2021 NHL Draft Rankings: Forbes’ Top 128 for May

Three months ago, I released my top 64 prospects for the 2021 NHL Draft. At the time Michigan’s Matthew Beniers led the way on my list as the potential number one pick heading into the home stretch of the season – with a number of other players not having played a single game.

Now, with the May rankings ready, those two things haven’t changed – the OHL never got underway and Beniers remains my consensus number one. But, there has been a number of changes throughout the remainder of the rankings with some repercussions coming from the U18 tournament in Texas.

Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide

As many have written, this will likely be one of the most interesting drafts, as teams go off the board and take players based on need rather than pure talent, simply because there are a number of prospects that weren’t given the chance to showcase their abilities during the 2020-21 season. Call them what you will – surprises, steals, or even duds – this draft may be full of surprises comparable to last year’s Columbus Blue Jackets’ first-round pick in Yegor Chinakhov.

Even my colleagues – Matt Zator and Peter Baracchini – see things differently than me as we’ve discussed on THW’s new Draft Rankings Show. But that could be the most exciting part of this draft – is the difference in opinion and what could actually unfold come draft day.

With that said, my top 128 still saw Beniers take the number one spot, as mentioned. While his season was cut short, he still put up 10 goals and 24 points in 24 games during the regular season with the Wolverines. His season included a nod to the NCAA (B1G) All-Rookie Team, he was an honourable mention for the NCAA (B1G) All-Star Team and he won gold for the U.S. at the World Junior Championship. He has the size and the skill that could make him a legitimate NHL center at some point in the near future and is a lock in my rankings at number one.

Mason McTavish Peterborough Petes
Mason McTavish of the Peterborough Petes (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

As for my biggest riser in the first round, Mason McTavish had a solid showing at the U18 tournament and did himself a favour with the performance. While he didn’t get an OHL season – thanks to COVID regulations in Ontario – McTavish did start his year in the Swiss League before wearing the ‘C’ for Canada at the U18 en route to a gold medal finish in the tournament. He finished with five goals and 11 points in seven games and has the physical presence to be a power forward at the NHL level. As of now, I have him at 10, but he could jump higher if a team liked what they saw from him this season.

With all that said, these rankings could very well change leading up the July 22 draft. And while there has been significant movement from February’s top 64 prospects, the top 128 isn’t set in stone either. Regardless, here’s a look at who make up my top 128 for the month of May.

2021 NHL Entry Draft Rankings

First Round

1. Matthew Beniers, C/W, Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)

2. Owen Power, LHD, Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)

3. William Eklund, C/W, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)

4. Dylan Guenther, C/W, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

5. Brandt Clarke, RHD, HC Nove Zamky (Slovakia) – on loan from Barrie Colts (OHL)

6. Luke Hughes, LHD, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)

7. Simon Edvinsson, LHD, Frölunda HC (SHL)

8. Kent Johnson, C, Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)

9. Jesper Wallstedt, G, Luleå HF (SHL)

10. Mason McTavish, C, EHC Olten (SL) – on loan from Peterborough Petes (OHL)

11. Fabian Lysell, RW, Luleå HF (SHL)

12. Chaz Lucius, C/W, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

13. Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

14. Carson Lambos, LHD, Winnipeg ICE (WHL)

15. Xavier Bourgault, C/W, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

16. Simon Robertsson, RW, Skellefteå AIK (SHL)

17. Oskar Olausson, LW/RW, HV71 (SHL)

18. Matthew Coronato, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL)

Matthew Coronato, Chicago Steel
Matthew Coronato Chicago Steel (Courtesy Chicago Steel)

19. Aatu Räty, C, Kärpät (Liiga)

20. Nikita Chibrikov, RW, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

21. Brennan Othmann, LW, EHC Olten (SL) – on loan from Flint Firebirds (OHL)

22. Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)

23. Corson Ceulemans, RHD, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)

24. Francesco Pinelli, C/W, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

25. Zachary L’Heureux, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

26. Zach Dean, C, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

27. Fyodor Svechkov, C/LW, Ladia Togliatti (MHL)

28. Samu Tuomaala, F, Kärpät (Liiga)

29. Logan Stankoven, F, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

30. Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

31. Isak Rosén, LW/RW, Leksands IF (SHL)

32. Daniil Chayka, LHD, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)

Second Round

33. Stanislav Svozil, LHD, HC Kometa Brno (Czech)

34. Scott Morrow, RHD, Shattuck St. Mary’s 18U Prep (USHS-Prep)

35. Sasha Pastujov, LW, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)

36. Matthew Samoskevich, RW, Chicago Steel (USHL)

37. Prokhor Poltapov, RW, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)

38. Dylan Duke, C, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

39. Anton Olsson, LHD, Malmö Redhawks (SHL)

40. Brett Harrison, C, KOOVEE (Mestis)

41. Sean Behrens, LHD, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)

42. Vladislav Lukashevich, LHD, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

43. Joshua Roy, C, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)

44. Samu Salminen, C/LW, Jokerit U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

45. Ryder Korczak, C, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

46. Evan Nause, LHD, Québec Remparts (QMJHL)

Evan Nause Remparts de Quebec
Evan Nause, Remparts de Quebec (Photo credit: Jonathan Roy)

47. Alexander Kisakov, F, MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL)

48. Vincent Iorio, LHD, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

49. Artyom Grushnikov, LHD, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

50. James Malatesta, C, Québec Remparts (QMJHL)

51. Justin Robidas, C, Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

52. William Strömgren, LW, MODO Hockey (HockeyAllsvenskan)

53. Conner Roulette, LW, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

54. Cole Huckins, C, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

55. Ryan Ufko, RHD, Chicago Steel (USHL)

56. Oliver Kapanen, C, JoKP (Mestis)

57. Samuel Helenius, C, JYP (Liiga)

58. Matthew Knies, LW, Tri-City Storm (USHL)

59. Matvei Petrov, LW, MHK Krylia Sovetov Moskva (MHL)

60. Victor Stjernborg, C/LW, Vaxjo HC (SHL)

61. Cameron Whynot, LHD, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

62. Kirill Kirsanov, LHD, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

63. Tristan Broz, LW, Fargo Force (USHL)

64. Verner Miettinen, C, Kiekko-Espoo U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

Third Round

65. Benjamin Gaudreau, G, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

66. Aidan Hreschuk, LHD, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

67. Oscar Plandowski, RHD, Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)

68. Tristan Lennox, G, Toronto Marlies (AHL) – on loan from Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

69. Ville Koivunen, LW, Kärpät U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

70. Chase Stillman, RW, Esbjerg II (Denmark2)

71. Logan Mailloux, RHD, SK Lejon (HockeyEttan)

72. Jeremy Wilmer, LW, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)

73. Ayrton Martino, LW, Omaha Lancers (USHL)

74. Hugo Gabrielsson, LHD, Frölunda HC J20 (J20 Nationell)

75. Jack Peart, LHD, Grand Rapids High (USHS-MN)

76. Peter Reynolds, C, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

77. Roman Schmidt, RHD, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)

78. Connor Lockhart, C, Erie Otters (OHL)

Connor Lockhart Erie Otters
Connor Lockhart, Erie Otters (Luke Durda/OHL Images)

79. Liam Dower-Nilsson, C, Frölunda HC J20 (J20 Nationell)

80. Stuart Rolofs, LW, London Knights (OHL)

81. Daniil Lazutin, C, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

82. Lorenzo Canonica, C/LW, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

83. Tyler Boucher, RW, U.S. National U18 Team (USNDP)

84. Robert Orr, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

85. Jack Bar, RHD, Chicago Steel (USHL)

86. Jack O’Brien, C, Lincoln Stars (USHL)

87. Eetu Liukas, LW, TPS (Liiga)

88. Dmitri Kostenko, RHD, Ladia Togliatti (MHL)

89. Red Savage, C/LW, U.S. National U18 Team (USNDP)

90. Talyn Boyko, G, Tri-City Americans (WHL)

91. Manix Landry, C, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

92. Justin Janicke, LW, U.S. National U18 Team (USNDP)

93. Marcus Almquist, C/RW, HV71 J20 (J20 Nationell)

94. Riley Kidney, C, Acadie Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

95. Isaac Enright, RHD, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)

96. Jake Martin, RHD, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)

Fourth Round

97. Zack Stringer, LW, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

98. Hobie Hedquist, G, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

99. Olen Zellweger, LHD, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Olen Zellweger Everett Silvertips
Olen Zellweger, Everett Silvertips (Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images)

100. Atte Lehikoinen, LHD, KalPa U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

101. Niko Huuhtanen, RW, Tappara U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

102. Francesco Arcuri, C, Steel Wings Linz (AlpsHL) – on loan from Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

103. Ty Voit, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

104. Victor Sjöholm, RHD, HV71 J20 (J20 Nationell)

105. Wyatt Johnston, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

106. Martin Rysavy, LW, HC Prerov (Czech2)

107. Aleksi Malinen, LHD, JYP (Liiga)

108. Guillaume Richard, LHD, Tri-City Storm (USHL)

109. Brent Johnson, RHD, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

110. Nolan Allan, LHD, La Ronge Ice Wolves (AJHL) – on loan from Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

111. Yusaku Ando, LW, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

112. Olivier Nadeau, RW, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

113. Alex Geci, C, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

114. Lucas Forsell, LW, Färjestad BK J20 (J20 Nationell)

115. Alexei Prokopenko, C, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

116. Ruben Rafken, RHD, TPS (Liiga)

117. Alex Christopolous, RW, North Bay Battalion (OHL)

118. Florian Elias, C, Manheim (DEL)

119. Isaac Belliveau, LHD, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

120. Kyle Kukkonen, F, Maple Grove High (USHS-MN)

121. Graham Sward, LHD, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

122. Oliver Moberg, LW, AIK J20 (J20 Nationell)

123. Ilya Ivantsov, F, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

124. Oleksii Myklukha, C, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)

125. Matthew Argentina, C, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)

126. Brian Zanetti, LHD, Lugano U20 (U20-Elit)

127. Matvei Averochkin, C, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)

128. Maxim Motorygin, G, MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL)

Honorable Mention

While they’re just outside my top 128, these players could’ve easily made the cut and will likely see their names on my final rankings.

Andre Gasseau, C, U.S. National U18 Team (USNDP); Ty Gallagher, RHD, U.S. National U18 Team (USNDP); Avery Hayes, C/RW, HK Levice (Slovakia2) – on loan from Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL); Viljami Marjala, LW, Québec Remparts (QMJHL); Dylan Gratton, LHD, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

Four Notes From the First Four Rounds

I may be behind the ball a bit on Olen Zellweger, but right now I have him just outside the third round. He’s a slightly smaller defenceman, but moves around the ice super well. His mobility is a major asset and he has the ability to join the rush when needed. While he could find himself going in the third round – as some suspect will be the case – he could be a player that slides to the fourth round and ends up being a solid pick up for a team midway through this draft. In 11 games with the Silvertips he had 13 points and he followed that up with eight points in seven games with Canada at the U18 tournament on the way to gold. Don’t forget this name – he could be a player we’re talking about in a few years.

I know this looks like a case of an all-Canadian notepad, but Benjamin Gaudreau is sitting just outside the second round for me at 65th. Gaudreau didn’t get any regular season action with the OHL’s Sting because of the the OHL shutdown, but made up for it in a big way at the U18s. He went 5-0-0 for Canada with a 2.20 goals against average (GAA) and .919 save percentage (SV%) en route to not just winning gold, but locking down the best GAA, SV% of the tournament and being named the tournament’s best goaltender. Not a bad spot for the kid.

Benjamin Gaudreau Sarnia Sting
Benjamin Gaudreau, Sarnia Sting (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Keeping it on the defensive talk, American-born Sean Behrens is a player that could push his way up to the earlier part of the second round. Again, like Zellweger, he’s a smaller defenceman at just five-foot-ten and a 176 pounds, but he has the hockey IQ and on-ice awareness that makes him a modern-day offensive defenceman. This is a defensively heavy draft which could be what pushes Behrens down the ladder a bit, but whoever takes him in the second round will surely be getting a very capable blueliner with a lot of offensive upside.

Finally, Carson Lambos. Lambos has seen a slow drop in the draft’s first-round rankings. An okay start in Finland and an injury upon his return to the WHL have really played a part in his drop to 14th on my list. That said, a team might be willing to still take a chance on Lambos earlier in the first round, but regardless of where he goes, he’ll be playing with a small chip on his shoulder when he begins his NHL career.

One More Shot for Scouts

While the OHL wasn’t able to get underway, there will be one more shot for scouts to get a look at some of the incoming prospects ahead of the draft. Put together some of the OHL’s graduating class, Erie will play host to a major junior showcase at the end of May and into June, giving players a chance to put on a show for prospective teams.

As THW’s Mark Scheig reported, Andrew Perrott, Ryan Beck and Ryan Humphrey spearheaded the idea and it’ll be a great opportunity for the draft-eligible players to give scouts one last chance to see what they are made of.

With that, we’ll look ahead to July’s draft as players will have their dreams made true over seven rounds of names being called out. Until then, we’ll be pushing more NHL Draft content, including player profiles and our final rankings that will surely change, over and over again, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that final list of 224 prospects.

Do you agree with my top 128 rankings? Which prospects are you watching? Who’s hot? Who’s not? And who would you add or take out? Be sure, to leave your thoughts by commenting below.