2021 NHL Draft Team Needs: Metropolitan 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: Metropolitan Division Team Needs

Carolina Hurricanes

Draft Position: 26th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Seth Jarvis, Ryan Suzuki, Andrei Svechnikov

Team Needs:

The Hurricanes biggest need is a goaltender. After the confusing trade that sent Alex Nedeljkovic to the Detroit Red Wings, the Hurricanes are now without a goaltender for the future. Pyotr Kochetkov could end up being that goaltender, but it’s not a sure thing. And with the top two goaltenders likely off the board by the time the Hurricanes pick comes around, they’ll just select the best player available, regardless of the position.

Projected Pick: Isak Rosen

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Rosen has a very good all-around game and this will help him become a top-nine forward at the next level. The question will be if his offence can develop into a true top-six player. He will need to add strength and get better at winning battles in the dirty areas of the ice and along the boards. Rosen will also need to be more of a playmaking threat, to add variety to his game and keep opponents honest. His game is comparable to Viktor Arvidsson. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on his skill and potential.”

Columbus Blue Jackets

Draft Position: 5th Overall, 24th Overall and 31st Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Yegor Chinakov, Liam Foudy

Team Needs: 

Having three picks in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft, the Blue Jackets will certainly be able to address their needs this year. The biggest one coming on the back end. They dealt David Savard to the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the trade deadline, and with Seth Jones’s future with the team in doubt, the only top-pairing defender the Blue Jackets have is Zach Werenski. The Blue Jackets don’t have any blue-chip defenceman in their prospect pool at the moment, so they’ll want to use at least one of their three picks on a defenceman.

Projected Pick: Simon Edvinsson at 5th, Nikita Chibrikov at 24th, Sasha Pastujov at 31st

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

On Edvinsson:

Edvinsson’s combination of size, skill, and skating ability gives him a very high ceiling.  He could become a top-pairing defender at the next level. There are areas of his game that need improvement, including his shot and his defensive game though. His game is still a bit raw and he will likely need more time in Sweden or the AHL before he is ready to make an impact at the NHL level. The raw traits here are very intriguing though, and with good coaching and development the team that drafts him could have a real gem. Edvinsson’s game is reminiscent of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

On Chibrikov:

According to Elite Prospects, Chibrikov’s contract with SKA lasts through the 2022-23 season. As such he is at least two years away from coming to North America. That time should be useful though, as he will be playing high-level hockey with SKA. Chibrikov can utilize this opportunity to continue to round out his game and become a better player. Expect to see him in next year’s world juniors. Chibrikov could become a top-six winger if he reaches his potential.  Chibrikov’s game is reminiscent of T.J. Oshie. This is a stylistic comparison only though, not one based on skill and ability.”

On Pastujov:

Pastujov is a boom or bust prospect. He has the offensive skill necessary to become a top-six winger if he reaches his ceiling. Pastujov projects as an offensive winger who can create at even strength and play on the power play going forward. His ability to control the play from the half boards as well as to score from dirty areas are real assets. However, he needs some work on his defensive game and on his skating. He will get time to work on his game while playing at Notre Dame over the next couple of years. Pastujov’s game is reminiscent of Blake Wheeler but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

New Jersey Devils

Draft Position: 4th and 28th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Alexander Holtz, Dawson Mercer, Shakir Mukhamadullin, Jack Hughes, Ty Smith

Team Needs:

Much like the Blue Jackets, the Devils biggest need is on the back end. They grabbed some solid forwards in recent drafts with Holtz, Mercer, Hughes and Nico Hischeir and despite using two first-round picks on quality defenders in Mukhamadullin and Smith, the Devils need to add some more quality defenders to their pool. Using the first of the two first-round picks in the 2021 NHL Draft will help them accomplish this.

Projected Pick: Luke Hughes at 4th, Logan Stankoven at 28th

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

On Hughes:

Hughes could become a number one defenceman in the NHL if he reaches his full potential. One cannot teach his level of skating and offensive skills, however, he will need to work on his defensive game in order to truly take on the type of minutes that a franchise defender does. Defence can be learned though. It will take some time before Hughes is NHL ready. He is very young and could use a year or two of NCAA hockey. Hughes game is reminiscent of Tyson Barrie, however this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

On Stankoven:

Stankoven has a ton of skill and could develop into an effective two-way centre who scores goals and excels on the penalty kill if he reaches his potential. He will need to improve his playmaking ability to remain at centre though as without that, there will be a tendency to want to move him to the wing. Stankoven is likely a couple of years away from making a pro impact and should be back in the WHL next season. He will also get the chance to compete for a spot on Team Canada for the World Juniors. His game is comparable to Jonathan Marchessault but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

New York Islanders

Draft Position: 60th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Simon Holmstrom, Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom

Team Needs:

Defence seems to be the theme for the Metropolitan division, as this is the biggest need for the Islanders as well. After dealing Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche prior to the season and more recently Nick Leddy, the Islanders need to start adding some more quality prospects to the pool. Drafting Noah Dobson and Bode Wilde in recent years helps, however, they need to add some more depth.

Projected Pick: Ethan Del Mastro

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Del Mastro’s combination of size, skating ability, and physicality make him an intriguing prospect for a number of NHL teams. There may not be a lot of offence in his game, but he could play a top-four role as a shut-down defender and key penalty killer if he reaches his potential. These types of defenders usually take a bit of extra development, so he should be a long-term project. Del Mastro will have the opportunity to be a top pair player for the Steelheads for the next two years and may get time to develop his offensive game. His game is reminiscent of Ben Chiarot. This is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

New York Rangers

Draft Position: 15th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Alexis Lafreniere, Braden Schneider, Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov, K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundqvist

Team Needs:

The Rangers have put together quite the prospect pool in recent years. However, the club is still short on quality centres. With no surefire centres in the prospect pool, the Rangers would like to address this with their first pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

Projected Pick: Aatu Raty

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“The questions about Raty’s offensive game have made it more likely that he will become a second-line centre than carry a franchise. However, this is still valuable. This is even more true when one considers that Raty’s strong defensive game can continue to grow and he could be used against the other team’s best players and on the penalty kill. The franchise that drafts him will need to have patience and need to work with Raty in taking the puck to the middle of the ice. He should be back in Finland next year and on the Finnish World Junior team, looking for redemption after being left off this year’s squad. When he’s at his best, Raty is comparable to Nazem Kadri, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

Philadelphia Flyers

Draft Position: 13th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Tyson Foerster, Cam York, Joel Farabee, Jay O’Brien

Team Needs:

The Flyers need to add more quality forwards to their prospect pool. Farabee broke out last season and Foerster looked outstanding in his first stint in the AHL. However, with players like Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk on the wrong side of 30, the Flyers will want to start developing some quality forward prospect to take their place in the coming years.

Projected Pick: Chaz Lucuis

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Lucius has high-end scoring skills that cannot be taught and this makes him an attractive option going into the NHL Draft. However, he is probably a couple of years away from being NHL ready. Playing in the NCAA, he will get time to work on improving his skating, bulking up, and playing better defensive hockey. He has mainly been used at centre to this point in his career, but may be more effective on the wing given the skating and defensive concerns. His game is reminiscent of Derek Stepan, however, this is a style comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

Pittsburgh Penguins

Draft Position: 58th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Samuel Poulin

Team Needs:

The Penguins desperately need to start adding centres to their prospect pool. It will be hard to do not having a pick in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft, however, if they can find someone with raw talent that they can get into their system and develop them into a top-six centre, that will be the goal for the Penguins. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin’s careers are winding down and the Penguins don’t have any quality centres in the pool to fill those holes at some point. Adding a centre with their second-round pick should be the goal for the Penguins.

Projected Pick: Samuel Helenius

“Helenius could become a solid checking line centre at the NHL level if he reaches his potential. His offensive limitations may keep him from being part of the top-six, but his role will still be valuable, playing against top lines and killing penalties. He could also develop his net-front game and provide a screening presence on the power play. Helenius will need time to continue to get stronger and could work on his offensive game as well. He is likely to stay in Finland for at least a season or two before being ready to make an impact in the NHL. His game is reminiscent of Brian Boyle. This is a stylistic comparison and not one based on skill and ability though.”

Washington Capitals

Draft Position: 55th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Hendrix Lapierre, Connor McMichael, Alexander Alexeyev

Team Needs:

The Capitals added some quality forwards recently in Lapierre and McMichael in the last two drafts. They need to stay that course as most of their top forwards are on the wrong side of 30. Harder to do when the Capitals don’t hold a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft, however, they can still find a gem in the second round to develop.

Projected Pick: Matthew Knies

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Knies could be a top-six winger in the NHL if he reaches his ceiling. The puckhandling and passing skills, combined with his size make for an ideal combination. However, he will need some time to work on his skating and his defensive game. He should play NCAA hockey for the next two or three years and work on improving these areas of his game. Knies’ game is reminiscent of David Perron. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.”

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