Here are 5 risers and fallers in the 2021 NHL draft.
1. Sebastian Cossa
Sebastian Cossa had a fantastic rookie season in the WHL, sporting a 2.23 GAA and .921 SV% in 33 games. Cossa picked up right where he left off last season and has gotten off to a terrific start to the 2020-21 campaign; he has 11 Wins to go along with a 1.45 GAA and a .942 SV%. Comparable to John Gibson, Cossa is a prototype NHL Goalie, with a lethal combination of size, athletic ability and fundamentals. Cossa is a big 6’6″ goaltender with a rare combination of size and athletic ability. He has good fundamentals and uses his big body to cutting down angles on shots, while also being agile enough to get across his crease quickly. His height is an advantage when it comes to tracking pucks through traffic and his rebound control is quite good for a young goaltender as well. Cossa has the potential to be a starting goalie at the NHL level. With how thin the pool of goaltender prospects are this year, I would not be surprised to see Sebastian Cossa get drafted in the first round, especially with how well he has played the past two seasons. Currently, he is ranked 14th on Bob McKenzie’s list, which would make him a first round caliber talent.
2. 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. 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 is wearing the ‘C’ for the Russian team at the U18 WJC, where he has put up 10 points in 4 games. Despite the Russian Factor, Chibrikov has potential to be the best offensive player from this draft class; for this reason, he will not drop to the second round. Compared to Nikita Kucherov, Chibrikov is a Highly-Talented Winger, with excellent Skating, vision, and a dangerous shot. Nikita Chibrikov has shot up the draft board throughout the year, and is now ranked 22nd on Bob McKenzie’s Midseason Draft Rankings.
3. Matthew Coronato
Matthew Coronato is had a tremendous season for the Chicago Steel playing in the USHL; he had 45 goals and 80 points in 48 games in the 2020-21 season. That kind of production is tough to ignore, even if Coronato is one of the older players in his draft class. Matthew is an offensively gifted winger with good instincts and a heavy shot. He has decent speed but needs to add quickness to his overall game to make the most of his abilities at the NHL level. He has great hockey sense and makes good reads in the offensive zone, often fading out of coverage up high before jumping back into a soft spot at just the right time to receive a pass and get a shot off. He also has good vision and does well consistently finding teammates in space. Coronato is short but stocky for his age and displays good strength protecting the puck, often keeping defenders on his back on the cycle while looking to make a play. Comparable to Mats Zuccarello, Matthew Coronato is an offensively gifted winger with great vision, instincts and a heavy shot. Anytime a player scores 45 goals in 48 games, it catches the attention of NHL scouts, so its no surprise that Coronato has seen his draft stock rise from a late second round pick to a late first round pick.
4. Isak Rosen
Isak Rosen has all the tools to be an effective offensive players from this draft. Rosen is arguably the best player with the puck in transition and is threat whenever he gains the offensive blueline with the puck. Similar to Nikolaj Ehlers, he is a natural playmaker with elite hockey IQ, combined with game-breaking speed. He also has vision and shooting ability to a be a real threat in the offensive zone. Because of his size, NHL teams may be reluctant to draft him in the first round; this makes him a perfect second round pick. Not only is Isak an elite offensive talent, but he is also a very good defensive player as well. Playing for Leksands IF, Rosen only has 1 point in 22 SHL games, which suggests Rosen may take some time to develop before he is NHL ready. Isak Rosen has the potential to be an elite playmaking winger at the NHL level. On Bob McKenzie’s Midseason Draft Rankings, Isak Rosen is ranked 23rd, which is 37 spots up from his ranking from before the season began.
5. Fyodor Svechkov
Fyodor Svechkov is the second best Russian forward in this year’s draft, and is beginning to challenge Nikita Chibrikov as the best Russian forward. He has helped his draft stock by putting on a really solid performance at the U18 WJC for team Russia, putting up 4 goals and 7 points in 4 games. The young Russian displays excellent awareness in all three zones and has the work ethic to make things happen on will alone many time. Svechkov has shown more creativity and skill as he’s become more comfortable at the VHL level, and that has driven some of the offensive numbers up a bit. Unlike many of the prospects coming out of the VHL, Svechkov is an excellent two way forward who thrives on being the driver of play at both ends of the ice. He never lacks for effort and keeps the play moving. He does an excellent job of forcing play to the outside defensively and wins more battles than he should. His ability to use his stick and strip the puck or quickly pull the puck out of a pile makes him one of the best players in the draft class at turning play up ice in an instant. His ability to play in tight areas and around the boards is impressive for a guy who isn’t the biggest. Svechkov can be a poor mans Pavel Datsyuk, as he projects to be a top 6 two-way forward at the NHL level. Svechkov wasn’t on most people’s draft radar before the season began, but as the season progress he has worked his way up to 30th on Bob McKenzie’s Midseason Draft rankings.
Notable Risers: Mackie Samoskevich, William Strömgren, Alexander Kisakov, Oliver Kapanen, Logan Mailloux,
1. Aatu Raty
Aatu Raty was once considered to be the consensus 1st overall pick in the 2021 draft, but now some scouts don’t even see him as a top 6 talent. His lack of offensive development in his draft year is a concerning, and the fact that he was left off of the Finnish 2021 World Junior team should raise a major red flag. Despite Raty’s struggles in his draft year, his skill set is tough to overlook. Raty is a tremendous skater, with elite puck handler and possesses a solid 200-foot game, which isn’t always easy to come by when you’re talking about an offensive center at his age. My NHL Comparable for Aatu Raty is Sebastian Aho; he has the potential to be an impactful first-line center in the NHL. However, there are some warning signs about his consistency, which should not be ignored. Aatu Raty is ranked 20th on Bob McKenzie’s board, but it is not out the possibility that Raty falls out of the first round entirely.
2. Carson Lambos
Carson Lambos could be one of the best defensive prospects in the 2021 draft, but he will likely be picked outside the top 10 because of injury concern. On March 17, Lambos was shut down for the rest of the season by the Winnipeg Ice for a medical procedure. While Carson is expected to make a full recovery, some scouts are still waiting for more medical updates to be more certain before picking him with a top 10 pick. 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. Lambos thrives as 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. 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. Lambos is currently ranked 15th on Bob McKenzie’s Midseason draft ranking, but there is a chance that a team could pick him earlier than that.
3. 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. A Big concern with L’Heureux is his disciple; he has a bad temper and prone taking bad penalties at the worst time. This could be the reason why his draft stock is falling despite him putting up 39 points in 33 games this season. As of right now, L’Heureux is ranked 27th overall on Bob McKenzie’s midseason rankings; which is at least 10 spots lower than his ranking before the season.
4. Brett Harrison
Brett Harrison only has put 9 points in 7 games with KOOVEE of the SM Liiga Jr league, which has really hurt his draft stock. 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. Harrison was a top 20 pick before, but now he is ranked 33rd on Bob McKenzie’s Midseason Draft rankings.
5. Conner Roulette
With the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, Conner Roulette recorded an impressive 39 points in 54 WHL games as a 16-year old. However, in his draft year, Roulette only scored 6 goals and 12 points in 11 games. 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. Conner Roulette projects as a points-scoring power forward, much like Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights. Roulette was projected as a first round pick on most draft boards before the season began but now many mock drafts have him sliding out of the first round, including Bob McKenzie, who has ranked him 39th overall.
Notable Fallers: Stanislav Szovil, Anton Olsson, Logan Stankoven, Samu Tuomaala, Joshua Roy, Dylan Duke