The future stars of the NHL are about to soon find out which jersey they will pull on first.
The 2021 NHL Entry Draft is just one day away and the hockey careers for a number of young men are about to completely change. Some prospects are NHL ready while others will take some time to develop.
Regardless, all 31 teams are about to stock up on young talent.
Here is everything you need to know for the NHL Entry Draft.
When is the 2021 NHL Entry Draft?
The NHL draft will take place over the span of two days from Friday, July 23, to Saturday, July 24. The first rounds will be on Friday, while the remaining six rounds will be on Saturday. The entire draft will be conducted remotely again this year from Secaucus, N.J. The first round draft show will take place at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. The second day of draft selections will air live, starting at 11 a.m. on NHL Network.
Who will be selected with the No. 1 pick in the draft?
For a while, there was no clear-cut No. 1 pick like there was in last year’s draft with Alexis Lafrenière. However, as we have gotten closer to the draft, it is becoming more and more likely that the first pick will be Owen Power.
The defenseman out of the University of Michigan is expected to be selected by the Buffalo Sabres, but there is a chance he doesn’t go straight to the show. Powers, who had 16 points in 26 games in his freshman year at Michigan, has stated he will have conversations with the Sabres but is “leaning” toward returning to Michigan. He would be the first No. 1 pick to come through the collegiate ranks since Rick DiPietro, who was selected first by the New York Islanders in 2000.
Regardless of whether his arrival in Buffalo is delayed or not, the Sabres are getting a big, smooth-skating defensemen who has a ton of potential. An extra year at the collegiate level may be more beneficial for Power in the long run, giving him an extra year of development before jumping in the pros. It’s worked for others like Cale Makar, who after spending two years at UMass, has turned into one of the top blueliners in the league.
Who are the top North American prospects in the 2021 draft class?
Two of Power’s fellow Wolverines, Kent Johnson and Matthew Beniers, are top prospects in this draft and could be off the board after the top 10 picks. Johnson has excellent hands with a keen eye for finding his teammates and reading plays while Beniers is perhaps the best defensive forward in the draft class.
The USNTDP’s Luke Hughes, the brother of NHLers Quinn and Jack Hughes, is another name to watch and there’s a possibility a reunion with one of his brothers is on the table, with the No. 4 pick belonging to Jack’s New Jersey Devils and the No. 9 pick being held by Quinn’s Vancouver Canucks. Luke is bigger than his brothers and is as smooth a skater for a defenseman as you’ll find.
Among the other top North American prospects are Mason McTavish, Dylan Guenther and Brandt Clarke. McTavish was playing for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL, but with the league canceling its season, the centerman was loaned to the Swiss League. He stood out at the World Juniors for Canada with 11 points in seven games.
Guenther averaged over one point per game in two seasons with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings as a winger. He’s a pure goal scorer showcased by his elite shot.
Clarke is a high-IQ, puck-moving defenseman who isn’t afraid to jump into the play. Another victim of the OHL season getting canceled, Clarke went from the Barrie Colts to play in Slovakia, but it was his point-per-game performance at the World Juniors that stood out.
Sebastian Cossa of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings is the top-ranked North American goaltender and is considered to be the 1B to Jesper Wallstedt. His 6-foot-6 stature stands out, but perhaps not as much as his stats -- 17-1-1 this season with the Oil Kings, with a 1.57 GAA, .941 SV% and four shutouts.
Who are the top international prospects in the 2021 draft class?
Looking at the international prospects, Simon Edvinsson, William Eklund and Aatu Raty are names who should be taken early in the draft. Edvinsson of the SHL’s Frölunda HC, the same program that produced Rasmus Dahlin, is the top European defensive prospect. The smooth-skater and lanky defenseman brings a solid all-around offensive game to the blue line.
Eklund comes from Djurgårdens IF of the SHL and is considered the top international prospect. He plays well in all three zones with a high hockey IQ.
Raty was at one point considered a candidate to be taken No. 1 overall but his draft stock has dropped the last few seasons and he could be a high-risk, high-reward selection. Playing for Kärpät in Finland’s Liiga last season, he managed just six points in 35 games, hence why his stock plummeted. There’a chance it was a fluke year and he’ll bounce back to be the top prospect he was once, but it’s a risky situation.
Jesper Wallstedt of the SHL’s Luleå HF is regarded as the top goalie in the draft and will be the first Swedish goaltender ever to be selected in the first round, barring some massive slide into Round 2. His positioning and ability to cut down angles is his strength, as well as his ability to track pucks.
Who could the Sharks take in the first round?
Missing the playoffs means the San Jose Sharks were able to get a top-10 pick. Mock drafts have the Sharks taking a center with the No. 7 pick, which means look for Doug Wilson to target one of Johnson, Eklund or McTavish.
Where are the Sharks selecting in the 2021 NHL Draft?
Here is the order of the draft picks for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
1. Buffalo Sabres
3. Anaheim Ducks
4. New Jersey Devils
5. Columbus Blue Jackets
6. Detroit Red Wings
7. San Jose Sharks
8. Los Angeles Kings
9. Vancouver Canucks
10. Ottawa Senators
11. Chicago Blackhawks
12. Calgary Flames
14. Dallas Stars
15. New York Rangers
16. St. Louis Blues
17. Winnipeg Jets
18. Nashville Predators
19. Edmonton Oilers
20. Boston Bruins
21. Minnesota Wild
22. Detroit Red Wings (from Washington Capitals)
23. Florida Panthers
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Toronto Maple Leafs)
25. Minnesota Wild (from Pittsburgh Penguins)
26. Carolina Hurricanes
27. Colorado Avalanche
28. New Jersey Devils (from New York Islanders)
29. Vegas Golden Knights
30. Montreal Canadiens
31. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Tampa Bay Lightning)
*The Arizona Coyotes forfeited their pick, which would have been No. 11, for violating NHL Combine Testing policy during 2019-20 season