This topic is fairly similar to a previous post I did about Boom or Busts; except this time, I will be focusing on players who could slide in the 2021 NHL Draft.
1. Aatu Raty
Aatu Raty was once considered to be the consensus 1st overall pick in the 2021 draft, but now some mock drafts have him sliding outside of the first round. Bob McKenzie ranked him 20th on his latest Draft Ranking, but that is very generous because there are some scouts saying that he could even fall to the third round. For a once-projected first overall pick, his lack of offensive development in his draft year is a little bit concerning. What’s even more confusing is the fact that he was left off of the Finnish 2021 World Junior team. Despite Raty’s struggles in his draft year, his skill set is tough to overlook. Raty is a tremendous skater, with a great 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. However, there are some warning signs about his consistency, which should not be ignored. My NHL Comparable for Aatu Raty is Sebastian Aho; he has the potential to be an impactful first-line center in the NHL. Aho was drafted in the second round by the Carolina Hurricanes and went on to be a star player in the NHL, so even if Raty falls out of the first round, he could still be an impact player in the league.
2. Stanislav Svozil
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 first-round talent but is most likely going to get overlooked because he plays in the Czech league. Stanislav Szovil is ranked 34th overall on Bob McKenzie’s draft rankings, which would make him an early 2nd round pick, which is lower than what he was projected to be earlier in the year when he was projected to be a late first round pick. 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. Josi was drafted in the 2nd round by the Nashville Predators because he played in a less competitive Swiss league. Similar to Josi, Szovil could in time turn into one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL, but it would take time.
3. Samu Tuomaala
Samu Tuomaala is an exciting offensive winger who has great speed and skill and owns a deadly shot. He tallied 15 goals and 31 points in 30 games with the Karpat U20 team and was promoted to play 5 games for Karpat in Liiga. Although he has yet to register a point in Liiga, he has shown flashes of his potential. Playing for Finland at the U18 World Championships, Tuomaala scored 5 goals and 11 points in 7 games. Samu Tuomaala is ranked 37th on Bob McKenzie’s draft ranking, which is lower than some other draft sites that have him ranked in the late 20s. 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. Comparable to Alex DeBrincat of the Chicago Blackhawks, Tuomaala has immense potential as a goal scorer at the NHL level. Alex DeBrincat was drafted in the 2nd round in his draft year and went on to be a great goal scorer in the NHL with the Blackhawks, so Tuomaala could still be a tremendous scorer in the NHL even if he is drafted in the 2nd round.
Logan Stankoven has the talent to be taken in the first round of the 2021 Draft but it is more likely that he slides quite far in the 2nd round of the draft. 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. At the same time, Stankoven is only 5’8″, and as we have seen in past drafts, this could play a hand in why Stankoven will slide pretty deep into the 2nd round. Bob McKenzie has him ranked 44th overall on his draft ranking, which is where teams would be willing to take a chance on a 5’8″ player.
5. Cameron Whynot
Cameron Whynot is having a solid year with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, but hasn’t done anything to stand out in a draft is loaded with defensemen. Whynot is a strong stay-at-home defenseman, and his offensive game is still a work in progress. Whynot is positionally sound in the defensive zone; he deploys tight gap control and consistently poke-check or body-check his opponents off the puck. Whynot positions himself close to his goaltender and provides excellent pressure around the crease and behind the net. He deploys a silky smooth stride and is very mobile. His edge-work and crossovers are good, and he will often look to utilize his speed in the defensive zone when he spots a loose puck. Whynot is still very raw and undeveloped in terms of his offensive skill set but has all the tools to be an impact offensive player. Whynot is a workhorse defenseman; he was commonly playing every second shift, and he rarely ever came off the ice in special teams’ situations. Whynot has that game-changing ability that allows him to take over the game and is not afraid to take the puck end to end. It isn’t often that he wasn’t the best player on the ice. Currently, Whynot is ranked 56th overall on Bob McKenzie’s draft ranking, but there is a chance he slides to the third round because he is still pretty green. At the NHL level, Cameron Whynot project to be a reliable shutdown defenseman with high offensive upside and can log heavy minutes, similar to Alec Martinez. Alec Martinez was drafted in the 4th round in his draft, so Whynot could still be a productive top 4 defenseman in the NHL, even if he is drafted in the 3rd or 4th round.
6. Isaac Belliveau
Isaac Belliveau began the year as a mid-second round pick, but now Belliveau isn’t even on Bob McKenzie’s Top 100 and isn’t even mentioned on most draft sites. Isaac Belliveau is an offensive-minded defenseman out of the Q; he had an excellent year last season playing alongside Alexis Lafreniere and was a big part of their powerplay. Belliveau was traded to the Gatineau Olympiques 16 games into the 2020-21 season, where he has registered 4 goals and 12 points in 21 games. Belliveau is a smooth skater and an excellent puck carrier that can run the powerplay very effectively. He is great at walking the blue line to create shooting and passing lanes. Isaac is an effective defender, that displays solid positioning and gap control Despite his offensive potential, Belliveau is far from a finished product; he has much room for improvement in many parts of his game. Belliveau needs to be more physical and be stronger on the defensive side of the puck. He is already an effective offensive defenseman, but he could become one of the best powerplay quarterbacks in the league if he were to improve upon his shot velocity. As great as Belliveau is on the offensive side of the puck, he is a defensive liability. He is comparable to Keith Yandle in play style and is an explosive offensive-minded defenseman, who is a great power play quarterback. At the NHL level, Belliveau can grow to be a top 4 defenseman, that plays on a team’s 1st power play unit. Keith Yandle was drafted in the 4th round in his draft year and went on to have a long NHL career, so Belliveau can do the same, even if he is drafted in the 4th or 5th round.
8 Off the Board 1st round picks