THW 2021 Mock NHL Draft Round 2: Our Armchair GMs Make Their Picks

Similar to the 2020 iteration, the 2021 NHL Draft did not happen at the end of June. This year it will happen at the end of July when we normally would be talking about free agency. Instead, we at The Hockey Writers are getting you ready for the upcoming draft with our usual prospect profiles, features, rankings, and of course, our annual mock draft. On Monday we released the results of the first round which can be found here:

Related: THW 2021 Mock NHL Draft Round 1: Our Armchair GMs Make Their Picks

Similar to last year, we loved doing the first round so much, we decided to do a second round as well. Just like we did in the first round, this one will include comments from each THW team member on why they made their decision, and then I give my take. The full, seven-round mock will just have the list and then some of my takeaways.

I will also be continuing the tradition set forth by my predecessor, Josh Bell, of giving my take on the writer’s picks. Like him, I won’t be giving another selection just my thoughts on what if the team took that particular player in the actual draft. So without further ado, here are the results of the second round!

Note: My fellow ranker, Peter Baracchini will be stepping in to give his thoughts on my selections for the Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders.

32) Buffalo Sabres: Dylan Duke – C, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

THW Writer: Brandon Seltenrich

I planned to take another forward with the first pick in the second round of this mock draft, and Dylan Duke falling to me was a gift. Duke, the young center committed to the University of Michigan in the 2022-23 season, most recently played for the U.S. National U18 team, where he posted 29 goals and 20 assists in 50 games. He boasts a quick shot release with accurate aim, power forward qualities, and a two-way play style that could serve the Sabres well, both in even strength and special teams situations as they look to become competitive again.

Zator’s Take

After drafting two-way monster Matt Beniers, the Buffalo Sabres go back to the center ice position and select Duke. Clearly thinking that they are going to lose one or both of Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel this offseason, he will help replenish the depth down the middle should those trades happen. Like Beniers, he’s a two-way threat, but he adds a knack for scoring around the crease with his quick hands and exceptional awareness.

33) Anaheim Ducks: Brennan Othmann – LW, EHC Olten (SL)

THW Writer: Mark Scheig

The Ducks need goal scorers and there aren’t many better ones at this point in the draft than Brennan Othmann. His knack of scoring from anywhere is very appealing for a Ducks’ team that is looking for more balance in its lineup. He also has a physical element to his game that will endear him to his teammates and fans.

Zator’s Take

Projected to go as high as 17th overall by Neutral Zone and FC Hockey, the Ducks get a steal of a pick in Othmann at 33. Surprisingly a second-round pick in our mock draft, he will add a lot to their offensive depth and replace a bit of the physicality and fire that was lost when Corey Perry left in free agency a couple of seasons ago. He was a standout at the 2021 U18 World Championship where he showcased his entire package to the tune of three goals and six points in seven games.

34) Seattle Kraken: Daniil Chayka – LD, CSKA Moskva (KHL)

THW Writer: Adam Kierszenblat

Daniil Chayka may not put up a ton of points but at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds he can be an effective shutdown defender in the NHL. He showed massive improvement throughout the year working his way up to the KHL and should be a big part of Russia’s World Junior Team next year. He has great defensive positioning and should have no problem making the Seattle Kraken’s roster in the next few seasons.

Daniil Chayka Guelph Storm
Daniil Chayka of the Guelph Storm (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Zator’s Take

Shockingly taken before Czech defender Stanislav Svozil, Chayka became the second-ever pick of the Kraken and their second-straight defenceman after choosing Owen Power in the first round. Almost the exact opposite of the Mississauga native, he is all defense and rarely puts himself at risk for an offensive opportunity. Ranked all over the place from as high as 13th by The Puck Authority to as low as 77th by Elite Prospects, he is the definition of a polarizing prospect. It will interesting to see where he actually goes come draft weekend.

35) Vegas Golden Knights (via NJD): Matthew Samoskevich – C, Chicago Steel (USHL)

THW Writer: Devin Little

Simply put: this kid puts up points. With 37 points in 36 games with the Chicago Steel this season, Matthew Samoskevich can finish plays just as well as he can create them. I like him as a winger in the NHL, but he has experience playing down the middle too. He is committed to the University of Michigan next season where he should have the chance to play with Owen Power, Matty Beniers, and maybe even fellow Golden Knight Brendan Brisson. I’m expecting big things next season from this talented offensive player.

Matthew Samoskevich Chicago Steel
Matthew Samoskevich, Chicago Steel (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Zator’s Take

Ranked in the first round by yours truly, Samoskevich drops into the second round to the Golden Knights. As I said in his prospect profile, he is a human highlight reel capable of bringing fans out of their seats at a moment’s notice. If all his offensive skills translate to the NHL, he could be as exciting as Patrick Kane, and he was the first-overall pick back in 2007. I am somewhat surprised that he did not get selected on night one.

36) Arizona Coyotes (via OTT): Simon Robertsson – RW, Skellefteå AIK (SHL)

THW Writer: Josh Frojelin

The Coyotes did not have a first-round pick in 2020 or 2021 and maintain the rights to just four players from last season’s draft with the earliest being a fifth-round selection. The team needs to swing for upside, so I selected Simon Robertsson. The Swedish winger is ranked a first-round selection by nearly every noted scouting agency. He slotted into 15 Swedish junior games, where he excelled and tallied nine goals and 20 points. His production fell, but he was even trusted to play 22 SHL games. His World Juniors performance was not sensational, but this winger can add loads of upside to a prospect pool that needs it.

Zator’s Take

With their first selection of 2021 after they were forced to forfeit their first-round pick due to a scouting combine violation, the Arizona Coyotes do well here by choosing Robertsson. Projected to go in the first round by many pundits, and ranked as high as 8th by Dobber Prospects, he could be a definite steal drafted 36th. Funny enough, the Coyotes were slated to choose 11th before the forfeiture, so getting a player like him in the second round essentially negates that loss.

37) Detroit Red Wings: Stanislav Svozil – LD, HC Kometa Brno (Czech)

THW Writer: Devin Little

I had the pleasure of covering Team Czech Republic (Czechia?) this year for the World Junior Championship and along the way, I fell in love with Svozil’s game. Another guy with top-four potential, I like how he manages to drive play while also not taking unnecessary risks on the ice. I consider him to be a first-round prospect, so to get him early in the second round feels like a steal to me.

Zator’s Take

Steve Yzerman (aka Devin) strikes again! Another skilled defenceman drops in the draft and the Detroit Red Wings immediately pounce on him. Remember, Nick Lidstrom? Yes, one of, if not the best defenceman of all time was drafted in the second round (53rd overall), not high in the first. Interestingly enough, Svozil’s game is a lot like his. Now, I don’t expect him to win multiple Norris Trophies in his career, but he does have the same mobility and two-way smarts as the Hall of Fame blueliner. Even if he manages to be half what Lidstrom was, I think the Red Wings will be very happy.

38) Ottawa Senators (via SJ): Aleksi Heimosalmi – RD, Ässät U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

With their first pick in the second round, the Senators opt for the dynamic Finnish defenseman, Aleksi Heimosalmi. He erupted at the U18 World Championships, scoring eight points in seven games, and was named the tournament’s best defenseman. He is considered to be a bit undersized, but his puck handling, versatility, and competitiveness make up for any perceived deficiencies. While it could be considered a reach as the defender is projected more as a third-round pick, the early second round is a perfect time to take some bigger risks on highly talented players, and Heimosalmi gives the Senators another great right-short option on the blue line.

Zator’s Take

After selecting Jake Sanderson in 2020, the Senators continue to strengthen their prospect pool with yet another skilled two-way defenceman in Heimosalmi. Bursting onto the scene during the 2021 U18s, he will be an exciting addition to a blueline that already boasts the likes of Thomas Chabot, Erik Brannstrom, and Josh Brown. Quickly becoming as deep in young defensive talent as the Colorado Avalanche, the Senators score big with this pick.

39) Nashville Predators (via LAK): Prokhor Poltapov – RW, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)

THW Writer: Jeff Middleton

Prokhor Poltapov is another excellent offensive forward that a lot of people are high on coming into the draft. His offensive metrics are excellent, and his ability to create—just like Matthew Coronato—is something that’s missing from the forward core. He put up 52 points in 61 MHL games, which is a testament to his capabilities with and without the puck. His skating is excellent, and his explosive first step is something to behold.

Prokhor Poltapov
Prokhor Poltapov (Photo Credit: RIHF / FHR.RU)

Zator’s Take

Using the draft pick acquired from the Los Angeles Kings for Viktor Arvidsson, the Nashville Predators select a potential heir-apparent in Poltapov. After getting Coronato in the first round, he is a solid choice to potentially carry on the legacy left by the Swedish sniper who scored 127 goals in a Predators uniform. He’s a little bigger in stature, but his speed and creativity are almost the same. Basically, they got a younger and taller version of Arvidsson.

40) Vancouver Canucks: Evan Nause – LD, Québec Remparts (QMJHL)

THW Writer: Matthew Zator

After selecting the dynamic Fabian Lysell in the first round, the Canucks improve their defensive depth with Quebec Remparts’ defenceman Evan Nause. He’s not part of the coveted right-shot brigade, but he does offer a supreme two-way game and a consistent defensive presence night in and night out. With a hockey IQ like his, I’m sure he can switch over to the right side and play with Quinn Hughes or Jack Rathbone in the future. The way he plays the game is perfectly suited to those two as he rarely makes a mistake in his own zone, and can even transition the puck up the ice with a solid first pass or a quick skate through the neutral zone.

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

Baracchini’s Take

I really like this pick for the Canucks. Nause brings a strong, two-way game with great transitional awareness. He’s great in one-on-one situations and defensive positioning. He also has the ability to be a strong second pairing option that can play in any situation. With a high-end, puck-moving defenseman in Hughes and Rathbone coming up, the Canucks lack the defensive depth in their prospect pool. Nause will help them out in that department.

41) Ottawa Senators: Ayrton Martino – LW, Omaha Lancers (USHL)

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

As mentioned before, the Senators are in a great situation in that they have several talented prospects pushing for NHL jobs. That gives them the freedom to take bigger risks and draft players who will take longer to develop. Ayrton Martino is arguably the latter, as the 5-foot-10 playmaker will be starting his university career next season at Clarkson University. He’s a strong all-around presence and could compliment the Senators’ personality of being frustrating to play against extremely well.

Zator’s Take

As Dayton aptly pointed out, the Senators are in the enviable position of being able to add without worrying about when a prospect will ultimately debut in the NHL. Martino is a bit of a long-term solution for the top-nine, but he should be worth the wait as he possesses a very exciting combination of two-way play and agitation not seen since Chris Neil was taking laps in the Nation’s Capital.

42) Arizona Coyotes: Brent Johnson – RD, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

THW Writer: Josh Frojelin

The Coyotes select the most defensively sound defenseman remaining in my mind. Brent Johnson totaled 32 points in 47 points for the Sioux Fall Stampede, and his ability as a problem solver as a defenseman is quality, He can possess the puck well in his own zone and turn play from there to an offensive transition with ease.

Zator’s Take

After selecting a forward with their first pick of the second round, the Coyotes shift their focus to the blueline and choose Johnson from the Sioux Falls Stampede. Passed over in my final rankings, he was projected to go as high as 37th by Smaht Scouting to as low as 101st by Elite Prospects. Similar to Nause, he is not usually known for his offensive game, although he did finish the 2020-21 season with 11 goals and 32 points in 47 games. It will be interesting to see if that production ends up following him to the college level with the University of North Dakota next season.

43) Chicago Blackhawks: William Strömgren – LW, MODO Hockey (HockeyAllsvenskan)

THW Writer: Greg Boysen

After addressing goaltending with the first-round pick of Sebastian Cossa, the Blackhawks will look to add some size up front in the second round. William Strömgren fits that bill with a 6-foot-3 frame and plenty of time to fill out. The big winger is a powerful skater with elite puck handling skills. He can outskate defenders or get creative to make his way around them. He has a great shot with a quick and accurate release which he uses to score from anywhere on the ice. No pressure, but his hometown of Örnsköldvisk, Sweden has produced Markus Naslund, Peter Forsberg, and Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

Zator’s Take

The Blackhawks add a huge (no pun intended) amount of size, strength and skill with this pick. As Greg mentioned, Strömgren also comes from the small town of Örnsköldvisk which has produced its fair share of NHL talent. Yes, a town of only 32,953 is home to four of the greatest Swedes to ever play the game in Naslund (869 points), Forsberg (885 points) and Daniel (1041 points) and Henrik Sedin (1070 points). If he follows in their footsteps, the Blackhawks got an absolute steal here at 43rd overall.

44) Calgary Flames: Benjamin Gaudreau – G, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

THW Writer: Alex Hobson

You know what they say, you can never have too many goaltending prospects. Okay, I don’t know if anybody has actually said that, but the fact remains true. Goaltenders are the hardest position to evaluate, so despite already having some intriguing goalie prospects in Dustin Wolf and Daniil Chechelev, I have them taking another netminder in Benjamin Gaudreau with their second-round pick.

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

Gaudreau is a picture-perfect example of a player who got the short end of the stick because of the pandemic. The Sarnia Sting were the worst team in the OHL’s West Division, and Gaudreau was only getting half of the starts. While his .880 save percentage (SV%) and 4.34 goals-against average (GAA) look super underwhelming, he was actually the better goalie for Sarnia and should have had the 2020-21 season to improve those numbers. With fellow netminders Jesper Wallstedt and Sebastian Cossa both off the board, Gaudreau was the guy for Calgary in this situation.

Zator’s Take

The Flames potentially get their goaltender of the future with this pick of Gaudreau. Boosting his stock after an outstanding performance at the U18s where he took home Best Goaltender honors and finished with a tournament-best 2.20 GAA and .919 SV%, he could be Jacob Markstrom’s successor once his contract runs out in 2026. Very calm and cool in the crease, he has all the tools to be a starting goaltender in the NHL.

45) Philadelphia Flyers: Anton Olsson – LD, Malmö Redhawks (SHL)

THW Writer: Colin Newby

The Flyers selected Anton Olsson, defenseman from the Malmö Redhawks of the Swedish Hockey League, with their second-round selection at 45th overall. He is a fundamentally sound, stay-at-home defenseman whose hockey IQ should help his long-term growth at the NHL level. The organization has continually selected defensemen in the early rounds over the course of the past eight years, and he figures to be among the best available defensemen in Flyers’ range for the second round.

Zator’s Take

After selecting Emil Andrae in 2020, Cam York in 2019, and Ivan Provorov in 2015, the Flyers continue the trend with Olsson in 2021. The slick Andrae was a steal at 54 in 2020, so why not go back to the well and see if you can strike gold twice? Olsson is nowhere near the offensive defenceman Andrae is, but he does see the ice very well and is probably one of the best stay-at-home defenceman available in this draft. We will just have to see how his game translates to the NHL if and when he gets there.

46) Dallas Stars: Ville Koivunen – LW/RW, Kärpät U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

THW Writer: Peter Baracchini

Winner of the U20 SM-sarja Rookie of the Year, Koivunen has a very strong offensive skillset. He’s got good mobility, a very strong playmaker, and a very lethal shooter. He’s a  triple threat on the ice making him a reliable option at five-on-five and on the power play. He’s able to execute perfect passes and connect with his teammates without any issue. When he gets his opportunity to shoot, he will, as he scored 23 goals in 38 games this season. With a sniper in Chaz Lucius taken earlier, the Stars continue to add to their offensive depth with a player like Koivunen in their system.

Zator’s Take

Over the years, Finland has been very kind to the Stars. Boasting a past of Jere Lehtinen, Antti Miettinen, Jussi Jokinen, Niko Kapanen, and Niklas Hagman and a present of Esa Lindell, Miro Heiskanen, and Roope Hintz, I would not be the least surprised to see the Stars actually draft Koivunen on July 24. His overall offensive package should fit in nicely with the generation of Finns they have right now.

47) Detroit Red Wings: Zach Dean – C, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

THW Writer: Devin Little

Another guy that I think has first-round talent, Zach Dean is a player that I think could challenge for an NHL roster spot sooner than some of the players picked before him. He wore an ‘A’ this season with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL, and those leadership qualities are always something I place a premium on. I think he’s a future middle-six forward that can play in all situations – a heck of a pick-up at 47th overall.

Zach Dean Gatineau Olympiques
Zach Dean of the Gatineau Olympiques (Steve Philippe)

Zator’s Take

Devin continues his assault on the mock draft with another steal in Dean. Pegged for the first round or very early in the second by many draft pundits (including gurus Bob McKenzie and Craig Button), he should not have dropped this far into the second round. Known for their luck beyond the first 30 or so picks, Little must be a Red Wings writer, because he’s doing a heck of an impression of general managers of the past.

48) Los Angeles Kings (via VGK): Ryder Korczak – C, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

THW Writer: Alex Hobson

After taking one of the top-ranked defensemen with their first pick, I had the Kings taking a dynamic center in Ryder Korczak with their second-round pick. The 5-foot-10 center had the benefit of a WHL season unlike his OHL counterparts, albeit a small one. Through 17 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors, he tallied 16 points. This could be argued as a slight step back from his 67 points in 62 games last season, but again, short season, much harder to judge a prospect’s progress.

The younger brother of Vegas Golden Knights’ prospect Kaedan Korczak, Ryder plays an entirely different position and game than his older brother. With the CHL having their sights set on a proper season for all three leagues this year, the Saskatchewan native will have a chance to take a massive step forward, and he would be a great addition to an already-stacked Kings prospect pool.

Zator’s Take

Yet another solid choice for the Kings, Korczak adds more center depth to a squad that already includes the likes of Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, Tyler Madden, Gabriel Vilardi, and Rasmus Kupari. Like Dean, Korczak is a gift at 48th overall, as he was projected to go much earlier.

49) Winnipeg Jets: Brett Harrison – C, KOOVEE U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

THW Writer: Colton Davies

Brett Harrison is one of many versatile forwards who are available in this draft. Harrison is a puck hound, he is relentless on the forecheck and will hunt you down. He is not shy of physicality and loves to play the body. While he is a gritty type of player, Harrison is able to find the back of the net. He uses his body strength to get net-front and is able to score goals with ease. He is nowhere near a flashy player but his offensive abilities will be able to land him a top-nine role with an NHL club.

Brett Harrison, Oshawa Generals
Brett Harrison #44 (Ian Goodall/Goodall Media Inc)

Zator’s Take

The fourth-straight center to be taken in the second round, Harrison is exactly what Colton described him as, a puck hound. Like many of the successful bottom-six forwards in the NHL, he is a great forechecker and never shies away from a battle along the boards. The Jets need more physicality in their prospect pool, especially at center ice, so he definitely fills a need in the organization. He will also likely become a fan favorite because of it.

50) Nashville Predators: Sean Behrens – LD, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

THW Writer: Jeff Middleton

Sean Behrens is somebody I’m fairly high on heading into this draft. He reminds me a lot of Adam Fox because, while he might not be as skilled, the way he moves the puck and uses his edges to create lanes is very similar. He might not be the most explosive or the most prolific scorer, but he uses his mind to take over the game, which is something that can’t be taught.

Zator’s Take

Behrens of course goes to the blueline factory known as the Predators. Having already produced the likes of Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm, Behrens is definitely in good hands going into Music City. In fact, he actually reminds me a lot of Suter in the way he plays, very smart and very reliable in every zone on the ice.

51) Detroit Red Wings (via EDM): Olen Zellweger – LD, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

THW Writer: Devin Little

Many of the people I follow in the scouting community have many great things to say about Olen Zellweger, and I can see why. While he is undersized at 5-foot-9, he has an explosiveness to his game that must be there if he’s going to succeed as an undersized defenseman. With the additions of Lambos, Svozil, and Zellweger to a group that already includes Moritz Seider, William Wallinder, Albert Johansson, and Antti Tuomisto, the Red Wings might just have the deepest pool of defensive prospects in the league.

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

Zator’s Take

If Mark was the toast of round one, Devin is well on his way to becoming the toast of round two. After selecting McTavish, Lambos, Svozil, Dean, and now Zellweger, this draft is shaping up to be a massive win for the Red Wings and their fans. If all of them hit their potential, they could have three top-four defencemen, and two top-six centers when all is said and done. Zellweger, in particular, might turn out to be the biggest prize of them all as he surprised everyone at the U18s with a solid eight points in seven games. He is a smooth-skating rush machine that is built for the new NHL, so once again, an excellent choice for the Wings as they continue to rebuild themselves into a perennial playoff contender.

52) Buffalo Sabres (via BOS): Ryan Ufko – RD, Chicago Steel (USHL)

THW Writer: Brandon Seltenrich

I knew I wanted to take a defenseman late in the second round, and like Dylan Duke, the fact that Ryan Ufko fell to me was a gift. He finished up his second season with the Chicago Steel in the USHL leading all defensemen in scoring with 10 goals, 26 assists, and 36 points in 47 games. Due to his offensive output, he is regarded as a two-way defenseman who constantly creates chances for his own team and shuts down chances for his opponents. Does that sound like something the Sabres are missing? With a young, skilled defense core of Rasmus Dahlin and Henri Jokiharju, he would slide in nicely in a few years’ time.

Ryan Ufko Chicago Steel
Ryan Ufko, Chicago Steel (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Zator’s Take

After selecting two forwards with their first two picks of 2021, the Sabres finally decide to start addressing their defence with the skilled Ufko. Part of the powerhouse Chicago Steel, he was a key part of their team especially when it came to getting the puck into the hands of Coronato and Samoskevich. He was also a big part of their lethal power play, which ran mostly through him and Coronato. If he can tidy up his defensive game, he should be a great addition to the defensive core led by Dahlin.

53) Minnesota Wild: Vincent Iorio – RD, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

THW Writer: Peter Baracchini

While his offensive output may not translate to the NHL, Vincent Iorio is still a steady two-way defenseman that’s able to contribute in every facet of the game. He’s got great size and has great mobility when skating with the puck. He’s a stalwart defensively as he has good positioning and the ability to break up plays effectively. His size allows him to get the inside track to separate players from the puck and quickly gain possession and transitioning the other way. He’s definitely a player that could be a big part of the Wild’s future.

Zator’s Take

Continuing the run on defencemen, the Wild get another good one in Iorio. Still led by the ageless Suter and past draft picks Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba, they are going to need a new generation of defencemen to take over for them soon. As Peter said, his offensive game may not be on par with them, but he can still provide a great defensive presence with the mobility that is required to have success in today’s NHL.

54) Washington Capitals: Kirill Kirsanov – LD, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)

THW Writer: Dayton Reimer

The Capitals love toughness, and there are few stronger players available in 2021 than Kirill Kirsanov. The Russian defender played most of the 2020-21 season in the KHL, an impressive feat for any teenager, and with Washington’s familiarity with Russian prospects, he would mix well with their system.

Zator’s Take

Marking the 11th defenceman taken in the second round so far, the Capitals add size and snarl to their prospect pool with Kirsanov. Just the fact that he played in the KHL most of the season as an 18-year-old should be all the evidence you need to project his potential in the NHL. With the defence aging at the moment, he could end up becoming an important part of Washington’s future on the blueline.

55) Florida Panthers: Samu Salminen – C/LW, Jokerit U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

THW Writer: Colby Guy

At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Salminen is a dynamic playmaker who can develop into an all-around threat if he continues to use his size to his advantage. He’s able to find the empty spaces to receive passes and make the right plays, which could add a new look to Florida’s power play if his development stays on track. After scoring 10 goals and 26 points on Jokerit’s U20 squad, he seems to be on track to be a dynamic offensive threat and becomes yet another Finnish forward in the Panthers’ system.

Zator’s Take

The Panthers add another big Finn to their pipeline with Salminen. Like Aleksander Barkov before him, he is 6-foot-3 and uses every bit of that size to his advantage whenever he attacks the offensive zone. He is also a great two-way player. With his versatility of being able to play center and wing, the Panthers got another good one here at 55 after selecting the equally impressive Logan Stankoven back in the first.

56) Toronto Maple Leafs: Jack Bar – RD, Chicago Steel (USHL)

THW Writer: Peter Baracchini

The Chicago Steel is a perfect example of a junior-level team producing promising prospects. Already with an NHL frame, Jack Bar has great mobility and speed for his size. He’s reliable in his own end, but has the ability to carry the puck and knows when to jump into the rush or offensive zone for a chance to make a positive impact. He has a great shot and power from the point. The Maple Leafs have done a great job finding talent outside the first round, they may have found another with Bar.

Jack Bar Chicago Steel
Jack Bar, Chicago Steel (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Zator’s Take

After another year without a first-round selection, the Maple Leafs were lucky enough to snag Bar late in the second round. Like many of the defencemen drafted in this round, his style is suited for the modern NHL. Already well-versed in the art of playing with superstars, he should feel right at home feeding the puck to Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares one day.

57) Pittsburgh Penguins: Shai Buium – LD, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)

THW Writer: Matt Grazel

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a need for a defenseman with size and Shai Buium fills the need. At 6-foot-3 and weighing 214 pounds, he has good hockey sense and transition play. He needs to improve his skating ability, his speed, and work on his shot. If he gets better at his weaknesses and maintains his strengths, he can be a good defenseman in the NHL.

Zator’s Take

Finally, Buium is drafted! One of my favorite defencemen in this draft, now the 13th drafted in the second round, his size and hockey IQ should have gotten him selected way before now. Though, like my namesake said, his skating and shot do need to improve before he ultimately makes it to the NHL. If it does, the teams that passed on him will regret not snagging him when they had the chance.

58) Carolina Hurricanes: Vladislav Lukashevich – LD, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

THW Writer: Nick Pinkerton

The Hurricanes have proven they don’t need the first round to find excellent defensive value, having drafted Jaccob Slavin 120th-overall in 2012 and Brett Pesce 66th-overall in 2013. 18-year-old Vladislav Lukashevich has improvements to make in puck control and strength but nonetheless has ranked as high as 31st-overall among major outlets. In 2020-21 with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the MHL, he tallied three goals and 16 assists for 19 points, recorded a plus-20 rating, and averaged 17:30 time on ice (TOI) over 36 games — leading his team’s blueliners in points and time on ice. He’s a positionally and situationally sound player that could provide all-around value for one of the league’s best defensive cores.

Zator’s Take

Selected two picks after where I thought he would go, Lukashevich could be another Chinakhov and get drafted in the first round, as THW’s own Dayton Reimer pointed out in his draft profile. He’s one of those low-risk, high-reward prospects that could conceivably become a top-four defender in his prime. With his 6-foot-2 frame, quick feet and high hockey sense, it’s probably best not to bet against him succeeding in the NHL one day. Basically what I am saying is, he’s an astute choice by the Hurricanes.

59) New York Islanders (via COL): Tyler Boucher – F, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)

THW Writer: Matthew Zator

After frustrating the Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights with their brand of defensive hockey, the New York Islanders add to that identity with Tyler Boucher. Hailing from the ever-improving world of the USHL, he could become a replacement for Cal Clutterbuck one day with his penchant for throwing his weight around. Described as one of the most physical players in this draft class by Elite Prospects, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become that and more, especially if his offensive game ends up translating to the next level. Could he be a future member of the “Identity Line”?

Tyler Boucher USA Hockey NTDP
Tyler Boucher, USA Hockey NTDP (Rena Laverty/USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Baracchini’s Take

This selection seems to fit quite well for the Islanders as he possesses the same aspects that make the team successful. He may not have the offensive upside, but he has great speed and the physical size that makes him tough to go up against. The Islanders seemed to do a great job doing that in the postseason. He plays with a high level of intensity that would make him a great addition as a possible strong third liner for the future.

60) New Jersey Devils (via NYI): Alexander Kisakov – F, MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL)

THW Writer: Alex Chauvancy

Alexander Kisakov finished this season with 36 goals and 73 points in 61 games, making him the highest-scoring, draft-eligible prospect to come out of the MHL — Russia’s junior league — this season. From his strong shot to his slick hands and stickhandling to his playmaking, he has a variety of weapons to create offense. Because he’s only 5-foot-10, 141 pounds, any team drafting him will have to be patient because he needs time to add strength to his frame. TSN’s Bob McKenzie had Kisakov ranked as his 35th overall prospect in his mid-season rankings, though there are scouting services that have him as a fringe top-100 prospect. Still, it’s not hard to be intrigued by his dynamic offensive toolkit, so he seems worth the risk at 60th overall.

Zator’s Take

Another extremely polarizing prospect, Kisakov’s size probably will deter teams from drafting him in the first round when the real thing gets going in a few weeks time. Although, given the success of 2014 third-round pick Brayden Point, who has 310 points in 351 NHL games and two Stanley Cups, teams should may be start re-thinking that strategy of overlooking smaller players. He has the skills to become a dominant top-line player in the NHL and could follow the same trajectory as Point, that is, if there are no bumps in the road in his development.

61) Chicago Blackhawks (via VGK): Cole Huckins – C, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

THW Writer: Greg Boysen

The Chicago Blackhawks used their pick acquired from the Golden Knights in the Mattias Janmark trade to continue to get bigger up front. Cole Huckins stands at 6-foot-3 and is already over 200 pounds. During his time at center for the Titan, he showed off his playmaking skills. During the season, he was moved to the left-wing and used his size to his advantage. He plays the prototypical power forward game by winning puck battles, getting to the dirty areas of the ice, and taking pride in being an agitator on the ice. His style of play should make him a favorite with the Chicago fans.

Zator’s Take

After the surprise pick of Cossa in the first round, the Blackhawks go to a more conservative and somewhat familiar choice of Huckins for their first pick of the second round. After selecting the 6-foot-4 Kirby Dach in 2019, they add more size and agitation with the 6-foot-3 Huckins in 2021. The Blackhawks pride themselves on being tough to play against, so it’s no surprise to see them target him for this pick.

62) Montreal Canadiens: Dmitri Kuzmin – LD, Dinamo-Molodechno (Belarus)

THW Writer: Hadi K

Dmitry Kuzmin‘s puck skills are near unrivaled among this year’s defensemen. He can even pull off the lacrosse move without much effort, and often pinches down into the offensive zone, which leads him to have the puck behind the net to start with. His skating is high-end, and he can distribute efficiently on the breakout. His slight frame puts him at a disadvantage in front of the net, but he’s already playing men’s hockey in his native Czech Republic, albeit in the second division. A bit of defensive work and he’s ready for North American hockey.

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Zator’s Take

On the heels of their selection of undersized defenceman Scott Morrow, the Montreal Canadiens select yet another one in Kuzmin. Except, don’t worry, he’s dynamic as they come and he can generate a lot of offence from the back end with his mobility and smart pinches in the offensive zone. Like Hadi said, not many players can execute the lacrosse move, and there’s even less that can successfully do it as a defenceman. Surprisingly, Kuzmin did it at the U18s for Team Russia. Based on that fact alone, he’s worth a flyer late in the second round.

63) Montreal Canadiens (via TBL): Tristan Broz – F, Fargo Force (USHL)

THW Writer: Hadi K

Tristan Broz has excellent two-way ability and can dominate from the half-wall on the power-play. His poise with the puck allows him to out-wait defensemen and goaltenders to either find the perfect place to shoot or open up a seam for a pinpoint pass. He has an above-average motor and can skate quite well.

Zator’s Take

Entering a new era that already contains the exciting Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the Canadiens choose to add to that burgeoning group with the deceptive playmaking and goal scoring of Broz. His style should fit well with what they are trying to build as they attempt to make it more than just a one and done Stanley Cup Final run in 2021.

Final Thoughts

The first 63 picks are now complete. Who’s winning so far? The Red Wings have to be considered well ahead of the pack going into the third round. The team has landed five solid prospects with future NHL potential: Mason McTavish (6), Carson Lambos (22), Stanislav Svozil (37), Zach Dean (47) and Olen Zellweger (51). Just grabbing Lambos, Svozil and Dean where they did is a huge win in my books. Add in the intriguing Zellweger, and acting-GM Devin Little has hit multiple home runs already, and he still has five more rounds and seven more picks to go.

Related: THW’s FREE 2021 NHL Draft Guide

After two rounds, there are still a few surprising names left on the board. Players like Victor Stjernborg, Logan Mailloux, Aidan Hreschuk and Justin Robidas still remain and they were all projected to go in the second round according to my final rankings. There is also a very solid goaltender still out there in Tristan Lennox. So, teams with multiple picks in the later rounds have some intriguing choices ahead of them as the draft continues with rounds 3-7.

Who are you surprised is available still? Which pick surprised you? Which team has had the best draft so far? What do you think about your team’s group? Leave a comment below!

THW Mock Draft Second Round Recap

Overall PickTeamSelection
32Buffalo SabresDylan Duke
33Anaheim DucksBrennan Othmann
34Seattle KrakenDaniil Chayka
35Vegas Golden Knights (via NJ)Matthew Samoskevich
36Arizona Coyotes (via OTT)Simon Robertsson
37Detroit Red WingsStanislav Svozil
38Ottawa Senators (via SJ)Aleksi Heimosalmi
39Nashville Predators (via LAK)Prokhor Poltapov
40Vancouver CanucksEvan Nause
41Ottawa SenatorsAyrton Martino
42Arizona CoyotesBrent Johnson
43Chicago BlackhawksWilliam Strömgren
44Calgary FlamesBenjamin Gaudreau
45Philadelphia FlyersAnton Olsson
46Dallas StarsVille Koivunen
47Detroit Red WingsZach Dean
48Los Angeles Kings (via VGK)Ryder Korczak
49Winnipeg JetsBrett Harrison
50Nashville PredatorsSean Behrens
51Detroit Red Wings (via EDM)Olen Zellweger
52Buffalo Sabres (via BOS)Ryan Ufko
53Minnesota WildVincent Iorio
54Washington CapitalsKirill Kirsanov
55Florida PanthersSamu Salminen
56Toronto Maple LeafsJack Bar
57Pittsburgh PenguinsShai Buium
58Carolina HurricanesVladislav Lukashevich
59New York Islanders (via COL)Tyler Boucher
60New Jersey Devils (via NYI)Alexander Kisakov
61Chicago Blackhawks (via VGK)Cole Huckins
62Montreal CanadiensDmitry Kuzmin
63Montreal Canadiens (via TBL)Tristan Broz

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