Monday, July 19, 2021

2021 NHL Mock Draft

This is now an annual tradition. As I always mention, while I cover the OHL extensively, my role at McKeen’s Hockey gives me a fair amount of knowledge of the other players available.

There are so many reasons that this draft has the likelihood of being extremely unpredictable. Firstly, due to the pandemic, we have such unevenness in terms of exposure and playing time across the various junior leagues in the world. The USHL played a full season. European men’s leagues played a full year. The QMJHL had a fairly full year. However, the WHL, European junior leagues (especially Sweden), and of course the OHL were disrupted, shortened, or canceled. We can only hypothesize how that affects things. Secondly, this draft does leave some to be desired due to its lack of superstar potential. That means a lot of players will be ranked closely together and teams will, no doubt, have very different draft boards in comparison. 

So what does that mean? It means I am making an excuse for this mock draft to be very inaccurate! In all seriousness, all mock drafts are hard to peg down, but it is still a fun endeavour that provides an easy and fun read.

Just as was the case last year, I am mocking the first two rounds.

1. Buffalo Sabres - Owen Power, D, Michigan (NCAA)
Much has been made about the validity of Power as a first overall selection in recent months. However, I do believe that the NHL scouting community does see a gap between Power and the other contenders; that appears to be clear in reading anonymous quotes from polls (like Bob McKenzie’s or Corey Pronman’s, for example). His phenomenal play at the World Championships for Canada had to solidify that even further. While Power may not end up as the best NHL player in this draft class, he should end up as ONE of the best and that sort of stability is greatly needed in Buffalo. By adding someone like Power, perhaps the Sabres can finally unleash the likes of Dahlin and Ristolainen. I do believe that he has a chance to help turn this organization around finally.

2. Seattle Kraken - Matthew Beniers, C, Michigan (NCAA)
How do you determine potential preferences of an organization that has yet to make a draft selection? I think the easy answer there is to look at who they hired as their head scout; Robert Kron (previously head of European scouting for Carolina). With Carolina, their European picks did largely follow a trend. They valued skating ability and well rounded skill sets, which should not come as a surprise given that they described Kron’s NHL skill set to an extent. So who fits that bill the most at the top of the draft? Probably Beniers. Not to mention that Beniers is also one of the draft’s only true premier centers, something Seattle likely wants to build around. I am sure we will get more intel on the type of team they want to build after the expansion draft, but this pick makes sense to me at the moment.

3. Anaheim Ducks - Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL)
This pick is so hard to nail down with so many of the top options available for Anaheim. The team just does not seem to have scouting preferences like other organizations. Could they go with a two-way defender with size in Edvinsson, someone they can pair with Drysdale in the future? Could they go with William Eklund? What about a surprise pick of someone like Mason McTavish who could give the team such incredible depth down the middle? At the end of the day, I see them leaning towards Guenther. Not only would his offensive skill set fit extremely well alongside someone like Zegras (or the other young players they have in the organization), but he is someone who seems to be really appreciated by scouts. 

4. New Jersey Devils - William Eklund, LW, Djurgardens (SHL)
Look, I know there is a lot of speculation that the Devils will select either Brandt Clarke or Luke Hughes based on the family ties in the organization. And they very well could and either player would be a great selection for the franchise. But I do think that us, as fans, care more about this stuff than NHL scouts. In William Eklund, we have a real connection as the Devils would be very familiar with him given that he has been playing with Alexander Holtz. However, he also gives the organization a winger with elite skating ability and hockey sense, someone who can really help drive play alongside Hughes and Hischier. This is also someone who should be able to help in a year’s time (after another year in Sweden). His accelerated timeline over someone like Hughes or Clarke (who I think will take a few years to develop) would also be attractive to a team like Jersey who has to feel close to turning their rebuild around.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets - Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda (SHL)
I think this pick does make sense for a few reasons. The first is the obvious European bias that Columbus has shown at the draft in recent years. Hard to ignore that trend. The second is that Columbus has shown a real affinity for those who skate at an elite level. Insert Simon Edvinsson. While he seems to be a pretty polarizing player, those who love him, love him a lot and believe that he has the ceiling to be one of the better two-way defenders in the NHL. If his floor is someone like Seth Jones, even that would be fine for the Jackets, given that they are likely waving goodbye to said player this offseason. 

6. Detroit Red Wings - Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL)
There is a lot of talk about the Wings taking a goaltender here (either Wallstedt or Cossa). Quite frankly, I could see it, especially given that they will not be able to sign Keith Petruzzelli. However, the Wings also have a bunch of second round picks that they could use to take one of the guys in the next tier. The reality is, the team’s center depth is not great. Michael Rasmussen has not developed the way they thought he would. Joe Veleno’s development could be classified the same way. So here the Wings see a potentially dominant two-way center who can really fit in well with the kinds of skilled wingers that they have accumulated. Detroit is going to focus on the BPA and I think they see that as McTavish. Of course, they could opt for the hometown kid in Luke Hughes, but they passed on Quinn once upon a time ago too.

7. San Jose Sharks - Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL)
The first shocker (of which there are bound to be many this year) sees the Sharks take Cossa at #7. This might be more shocking because Cossa goes before Wallstedt, not because the Sharks take a netminder. The reality is that everything I’m reading and hearing lately is suggesting that NHL scouts may like Cossa more because of his size and athleticism combination; he is far from a finished product. Whereas Wallstedt is not in the same category as an athlete and scouts may be concerned that he has less room for growth. Both are phenomenal goaltending prospects but I do believe Cossa goes first. Sharks fans may not feel great about this given that this is the team’s only pick in the first two rounds. However, we know that San Jose loves drafting out of the WHL. There is a bias there. The team has also drafted only one goalie in the last five years...and it shows. At some point, the Sharks need to bite the bullet and try to bring in a blue chipper at the position. Cossa has the chance to be a Vezina winner.

8. Los Angeles Kings - Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie (OHL)
If Clarke and Hughes are still available here for the Kings, I would be shocked if one of those two are not LA’s selection. So which one would they favor? On one hand, with such a deep farm system, maybe the Kings take Hughes knowing that he is more of a longer term project. On the other hand, LA has always valued vision and hockey sense at the draft, more so than skating. They believe that their development team can fix skating deficiencies (much like Toronto), and that’s why I see them leaning towards Clarke, who can be an anchor of a likely very dangerous powerplay in a few years. 

9. Vancouver Canucks - Luke Hughes, D, USDP (USHL)
This is a tough one. I could see the Canucks passing on Hughes here because he profiles similar to some of the young defenders that they already have in the system like his brother Quinn and Jack Rathbone. But the same could be said for a lot of players in this range. You draft the best player available and that is Hughes. Sure there is the family connection. But that won't matter as much as you think. Instead, the Canucks see the Avalanche and what they have built...and then think of having to play them again next year. With Quinn, Rathbone, Luke, and Jett Woo, Vancouver focuses on skating on the back-end. Imagine the possibilities available to them with those four in the fold? That’s modern day hockey.

10. Ottawa Senators - Chaz Lucius, F, USDP (USHL)
This pick could go in so many different ways. But I do feel like Ottawa might show preference to one of the top goal scoring options available in Lucius or Sillinger...or even Matt Coronato. Lucius was robbed of the opportunity of showing his skills at the U18’s due to injury, and the injury concerns are real, but his anticipation and awareness in the offensive end are terrific. It is easy to see his goal scoring ability translating well given how he scores. And where he scores would fit in very well with the system Ottawa is trying to employ and the players that they would surround him with.

11. Chicago Blackhawks - Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea (SHL)
The Hawks certainly got some promising output out of Kevin Lankinen this season, and Drew Commesso had a great freshman year at Boston University, but you can never put all your eggs in one basket. And that is precisely why the Hawks have been connected to either Cossa or Wallstedt for this draft spot. The only thing that has me hesitating here is that the Hawks have not gone to Sweden very much in the opening rounds of the draft, save Adam Boqvist. However, I think many people would tell you that if you can get Wallstedt at number eleven, you’re doing well. I have read some scouting comments on him recently that call him one of the most intelligent young goalies these scouts have ever seen. If Chicago can bring him into the fold with Commesso, they should be able to develop at least one of them into a top flight starter.

12. Calgary Flames - Kent Johnson, F, Michigan (NCAA)
The Calgary Flames could take a few different directions with this selection. I could see them having a lot of interest in either Cole Sillinger or Matthew Coronato. Adding another high end goal scorer would be very alluring. I could see them taking one of the top two Russian players in Svechkov or Chibrikov. But, I think Johnson could be someone Flames’ brass really has interest in as the BPA. There are some pace of play and perimeter concerns, but his offensive potential is sky high. We know Tod Button scouts the US very heavily and the Flames just make sense as a possible destination for Johnson.
13. Philadelphia Flyers - Fyodor Svechkov, C, Togliatti (MHL)
Svechkov just seems like someone NHL scouts are going to take higher than the amateur scouting community is projecting (and even then, it isn’t that much of a stretch). He’s one of the few top notch forwards available who is likely to stay down the middle given his strong two-way play. The Flyers have not avoided Russia in recent years and his skill set would really fit in well with some of the other players in their system currently. I could also see the Flyers targeting a defender with some size here like Ceulemans or Chayka, but they have rarely drafted out of any tier two ranks (in the case of Ceulemans). 

14. Dallas Stars - Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint (OHL)
There are two areas that Dallas has targeted heavily in recent years; the OHL and Sweden. I could see them looking at Lysell, Rosen, or Olausson here. I could see them looking at Chayka. But at the end of the day, it is clear that Dallas has a vision of the way that they want to play in the future. They want to be a hard team to match up against and that is Brennan Othmann. The physical winger has drawn some comparisons to former Dallas standout Brendan Morrow and is the perfect complement to more skilled players because he can score and because he does not require consistent puck touches to be effective. There is a simplicity to his game that is going to translate well to the NHL level.

15. New York Rangers - Cole Sillinger, F, Sioux Falls (USHL)
This just feels like a good fit. Sillinger provides a lot of versatility given his strong physical play, elite goal scoring ability, and potential to develop into a strong two-way forward. He could really play well alongside some of the high skill forwards that the Rangers have accumulated recently. And although they could be tempted by a player with a little more skill like Lysell or Coronato, I feel like adding someone like Sillinger could make a lot of sense for them. Perhaps Zachary L’Heureux...or even Tyler Boucher could be possibilities too?

16. St. Louis Blues - Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL)
Now under Tony Feltrin as the director of amateur scouting, it will be interesting to see which way the Blues lean with their first rounder this year. This is the highest they have selected since 2010, so hitting on a good player is imperative. If they want to focus on high end skill, I think the Swedes are in play. Same for Matt Coronato. But something tells me that Ceulemans could really draw their interest. If there is a team who has faith in the AJHL, it’s the Blues (having selected Colton Parayko out of the league a few years ago). Ceulemans’ size, mobility, and skill set make him a likely NHL player, and he may just have more offensive potential than we give him credit for. 

17. Winnipeg Jets - Isak Rosen, RW, Leksands (SHL)
One thing that Winnipeg has done consistently since Peter Ratchuk took over as the director of scouting is target Sweden. So it is easy to see them going with one of the top Swedish forwards available in this scenario. I really wanted to suggest Matthew Coronato here. I really am not confident that he slips this far. That said, the Jets have avoided the USHL since Ratchuk took over. These types of trends do tend to hold true a lot of the time. Rosen has a similar kind of projection as a high end scorer with speed and adds some dynamic transitional ability to the Winnipeg system.

18. Nashville Predators - Matthew Coronato, LW, Chicago (USHL)
Nashville took two Steel players at the draft last year, so they would be incredibly familiar with Coronato. Again, part of me wants to think that he goes earlier than this. That program and how they have developed players is highly regarded. Part of me wonders if Nashville has too many similar players in the fold already. But the other part says that Nashville could not ignore it if Coronato is still there given the connections and his high end offensive abilities. I could definitely see Fabian Lysell as an option here. Ditto Olausson. Perhaps this is a possible landing spot for Aatu Raty too, but the Preds and Jeff Kealty have largely ignored Finland in recent years after drafting so heavily out of the league for years.

19. Edmonton Oilers - Fabian Lysell, RW, Lulea (SHL)
If Lysell is still there when the Oilers pick, I would be shocked if they looked the other way. This is exactly the type of player that they should be targeting. Are there some warts? Absolutely. But he has among the highest upside of any winger available this year and his skating ability and transitional talents would have to be very intriguing to a team that is still looking for someone to play with the likes of McDavid and Draisaitl. I could also see them being interested in one of the Q forwards like Bourgault or L’Heureux too. But Lysell would be a slam dunk pick here.

20. Boston Bruins - Tyler Boucher, RW, USDP (USHL)
Speed, size, and tenacity has been long valued by this organization. They also have a deep rooted connection to taking players from the U.S. National Development team program. Insert Tyler Boucher. He missed the entire second half of the season due to injury, but he seems to be a player really gaining traction as a potential first round pick given his rare skill set. And if there is a team who truly values what he brings to the table it is Boston. There is the potential for him to develop into a Tom Wilson kind of player for them, which would be fantastic.

21. Minnesota Wild - Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL)
Lambos does not come without risk. The health issue that kept him out of action late this year is a concern and Wild team doctors will need to give him clearance. But the Wild did draft Daemon Hunt last year in a similar position, and that has worked out pretty well for them. In Lambos they add a potential two-way defender who likely has more offensive potential than other D in the system outside of Calen Addison. From a purely sentimental point of view, it would be great to see the Wild go after a guy like Jack Peart here, but they haven’t had a ton of success from the high school ranks in Minnesota. I could also see them targeting Nikita Chibrikov here.

22. Detroit Red Wings (via Washington Capitals) - Olen Zellweger, D, Everett (WHL)
While I am not completely confident that Zellweger goes this early, I think he probably deserves to after a strong U18’s performance. There is a lot of room for growth still, but his skating ability is impressive, as is his offensive potential. If the Wings don’t select one of the high end offensive defenders at six (like I have in this draft), I could see them really going for a home run pick on defense here. Aleksi Heimosalmi, Jack Peart, or Scott Morrow could be options too. But something tells me Zellweger could be the preference. Of course, the Wings could really take anyone here too. They really don’t seem to have a bias.

23. Florida Panthers - Daniil Chayka, D, Guelph (OHL)
Would I draft Chayka this high? No. Do I think he gets drafted in the first round this year? Absolutely. His combination of size, mobility, and two-way capabilities are going to be alluring to at least one franchise who thinks that they can bring out the best in his skill set. Insert the Florida Panthers, who have drafted out of the OHL and Russia in recent years. Chayka would give them another high end defensive prospect, increasing their odds that they can find eventual replacements for the likes of Yandle and Stralman, who are certainly in the twilight of their NHL careers.

24. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Toronto Maple Leafs) - Aatu Raty, Center, Karpat (Liiga)
You know that someone is going to take a chance on Raty in the first round. He came into the year as a potential first overall candidate but really disappointed in Liiga this year. That said, he still has a relatively high floor in addition to a high ceiling. Columbus and Jarmo take a chance on the Finnish center in hopes that he can develop into a quality top six forward in the NHL.

25. Minnesota Wild (via Pittsburgh Penguins) - Alexander Kisakov, LW, MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL)
Yeah, yeah. I know what I said earlier. Nikita Chibrikov could certainly be an option. But...hear me out. I know of a few people who think that Kisakov deserves to be a first rounder based on talent. And guess who else came out of the CSKA program...Dollar Bill Kirill. Kisakov has a terrific offensive skill set and a ton of offensive potential. Given his late birthday, he may be flying under the radar due to a lack of international exposure. However his ability to push the pace could give Kaprizov a terrific running mate (and country mate).

26. Carolina Hurricanes - Evan Nause, D, Quebec (QMJHL)
Would it be surprising if Nause was the first QMJHL player off the board this year? Absolutely. But defenders like Nause go in the first round every year. There is a safeness to his game because of his combination of mobility and two-way abilities. He could easily be a long-time second pairing guy in the league and in the second half, he started to show that he may have more offensive upside. The other name that really spoke to me here was Zachary L’Heureux, given how Carolina was drawn to a similar player in Jamieson Rees two years ago.

27. Colorado Avalanche - Zachary L’Heureux, F, Halifax (QMJHL)
There is going to be a real familiarity with L’Heureux’s game having scouted Justin Barron this year. He is a real polarizing player because of his on ice antics (he was suspended four separate times this year). However, the Avs appreciate physically intense offensive forwards like L’Heureux (see Landeskog and Kadri), and likely believe that they can reign him in a bit. The talent level is there and I think NHL teams will view him as a possible standout playoff performer. I could see Colorado targeting Olausson, Robertsson, or Bourgault here too. Olausson, in particular, could be intriguing because of his skating ability, which Colorado places a lot of emphasis on.

28. New Jersey Devils (via New York Islanders) - Nikita Chibrikov, RW, SKA (MHL)
Chibrikov is a highly skilled offensive winger who had a really strong U18’s for Russia and who would be a great add to the Devils organization, who has not shied away from taking Russian players in recent years. With Eklund at #4 and Chibrikov here, New Jersey is trying to improve the skill of their wingers to help support some of the high end centers the organization already has in the fold. Xavier Bourgault is an option here too. As would be Mackie Samoskevich and Sasha Pastujov.

29. Vegas Golden Knights - Francesco Pinelli, C, Kitchener (OHL)
I like this fit for Pinelli. In 2017 the Golden Knights took Nick Suzuki, a similar type of player in his draft year to Pinelli, only to trade him and see him flourish in Montreal. They try to rectify that by taking Pinelli, who is extremely intelligent and can develop into a high end two-way player if he can learn to be a little more consistent. The Golden Knights have been known to overlook some skating concerns too, which Pinelli has. Bourgault and Olausson shouldn’t be dropping this far, but stranger things have happened.

30. Montreal Canadiens - Matthew Knies, LW, Tri-City (USHL)
Knies is someone who had a really strong finish to the season, possibly saving his first round status in this draft. He came into the year as a likely first round pick but a slow start saw him fall down rankings. A strong finish may be enough to entice a team like Montreal who could really value his skill set as a net driving presence and support winger. There are a lot of ways Montreal could go with this selection, but I do see them taking a strong winger with some size and scoring potential. Maybe William Stromgren is a possibility here too, or of course, Olausson.

31. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Tampa Bay Lightning) - Oskar Olausson, RW, HV71 (SWE J20)
Again, in recent years the Jackets have really shown a bias towards both Europe and strong skating players. In Olausson, the Jackets are taking a true wild card. He skates well. He has good size. He has flashed some real high end potential, but consistency has definitely been an issue. If he is still there at this pick (which is definitely a bit of a fall for him), I can’t see Columbus passing on him given he has the exact attributes that they really value as an organization from a scouting perspective.


32. Buffalo Sabres - Wyatt Johnston, C, Windsor (OHL)
Again, I am not sure that I would draft Johnston this high, but I do think that an NHL team is going to bite on him very early. Lots of room for physical growth because he has sprouted up this year and Buffalo is a team that has traditionally looked hard at these types who are not yet physically mature. Johnston projects as a high end middle six forward because of his high IQ, tenacity, and vision. Obviously Buffalo could go a variety of different ways here, but Johnston certainly is “their type.”

33. Anaheim Ducks - Mackie Samoskevich, F, Chicago (USHL)
Anaheim is another team with a connection with the Chicago Steel, having several players from the organization recently. I think that the Ducks really want to continue to build up skill at the forward position and Samoskevich is certainly skilled. He isn’t big. He may take some time to develop. But the offensive potential is going to be very alluring to them here. 

34. Seattle Kraken - Xavier Bourgault, F, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
I’m not sure I see Bourgault falling this far...but there will be some guys who do. In this scenario, I do think it is feasible. Later birthday. How much did his game progress this year? Will his game translate well? Is he a wing or a center? Lots of questions. But he is an intelligent and skilled offensive player and the Kraken need to focus on loading up their farm system by taking big swings. 

35. Vegas Golden Knights (via New Jersey Devils) - Shai Buium, D, Sioux City (USHL)
Buium strikes me as the type that NHL scouts will jump on early. There is a real projectable upside because of his physical tools. He’s 6’3, 214lbs and shows potential as a two-way defender because of his transitional abilities. Patience will definitely be required, but Vegas has definitely drafted some similar players with raw, physical abilities. 

36. Arizona Coyotes (via Columbus Blue Jackets) - Logan Stankoven, F, Kamloops (WHL)
Without a first round pick (forfeited) and with a brand new scouting staff, who knows how the Coyotes select with these two early second round picks. You would have to think that they look at bringing in a real high upside player with at least one of those picks. Both Darryl Plandowski and Ryan Jankowski have shown some bias towards and have some connections with Western Canada. So why not take a chance on Stankoven? His skating is a polarizing topic, but his skills are not. This is not an undersized perimeter player either. This is a young man who has a chance to be mentioned in the same vein as Alex Debrincat in that we say “why didn’t he go earlier?”

37. Detroit Red Wings - William Stromgren, W, Modo (Allsvenskan)
There are certainly a couple Q players left that could be alluring to the Wings, but since Stevie Y took over, they haven’t targeted a single Q player. I see either Stromgren, Tuomaala, Pastujov, or Robertsson being prime targets here as goal scoring wingers. I think Stromgren is a guy who could really interest Detroit in that his size and speed combination makes him very intriguing, especially when combined with his big shot. Consistency is an issue and patience will be required, but Detroit has to like the physical tools.

38. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose Sharks) - Aleksi Heimosalmi, D, Assat U20 (SM-sarja)
I do really believe that there is a chance Heimosalmi goes in the first round after his breakout performance at the U18’s. But if he doesn’t, I think he’s a target of most teams in this range. The Senators land an elite skating puck mover whose defensive game is very raw, but who does have the potential to be an impact offensive defender. The Senators certainly have the kind of depth to take these chances.

39. Nashville Predators (via Los Angeles Kings) - Jack Peart, D, Fargo (USHL)
Personally, I think Peart deserves to be a first round selection. This is a highly intelligent two-way defender who has significant offensive upside. However, his lack of elite physical tools likely keeps him out of the first, especially his average skating ability when combined with his average size. But I think NHL teams are going to see a lot of Adam Fox in Peart, and the Preds grab another out of the USHL (well and Minnesota High School Hockey). This was the pick recently acquired for Arvidsson.

40. Vancouver Canucks - Simon Robertsson, W, Skelleftea (SHL)
While Robertsson did underwhelm a bit at the U18’s, I don’t think it hurt his draft stock too much. There are still a lot of things to like. There is goal scoring potential. He is a hard worker away from the puck who plays a pretty complete game. It is easy to see Robertsson as a support player to some of the highly skilled and creative offensive players that the team has brought into the fold. And to be honest, he is probably the BPA at this point on a lot of draft boards.

41. Ottawa Senators - Zach Dean, F, Gatineau (QMJHL)
There is going to be a ton of familiarity here with Dean playing so close. The last player that the Senators took out of Gatineau was JG Pageau and he turned out alright. Dean probably projects as a similar kind of player too. While consistency was tough on an up and down Olympiques team, there is a lot to like about Dean who navigates space extremely well. 

42. Arizona Coyotes - Zachary Bolduc, F, Rimouski (QMJHL)
Again, there will be players who fall in the draft. There always are. Maybe it’s my own bias showing, since I’m not as high on Bolduc as others. However, Bolduc’s profile is similar to others who have fallen at the draft. Is there a hunger to his game that makes him an attractive first round pick? Or is he one of those guys that teams like...but there is always someone that they like a little bit more. The Coyotes grab another potential high upside forward here. I wouldn’t be shocked if this pick was a goaltender too. I also wouldn’t be shocked if this pick was Josh Doan.

43. Chicago Blackhawks - Scott Morrow, D, Shattuck St. Mary’s (USHS)
Morrow has to be considered one of the most polarizing players available this year. The skill set is dynamic. The offensive potential is sky high. But how well does he think the game and how good can he become defensively? The Blackhawks have never shied away from taking these types of defenders and even dipped into the Minnesota High School scene early last year. Wouldn’t be shocked if Sasha Pastujov is the pick here too...if he is available.

44. Calgary Flames - Prokhor Poltapov, F, Moskva (MHL)
Polatpov is a really interesting forward this year. He is strong in puck protection and shows an ability to drive the net. He, like some other Russian forwards available, had a strong performance at the U18’s and I think that solidified his spot in the first two rounds. Calgary has been drafting a lot of Russian players lately and won’t be afraid of taking a chance on Poltapov.

45. Philadelphia Flyers - Ayrton Martino, F, Omaha (USHL)
I think the Flyers are a team who could really appreciate what Martino brings to the table as an offensive forward. While his energy could be channeled better in the defensive end, there is no denying his energy in the offensive end. Terrific on his edges, Martino is slippery in the offensive zone and always seems to keep his feet moving. Heading to Clarkson, the Flyers can be patient with him, but they have to hope he develops similar to someone like Joel Farabee.

46. Dallas Stars - Samu Tuomaala, W, Karpat U20 (SM-sarja)
Even though the Stars went with Othmann in the first round, they still take Tuomaala in the second. Both project as high end goal scorers, but their games are very different. Tuomaala is a high end skater and shooter who is dangerous in transition, where as Othmann is more calculated in his approach. Wouldn’t shock me at all to see Dallas jump on Ben Gaudreau here though, or even Belarussian goaltender Alexei Kolosov.

47. Detroit Red Wings (via New York Rangers) - Ben Gaudreau, G, Sarnia (OHL)
If the Wings don’t take a goaltender at 6th, you have to think that they use one of these second rounders on one to help fill organizational depth. Gaudreau oozes potential because of his high end processing ability and strong technical abilities. He was the top goaltender at the U18’s and would be a terrific addition to the Wings system. The only hesitation is that the Wings haven’t drafted a goaltender under 6’4 in a while. It’s clear that they value size in the position from a scouting perspective. Gaudreau isn’t small (6’2), but he isn’t huge Detroit’s standards.

48. Los Angeles Kings (via St. Louis Blues) - Samu Salminen, C, Jokerit U20 (SM-sarja)
Salminen had a really strong U18’s for Finland and stands out because he is a natural center in a draft with not a ton of them. A highly intelligent two-way center, Salminen has a lot of the qualities that the Kings consistently value in their draft selections. Wouldn’t shock me at all to see them select Chase Stillman here either. I could see them valuing his physicality as a potential replacement for Dustin Brown.

49. Winnipeg Jets - Josh Doan, F, Chicago Steel (USHL)
Sure it’s a great story. Josh gets drafted by the city that drafted his father...even though the team moved to Arizona and that’s where Shane made his mark. However, I would be shocked at this point if Josh is not a top 50 selection, given his progression, bloodlines, and how the scouting community has been talking about him lately. This would be a great pick by Winnipeg, as Doan projects as a strong middle six complementary piece with some size and snarl.

50. Nashville Predators - Oliver Kapanen, F, KalPa U20 (SM-sarja)
The cousin of Kasperi Kapanen, Oliver projects as a similar kind of middle six forward, given his speed and awareness on the ice. There is also some positional versatility, as he looks like a future swiss army knife. We know Nashville has drafted a lot out of Finland and a potential two-way center like Kapanen is going to be intriguing for the Preds after taking Coronato and Peart earlier.

51. New York Islanders (via DET & EDM) -  Kirill Kirsanov, D, St. Petersburg (KHL)
Always tough to gauge the offensive potential of young Russian defenders when they play in the KHL like Kirsanov. However, at minimum, he looks like a potential second pairing guy who could provide stability and flexibility with his skill set. Of course, the Isles haven’t had a ton of luck with their Russian draft picks in recent years, but I don’t think it stops them here.

52. Buffalo Sabres (via Boston Bruins) - Sasha Pastujov, F, USDP (USHL)
Definitely a bit of a fall for Pastujov, who is certainly a first round contender. But a disappointing U18’s, in combination with some skating concerns, makes me wonder if he falls. Additionally, his older brothers seemed to plateau early in their development, so is he a finished product? Regardless, his ability to dominate touches and chances between the hash marks could translate well if he can elevate other areas of his game. This is a player I could see Buffalo being on board for.

53. Minnesota Wild - Alexei Kolosov, G, Dinamo Minsk (KHL)
Another “re-entry” selection, Kolosov may not be extremely large, but he is crazy athletic. He already played well in the KHL and even at the World Championships for Belarus. I could see Minnesota looking to add depth to their goaltending pool and Kolosov could be a good one. I do believe that he is someone who could be the third goaltender selected this year (or the fourth in the case of this mock draft).

54. Washington Capitals - Stanislav Svozil, D, Brno (Czech)
Without a first round pick, it seems likely that Washington ends up with a perceived faller here. That would be a guy that they had higher on their list, but perhaps others didn’t. The Capitals have drafted out of the Czech Republic a few times in recent years and Svozil is the kind of safe, top four defender that they have targeted. His disappointing U18’s has made some second guess the potential, but there is no question that he would be a great pick here.

55. Florida Panthers - Josh Lopina, C, UMass (NCAA)
Yup...another “re-entry.” If there is a team that has jumped on second and third year eligible players in recent years, it is the Florida Panthers. They also have loved targeting Hockey East. Well how about the Hockey East’s rookie of the year and a league champion? Lopina plays a real pro style game. With some continued improvement to his skating, he could develop into the type of elite third line player that the Lightning just won back to back Cups with. 

56. Toronto Maple Leafs - Jack Bar, D, Chicago (USHL)
Seems like anyone and everyone is projecting the Leafs to take a Steel player at this draft. Why not? They have several times before. And they just brought Ryan Hardy into the fold. I think any Leafs fan would agree that the team needs to look at adding a little more size, skating ability, and snarl to the back-end. Insert Jack Bar. Blessed with some nice physical tools, Bar improved a ton over his first USHL season and is heading to Harvard next year. Did I mention that the Leafs also like Harvard players?

57. Pittsburgh Penguins - Colton Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL)
When the Pens have targeted centers at the draft in the last decade, they all seem to fit a similar profile. Good size. Good physical tools. Colton Dach fits that bill. While I’m not sure I would personally, I definitely see an NHL team taking Dach inside the first two rounds. Teams will look at Kirby’s trajectory and wonder if Colton can achieve similar things with more development time. The Pens are going to try to swing for the fences here to see if they can hit the jackpot and Dach could be that.

58. Carolina Hurricanes - Tristan Broz, F, Fargo (USHL)
Broz just loves to attack. This is an aggressive offensive player who excels playing through traffic with his puck protection ability. I think Carolina could see him as being an excellent fit in their system. Headed to U of Minnesota, Broz will have a few years to develop, but after a strong USHL playoffs, he could be selected even higher than this.

59. Arizona Coyotes (via NYI & COL) - Zakhar Bardakov, W, Vityaz (KHL)
Given the nature of scouting in the pandemic, I think most scouts seem to agree that we may see more second and third year eligible players selected. In a normal year, we always have a few go in the first couple of rounds. In this mock, this would be the fourth to go already. Bardakov stood out at the WJC’s with his penalty killing ability and strength down low. But in the KHL he showed some goal scoring prowess. I could see a team jumping on him early in hopes that he develops into an elite third line player like a Barclay Goodrow. After taking two big swings with their earlier selections, Arizona opts for a safer player like Bardakov who could possibly help them very soon. Of course, Arizona could opt for a defender here, such as Brent Johnson.

60. Colorado Avalanche (via NJ & NYI) - Ethan Del Mastro, D, Mississauga (OHL)
The pick was recently acquired from New Jersey in exchange for Ryan Graves. With it, they could very well opt for one of the higher end potential defensive stalwarts to replace Graves in the system. Insert Ethan Del Mastro. While his offensive potential remains a bit of a mystery due to him not playing much this year, his U18 performance had to have impressed some NHL scouts enough to take him inside the first two rounds. Nolan Allan, Cam Whynot, Cole Jordan or Anton Olsson could be options here too. Allan, Whynot, and Jordan could possibly be better options due to their high end skating ability, again something Colorado values highly.

61. Chicago Blackhawks (via Vegas Golden Knights) - Chase Stillman, F, Sudbury (OHL)
Yeah yeah, I know. The Hawks recently traded for and signed his brother Riley. It makes a cute story that NHL scouts don’t often care about that much. However, I do think that Stillman goes in this range and I think that he is the type of player that they do covet at the draft. His physicality and energy will be attractive to NHL teams as he has the chance to develop into a really elite third line player at the NHL level. I could see the Hawks taking a chance on Justin Robidas here too. They will take chances on players with size issues.

62. Montreal Canadiens - Brent Johnson, D, Sioux Falls (USHL)
Johnson is a high end thinker from the back-end who is an analytics darling. He’s not the biggest. He’s not the quickest. But he is just so efficient at both ends. A high end thinker inside the offensive zone, it is easy to see his offensive game developing even more. Montreal does seem to value these types of defenders higher than their competitors. It Would not shock me to see them go for a strong two-way center here too, like Brett Harrison, Ryan Winterton, Samuel Helenius, Red Savage, etc.

63. Montreal Canadiens (via Tampa Bay Lightning) - Sean Tschigerl, W, Calgary (WHL)
Had the WHL season been longer, I do believe that we would have seen Tschigerl move up draft boards pretty significantly. He finished the season so strongly. Montreal was just beaten by Tampa, who utilized an incredible third line made up of players just like Tschigerl. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. With goal scoring potential, physicality, and quickness, Tschigerl is the exact kind of player I see Montreal adding with one of these two second rounders. Zack Ostapchuk, James Malatesta, Justin Janicke are some other options. 

The Next 15?
The players that I heavily considered in the second round who I think have a legitimate shot of going in the top two rounds

Nolan Allan, D, Prince Albert
Brett Harrison, F, Oshawa 
Ville Koivunen, W, Karpat U20
Dylan Duke, C, USDP
Artyom Grushnikov, D, Hamilton
Ryan Winterton, F, Hamilton
Jakub Brabanec, C, Brno 
Ilya Fedotov, F, Novgorod
Cameron Whynot, D, Halifax
Samuel Helenius, C, JYP
Zack Ostapchuk, F, Vancouver
Anton Olsson, D, Malmo
Janis Moser, D, EHC Biel
Danila Klimovich, F, Belarus
Victor Stjernborg, F, Vaxjo


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