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 2021 NHL Draft Grades now.
To be clear, our 2021 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.
The Blue Jackets had three first-round picks and nine picks overall. They made the most of them to get one of our top 2021 NHL Draft Grades. Kent Johnson is creative and fearless. He will try a number of things that other players wouldn’t even dream of. This includes going for the “Michigan” or “Svechnikov” lacrosse-style goal or going between his own legs to try and deke an opponent. Sillinger is a pure sniper. He might be the best shooter in this draft class. His wrist shot is powerful and accurate.
Ceulemans is an excellent playmaker. He can carry the puck through the neutral zone and creates effective zone entries. On the rush, he has excellent vision and passing skills. Svozil has excellent defensive ability for his age. His strong lateral movements allow him to maintain good gap control as well as force opponents to the outside. Richard is a solid two-way defender who does a lot of things well but does not truly excel in any one area. Malatesta is undersized but a fantastic skater.
Dallas Stars: A-
The Stars made a number of good picks. The only reason they get an A- instead of a higher grade is the lack of a true blue-chip, top-10 talent. However, this draft brings a ton of very good talent to the system. Johnston has a solid two-way game and a very high work ethic. Stankovan is a bit undersized but has high-end offensive skills. Grushnikov is very good defensively. He reads the opponent extremely well and has a knack for breaking up plays in the neutral zone with a quick poke check or by stepping up with a hit.
Martino’s speed is a real threat and helps him to generate breakaways and odd-man rushes. He has the soft hands to finish those plays. He also has a powerful wrist shot and snapshot. Roulette is a pure goal scorer. He has an excellent array of shots. Bar is very good at starting the transition game. He has decent stickhandling ability and combines this with his skating to move the puck out of his end as well as to effectively skate the puck through the neutral zone
Detroit Red Wings: A++ *LWOS BEST DRAFT OF 2021*
The legend of Steve Yzerman’s general manager work continues to grow. This is an outstanding draft and wins top marks in our 2021 NHL Draft Grades. It is rare to find a prospect who is both 6-foot-4 and has the skating ability that Edvinsson possesses. This allows him to play an excellent two-way game. Cossa is a tall goaltender, who is calm and poised. He was outstanding for the Oil Kings. Buium can rush the puck and create offence. He continues to improve and is headed to the University of Denver.
Savage is a relatively safe pick in that the combination of his skating and defensive game makes him a good bet to develop into an NHLer. Dower-Nilsson is a playmaker, with the ability to handle the puck and protect it in traffic as well as the vision to spot openings to get it to a teammate. Plandowski loves to push the pace and be aggressive offensively. He marries his skating with good stickhandling ability and can skate the puck out of the defensive zone as well as lead the rush through the neutral zone.
Edmonton Oilers: C-
The Oilers lacked picks and reached on many of the ones they made. Bourgault and Petrov were good choices but its unclear what they were doing with other picks. Bourgault’s game is defined by his outstanding work ethic. He gets in on the forecheck, pressuring defenders and creating turnovers. Petrov is a pure sniper. He has an outstanding array of shots. He loves to set up for his one-timer, especially on the power play.
Munzenberger is a big physical defenceman. However, he has issues with the puck on his stick. Chiasson has some offensive skills but needs real work on his skating going forward. Shane Lachance is another big winger who really struggles with his skating.
Samoskevich marries his skating ability with excellent stickhandling. This helps Samoskevich to be a playmaker, both on the rush as well as working in the offensive zone. Nause’s two-way game is based on his excellent skating ability. He makes an excellent first pass to start the transition game. He also maintains good gap control and is tough to beat off the rush. Lukashevich is another offensive defender. He could develop into a power-play threat but needs to bulk up and improve his defence. Kirill Gerasimyuk is a long-term goalie project.
Despite just four picks, the Kings hand an outstanding draft. Brandt Clarke has the potential to become a dynamic offensive defenceman going forward. He could become a franchise-changing player and a number one defender. Pinelli shows a good all-around offensive game. He is able to push the pace of play and create offensive chances. He can score and make plays. Helenius is a big centre with a great wrist shot and excellent defensive game. Kirsanov has the skills to play a defensive role in the top four of an NHL team if he continues his development.
Minnesota Wild: B+
Wallstedt was a steal. His technique is incredibly advanced for a young goaltender. He uses his size effectively, coming out to cut down angles and gives shooters very little net to look at. His rebound control is amazing. Lambos is an offensive defenceman with a very good slap shot and one-timer. He generates excellent power. Peart, Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey is another strong two-way defenceman.
The Wild didn’t take a centre until their fourth pick. Bankier shows offensive skill but must be more consistent on a game-by-game basis. Josh Pillar was undrafted a year ago, but had a strong season with Kamloops. He improved his shot and offensive game. He still needs to work on his quickness though.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the Habs pick of Logan Mailloux. I try to stay objective in my articles, as much as possible, but anyone who knows me, knows I’m a huge Habs fan. Without getting into the details of why the Logan Mailloux pick is so troubling, Frank Seravelli did a great job on that here, I can honestly say that I’ve never been more embarrassed by the actions of my favourite team, angry at Marc Bergevin and management, and disappointed in a transaction. While I am all for people getting second chances, those second chances must be earned and Mailloux, by his own admission, has not done enough to earn this second chance yet.
Based on this decision alone, I have no choice but to give the Canadiens the worst draft grade I have given in all our years of this series.
Day 2 Selections: B
An undersized forward, Kidney will need to work on his skating to make it to the next level. However, he has every other tool that one would want in both ends of the ice. Kapanen’s skating ability helps him to play a strong two-way game. He is known for his goal-scoring ability. He has a very good wrist shot. It is both accurate and powerful. Kapanen is also good in his own end. Kostenko has all the offensive skills one would look for in a defender and fills a need on the right side of the Habs blueline.
Trudeau loves to rush the puck and push the offence. He is a real riverboat gambler who will need to work on his defensive game. Sobolev may be just 6-foot, but he plays a very physical game. He loves to hit and will block shots. He’s another righty on the blueline. Roy was the 1st overall pick in the QMJHL Draft. He has a great shot and release. He needs to work on skating. Simoneau is a 20-year-old who is undersized but plays an agitators game and is a good playmaker. Vrbetic is a 6-foot-6 goalie with good athleticism. He played behind a dreadful North Bay team in 2019-20.