The NHL Entry Draft 2021 is fast approaching, and this year has a fair few quality prospects, making the race for the first round picks a tight one for these players, with the majority being able to move up or down the order without meaning anything negative about them. The only pick that seems relatively certain, is who will go first overall.
NHL Entry Draft 2021: First Pick
Owen Power, Defense, University of Michigan (NCAA): Owen Power is a strong defenseman, playing for Team Canada this past year, in the track that would see them win the gold. The player is a large two-way-style defenseman who plays a largely physical game. In the previous World Championship, the defensemen put up three points, while being the youngest player on the team. While the player may have been the youngest on Team Canada, he is one of the older players in the draft class, as he was born in late 2002, giving him a bit of an advantage over the other draft-eligible players.
Overall, Power would be a benefit to any team, and it is entirely possible that teams will try to trade for the first overall pick, putting the Buffalo Sabres organization in a position to negotiate, and possibly leverage offers for the player. Whoever ends up getting the player, will certainly gain a talented player with a lot of potential for his future.
NHL Entry Draft 2021: First Rounders
Brandt Clarke, Defense, HC Nove Zamky (Slovakia): Brandt Clarke is an overall powerful player, he works particularly hard on the right side of his defensive pairing. As an OHL player, he would not have had an opportunity to play had he not gone on loan, and thus has been loaned out to Slovakia where he has maintained his standard for quality performances. In just 26 games, the player put up 15 points. He does however spend a fair bit of time in the penalty box, being a protector of his teammates and being willing to make the tough plays that may see him in the box.
Luke Hughes, Defence, USNTDP Juniors (USHL): Luke Hughes is the youngest of the three Hughes brothers, and looks to continue the trend of going in the first round, with both of his brothers going in the top ten picks. The player puts up a lot of points as an offensive defenseman, matching the style of his brother Quinn Hughes. This player put up 34 points in 38 games for the US National U18 Team and has shown that he can perform at various levels. He will likely look to make an impact on the team that picks him immediately, as an overall skilled player with a big body and a long reach.
Fans can look forward to a little tension on where this player is picked, as New Jersey Devils‘ player Jack Hughes has already stated how he wants his team to select his younger brother, while they may be just a pick too late to claim him. Overall this player is expected to make a splash and seems guaranteed to go early in the first round.
Dylan Guenther, Winger, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL): The first forward of the bunch, Dylan Guenther has had a prolific season, even with the shortened format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In just 12 games, the player managed 24 points, split evenly among goals and assists. A prolific player, he seems to be able to score from anywhere on the ice, making an argument to be titled as a sniper, but his assists record would argue that he is a playmaker.
Not one to shy away from the international stage, the player put up seven points in seven games with the Canada U18’s, while also wearing the ‘A’ for both Canada and the Oil Kings. Overall he is a strong leader, and plays well with others, making an impact on both ends of the ice.
Kent Johnson, Center, University of Michigan (NCAA): Kent Johnson is perhaps an odd one in the entry draft 2021, as his skills have made him noticeable, while also being one of the few centers in the top side of his draft class. A strong forward, and current teammate of the projected first overall pick, the player is an efficient goal scorer. In his last season before going to Michigan, the player put up 101 points in 52 games, while during his first season in the NCAA he still managed to put up 27 points in 26 games. Overall, the player puts himself into difficult situations and manages to find a way to the net to cause trouble for the opposing team.
Overall, the NHL entry draft 2021 seems like it will have a strong draft class, with an emphasis on possible elite defensive players, and some prolific forwards. The first round is likely to be an exciting event, as multiple players could move up or down the rankings based solely on team needs, and there are likely to be a fair few trade offers coming through to grab more of these first-round picks.
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