Detroit — One big, bold mystery.
That’s what this 2021 NHL Entry Draft is shaping up to be, with so many unknowns whirring around teams and prospects.
The league will hold the first round of the draft on Friday, and rounds two through seven on Saturday. There will likely be many gasps and surprises, as so much is unknown.
The belief is teams have stark, differing opinions on many potential draft picks. The reason is, so many junior leagues were impacted all over North America and Europe because of the pandemic, to the point where some leagues didn’t play at all (Ontario Hockey League), and many others only played minimal games.
Prospects have question marks attached to their resumes, not having gone through a full, rigorous schedule.
That will play itself out this weekend, with some players being picked much higher than expected, and others much lower.
The Red Wings have the No. 6 and No. 22 (from Washington) picks Friday, to begin a busy weekend. They’ll make nine more selections Saturday. They have many options to choose on Friday, with a variety of potential prospects at both spots.
More: Another Peterborough center, Mason McTavish could jump-start Red Wings rebuild
Here is an updated look at how The Detroit News sees Friday’s first-round going down:
(Note: The Arizona Coyotes had to forfeit their first-round pick for violating prospect testing policy.)
►1. Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power, D, Michigan. Nothing has changed here. The Sabres need hope, and Power is about a sure a pick as there is in this draft.
►2. Seattle Kraken: Matthew Beniers, C, Michigan. Two Wolverines go in the top two picks. The expansion Kraken, who could be pretty good quickly judging from the upcoming expansion draft, get a future offensive star in Beniers.
►3. Anaheim Ducks: Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL). The Ducks need help in a variety of areas and a defenseman would be logical here. But Guenther gives Anaheim a jolt of needed offense.
►4. New Jersey Devils: Luke Hughes, D, United States National Team Development Program. The Devils are likely to take a defenseman, but who? Simon Edvinsson, Brandt Clarke? Sure, either would work, but when your brother is the face of the franchise, it makes sense to bring in Jack’s younger brother.
►5. Columbus Blue Jackets: Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda (Sweden). Another team who needs help at many positions. Some folks feel William Eklund could go here, maybe Mason McTavish, but Columbus will need defensemen in the near future.
►6. Detroit Red Wings: Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL). Eklund was the choice in mock draft 1.0. You hear a lot of chatter about goaltender Jesper Wallstedt, and that makes a lot of sense (no great goalie prospect in pipeline). But McTavish is the big-time center the Wings don’t have and fits an area the Wings need.
►7. San Jose Sharks: Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie (OHL). The Sharks need youth on defense, and Clarke injects badly needed developing talent.
►8. Los Angeles Kings: Kent Johnson, C/LW, Michigan. The Kings have a lot of forward prospects, but Johnson is too good to pass up at this spot.
►9. Vancouver Canucks: William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden (Sweden). The No. 1 ranked European skater falls into the Canucks’ laps in this mock, but don’t be surprised to see him get plucked earlier.
►10. Ottawa Senators: Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea (Sweden). If the Wings don’t take Wallstedt, Ottawa well could here at No. 10. Ottawa, also, is stocked everywhere but at goaltender.
►11. Chicago Blackhawks: Chaz Lucius, C, USNTDP. Most folks feels it’s either going to be Lucius or local prospect Matthew Coronato. Lucius has higher upside.
►12. Calgary Flames: Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL). The Flames need some defensive depth organizationally, and Lambos plays with some edge, which the Flames like.
►13. Philadelphia Flyers: Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls (USHL). Just the type of mix of skill and grit the Flyers really like in their forwards. Some of the teams in the top 10 like Sillinger, too.
►14. Dallas Stars: Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago (USHL). Coronato was a goal-scoring machine in the USHL and supplies the Stars with future offense.
►15. New York Rangers: Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint (OHL). Some scouts aren’t convinced Othmann should go this high, but his feisty style of play is something the Rangers need.
►16. St. Louis Blues: Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL). There are those who say Ceulemans could go slightly higher, but if he’s here, he fits what the Blues need in the near future.
►17. Winnipeg Jets: Fabian Lysell, RW, Lulea (Sweden). Speedy player with a high ceiling, Lysell could turn out to be a steal for the Jets.
►18. Nashville Predators: Fyodor Svechkov, RW, Russia. The sleeper of the draft according to many people, and the Predators need some young, high-end talent.
►19. Edmonton Oilers: Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL). The Oilers need a goaltending prospect and land one down the hallway from the Edmonton junior team.
►20. Boston Bruins: Zachary L’Heureux, Halifax (QMJHL). The Bruins need an infusion of young talent soon, and L’Heureux has been a prolific offensive player in juniors.
►21. Minnesota Wild: Nikita Chibrikov, RW, Russia. The Wild attempt to find a linemate for star rookie Kirill Kaprizov with Chibrikov, a heady, creative player who could go in the teens.
►22. Detroit Red Wings (from Washington): Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski (QMJHL). The Wings get a second quality center in the first round, with Bolduc, who can also play wing, a fine addition. Bolduc’s versatility and goal-scoring ability are a nice combination. If not Bolduc, maybe taking a chance on Aatu Raty?
►23. Florida Panthers: Aatu Raty, C, Finland. Projected to be top-5 in this class some two years ago, Raty’s stock fell after a lackluster season. Whoever gets him in the latter half of this round could wind up with a great pick. Raty has talent, no question about it, but not a lot of confidence currently.
►24. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Toronto): Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL). The Jackets fill another area of need with a quality offensive prospect. Many mocks have Bourgault in the late teens.
►25. Minnesota Wild (from Pittsburgh): Daniil Chayka, D, Guelph (OHL). A 6-foot-3, mobile defenseman who has put up offense is a nice option this late in the draft.
►26. Carolina Hurricanes: Sean Behrens, D, (USNTDP). Luke Hughes got a lot of the attention, but Behrens was nearly as good. The type of prospect the Hurricanes like to stash and develop.
►27. Colorado Avalanche: Matthew Samoskevich, C, Chicago (USHL). Headed to Michigan, Samoskevich adds to the collection of skilled forwards Colorado has in its organization.
►28. New Jersey (from N.Y. Islanders): Oskar Olausson, RW, HV71-SHL (Sweden). There are some mocks that think Olausson could go in the top 20. Plays with speed, and has been a goal-scoring threat in junior.
►29. Vegas: Shai Buium, LHD, Sioux City-USHL. Buium has been rising in the estimation of many scouts in recent weeks. Good gamble for Vegas in this spot.
►30. Montreal: Samu Salminen, C, Jokerit (Finland). Another fast riser, Salminen has been real good in tournament play, and could even go a bit higher in the 20s.
►31.Columbus (from Tampa): Danila Klimovich, LW, Belarus. Klimovich is a project, but the Blue Jackets have the time and patience to let Klimovich develop.