The NHL draft is an annual event where teams select players from junior hockey leagues across North America. With the 2018 NHL draft taking place in Dallas, Texas, we take a look at what to expect for the 2021 NHL draft.
The nhl 21 fantasy draft order is a list of the top-ranked players in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. It also includes the expected date that each player will be drafted.
With the 2021 NHL Entry Draft behind us, we can finally say goodbye to the strangest lead-up year in history, which we will hopefully never see again. Seasons that were canceled or reduced, tournaments that were canceled, travel restrictions, and a slew of other pandemic-related issues created a difficult environment for many qualified players to traverse. However, on the other hand, now is the time to look forward. Through the fantasy lens, we’ll look at several up-and-coming possibilities.
With a few exceptions – and knowing that a surprise or two will surely emerge during training camp – most recent draftees are expected to flourish in seasons beyond 2021-22. That isn’t to say that only dynastic and goalie management should be interested. Even in re-draft or limited-keeper leagues, it’s never too early to plan ahead, or to be ready in case a good player makes an early debut.
In that vein, here’s a look at several first-round picks with fantasy potential, complete with draft-day commentary from Senior NHL Writer Greg Wyshynski. Our pre-draft Top-50 rankings contain additional scouting reports.
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Owen Power is a defenseman with the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League (NHL) (Big Ten) 1st round pick: 1st round pick: 1st round pick: 1st round pick: 1
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “It’s not every year that a club receives the top overall selection in the draft twice in a row. It’s also not often that a club utilizes its first two choices to choose defenders, but that’s how the Sabres’ draft classes have gone. Rasmus Dahlin, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, hasn’t quite reached the level of franchise defender yet, but he’s just 21. Now Power joins him as a left-side defender Buffalo can develop around over the next decade, possibly utilizing the assets acquired in a potential Jack Eichel deal.”
While the consensus No. 1 selection in the draft will be a strong blue-line force in Buffalo for years to come, fantasy owners shouldn’t anticipate flashy production statistics. He isn’t the same person. Power is a great asset in all three zones since he excels at whatever he does. Sure, the big-bodied defender will add to the score sheet at even strength and on the power play on a regular basis, but he’ll also play a lot of minutes and check off other fantasy boxes. Power, on the other hand, is not an exceptional scoring defender. At least not right now. Whether he returns to Michigan for another year or jumps straight into the NHL pool, he should be selected appropriately.
Owen Power joins SportsCenter to talk about getting chosen first overall by the Buffalo Sabres and if he plans to return to Michigan or enter the NHL straight away.
Matthew Beniers (C), Seattle Kraken (Michigan), Matthew Beniers (C), Seattle Kraken (Michigan), Matthew (Big Ten) 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick, 2nd round pick, 2nd round pick, 2nd round pick
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “Dave Hakstol, the Kraken’s head coach, informed me that his general manager, Ron Francis, was looking for players that resembled the Hall of Famer’s style of play. Well, he recently selected a two-way center with excellent skating ability, a powerful offensive, and a “leads-by-example” work ethic, all of which Francis should be acquainted with. Beniers is an excellent foundation for the NHL’s newest team. Beniers admired Patrice Bergeron as a kid, but he may wind up becoming the Kraken’s Jonathan Toews one day.”
While another year at Michigan seems more probable, I’m not sure Beniers won’t go right into the NHL with the league’s newest team. Regardless of the start date, the Kraken’s eventual No. 1 center will not put up scoring statistics like others in this draft class, but will instead contribute consistently for several years. In leagues that award assists equally to goals and add non-scoring statistics like average time on ice and won faceoffs, the well-rounded forward will shine even more brightly.
C Mason McTavish of the Anaheim Ducks of the Peterborough Peterborough Peterborough Peterborough Peterborough Peterborough Peterborough Peterborough Peterborough Peterborough Peterborough Peterborough (OHL) Selected: 3, Rank on the draft board: 9
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “The Ducks add another terrific center who plays a power game as the Ryan Getzlaf era fades from memory. McTavish’s draft status has risen in recent weeks, and it’s easy to understand why: he possesses an NHL shot, plays hard, and has been compared to Ryan O’Reilly. With winger Trevor Zegras, defender Jamie Drysdale, and now McTavish, Anaheim has a strong foundation.”
McTavish, a power forward with a nose for the goal, will score often both at even strength and on Anaheim’s top power play. Fantasy managers in high-scoring leagues should be all over the versatile forward, who is expected to start his NHL career on the wing. McTavish, like both of the aforementioned Michigan skaters, isn’t a lock to make his big-league debut this season, but he might earn a spot with a rebuilding Ducks’ team right away. He already has the physical stature to compete at that level.
Asset for the future
C Kent Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL’s National Hockey League (NHL) is a Michigan native (Big Ten) 5 selected, 7 on the draft board
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “For years, the Blue Jackets have been looking for a franchise center. Before selling both Ryan Johansen and Pierre-Luc Dubois, they believed they had one. Now comes Johnson, a late bloomer who enjoyed a breakout rookie season at Michigan, earning All-Big Ten honors. One problem is that he may be better on the wing, where many draft experts think he’ll put up massive numbers in the NHL. He’ll be a top playmaker wherever he goes.”
Johnson is simple to pencil in as a potential top-six forward and power-play asset in Columbus, whether he settles in at center or on the wing. In his freshman season at Michigan, the talented playmaker was second in rookie scoring in the Big Ten, averaging just over a point per game. No Wolverine scored more power-play goals than this one. Johnson, along with Cole Sillinger, a scoring forward from the Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) who was chosen 12th overall, could ultimately help shatter the Blue Jackets’ cautious defense-first mold. Deeper dynasty league managers should consider investing in both potential Columbus prospects before it’s too late.
Djurgarden, William Eklund, LW, San Jose Sharks (Sweden) Selected: 7, ranked 2nd on the draft board
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “The Sharks haven’t had a top-10 selection since selecting Timo Meier at No. 9 overall in 2015. Eklund provides the Sharks with a silky smooth offensive talent who can also handle the puck at the opposite end of the ice. The Sharks don’t have a deep prospect pool, and they don’t have anybody in the forward position who can compete with Eklund.”
I’m not swaying a titch in my prediction that Eklund will be a star in the NHL one day soon. He’s a talented skater with good hands and a great shot, as well as being clever and tenacious. I also appreciate how well he fits in with the Sharks, who might need some help up front. The (still) tiny skater has already shown he can keep up with fully-grown guys, scoring 11 goals and 12 assists in his first complete SHL season. He’ll just become larger and better as time goes by. And the Swedish striker is likely to deliver, often delighting his fantasy managers. In a season or two, he may be on Logan Couture’s wing (barring a trade involving the captain).
Los Angeles Kings, D Brandt Clarke, Barrie (OHL) Selected: 8, ranked 6th on the draft board
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “With the Kings, Clarke joins perhaps the NHL’s deepest prospect pool. However, despite its depth, that pool contains more large fish in the center and wing than the blue line. Given the team’s need and GM Rob Blake’s history as a Hall of Fame defender, this was one of the most obvious selections in the draft. Clarke has already been compared to Adam Fox, who had a similar effect early in his NHL career with the Rangers, due to his hockey sense and offensive acumen. The Norris Trophy was just awarded to Fox. Brandt, don’t put any pressure on yourself.”
If the Fox analogy wasn’t enough to entice fantasy managers, this talented offensive-defenseman also acts as an additional forward on the ice on a regular basis. Clarke, the prototypical power-play quarterback, has held his own against professionals in Slovakia this past season. Without a doubt, he’s a blue-line dreamboat in scoring-heavy fantasy leagues, and he should be grabbed as soon as possible in deeper, dynasty competition.
RW Dylan Guenther of the Arizona Coyotes plays in Edmonton (WHL) Selected: 9; 4th overall on the draft board.
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “… Many predicted him to go to the Ducks as high as No. 3 overall. He’ll join the Coyotes in Phoenix, where he’ll provide the type of goal scorer they’ve been lacking in their prospect pipeline. His shooting is excellent, but his ability to maneuver into tight places to make the shot is equally remarkable.”
Guenther should be inserted into Arizona’s top-six and power play without hesitation once he’s NHL ready. In 2020-21, the smooth-skating winger scored 36 points (19 goals) in 23 games divided between the Oil Kings, Sherwood Park Crusaders, and under-18 Team Canada. The Coyotes, who have consistently ranked in the lowest third of the league in scoring, would benefit from encouraging and equipping Guenther to perform at his best. If that’s the case, he’ll be a great fantasy asset for many seasons to come.
Selected: 13, Draft board ranking: 16 Matthew Coronato, RW, Calgary Flames, Chicago (USHL)
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “Another spot where goalies Jesper Wallstedt or Sebastian Cossa might have been chosen, according to many. The Flames, on the other hand, chose Coronato, a goal scorer with an uncanny ability to find the back of the net. He’s headed to Harvard after scoring 48 goals in 51 games for the USHL previous season. This is a good selection if the Flames didn’t think either goaltender was their future.”
He just does one thing: score. Coronato will accomplish exactly that as a consistent presence at right wing in the Flames top-six after a year or two with the Crimson. A role with the additional skater is unquestionably possible. Fantasy managers that deal in PIM should be charmed with the tough and fiery forward as well. He’s no stranger to the penalty box, and he doesn’t seem ready to give up his aggressive style of play anytime soon.
Leksand’s Isak Rosen is a right winger for the Buffalo Sabres (Sweden) Selected: 14, 25th on the draft board
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “Another team in need of a goalkeeper, and yet another team that chose not to accept one. Instead, the Sabres go for Rosen, a fantastic attacking forward. The current NHL game necessitates the ability to make quick decisions. Rosen has the ability to skate away from opponents and create space. His ability to shoot the ball while in full stride has drawn parallels to Nikolaj Ehlers. That’s something the Sabres could use as well.”
While his tiny stature worries me, there are far too many other little players who have excelled at the top level. Before getting too enthusiastic about Rosen’s next turn with his pro club in Sweden, I’d want to see more from him, but the raw potential is there. This young guy moves at a breakneck speed. And the Ehlers analogy just adds to his appeal as a valuable contributor in Buffalo.
Sebastian Cossa is a goaltender with the Detroit Red Wings in Edmonton (WHL) Selected: 15, ranked 14th on the draft board
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “… Cossa stands 6-foot-6 and has excellent crease agility. For the Edmonton Oil Kings, he was 17-1-1 with a.941 save percentage. The Red Wings didn’t have anybody in the mold of a future goaltender when Keith Petruzzelli declined to join with the club. Cossa matches that pattern, as well as GM Steve Yzerman’s approach. He didn’t have a potential goalkeeper with the Lightning in 2012, so he took a youngster from the Russian juniors in the first round. Andrei Vasilevskiy just won the Conn Smythe Trophy and his second Stanley Cup in a row.”
Cossa is one of the more apparent no-brainer fantasy picks available, as he is expected to start for a Yzerman-built club that should emerge from its re-building cocoon in the not-too-distant future. Every dynasty league on the world should be fighting for this prospect. Any goalkeeper may fall short of expectations for a variety of reasons, but Cossa seems to be as close to a sure thing as one could hope for. With so few people consistently achieving at a top level, such a promising figure is worth the risk. However, patience is required. Tomorrow, Cossa will not play for the Wings.
Minnesota Wild, G Jesper Wallstedt, Lulea (Sweden) Selected: 20, ranked 11th on the draft board
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “The Wild got this pick by trading the 22nd and 90th overall picks to the Oilers in another goaltender deal. With Wallstedt, there’s proof of concept in both international play and one season in the Swedish Hockey League. He’s a little shorter than Sebastian Cossa, but at 6-foot-3, he’s no slouch. He has the necessary skills to become a No. 1 in the NHL. Kaapo Kahkonen, the system’s top goalkeeper prospect, is already on the roster: the 24-year-old was just exposed in the Seattle expansion draft. The ceiling at Wallstedt is higher.”
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Wallstedt, like Cossa, is set to become a regular starting goaltender in the NHL at some point, and given his experience in the Swedish professional league, it may be sooner rather than later. Aside from his athletic prowess, his calm demeanor and wit add to his attractiveness. In most dynasty leagues, I’d probably choose the Wild’s future No. 1 over Yzerman’s selection in Detroit. However, I like both Wallstedt and Cossa a lot as fantasy assets with ultrabright prospects.
Nashville Predators’ Zachary L’Heureux (LW), Halifax (QMJHL) 27selected, 30selected, 30selected, 30selected, 30selected, 30selected, 30
Wyshynski: I’m Wyshynski, and I’m “The Predators sent the Nos. 40 and 51 selections to the Hurricanes in exchange for this pick. They chose one of the more controversial players in the first round as their target. He makes contact. He is a fighter. But, in addition to his tenacity, he also possesses a good attacking game. In his game, he has some Brad Marchand DNA. It’s an excellent choice.”
If L’Heureux can keep his nose clean, he’ll make his fantasy managers extremely happy – particularly in leagues where penalty minutes are rewarded. Four bans in a compacted season, however, is four too many, as mentioned in the pre-draft rankings. The left-handed winger has to grow and learn how to control his emotions. If that’s the case, he’ll soon gain a reputation among Nashville’s fans as an agitated figure and prolific forward. Brad Marchand is adored by Boston fans and fantasy managers alike. It’s not only the rest of the NHL that can’t stand him. With L’Heureux, I expect a similar league-wide connection.
Other first-round picks with potential fantasy value: Winnipeg Jets’ Chaz Lucius; Boston Bruins’ Fabien Lysell; Edmonton Oilers’ Xavier Bourgault; Florida Panthers’ Mackie Samoskevich; Minnesota Wild’s Carson Lambos
The nhl 2021 draft is a fantasy hockey event that takes place every year in the NHL. It’s an exciting time for all hockey fans, especially those who are new to the game.
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