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.
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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.
Seattle Kraken: B-
Picks: Matty Beniers, Ryker Evans, Ryan Winterton, Ville Ottavainen, Jacob Melanson, Semyon Vyazovoi, Justin Janicke,
Beniers can become a franchise centre. While he’s played some wing at times, his future appears to be up the middle. He is probably never going to challenge for scoring titles, but he can become an offensive player who also plays against the other team’s top line. Evans was passed over in 2020 and seemed a bit of a reach in the second round. He is good in his own zone and can skate with the puck as well as make a good first pass to start the transition game.
Winterton was hurt by lack of an OHL season. He is another solid two-way centre who should get big ice time with the Hamilton Bulldogs this year. Ottavainen is a big defender who is more known for his defensive skills than his offensive game. Janicke was a nice pick in the seventh round. He’s a two-way winger with offensive skill and grit.
St. Louis Blues: C
Picks: Zachary Bolduc, Simon Robertsson, Tyson Galloway, Ivan Vorobyov
The Blues grade is hurt by a lack of picks. Bolduc has an excellent wrist shot, snapshot and slap shot. He is accurate and shows good power. That said, he’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice and can score from inside the home plate area as well. Robertsson is another pure goal scorer with an excellent shooting arsenal. Robertsson is also good as a playmaker. He is a good stickhandler and uses his body to protect the puck in the cycle game. Galloway is a big defenceman who is strong defensively and started to show some offence this past season.
Tampa Bay Lightning: C+
Picks: Roman Schmidt, Dylan Duke, Cameron MacDonald, Alex Gagne, Daniil Pylenkov, Robert Flinton, Niko Huuhtanen
The Lightning did not make a pick until the final pick of the third round. Coming in at 6-foot-6, Schmidt is a giant on the blue line. He uses his size effectively and forwards coming down his side of the ice with their head down will certainly pay the price. Duke is a pure goal scorer who scores the majority of his goals at the front of the net. He gets to the net both with and without the puck. MacDonald has good size and plays a two-way game. Huuhtanen has excellent size and uses it to dominate his age group along the boards and in front of the net. He is very good at winning battles for loose pucks.
Toronto Maple Leafs: D
Picks: Matthew Knies, Ty Voit, Vyacheslav Peksa
The Leafs grade is really hurt by the lack of picks. Knies is a very creative player. He can stickhandle in tight spaces and extend plays for teammates to get open. With his hands and agility, he can beat defenders in tight spaces and go to the net. He needs work on his skating. Voit is a smaller forward, who plays a perimeter game. He’s a decent passer with good vision. Peksa is an off-the-board goalie selection.
Vancouver Canucks: D-
Picks: Danila Klimovich, Aku Koskenvuo, Jonathan Myrenberg, Hugo Gabrielson, Connor Lockhart, Lucas Forsell,
The Canucks had a second-round pick, a fifth-round pick, and the rest are sixth and seventh-rounders. If the defence gives Klimovich a small opening, he can blow past him and leave them in the dust. He also has an excellent wrist shot, with a lighting quick release. Klimovich is a long-term project who will need some work on his defensive game. Koskenvuo is a 6-foot-4 goalie with excellent athleticism, but raw technique. Myrenberg has good size and his skating ability helps him at both ends of the ice. Lockhart is an undersized forward with excellent playmaking ability.
Vegas Golden Knights: C+
Picks: Zach Dean, Daniil Chayka, Jakub Brabenec, Jakub Demek, Artur Cholach, Carl Lindbom
Dean is an outstanding stickhandler. He marries his stickhandling skill with his skating and can make plays while moving at top speed. He is very creative with the puck and will cut to the tough areas to make plays. 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. Brabenec is a slick playmaker and has high hockey IQ. He needs to bulk up. Demek is a big winger who should join the Edmonton Oil Kings next season.
Washington Capitals: C+
Picks: Vincent Iorio, Brent Johnson, Joaquim Lemay, Haakon Hanelt, Dru Krebs, Chase Clark
Iorio is not the flashiest player out there but plays a steady two-way game. He skates well for his size. He also has a high-end hockey IQ and is willing to play physically. Johnson is an excellent skater. This helps him to really push the offence for Sioux Falls. He loves to rush the puck up the ice and join the attack. He is also a good passer at the blue line. Krebs is an outstanding skater. This helps him in transition and also makes him very difficult to beat in one on one situations.
Winnipeg Jets: B-
Picks: Chaz Lucius, Nikita Chibrikov, Dmitry Kuzmin, Dmitri Rashevsky
The Jets were hurt by the lack of picks, but scooped some excellent talent relative to their draft position. Lucius and Chibrikov inexplicably fell and the Jets took advantage. Lucius is a pure goal scorer. He has a very good arsenal of shots, as he is effective with his wrist shot, snap shot, slap shot, one-timer, and backhand. His shots are accurate and show good power. Lucius has quick hands. He is able to get his shots off extremely quickly.
Chibrikov is a very good playmaker. He has excellent vision and anticipation, reading the play and anticipating the movements of his teammates and opponents. When a scoring opportunity presents itself, he finds his man and gets him the puck. Kuzmin is a very good skater and tremendous puck handler on the blueline. He pushes offence from the backend.
2021 NHL Draft Main Photo:
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