2021 NHL Draft Rankings – Preseason
The following is my initial list for the 2021 NHL Draft. It is limited to 64 players to account for the first 2 rounds of the draft and is essentially a feeler list, compiled of players who I have at least a decent feel at this stage of the evaluation process. As time progress, future iterations may include more players being added to the list, as well players being moved up and down the list or even players being moved into or out of the list. The current evaluation cycle is more of a moving target than in years past due the the COVID pandemic essentially eliminating opportunities for live viewings.
That said, plenty of information can be gleaned from video viewings, certainly enough to compile an initial list. This draft is top loaded with high ended defencemen and centres. The top dmen include Brandt Clarke, Owen Power, Carson Lambos, Simon Edvinsson, and Luke Hughes, while the top centres include Dylan Guenther (a C/LW), Aatu Raty, Kent Johnson, Chaz Lucius, and Matthew Beniers.
Not to be left out, there are also a number of wingers and goaltenders with enormous potential to rise up the rankings in the leadup to the draft itself. The top wingers include Fabian Lysell, Samu Tuomaala, Logan Stankoven (a C/RW), Joshua Roy, and Brennan Othmann, while the top goalies include Jesper Wallstedt and Sebastien Cossa.
Certainly, a considerable amount of quality prospects in the mix to keep scouts and teams busy during the evaluation cycle. Among dmen, there are many, including my RubyISS colleague Harrison, who are absolutely sold on Owen Power as the top player, which is understandable considering the size and skill package.
For myself, the top dman and player is Brandt Clarke and the reasons for this include a skill package that is on par with Power but also, imo, hockey IQ, skating, and strength of competition that are superior to Power. As well, Clarke is a RHD, while Power is a LHD, and I tend to place a bit of a premium on RHDs. That said, Power will be playing in the NCAA this coming season and, if he is as dominant in the NCAA as he was in the USHL, he may well warrant passing over Clarke as top dman and player on my list in future iterations. All this said, Carson Lambos, Simon Edvinsson, and Luke Hughes certainly have the potential to insert themselves in the conversation as top dmen moving forward but imo, at this stage, they lack the polish to be in the conversation atm.
As for center’s, the top natural centre by consensus is Aatu Raty, but I’ve got Dylan Guenther list as the top centre prospect on my list even though he was utilized primarily as a winger in his first season in the WHL because I expect him to be utilized increasingly as a centre when the WHL resumes play due to how he was utilized towards the end of last season. Should that not materialize, I may move Raty ahead of Guenther in future iterations.>/p>
Moving forward, Kent Johnson, Chaz Lucius, and Matthew Beniers have the potential to move into the conversation with Guenther and Raty as top centre prospect but, like their dmen counterparts Lambos, Edvinsson, and Hughes, they currently lack the polish to be included atm. Meanwhile the top wingers and the top goalies are too closely bunched from my perspective to rule out considerable shuffling in future iterations.
The top wingers nor the top goalies cannot be separated by lack of finish, for example, such as the top dmen and centres could be, at least not by me at this stage of the evaluation process. I expect to gain greater clarity in future iterations, at which point the comfort level that I will have in separating them more will be increased. Until then, they remain bunched as is. That said, at this point, my personal favourites are Stankoven among wingers and Cossa among goalies, simply because I have had greater exposure to their games up to now, and I will be curious to watch the others in their groupings more to see how they stack up to my reference points of these two players.