The 2021 NHL Draft has come and gone, so I think it would be fitting be grade each teams’ drafts.
Detroit Red Wings- A
The Detroit Red Wings improved their team drastically with the assets they had in the 2021 draft. Before the draft began, the acquired Nick Leddy for a 2nd round pick, and then Alex Nedeljkovic for Jonathan Bernier, a 3rd round pick. Leddy gives the Red Wings a some veteran presence on the blueline and a trade asset at the deadline next year. Alex Nedeljkovic will be the starter for the Red Wings next year; Detroit basically got one of a goalie in his prime for a 3rd round pick. In the first round, the Red Wings initially had three first round picks, they used their first pick to select Simon Edvinsson, and then traded up to select Sebastian Cossa, the 6’6 goalie who just had an unreal season with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Shai Buium and Oscar Plandowski project to solid NHL defenseman, while Carter Mazur, Redmond Savage, and Liam Dower Nilsson project to be solid top 9 forwards at the current moment. Overall, the Red Wings have really improved their goalies drastically with the acquisition of Nedeljkovic and by drafting Sebastian Cossa, and also improve their defense a whole lot by drafting Simon Edvinsson, Shai Buium, and Oscar Plandowski.
Columbus Blue Jackets- A
The Columbus Blue Jackets hit home runs with their first 3 picks in the draft, selecting Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger, Corson Ceulemans. They continued to replenish their blueline by drafting Stanislav Szovil and Guillaume Richard, both should be very good NHL defensemen.
James Malatesta and Martin Rysavy were absolute steals in the 6th and 7th rounds respectively; both are highly skilled players with high upside. This grade also factors in the Seth Jones trade, which was an absolute win for the Blue Jackets, to get such a great return for a player that wasn’t going to re-sign with them next year anyways. Overall, Columbus did a tremendous job of adding top notch prospects to their depleted farm system, and I don’t think it will be long until some of these players make an impact for the team.
Florida Panthers- A
The Panthers automatically win get a good grade for this trade because of the Sam Reinhart trade; Sam Reinhart is a player that still hasn’t reached his full potential yet, it will be interesting to see how he fit in in Florida. The Florida Panthers drafted Mackie Samoskevich, a highly skilled offensive player, who projects as a top 6 scorer. They also addressed the weakness of the prospect pool: Defense. Florida drafted 4 defenseman in this draft: Evan Nause, Vladislav Lukashevich, Jakub Kos, Braden Hache. Evan Nause and Vladislav Lukashevich in particular have potential to be top 4 defenseman in the league. Since they traded away Devon Levi in the Sam Reinhart, the Panthers drafted Kirill Gerasimyuk, a goalie who has potential as an NHL goalie. Overall, the Panthers really improved both their prospect pool and their team in this years draft.
New Jersey Devils- A-
The New Jersey added some very nice prospects to bolster their already strong farm system.
Luke Hughes joins his brother Jack, and he will give a great boost to their defense when he is NHL ready. Chase Stillman, was taken higher than I expected but I like this pick because he goes above and beyond to help his team win. Perhaps one of my favorite prospects in this draft is Samu Salminen, who was the captain of the Finish U18 team, he is a player that shows leaderships and great hockey IQ. New Jersey also scooped up Salminen’s Finnish teammate Topias Vilen, who was an alternate for the Finish U18 team; he projects as a reliable shut down defenseman. In the 6th round the drafted Viktor Hurtig, a big 6’6″ defenseman, who has a huge offensive upside. Overall, the Devils really improved their defense with the additions of Luke Hughes, Topias Vilen and Viktor Hurtig, and gets a two forwards with high intagibles in Chase Stillman and Samu Salminen.
Buffalo Sabres- A-
Buffalo Sabres got off to a strong start in the draft, drafting Owen Power and Isak Rosen in the first round; both players should be key contributors on the team in the near future. The Sabres were the lowest scoring team in the league, so the additions a dynamic offensive talent like Prokhor Poltapov and Aleksandr Kisakov is much needed. Buffalo strengthens their depth on the wings with the draft picks of Stiven Sararian, Olivier Nadeau, Josh Bloom. The Center depth was also improved with the late picks of William Von Lofberg and Tyson Kozak. Overall, the Sabres did a good job improving their prospect depth and making the team better for the future.
LA Kings- B+
The LA Kings didn’t have to do much thinking with their first round pick of Brandt Clarke, as was the best available when they were drafting. The Kings followed the Brandt Clarke pick by drafted two stud centers: Francesco Pinelli and Samuel Helenius, both should at least be 3rd line centers in the NHL. Their final pick in this draft was Kirill Kirsanov, a great defensive defenseman. Although the Kings only had 4 picks in this draft, all the players they drafted are very likely to be impactful NHL players. Overall, the Kings improved their defense with the selections of Clarke and Kirsanov along with the depth at Center, with the selection of Pinelli and Helenius.
Arizona Coyotes- B+
The draft grade is high mostly due to the OEL trade; to be able to get out of the that awful contract and to get a 1st round pick back for it is a huge win for the Coyotes.
Getting Dylan Guenther at 9 was an absolute steal for Arizona, as he was ranked at a top 5 prospect in most rankings. Josh Doan and Ilya Fedotov are both highly skilled wingers that should bolster their scoring from the wings. The rest of the picks weren’t that great but Guenther, Doan and Fedotov were good picks, along with the OEL trade, that makes for a real solid draft. Overall, the Coyotes added a few nice prospects in this years’ draft but the biggest thing for them is that they have 5 2nd round picks in the 2022 draft.
Seattle Kraken- B
While the Seattle Kraken did draft Matthew Beniers second overall, the rest of their draft is rather underwhelming. Ryker Evans and Ryan Winterton could turn out to be solid NHL players, but there were better players available when Seattle was drafting. Ville Ottavainen, a towering 6’5 defenseman, was a great pick in the 4th round, as was Jacob Melanson in the 5th round. Semyon Vyazovoy was a steal in the 6th round, after putting up monster numbers in the MHL last season. Justin Janicke was another steal in the 7th round, he could turn into an NHL player faster both Evans and Winterton because of what he brings to the table. Overall, the Seattle Kraken didn’t have the best draft, but they started and finished the draft strong.
Anaheim Ducks- B
The Anaheim Ducks hit home runs with their first three picks of Mason McTavish, Olen Zellweger, and Sasha Pastujov, but then the rest of their draft wasn’t that great. Tyson Hinds, Joshua Lopina, Sean Tschigeri, and Kyle Kuokkonen are hit or miss prospects, so they most likely will just end up as depth players in the system. Gage Alexander is an intriguing prospect, he is a 6’6 goalie from the Winnipeg Ice; as big goalies are taking over the game now, he has potential as a goalie in the NHL. Overall, the Anaheim Ducks walked away with three top notch prospects that should be impact players, for this reason, the Ducks have already mightily improved their farm system.
Winnipeg Jets- B
The Winnipeg Jets only had 3 picks in this draft, but they hit home runs with two of their picks.
Chaz Lucius was ranked as a top 10 talent, but slipped to the 18th pick in the draft. Nikita Chibrikov is possibly the most offensively gifted forward, but slipped to the second round in the draft. Both Lucius and Chibrikov should be an important part of the Jets core for a long time. Overall, the Jets added two dynamic offensive talents that bolsters their prospect pool and the future of their team.
Nashville Predators- B
Nashville Predators drafted two studs in the first round, with the selections of Fyodor Svechkov and Zachary L’Heureux; both were ranked as top 20 prospects. Anton Olsson, Ryan Ufko, Jack Matier are three defenseman who have high potential; Olsson projects as a top 4 puck moving defenseman, while Ufko projects as a solid two way defenseman. Jack Matier projects as a solid offensive defenseman and future powerplay quarterback. Simon Knak is a Swiss born Right winger, who was the Captain of the U20 team at the World Juniors. All of the players taken by the Predators project to be solid NHL players. Overall, the Predators had a good draft, adding three great forwards and two real solid defenseman.
Dallas Stars- B
The Dallas Stars did a great job at the 2021 draft, replenishing the depleted prospect pool with much need high end talent. Since the Stars didn’t need to draft a goalie at 15, they traded down to 23, and added the 48th and 138th pick in the draft. The Stars also got a 3rd round pick from Vancouver in the Jason Dickinson draft. Wyatt Johnston was their first round pick; he was taken a bit higher than he was ranked but he should be a solid 2nd or 3rd line center. Logan Stankoven and Artem Grushnikov were selected in the second round; Stankoven is a flat out beast, and years from now teams will regret passing on him. Artem Grushnikov projects as a top 4 shut down defenseman at the current moment, with good puck moving abilities. Ayrton Martino and Connor Roulette are two highly talented left wingers with top 6 potential; Martino is a goal scorer, while Roulette is more a playmaker. Jack Bar was a terrific selection in the 5th round, many had him ranked as a 2nd or 3rd round pick; Bar has has potential as a top 4 puck moving defenseman Overall, the Stars had a good draft, and improved their prospect pool significantly for the future.
New York Rangers- B-
The New York Rangers drafted several dynamic offensive weapons that bolsters the pipeline even more. Brennan Othmann was the best offensive player left when the Rangers were drafting, he does it all and is a play driver offensively. Jayden Grubbe and Ryder Korczak are excellent third round picks, and should at least be top 9 forwards at the NHL level. Brody Lamb and Kalle Vaisanen are two players that put up high offensive totals, and have top 6 potential. The rest of the draft wasn’t that great but the Rangers drafted 5 really solid prospects that should help improve the prospect depth. Overall, the Rangers will did a great job of adding some dynamic offensive players, but did little to add any notable defenseman.
Minnesota Wild- B-
Minnesota Wild drafted two studs in the 1st round by selected a future potential franchise goalie in Jesper Wallstedt and a future top pair defenseman in Carson Lambos. Minnesota Wild also drafted Jack Peart, a defenseman who projects as a top 4, two-way defenseman. The rest of the draft was lackluster, but the Wild already drafted three players with their first three picks that should be a big part of their future. Overall, the Wild had a good draft adding a potential franchise goalie and two potential top 4 defenseman.
Chicago Blackhawks- C+
The Chicago Blackhawks might regret the Seth Jones trade and contract in a few years because the pieces that Columbus got in return are good enough to jump start a rebuild. Originally the Blackhawks had the 11th pick in the draft, but since they swapped picks with Columbus, they had the 32nd pick in the draft. With that pick they selected Nolan Allan, a smooth skating defenseman with tons of offensive upside. Chicago picked Kirby Dach’s brother Colton, he will be a terrific power forward in the future, and should have no probably generating chemistry alongside Kirby. Ethan Del Mastro is a brilliant pick, he is a big shut down defenseman that you want on your team. Victor Stjernborg and Ilya Safonov are steals in the draft; Stjernborg is a dynamic skill player, while Safonov is more a defensive minded forward. Overall, the Blackhawks had a solid draft but I had to rate their draft grade lower because of the Seth Jones trade.
Calgary Flames- C+
The Calgary Flames did great with their first 4 picks in the draft, as they just draft the best players available at the time. Matthew Coronato and William Strömgren are dynamic scorers, that could see NHL action sooner than later. Cole Huckins is a solid center who projects to be a solid 3rd line center, while Cameron Whynot is projects as a good top 4 defenseman. The rest of the draft wasn’t that great, but the first four picks really could help them in the future. Overall, the Calgary Flames had a solid draft, adding two scorers, a future third line center, and a future top 4 defenseman.
St. Louis Blues- C+
Given that the Blues only had 4 picks in this draft, they did a great job of capitalizing on all of them. The St. Louis Blues drafted Zachary Bolduc in the first round; he is a dynamic forward with great hands and playmaking ability. Simon Robertsson was pegged as a first round talent by some scouts, but he slipped to the third round; this could turn out to be a huge steal for St. Louis. Tyson Galloway is big, smooth skating defenseman, that has a lot of potential as a puck moving defenseman. Ivan Vorobyov is a lesser known prospect, but he had a prenominal season in the MHL this year, scoring near a point per game. Overall, St. Louis addressed their weakness on their team by adding top notch scoring forwards and a puck moving defenseman.
Vegas Golden Knights- C+
The Vegas Golden Knights started off the draft strong with the selection of Zach Dean. Although Dean isn’t the sexy pick, he is a player that is reliable and gives 110% every shift. Daniil Chayka was their second round pick, he is a defenseman that has the tools to be a first round pick, but he is putting all together at the current moment; can be a future top pair defenseman if paired with the right partner. Jakub Brabenec is a nice third round pick, his is under the radar a bit because he plays in the Czech league but he has the tools to be a good supporting player in the top 6. Jakub Demek rose to showed out at the U18s for Slovakia, and he should be a solid top 9 forward in the future. It’s never too late to start thinking about your future in goal, so Vegas made a great selection in the 7th round with Carl Lindbom. Lindom was ranked #5 on NHL central scouting amongst EU goalies, so to get him this late in the draft is a steal. The Golden Knights had a solid draft, they didn’t make draft any superstar caliber talent, but did draft a couple solid players, an that goes a long way.
San Jose Sharks- C
The San Jose Sharks had a slam dunk first round pick with William Eklund that was pretty much a no brainer, followed by Benjamin Gaudreau in the 3rd round, that was also a no brainer when he was drafted cause he was the best goalie available. The rest of their draft is rather underwhelming, although they did snag Evgenii Kashnikov in the 7th round, Kashnikov is 6’4 defenseman with a lot of offensive upside. Overall, the Sharks did okay in the draft but didn’t improve a whole lot besides adding Eklund and Gaudreau.
New York Islanders- C
Aatu Raty was once considered to a player worthy of being the first overall pick in this years’ draft, but he didn’t have a great year, and was left of the Finish world junior team. This caused his draft stock to plummet and he fell to the 52 pick to the Islanders. This is a steal for the Islanders, because Raty will won’t be rushed and he will be a constant contributor to their team in two years. Tristan Lennox is a big goalie, and will give the Islanders depth in the system in goal. The Islanders also drafted two real solid forwards who should project to be top 9 forwards: Cameron Berg and Eetu Liukas. Aleksi Malinen is a dynamic puck rushing defenseman, that has potential as a top 4 puck moving defenseman. Overall, the Islanders had an okay draft despite not having a first round pick, but much of their future hinges on the development of Aatu Raty.
Boston Bruins- C
Boston Bruins drafted Fabian Lysell with their first round pick; this was a no brainer because he was a top 10-15 talent, but slipped to the 21st pick to Boston. Boston also drafted Brett Harrison a reliable two-way center, he is the type of player that Boston will love, I wouldn’t be surprised to see he make the team sooner rather than later. The selection of Philip Svedback adds depth in goal for the Bruins; it is never a bad idea to have goalie depth in the system. Ryan Mast was a steal in the 6th round, he is a big 6’4, right handed shooting defenseman. Oskar Jellvik and Andre Gasseau were good picks late in the draft; they are both solid scorers that could be top 9 forwards. Overall, the Bruins had an okay draft, but they didn’t get anyone outstanding outside of Fabian Lysell
Tampa Bay Lightning- C
The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted pretty good for not having a 1st, 2nd and 4th round picks.
Roman Schmidt brings a big body physical presence to Tampa’s blueline, and could make an appearance sooner rather than later. Dylan Duke and Cameron MacDonald are both dynamic offensive player that fell in the draft, and they will flourish in Tampa’s system. The Lightning also drafted Alex Gagne and Niko Huuhtanen; Gagne is a big 6’3 defenseman who has massive upside. Niko Huuhtanen was another steal in the 7th round, he does a little bit of everything. It’s hard to imagine the Stanley Cup Champions getting better, but the managed to improve the system getting some really nice prospects late in the draft.
Vancouver Canucks- C-
The Vancouver Canucks did well in this draft for not having a 1st or 3rd round pick. Vancouver added two dynamic offensive players with the selections of Danil Klimovich and Connor Lockhart; Jonathan Myrenberg and Hugo Gabrielson strengthen their defensive depth in the system. Aku Koskenvuo is going to be a name that gets butchered a lot but is going to be a familiar name in the future; he is a 6’4 goalie with potential to be a starter in the NHL.
Even though the OEL contract looks bad, on paper the team looks better with OEL and Conor Garland, so trading a first round pick to get rid of three bad contracts is worth it. Overall, Vancouver improved the team slightly with the OEL trade and their selections they made in the draft.
Edmonton Oilers- C-
Heading into the 2021 draft, one of the biggest weaknesses within the Edmonton Oilers’ prospect pool was goaltending. The Oilers had the 20th pick in the draft and Jesper Wallstedt was available but they choose to trade down instead. This proves that the Oilers are in win now mode because Wallstedt won’t be ready for at least three years. Edmonton traded down to the 22nd pick and selected Xavier Bourgault, a hard working two way forward that can play center and wing. Luca Munzenberger was their 3rd round pick; this was an off the board selection, and he could have been selection much later than the 3rd round. Jake Chiasson and Matvei Petrov was provide depth on the wings; Chiasson projects as a top 9 scorer, while Petrov is a dynamic offensive talent, with a great shoot and vision. Overall, the Edmonton Oilers had a below average draft, but they drafted players that can play potentially alongside their two stars.
Colorado Avalanche- C-
The Colorado Avalanche found the Gabriel Landeskog replacement, not saying he will be Landeskog, but Oskar Olausson has a lot of similarities in terms of his playstyle. It would not be surprising if Olausson makes the team sooner rather than later. Sean Behrens is one of the more reliable two-way defenseman in a draft loaded with stud defenseman, so that is saying a lot. Behrens might not be the most skilled or the biggest defenseman, but he is very efficient and steady. Taylor Makar was selected in the 7th round by the Avalanche, this continued the streak of drafting brothers to play together on the same team. Overall, the Avalanche had an okay draft, but nothing extraordinary.
Carolina Hurricanes- C-
The Carolina Hurricanes started off with the selection of Scott Morrow in the second round, followed by Ville Koivunen, then Aidan Hreshchuk in the third line. Morrow and Hreshchuk could end up becoming a D pair in the future. Ville Koivunen is a high end offensive player with off the charts skill and an attacking mindset. Jackson Blake and Robert Orr are both creative playmakers, but are both undersized, hence why they fell in the draft. After trading away Alex Nedeljkovic, the Hurricanes had to restock their goalies in the system, so they drafted two goalies: Nikita Quapp and Nikita Guslistov. Because of the Nedeljkovic trade, I have to give Carolina a lower grade, because that was a horrible trade. Overall, the Hurricanes had a solid draft, but the Nedeljkovic trade makes them much worse now.
Montreal Canadiens- D+
The Montreal Canadiens started off their draft on a real awful note, drafting Logan Mailloux in the first round, after he had withdrawn himself from the draft following his controversy. This obviously didn’t sit well with most people and the Montreal Canadiens most certainly received a ton of backlash for it. The Canadiens draft Riley Kidney and Oliver Kapanen in the 2nd round; both project to be top 6 caliber forwards in the NHL. Later in the draft, Montreal drafted a pair of Russian defenseman: Dmitri Kostenko and Daniil Sobolev, both could be top 6 caliber defenseman in the league. Montreal is never shy of drafting small skilled forwards, and walked away with a steal in the 6th round by drafting Xavier Simoneau; Simoneau is an overage player and is 5’7, but he has shown that he is an elite offensive player throughout his career. The Habs wrapped the draft with the selection of Joe Vrbetic, a big 6’6 goalie with massive upside. Overall, the Habs actually had an okay draft, but because of the controversial first round pick, that will impact their grade.
Ottawa Senators- D
It’s not that the players that the Ottawa Senators drafted weren’t good, but the could have drafted better players at the spots they were drafting. The most notable one is Tyler Boucher at 10; he is borderline first round talent; if they wanted to draft him really badly, they should have traded back to get additional picks because Boucher would still be there in the 20s. Zack Ostapchuk and Ben Roger were also major reaches for the Sens, while they could pan out, there were much better players available when these two players were selected. Oliver Johansson and Chandler Romeo were also off the grid selections. Carson Latimer was a solid pick; he should be an effective role player in the NHL. Overall, the Senators didn’t have a great draft by conventical standards, opting to go with more grit and grind than flashy players.
Philadelphia Flyers- D
The Philadelphia Flyers traded their first round pick in deal with the Buffalo Sabres for Rasmus Ristolainen; this was a massive overpayment for a player who has regressed every year in the league and is a has been a minus player every year. Samu Tuomaala was the only notable name the Flyers selected, and the rest of the prospects picked don’t seem to be anything extraordinary. The draft grade is bad because of both the Ristolainen deal and their poor draft selections. Overall, the Flyers had a poor draft, and did not do anything significant to improve their prospect pool outside of adding Samu Tuomaala.
Washington Capitals- D
The Washington Capitals only had 4 picks in the draft, and didn’t really do much with those picks. Vincent Iorio is the only notable prospect that was drafted; the rest of the prospects were pretty off the grid picks. The Anthony Mantha trade hasn’t turned out so great for Washington so far; he had an underwhelming performance in the playoffs and meanwhile Jakub Vrana recorded point per game with Detroit after getting traded, and the first round pick from Washington was used by Detroit to trade to to select Sebastian Cossa. Overall, the Capitals didn’t have a great draft, and they need to start thinking beyond the next 4 years because the core is aging.
Pittsburgh Penguins- D
The Pittsburgh Penguins only had 3 picks in the 2021 draft, so they didn’t draft anyone that stands out, but they did manage to make two solid picks with the selections of Tristan Broz and Isaac Belliveau. The trend of the Penguins trading away their future assets only to get eliminated early in the postseason continues; they need to start adding some new young talent because their core is starting to show it’s age. Overall, the Penguins didn’t really have a great draft due to the fact they traded away most of their picks.
Toronto Maple Leafs- D
The Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t major players in the 2021 draft, mostly because they traded away for Nick Foligno and Stefan Noesen. Foligno made little to no impact for the Maple Leafs in the playoffs and will likely be an UFA, meanwhile the Maple Leafs were left without a draft pick the 1st, 3rd and 4th round in the draft, which is not the best way to build a team in the salary cap era. Matthew Knies was a good pick in the 2nd round and so was Ty Voit in the 5th round, but it is hard to give the Maple Leafs a good grade in his draft because of the Nick Foligno trade. Overall, the Maple Leafs didn’t have a good draft, mostly due to the horrible Nick Foligno trade.
Related: Ranking NHL Teams Farm Systems