way center with great skating abilities, high-end puck skills, and leadership.
22. Daniil Chayka
There are so many options at this point in the draft, but personally I would go with Daniil Chayka of the Guelph Storm. Daniil Chayka is one of the older players in the 2021 NHL draft, and it shows; he plays with such confidence and poise for a young defenseman. Chayka has everything scouts look for in a defenseman; he has good size, skating ability, a good point shot, and an excellent hockey IQ, which allows him to mold his game into whatever is required of him. He is a smooth skater, plays in all situations, and eats up huge minutes. Chayka makes a great pass-first out of the defensive zone and is more than willing to jump into the play into the offensive attack. He has a good shot from the point, but it doesn’t exactly overpower goaltenders, so Chayka shoots the puck on goal for deflections. Defensively his size and skating make him hard to beat one-on-one. Even at a young age, Chayka has shown excellent leadership qualities, which is even more impressive to GMs and coaches. Daniil Chayka is a complete two-way defenseman with the upside to be a top-pair defenseman in the league. Chayka is one of the few players that could make a push to make an NHL roster if he gets drafted to a team in need of defense.
23. Simon Robertsson
Simon Robertsson is drafted at pick 23. 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.
24. Artem Grushnikov
Artem Grushnikov is drafted at pick 24. 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.
25. Sasha Pastujov
Sasha Pastujov, a standout of the US National U18 team and commit to the University of Notre Dame is drafted at pick 25. The most impressive part of his game is Pastujov’s game is his skating; his edgework is excellent, and he is capable of changing directions on a dime. He can generate space for himself in all three zones with a simple head fake or shoulder dip. Pastujov is a dual-threat left-winger with elite stickhandling skills and is one of the best Passers in the 2021 draft. He plays with a sense of confidence that has given coaches/scouts many highlight-reel goals during his time at the USNTDP. Aside from his talented skills in the offensive zone, Pastujov possesses a ridiculously high hockey IQ. Sasha is also a force on the powerplay, as he can usually be found setting up along the half-wall, ready to unleash a beautiful pass to a teammate or to bury the puck on his own. Pastujov plays with the game with an edge and can be a pest for opposing players to go against due to his physical and rough play-style. Comparable to Matthew Tkachuk, Sasha Pastujov is an elite Playmaker with exceptional Hockey IQ, scoring abilities, that plays with an edge to his game.
26. Samu Tuomaala
Samu Tuomaala of Karpat is draft at pick 26. 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.
27. Ronan Schmidt
Ronan Schmidt of the USNTDP is taken at pick 27. Ronan Schmidt is a towering defenseman who imposes his skill and strength in all three zones. Schmidt is nearly impossible to play against, as he combines his smooth skating with incredible strength to maintain tight gaps and wipe out opponents along the wall with ease. He plays an elite transition game and has multiple tools to move the play to the offensive zone. Schmidt has excellent skating ability for a player his size and has tremendous lower-body strength. Schmidt has an incredible shot from the point, with both power and accuracy; he can find the shooting lanes through traffic with ease. Roman uses his strength to eliminate opposing offensive rushes and hulking his way up the ice for an easy carry-in. His hockey sense is also promising, as Schmidt shows innate abilities to read opponent tactics and to shut down offensive opportunities. Despite showcasing an elite all-around game, Schmidt has a small tendency to second-guess his decisions, namely with pinching at the offensive blueline. He can sometimes be caught flat-footed as a result of changing his mind in the process of pinching. Like Brandon Carlo, Roman Schmidt projects as a potential top 4 defensive defenseman at the NHL level.
28. Xavier Bourgault
Xavier Bourgault of the Shawinigan Cataractes is the next best player on the board. Bourgault put up 71 points in 63 games last season in the Q and will look to build off last season. Bourgault’s offensive game primarily relies on driving the center lane and working off his teammates. He can create offensive changes through his excellent puck retrieval skills and non-stop motor. Xavier shows great hands in tight and has a deceptive release on his shot. Although Bourgault is an above-average skater, he makes up for it with his hockey IQ and tireless work ethic. Bourgault has all the tools to be a point producer in the NHL; he has very strong puck skills and his hand-eye is insane. His ability to stickhandle through traffic is a major strength, and he is also a reliable defensive player. Bourgault is a player that can be relied on to help generate scoring chances and make a difference on the scoresheet. Similar to Brendan Gallagher, he can be a top 6 Goal Scoring Winger, with excellent puck retrieval skills and non stop motor.
29. Stanislav Svozil
Stanislav Svozil is the 29th pick 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.
30. Conner Roulette
Conner Roulette is the 30th pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. With the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, he recorded an impressive 39 points in 54 WHL games as a 16-year old. Conner Roulette is a gritty point scoring winger who has great hands, playmaking ability and a nose for the net. He has patience with the puck in the offensive zone and weaves his way to the net effectively. He goes to the dirty areas of the ice and doesn’t back down to physicality. Roulette seems to always be in the right areas and gets good opportunities because of it. Roulette is an offensive-minded player who shows attentive detail to the basics of the game. He checks and surveys the ice before arriving at pucks to create a blueprint for the play. He still tends to try to attack opponents 1-on-1 instead of opting to find and use help when on the attack. He has a good set of quick hands that allow him to control pucks with deceptive components and hit targets with accurate and crisp passes. He does leave pucks unprotected out in front of his body instead of controlling play from the hip. If Roulette wants to be a top 6 forward in the NHL, he needs to improve his skating. Conner Roulette projects as a points-scoring power forward who plays much like Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights.
31. Nikita Chibrikov
This might be a reach but in terms of talent, Nikita Chibrikov could potentially end up being one of the best players in the whole draft.. 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.
32. Ryder Korczak
Rounding out the first round of the 2021 draft is Ryder Korczak of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Ryder Korczak was originally drafted by the Calgary Hitman, but was traded to the Moose Jaw Warriors in a blockbuster trade which saw Calgary acquire Jett Woo. Korczak had a breakout season after getting traded to the Warriors, tallying 67 points in 62 games; he became an important part of a team that was given the ‘A’ mid-season and finished the year as the team’s leading scorer. As soon as Korczak was placed on a line with Brayden Tracey, he found instant chemistry with him, but his production dipped slightly after Tracey was traded away at the 2020 WHL Trade deadline. Korczak is a creative playmaking center with great hands, puck control, and vision; he is also a great skater and has a good shot, which is pretty good, however, he doesn’t use it enough. If Korczak wants to succeed at the NHL level, he will need to add to his 5’10”, 159-lb frame. Comparable to Brayden Point, an excellent playmaker with great creativity, vision, and good speed, and can grow to become a great all-around player due to his Elite Hockey IQ.
Mock Draft continues with Round 2 next week.