2021 NHL Draft Team Needs: Central Division

2021 NHL Draft

The 2021 NHL Draft is just around the corner and will once again be an online draft before things get back to normal in 2022. Today, we will look at the Pacific Divisions team needs and potential pick in the upcoming draft.

Click on each player’s name to see a full scouting report by Last Word’s own Ben Kerr. 

2021 NHL Draft: Central Division Team Needs

Arizona Coyotes

Draft Position: 37th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Victor Soderstrom, Barrett Hayton

Team Needs:

Much like last year, the Arizona Coyotes don’t hold a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft due to violating the NHL’s combine testing policy. This has hurt the team greatly as they are once against missing out on drafting some higher-end talent in this year’s draft. Which in turn, leaves them with some gaping holes in their prospect pool. The biggest being their defence. They have Victor Soderstrom on the way up who is a surefire blue-chip prospect. But outside of him, the cupboard is looking pretty bare. The Coyotes will certainly look to add to the pool with their first pick in the 2021 NHL draft.

Projected Pick: Aidan Hreschuk

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Hreschuk has the potential to become a top-four defender, capable of playing on the power play. However, he will need to continue to work on other areas of his game in order to reach the NHL. Playing NCAA Hockey next season means that he will have a shorter schedule. This will give him time to add muscle to his frame and get stronger. Hreschuk will also need to improve his top-end speed to reach his full potential. His game is reminiscent of Torey Krug. However, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

Chicago Blackhawks

Draft Position: 11th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Lukas Reichel, Kirby Dach, Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin

Team Needs:

Chicago has been able to put together a solid group of young prospects over the last few years. Both through the draft and through trades. However, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are ageing. Finding and developing another star forward when their time is up is definitely on the Blackhawks to-do list.

Projected Pick: Fabian Lysell

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Lysell projects as a possible first-line winger in the NHL. His advanced defensive game and the fact that he has already been playing against men mean that he may be NHL ready quickly. However, he likely needs to spend at least one more season in Sweden, getting stronger and producing offence in the SHL. He should also be an important part of the Swedish team at next year’s World Junior Championships. Lysell’s game is reminiscent of Mitch Marner. This is a stylistic comparison only though, not one based on skill and potential.”

Colorado Avalanche

Draft Position: 27th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Justin Barron, Bowen Byram, Alex Newhook, Martin Kaut

Team Needs:

There are no gaping holes in the Avalanche lineup or their prospect pool. They have a star-studded young defence group with Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Bowen Byram and Samuel Girard with Connor Timmins and Justin Barron on the way up as well as forwards Alex Newhook and Martin Kaut to join an already young forward group with Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen. There really is no specific need for this club. If you wanted to be picky you could say goaltending, however, the Avalanche do have Justus Annunen in the fold who looks to be a potential starter in the future. The Avalanche will simply pick the best player available with their late first-round pick.

Projected Pick: Zachary Bolduc

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Bolduc is a bit of a boom or bust prospect. There are aspects of his game that are very high-end and show the ability to be a top-line player. However, he is wildly inconsistent. There are also games where he just isn’t noticeable on the ice. With his defensive issues and his questionable vision and hockey IQ, he will be best suited to be a winger than a centre at the next level. If he can work on these things, and even improve them a little, he could become a solid NHL player. However, if he does not, he will be the type of player who drives coaches and fanbases crazy as the untapped potential is obvious. When he is at his best, Bolduc’s game resembles Jakub Vrana, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

Dallas Stars

Draft Position: 14th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Mavrick Bourque, Thomas Harley, Ty Dellandrea

Team Needs:

The Stars have developed some outstanding forwards over the last few years with Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov and Jason Robertson excelling at the NHL level. Ty Dellandrea saw his first bit of NHL action last season and Mavrick Bourque looked outstanding throughout his first six games for the Texas Stars in the AHL. One major concern for the Stars is their lack of defensive depth behind prospect Thomas Harley. The Stars will certainly look to use the 14th overall selection on one of the top defenders in the 2021 NHL draft.

Projected Pick: Corson Ceulemans

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Ceulemans has excellent size, strong offensive skills, excellent skating ability, and the willingness to play a physical game. These are plenty of the tools he will need to become a top-four defenceman if he is able to reach his ceiling. However, Ceulemans still has plenty to learn, especially in the defensive end. It would also be good to see his offensive skills translate to the NCAA game. A shorter schedule will also allow him to put on weight while at Wisconsin. Expect him to play at least a couple of years of college hockey before going pro. He should also be a part of Canada’s team at the World Juniors. Ceulemans’ game is similar to fellow Brooks Bandits alumni Cale Makar. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.”

Minnesota Wild

Draft Position: 21st and 25th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Marco Rossi, Matthew Boldy, Filip Johansson

Team Needs:

The Wild hold two picks in the first round in 2021 NHL draft and while they would love to add a goaltender, the top two goaltenders in the draft will likely already be off the board by the time their pick roles around. The Wild can certainly wait to draft a goaltender with a later pick in the draft while using their first-round picks to secure a forward and a defenceman. Giving them the best of both worlds.

Projected Pick: Fyodor Svechkov at 21, Sean Behrens at 25

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

On Svechkov – “Svechkov is a relatively safe pick, but his upside is questionable. His defensive ability and hockey IQ mean that he’s highly likely to make the NHL. He could play on the penalty kill and against top lines. However, there are questions about Svechkov’s offensive game. He needs work on his shot. He also needs to be more patient in the offensive zone. If Svechkov can improve these aspects of his game, he can become a middle-six centre in the NHL. Heading to SKA, it remains to be seen how much ice time he will get on one of the KHL’s perennial contenders. He could be loaned out to a VHL club. In any event, he needs a couple of years before he is ready to play his style in the NHL. Svechkov’s game is reminiscent of Phillip Danault, but this is a stylistic comparison only.”

On Behrens – “Behrens has the tools needed to be an effective defenceman on both ends of the ice. The questions that remain are if his game will translate at the next level given his lack of size. He relies on his physical game in the defensive zone and this may not work as well when he is facing men. However, his offensive skills as well as his skating ability give him the chance to make it. Behrens is a real boom or bust style of prospect. Playing for the University of Denver will give him the opportunity to continue to bulk up with the slower NCAA schedule. His game is reminiscent of Jared Spurgeon, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

Nashville Predators

Draft Position: 18th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Yaroslav Askarov, Philip Tamasino

Team Needs:

The Predators have been busy this offseason already trading Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Ellis in two separate trades, adding draft picks and young players such a Phillipe Myers and Cody Glass. We may see a small tear down in Nashville. They’ve already drafted their goaltender of the future in Yaroslav Askarov. Now they should focus on adding some scoring options up front.

Projected Pick: Matthew Coronato

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Coronato is a versatile player. He has been used in all three forward positions for the Steel over the past two years. That versatility will also be a major asset, though he will need to improve his lateral mobility in order to excel at the centre position in the pros. His future may lie on the wing instead. Coronato will need some time, and going to Harvard will give him a reduced schedule and allow him to put on weight in the weight room. He could be a top-six NHL forward. Coronato can play on the power play and penalty kill if he reaches his ceiling. His game is reminiscent of Kyle Palmieri but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

St. Louis Blues

Draft Position: 16th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Jake Neighbours, Dominik Bokk

Team Needs:

The Blues biggest need is on the back end. With an ageing defence group lead by Torey Krug and Justin Faulk, the Blues will certainly want to add some more defence prospects to the mix to become their successors as they exit their primes. Scott Perunovich is a promising prospect, however, they need to add some more quality defenders sooner rather than later.

Projected Pick: Daniil Chayka

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Chayka has all the tools to be a top-pairing defender in the NHL, but his game needs some refinement. He has had recent growth spurts and still seems to be adjusting to his body. He also needs to add some strength and muscle to that frame. These improvements as well as working on his long-range passing would really take his game to the next level. As it stands, he will need a couple of years before he is ready for pro hockey. It would be nice if Chayka returns to Guelph next year to continue playing on the smaller North American Ice. His game is reminiscent of Alec Martinez. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill.”

Winnipeg Jets

Draft Position: 17th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Cole Perfetti, Ville Heinola

Team Needs:

While defence is the more immediate need, they have Logan Stanley, Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg on the cusp of being important fixtures on the backend. Now it’s time to start focusing on the forward group. They added a significant piece in last year’s draft in Cole Perfetti, however, it’s a big drop off after him. They should use their first-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft to add another forward to the prospect pool.

Projected Pick: Cole Sillinger

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Sillinger has a ton of offensive talent, however deficiencies in his skating and defensive game will need to be addressed before he is ready for the next level. He is likely to head back to the WHL next season, and working on those aspects of his game for a couple of years in the league would really help him. He may end up a winger instead of a centre at the next level as this could reduce the impact of his skating and defensive play. Sillinger is a real boom or bust prospect. The good news is that he has the offensive instincts and great shot that cannot be taught, while his deficiencies are things that can be improved. Sillinger’s game is reminiscent of Mark Schiefele, however, this is a style comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.”

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