NHL mock draft 2021: Sabres take Owen Power at No. 1 in wide-open draft

The Buffalo Sabres are on the clock. Again.

For the second time in the last four years, the Sabres hold the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft after winning the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery on Wednesday.

It’s not overly surprising in that Buffalo held the best odds (16.6 percent), of retaining the top selection in the 2021 NHL Draft. In fact, after the night-time draw, the only change in the draft order was the NHL’s newest club, the Seattle Kraken, leapfrogging over the Anaheim Ducks for the No. 2 pick. 

The 2021 draft is scheduled for July 23-24. The first round of the draft will be held Friday night, with rounds 2-7 on Saturday.

Barring any trades, the top-16 draft order (top 15 in the first round) in the 2021 NHL Draft is now set.

As the Stanley Cup playoffs are still underway, the bottom 16 is still up in the air. With the results of the playoffs predicted out, here’s how the first round of the draft could look.

(Getty Images, Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images, USA Hockey)
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NHL mock draft 2021, version 2.0

1. Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power, D, University of Michigan (NCAA)

With the first pick of the 2021 draft, it’s hard to imagine the Sabres not biting on Power. The 6-5 rearguard is a towering presence that is an offensive, mobile addition to any backend. While not a true consensus No. 1 pick like we’ve seen in past drafts, he should be a core piece of the Sabres as they embark on whatever the future holds for them. Imagining a top-two of Power and 2018 first-overall pick Rasmus Dahlin should be enough to get fans optimistic about this selection.

2. Seattle Kraken: Luke Hughes, D, USNTDP (USHL)

The lone upward mover in the lottery, the Kraken get the No. 2 pick and the selection could be a bit of a wild card. Without a prospect pool, Seattle is starting from scratch so, to mark their first-ever draft pick, Hughes would be a perfect match. One of the younger players in this class, the defender has an extremely high ceiling thanks to his excellent transition game and playmaking. Hughes would step in as a foundational piece for the Kraken — and setting up a rivalry with his brother, Quinn Hughes of the Canucks, wouldn’t hurt either.

3. Anaheim Ducks: Matthew Beniers, C, University of Michigan (NCAA)

The first forward off the board, the Ducks fall back to the third selection after the lottery but could very well land the player that they want. Beniers has taken many by surprise this year with his standout performance at the University of Michigan, plus international appearances at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship and Men’s World Championship. A one-two punch of Trevor Zegras and Beniers could one day soon be the best in the league.

4. New Jersey Devils: Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie Colts (OHL)

This selection could prove very difficult for the Devils. On the one hand, William Eklund already has chemistry with 2020-draftee Alexander Holtz. On the other, New Jersey already has Clarke’s brother Graham. Ultimately, they choose Clarke here after landing Jack Hughes, Holtz and Dawson Mercer in the last two drafts. Clarke is arguably the most intelligent player in this draft, putting his play on display recently at the under-18 championship. This could be a home run for the Devils. 

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5. Columbus Blue Jackets: Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda (SHL)

The Blue Jackets have a handful of promising young forwards on their depth chart, so with the news of Seth Jones testing free agency, Columbus might just be looking at their future top-line defender in Edvinsson. The rearguard is another mobile defenseman who has shown that he can play against men in the SHL. His big, 6-5 frame will likely be attractive to many teams, so the Blue Jackets snag him now with two picks later in the first round as well.

6. Detroit Red Wings: Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea HF (SHL)

If there was a general manager to pick a goalie in the top 10, it’d be Steve Yzerman, right? With some excellent prospects at forward and defense, the Red Wings look to between the pipes, landing their goaltender of the future. Wallstedt just spent the season in the SHL, even stealing the starting job in Lulea for a time. For a draft-eligible, that’s unheard of. Down the line, this could be the steal of the draft.

7. San Jose Sharks: William Eklund, C, Djurgardens (SHL)

While they probably would have liked one of the top four defenders to fall, the Sharks, who need some improvement at all positions, take the best player available. Eklund is a name that could be anywhere in the top-10, but San Jose should be happy with him here. Like Wallstedt, he spent the season in the SHL playing top-six minutes. One of the more NHL-ready players, his offensive potential and reliability in his own end could see him wearing teal sooner rather than later.

8. Los Angeles Kings: Kent Johnson, LW, University of Michigan (NCAA)

The league’s top prospect pool gets even richer here, landing one of the most creative players in the class. Imagining the deceptive winger with Quinton Byfield or Alex Turcotte in the NHL should have the Kings’ brass incredibly excited for the future. Johnson has some of the best mitts in the class and impressed moving seamlessly from the BCHL to college hockey with the University of Michigan. Los Angeles is building a scary team for the future, and Johnson could be a key piece in that.

9. Vancouver Canucks: Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

The Canucks have some excellent wingers and solid defenders in the ranks, but what they could use is another potential top-six center to one day work behind Elias Pettersson. McTavish is a big body that has excellent puckhandling skills and is a very smart playmaker. He looks strong playing overseas in Switzerland this year and brought that to his World Under-18 performance. This could be an excellent fit for the Canucks.

10. Ottawa Senators: Dylan Guenther, LW/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

The Senators play the waiting game here — waiting for whoever drops to them at this spot. In this case, they could win big with Guenther. The left winger is one of the top forwards available in this class, bringing a highly competitive attitude to his ability to drive play. He excels in transition and would be an excellent piece of the puzzle that they are building in Ottawa. Pierre Dorion and company should be ecstatic if the winger fell to them here.

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11. Arizona Coyotes: Pick forfeited

The Arizona Coyotes’ first-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft has been forfeited due to the organization breaking the NHL’s combine protocol.

12. Chicago Blackhawks: Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

While they miss out on the Wallstedt sweepstakes, the Blackhawks get a very promising consolation prize. The WHL netminder has NHL size at 6-6 and was practically perfect throughout the shortened 2020-21 season. Chicago has some excellent skaters in their system, but they lack a goalie of the future. Cossa could be the answer.

13. Calgary Flames: Fabian Lysell, LW, Lulea HF (SHL)

The Flames could use some pure skill — enter Lysell. The crafty winger oozes skill, thanks to his great speed and quick hands. Lysell is a player that can take over a game when he wants to, carrying his team’s offense. The prospect had a solid season, despite minimal minutes at the SHL level. He was Sweden’s best forward at the U18 championship and could be a great fit in Calgary.

14. Philadelphia Flyers: Chaz Lucius, C, USNTDP (USHL)

The Flyers add arguably the best finisher in the class. Despite an injury-riddled season, the NTDP pivot put together an impressive campaign and showed off his scoring prowess. His ability to get to the high-danger areas is impressive, and his shot is high-end. Philadelphia has an underrated group of young talent already starting to impact the NHL and Lucius could be a big addition to that.

15. Dallas Stars: Isak Rosen, LW/RW, Leksands (SHL)

The Stars opt for talent here and they get it in spades with Rosen. The explosive winger may lack some size, but he’s one of the more dynamic forwards in this class. Rosen has a nose for offense and he put that on display at the U18 worlds, helping to lead Sweden to a bronze medal.

16. New York Rangers: Aatu Raty, C, Karpat (Liiga)

For some reason, this pick seems almost inevitable. The Rangers have one of the top young groups in the NHL and they are trending up. After landing Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere in the last two drafts, taking a chance on Aatu Raty – once the projected No. 1 pick – might just be worth it. Raty is a divisive prospect, with some determining this season as a one-off and others saying he’ll bounce back. He could be worth that chance here for New York.

17. Montreal Canadiens: Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

Unless Carey Price steals Round 2 against the Jets, this is likely where the Canadiens will be picking. After ousting the Maple Leafs, having a player like Sillinger fall into their laps would be the icing on the cake for Montreal this postseason. Sillinger is an electric, offensive presence and could be a significant addition to the young core that the team has been building.

18. St. Louis Blues: Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)

The Blues prospect pool is dwindling, thanks to numerous graduations over the years. To help fill it back up, taking the best player available is the best option and that should be Ceulemans. The defenseman is a physical presence with an offensive mind, and his defensive game has shown improvements over the year. Having Ceulemans and 2020 first-rounder Jake Neighbours in the system is a good start at restocking the cupboard.

19. Nashville Predators: Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)

The Predators nabbed netminder Iaroslav Askarov last year, and now it’s time to look to the offense. Zachary Bolduc is in the conversation as the top player from the QMJHL, and his combination of two-way play and finishing ability makes him an extremely intriguing option at this spot. With some solid defensive prospects and some high-end young players on offense in the system, Bolduc could bring a blend of offensive and reliability to help fill out the future lineup.

20. New Jersey Devils (via NYI): Nikita Chibrikov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)

Having already landed Clarke at No. 4, the Devils can turn their attention to the forward corps, taking a future leader in Chibrikov. New Jersey’s future top-six is looking dominant and he could add to that with extra firing power, quick speed and leadership. The Devils are no strangers to selecting Russians, either, taking Shakir Mukhamadullin and Daniil Misyul the last two years.

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21. Edmonton Oilers: Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint Firebirds (OHL)

Othmann has shown that he has one of the best shots in this entire class. He also plays with an edge to his game and is fearless. It’s not hard to imagine him playing up with Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, adding a high-end finisher to the Oilers’ top-six. With two of the best players in the world manning the center positions, why not fill out the top-six with even more offense. 

22. Minnesota Wild: Matthew Coronato, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL)

The Wild have loaded up on skill throughout the past two drafts. Be that Matthew Boldy, Marco Ross or Marat Khusnutdinov, this team is building an exciting future. Coronato had a historic season in the USHL, showing an ability to put the puck in the net and play with a high motor. Minnesota is developing one of the most exciting forward crops in the league and adding Coronato would be an excellent addition to that.

23. Columbus Blue Jackets (via TOR): Francesco Pinelli, C, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

With the first pick, the Blue Jackets landed a projected top-four defender. Now, they’ll add a potential No. 2 center to the mix. Pinelli is an extremely intelligent playmaker showing an ability to drive to the net and create offense. With Columbus in need of higher-end talent in their prospect pool, Pinelli and Edvinsson go a long way to helping that — and they still have one selection left.

24. Detroit Red Wings (via WSH): Sasha Pastujov, LW, USNTDP (USHL)

After pulling the trigger on the top goaltender of the class, the Red Wings look to skaters by adding the nearby NTDP’s Pastujov. The winger is one of the most patient players in the class, with an ability to show up clutch in games. While he lacks high-end skating, he makes up for it with an ability to slow the play down to his speed. He’s a crafty forward that could be feeding Filip Zadina and Lucas Raymond the puck very soon.

25. Columbus Blue Jackets (via TBL): Simon Robertsson, RW, Skelleftea J20 (J20 Nationell)

You’ve landed a potential top-four defender and a top-six center, so why not look to the wings now? Robertsson is a reliable, two-way forward with excellent vision. He has a highly competitive drive and is very consistent. Likely more of a bottom-nine winger, he adds a future all-situations player to the mix in what would be a successful first round for Columbus.

26. Minnesota Wild (via PIT): Daniil Chayka, D, Guelph Storm (OHL)

With their second pick in the first round, the Wild can now look to defense, adding top Russian defender Chayka. The rearguard hasn’t had the best season with the OHL campaign cancelled, but in 2019-20 he made a strong case as one of the best defensemen in his class. Chayka is a reliable, two-way defender with a long reach. With so much skill in the system up front, adding Chayka will help to support them from the back end.

27. Florida Panthers: Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

Bourgault could end up being a steal at this point in the draft, and the Panthers should jump all over it. An extremely intelligent pivot, he is an offensive presence that is fearless in his drive to the high-danger areas. Florida would strongly consider a defender here after taking Anton Lundell last year, but Bourgault should be too good to pass up in this spot.

28. Vegas Golden Knights: Benjamin Gaudreau, G, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

The Golden Knights have been a remarkable team to start their NHL experience, from the top level to their prospect pool. With some excellent pieces in place up front and on defense, now is the time to go for the goaltender. Benjamin Gaudreau lost his season due to the OHL cancellation, but in 2019-20 he stood out as a potential first rounder. Then, at the U18 worlds, he was the goaltender of the tournament in helping Canada to a gold medal. Three goalies in the first round? Crazier things have happened.

U18 WC: Shane Wright, Connor Bedard lead Canadians to gold

29. Winnipeg Jets: Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

Lambos’ season was delayed with the WHL so he headed overseas to Finland where we didn’t see the same guy from 2019-20. He then played just two games for the Winnipeg Ice before suffering a season-ending leg injury; however, you have to imagine the Jets are excited about this Winnipeg-born player. Once considered a contender for No. 1, this will be one of the more intriguing selections to follow in the years to come.

30. Boston Bruins: Zachary L’Heureux, C/LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Is there a selection in this mock draft that makes more sense? The Bruins could be picking the heir apparent to Brad Marchand by selecting L’Heureux. While there are concerns about his discipline and off-puck efforts, if there’s a team that can take that and mould it into a star, it’s Boston. L’Heureux has high-end offensive skill in his finishing ability and has a knack for getting under an opponent’s skin. Remind you of anyone?

31. Carolina Hurricanes: Logan Stankoven, C/RW, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

Stankoven should be a higher selection than this, but there’s going to be some concerns over his 5-7 stature. The Hurricanes have shown that they draft skill regardless of the package it comes in. In the 2021 NHL Draft, that is Stankoven. One of the most competitive players in the class, he plays hard every shift and makes up for his size with great skating ability and an excellent shot. This is a very Carolina pick.

32. Colorado Avalanche: Oskar Olausson, RW, HV71 (SHL)

Colorado has selected Bowen Byram, Alex Newhook, and Justin Barron with their last three first-rounder picks, now it’s time to look to the wings. Olausson is a confident player that has some speed in his game, both in his feet and hands. He has a nose for the high-danger areas and has no problem taking the puck there himself. The Avalanche are going to be a dangerous team for years to come, and Olausson would help fill out their future secondary scoring.

Josh Bell is a scout and the director of content for FCHockey.

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