Every Draft, there are off the board 1st round picks, so I thought it would be appropriate to make a list of off the board 1st round picks.
1. Samu Tuomaala
Samu Tuomaala is an intriguing prospect that is ranked 37th overall on Bob McKenzie’s Draft Rankings. 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 5 games, he has shown flashes of his potential. At the U18 World Championship, Tuomaala tallied 5 G, and 11 points in 7 games. 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. Samu Tuomaala could very well be a 1s round pick in the 2021 draft because the forward pool isn’t strong.
2. Logan Stankoven
Logan Stankoven could be taken in the first round of the 2021 Draft despite being ranked outside the top 30. Compared to Lucas Raymond, he is an elite goal scoring winger, who is an excellent skater and has an excellent shot. Logan Stankoven is coming off a good rookie season with the Kamloops Blazers, in which he tallied 29 goals and 48 points in 59 games. His performance resulted in him being named the WHL Western Conference Rookie of the Year. He picked up right where he left off last season in the 2020-21 season, as he averaged over a point per game during the season. Playing alongside Connor Bedard at the U18 World Championships for Team Canada, Stankoven tallied 4 goals and 8 points in 7 games. Stankoven plays a high-tempo game and is a menace in the offensive zone with his elite forechecking abilities. One of the best attributes of his game is his skating; the 17-year-old has top-notch acceleration, will show off his speed all over the ice, and is already an NHL-level skater. Stankoven has a quick and accurate release on his shot, which allows him to score goals at a high-level. Although he is not the defensive player that Lucas Raymond is, he plays with the same competitive edge and hockey sense as him. In terms of talent, there is no doubt that Stankoven is one of the more talented offensive players in the draft, so it would be be a surprise if he was selected in the first round.
4. Dylan Duke
Dylan Duke is a very talented under-sized player that has first round potential. He is currently ranked 61st overall on Bob McKenzie’s Draft rankings, but other draft sites have him ranked near the end of the 1st round. Dylan Duke has been an impact player for the USNTDP squad this season, leading the team with 20 goals and tied for the team lead with 34 points in 30 contests. While Duke isn’t the biggest player on the ice, he always finds a way to stand out. The first thing that stands out about Duke is that he scores a lot of his goals from in and around the blue paint. He isn’t the biggest player but he is strong on his skates and displays good contact balance battling for position in front of the opposition’s net. He creates screens, has good hand-eye coordination for deflecting shots, and can get underneath bigger defenders to dig for rebounds in tight. Duke also has a strong sense of when to push off or back away from traffic to get himself into space for a shooting opportunity in tight and he has the hands to make quick adjustments to put the puck behind goaltenders. Comparable to Tyler Johnson, Dylan Duke projects as an effective net-front presence who can impact a powerplay and provide secondary scoring at the NHL level. Dylan Duke has all the tools to be a first round pick, especially with how unpredictable this draft class is.
4. Alexander Kisakov
Alexander Kisakov is a really talented Russian prospect, who plays for MHK Dynamo Moskva in the MHL; he tallied 36 goals and 73 points in 61 MHL games. Currently Kisakov is ranked 35th overall by Bob McKenzie, but that is pretty high compared to where other scouting sites have him ranked. Kisakov is a player who knows how to score; he has a knack of knowing where to be at the right time to receive a pass for an easy goal. Kisakov’s strengths are his hockey sense, hands and shot; this combination makes him a lethal point scorer in the MHL. Kisakov could benefit from improving his skating, but he doesn’t need to be the fastest skater because his his hockey IQ allows him to overcompensate for his average speed. Alexander Kisakov is a poor mans Nikita Kucherov; he isn’t as flashy as Kucherov, nor does he have the shot that Kucherov does, but the play style is pretty similar. Kisakov is a 2nd round pick on most mock drafts, but there is a chance that team could reach and take him in the first round because he has Elite potential.
5. Samu Salminen
Another player who could be a 1st round pick is Samu Salminen, a big Finnish center who plays like a poor mans Aleksander Barkov. Playing for Jokerit in the U20 SM-sarja, Samu Salminen put up 10 goals and 26 points in 17 games. As the Captain of the Finnish team in the U18 World Championships, Salminen scored 7 goals and 9 points in 7 games. Samu Salminen is a talented and smart forward who can affect the game all over the ice. He is a more than capable offensive player who can dish the puck with soft hands and pick corners with a nice shot. Samu Salminen is a skilled center that has a projectable frame at 6’3″ and 194lbs and the skill to play the modern game. Salminen is an incredibly smart player who has a knack for being in the right spot at the right time at both ends of the ice. Defensively, he has the length and puck skills to get into passing lanes and create turnovers. Salminen can be very impressive offensively; he has a good shot from the faceoff dots and he has quick hands that elevate in tight. Samu is very crafty around the net and can display some interesting moves as he tries to create from the net front or beside the net. When he spots an open man across the zone, he has the soft touch to feather a pass through traffic and find his teammates. Compared to Aleksander Barkov, Salminen projects to a great two-way center that can play in all situations. Helped by his performance at the U18s, Salminen could definitely be a first round pick in the 2021 draft.
6. Aidan Hreschuck
Aidan Hreschuck is another standout defenseman from the US Nation Team Development Program that could go in the first round. He is currently ranked outside of the top 30, but he has the tools to be a great two-way defenseman in the NHL. Hreschuck is a do it all two-way defender who can affect the game in all three zones. He plays a smart and efficient defensive game with the ability to move the puck up ice and make plays from the blueline. Hreschuck is already a reliable two-way blueliner and is one of the more efficient players available in this draft. The young American’s ability to play at both ends of the ice utilizing his mobility and intuition are impressive for a player at this stage of their development. Hreschuck hasn’t had nearly the equivalent powerplay time as either Sean Behrens or Luke Hughes, both of whom he is tied for the team lead for scoring among defenders. Hreshchuk is a very fluid skater who can rush the puck up ice and deceive opponents with his shiftiness and stick handling. He makes a good first pass and has the skill to hit his teammates in stride as they move up ice. He has a patient approach to the game that allows him to control the game when he has the puck. This poise is exemplified when he defends odd-man rushes and transitions in general. He is able to cut down angles, lead with the blade of his stick, and use body positioning to break up attacks. He can read a rush and understands where the attack is going, cutting it off and slowing the opponent. Comparable to Charlie McAvoy, Hreschuck has the potential to be a top pair shut-down defenseman in the league. It would not be surprising at all to see Aidan Hreschuck picked in the first round of the 2021 NHL draft.
7. Anton Olsson
Another player that could be an off the radar 1st round pick is Anton Olsson from the Malmo Redhawks in the SHL. Currently Olsson is ranked 42nd overall by Bob McKenzie, but his skillset suggests that he could be a top notch NHL defenseman. Olsson dominated Sweden’s U-16, U-18, and U-20 junior leagues and the U16 and U17 international tournaments. Although Olsson has only recorded 4 points in 39 SHL games for the Malmo Redhawks, he more than held his own as an 18-year-old defenseman playing in the 3rd best league in the world. Olsson is a great skater, with good lateral ability and agility; he pivots well and also possesses good backward skating skills. His skating and puck-skills also benefit him in the defensive zone. Not only is Olsson extremely poised under pressure, but he utilizes his skating and hands well to get out of trouble and effect clean zone exits with regularity. His defensive IQ is great; he rarely puts himself in difficult situations and is adept at separating players from the puck either with his stick or shoulder. Olsson also has a fantastic wrist shot but he is not the most accurate. Olsson is comparable to Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks. Not only are they both Swedish, but they have a similar play style. Like Lindholm, Olsson projects to be a good two-way defenseman. If you recall, Hampus Lindholm was an drafted way higher than he was originally projected, perhaps the same could happen to Anton Olsson.
8. Ayrton Martino
Ayrton Martin is a player that has potential to be picked in the first round because of his gigantic upside. Ayrton Martino is an intriguing prospect because of his enormous offensive upside, but at the same time it is a huge risk to pick him in the second round because he is disinterested defensively, which isn’t going to go well at the NHL level. Comparable to Josh Ho-Sang during his draft year, Martino is a dynamic offensive player, who can create offense from anywhere in the offensive zone. He is impossible to ignore because of his speed and skill combined with his cerebral offensive mindset. Martino is the type of player that needs to be drafted to the right team because he has a run and gun style of play. If he is drafted to a team that plays a more blue collared system, he might not fit in and he isn’t good enough defensively to play a bottom 6 role. Ayrton Martin is the ultimate boom or bust pick, because he can either be a star in the NHL due to his immense offensive talent or be a huge bust because of his disinterest in defense. I think there is also a chance he is a first round pick because of this weak draft class.
Other Off the Board First-Round Selections: Ronan Schmidt, Matthew Knies, Josh Doan.