Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2021 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “2021 NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our 2021 NHL Draft Grades.
The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL Draft. Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now. However, we don’t want to wait, instead, we follow our yearly tradition and do our NHL Draft Grades now.
To be clear, our NHL Draft Grades are based on the quality and quantity of total talent added in the draft. It is not based on getting value for where you pick. For example, due to a lack of total picks the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to be given a very poor grade for this year’s draft regardless of how they use them.
LWOS 2021 NHL Draft Grades
Note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean the best player drafted. It means the best value. For example, Owen Power was the first player taken in this draft. However, he is not our best value pick for the Sabres. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.
Anaheim Ducks: A-
The Ducks had a very solid draft. In McTavish, they get a big centre who can score goals. With McTavish and Trevor Zegras down the middle, the Ducks’ future looks good here. Zellweger is an offensive defenceman who has really risen up draft boards as his production has taken off. Sasha Pastujov is an absolute steal. The talented US NTDP winger fell much farther than he was expected to. Sean Tschigerl is a nice late-round pick who plays a two-way game.
Arizona Coyotes: B+
In terms of having the highest ceiling for point production, there may not be a better prospect than Dylan Guenther in this draft. The Edmonton Oil Kings winger scored two points per game in the WHL this season. Some might say that the Josh Doan pick is due to nepotism but that isn’t true. Doan is a power winger who had an amazing season with the Chicago Steel and won the Clark Cup this season. Ilya Fedotov also has high-end offensive skill. He has an incredible wrist shot. It is both powerful and accurate. He also has a very quick release which fools goaltenders. The Coyotes got good value with their later picks as well, adding much needed talent to the prospect pool.
Boston Bruins: B+
The Bruins’ first two picks were outstanding. Lysell fell farther than he should have. Lysell pairs his outstanding skating with excellent puck handling skills. He can handle the puck and make plays while moving at top speed. Harrison is a strong two-way player, who likely would have went higher if not for the cancelled OHL season. I also really liked the value in their late picks. Gasseau is a big centre who may develop a power game. Gallagher was part of the US NTDP. He does not have any outstanding traits, but is a solid defender who doesn’t have any liabilities either. He brings excellent value in the seventh round.
Picks: Owen Power, Isak Rosen, Prokhor Poltapov, Alexander Kisakov, Stiven Sardarian, Josh Bloom, Olivier Nadeau, Viljami Marjala, William Von Barnekow Lofberg, Nikita Novikov, Tyson Kozak
It was a big weekend for the Sabres rebuild, with some of the current group leaving via trade. The Sabres also added a ton of young talent. They get one of the best marks in our 2021 NHL Draft Grades as a result. In Owen Power, they get the best player in this draft. The big defender can do it all, in both ends of the ice. Rosen pairs great skating with excellent stickhandling. With his ability to make moves at top speed he is very good at moving the puck and creating chances.
Poltapov is another explosive skater with the ability to generate chances on the rush. Kisakov is a pure goal scorer. He has an excellent wrist shot and a very quick release. Nadeau is a creative playmaker on the wing. He is very good at controlling the puck down low, in the cycle game.
Calgary Flames: A-
Coronato is one of the best goal scorers in the draft. His shot is tremendous and he’s willing to drive the net and play in the dirty areas of the ice. Stromgren is another pure goal scorer. He loves to take the puck to the front of the net, where he can score goals with his quick hands. Huckins has the size and willingness to play physically to be a power forward in the NHL. He also has offensive skills with his ability to score goals as well as to set up plays. Whynot is an excellent skater. He loves to push the offence and can quarterback the power play.
Picks: Scott Morrow, Aleksi Heimosalmi, Ville Koivunen, Patrik Hamrla, Aidan Hreschuk, Jackson Blake, Robert Orr, Justin Robidas, Bryce Montgomery, Nikita Quapp, Yegor Naumov, Nikita Guslistov, Joel Nystrom,
TIMEOUT, Don Waddell has traded down again. The Hurricanes came into the draft with a clear strategy to make as many picks as possible (and make day two of the draft last as long as possible). After all the trades, they used those picks smartly, again leading to one of our top 2021 NHL Draft Grades. Morrow and Heimosalmi are two right-handed defencemen who can really push the pace and produce offence. They are both long-term projects but their upside is very high.
Koivunen can control the puck and protect it with excellent stickhandling ability. He has the vision and anticipation to see when his teammates are open for a scoring chance as well. Hreschuk’s strong two-way game is defined by his excellent skating. He is tough to beat one-on-one and can drive the offence. Robidas is one of the best skaters in the draft. Lack of size is the only knock on this hard-worker with two-way skills.
The Blackhawks reached on Allan. He is a big, physical defender but there just isn’t a lot of offensive game there. It was a strange pick at the bottom of the first round. Dach is the brother of Blackhawks centre Kirby Dach. While not as talented as his brother, he also has size and an offensive game. Stjernborg is a solid defensive player, even at his young age. Stjernborg is almost always on the right side of the puck. He uses his hockey IQ and his anticipation to read plays and create turnovers. Harding is a big defenceman who played in the AJHL. He could be a steal if his game translates at higher levels.
The lack of picks hurts the Avalanche, but they are saved by doing really well with their first two selections. Olausson is a very good skater and has an excellent array of shots. He can score with his wrist shot, snapshot, slap shot, one-timer, and backhand. His hands are quick and his shots feature a quick and deceptive release. Olausson loves to shoot and will shoot from anywhere on the ice. Behrens is a good playmaker from the back end. He transitions the puck effectively, with strong stickhandling complimenting his skating skill. Makar is the younger brother of Cale Makar.
2021 NHL Draft Grades Main Photo: