2021 NHL Draft: Top 10 Mock Scenarios 1.0

Following the lead of former THW NHL Draft guru Larry Fisher, I am going to start mocking the 2021 NHL Draft. Starting with the top 10, I will be running the Tankathon simulator for the draft lottery and mocking the results. Since there is no consensus number one pick, this should be a fun exercise to do as the top picks will most likely be determined by team need.

Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide

In the future, I will expand this to include the entire first round, so stay tuned for that. We will also be running our second annual THW writers’ mock draft after the draft lottery in June, so there will be lots of opportunities coming up for debate and discussion.

2021 NHL Draft Top 10 Mock Scenarios Matt Beniers, Dylan Guenther, Owen Power and Brandt Clarke

So without further ado, let’s get the first mock draft of the season going with the results of my first spin of the Tankathon simulator, which produced this order for the top 10.

1) Detroit Red Wings

2) Chicago Blackhawks

3) Buffalo Sabres

4) Anaheim Ducks

5) Seattle Kraken

6) New Jersey Devils

7) Columbus Blue Jackets

8) Vancouver Canucks

9) Ottawa Senators

10) San Jose Sharks

Mock 1.0: The Picks

1) Detroit Red Wings – Owen Power (D, Canada, Michigan NCAA)

ANALYSIS: The Red Wings win big in the lottery and move up four spots to snag first overall for the first time since 1986 when they selected Joe Murphy from Michigan State University. Steve Yzerman and company go back to Michigan again in 2021 and choose hulking defenceman Owen Power from the Wolverines. Named the consensus first overall pick by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, he has all the tools to be a dominant top-pairing defenceman in the NHL. Size, check, mobility, check, hockey IQ, double-check. The only thing that could hold him back from greatness is his lack of physicality despite being 6-foot-5.

At best, Power could become as dominant as Victor Hedman (second-overall in 2009) or at worst, a middling defenceman like Erik Gudbranson (third-overall in 2010). I am betting on the former, as he seems to have more in common with the big Swede who plays for Yzerman’s former employer than the man that has bounced around four teams in the last two seasons. As such, he will end up being a leader on the Red Wings’ blueline for years to come.

2) Chicago Blackhawks – Brandt Clarke (D, Canada, Colts OHL)

ANALYSIS: Moving up an astounding 11 spots were the Blackhawks, who will now be selecting second overall instead of 13th. Boasting a team full of young talents like Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat and some aging stars like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Stan Bowman decided to upgrade his blueline by adding Barrie Colts’ product Brandt Clarke to his prospect pool. With Duncan Keith nearing the end of his run with the team and Brett Seabrook already departed, they need an influx of youth on the backend. Clarke will bring that and more as he has the potential to replace Keith as the workhorse and provide the Blackhawks with Norris-calibre defence for decades down the road.

3) Buffalo Sabres – Jesper Wallstedt (G, Sweden, Lulea HF SHL)

ANALYSIS: Despite the emergence of 28-year-old Michael Houser and the potential of Linus Ullmark and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, the Sabres solidify their goaltending prospect pool by selecting franchise goalie Jesper Wallstedt. Since the days of Ryan Miller and Dominik Hasek, the Sabres have been searching for their next great netminder with very little success. With the amount of talent they have in their pipeline and the ticking clock that is Jack Eichel, the window could be closing on their chances to win a Stanley Cup. They are seemingly far away from that right now, but Wallstedt could help hold that window open a little longer if he can develop as fast as high draft picks Carey Price and Marc Andre Fleury did back in 2005 and 2003 respectively.

4) Anaheim Ducks – William Eklund (C/LW, Sweden, Djurgardens IF, SHL)

ANALYSIS: The Ducks were a loser in this lottery, but not by much as they dropped from second to fourth overall. Fortunately for them, they still get a potential superstar in William Eklund – someone who a lot of outlets have as going second-overall. He will eventually team up with another star in Trevor Zegras to further help fill the massive holes left in the offence by the departure of Corey Perry and the aging Ryan Getzlaf. With Eklund, the Ducks could have the makings of another dominant duo to lead them into the future. The 2020 Draft saw them walk away with a franchise defenceman in Jamie Drysdale, now they’ve added a franchise forward in 2021. Depending on when he comes over from Sweden, the end of the rebuild could come sooner than most people think.

5) Seattle Kraken – Matt Beniers (C, United States, Michigan NCAA)

ANALYSIS: For their inaugural draft pick in the NHL, GM Ron Francis selects one of the best two-way forward prospects in the entire draft in Matt Beniers. The Hingham, Massachusetts native could become as good as Patrice Bergeron or Jonathan Toews, and despite dropping to fifth-overall in this mock, the Kraken should be laughing getting him at this point in the draft. Projected to go first-overall in my latest April rankings, Beniers had a solid freshman season with the Michigan Wolverines and Team USA at the World Junior Championship racking up 10 goals and 24 points in 24 games and three points in seven games respectively. He didn’t look out of place playing against and alongside players older than him, which bodes well for his future in the NHL. For the Kraken, he will provide a solid foundation for their prospect pool as they start to build their presence in the league.

6) New Jersey Devils – Simon Edvinsson (D, Sweden, Frolunda HC SHL)

ANALYSIS: The Devils drop from fourth to sixth in this mock, but still walk away with a solid prospect in Simon Edvinsson. After selecting Swedish sniper Alexander Holtz at the 2020 Draft, they go back to the well and get another impact player to continue their rebuild. The smooth-skating 6-foot-5 blueliner impressed everyone at the recent U18 World Championship, where he showcased his vast toolkit to the scouts in attendance. Like Power and Clarke, he has all the attributes of a dominant top-pairing defenceman. From his size and hockey IQ to his mobility and physical presence, the Devils have not seen a specimen like Edvinsson patrol their blueline since Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer dominated the NHL in the 90s.

7) Columbus Blue Jackets – Dylan Guenther (LW, Canada, Oil Kings WHL)

ANALYSIS: After going off the board to select Yegor Chinakhov in 2020, GM Jarmo Kekäläinen stays within the lines here and selects Dylan Guenther from the Edmonton Oil Kings. Since the WHL got back up and running, he has dominated the junior circuit with 24 points in 12 games and is now doing the same thing with Team Canada at the U18s where he has four goals and seven points in six games. Like Rick Nash before him, he is a slick goal scorer with a knack for finding open space and creating plays. He may not be as big as him, but he definitely has the same type of speed. If he becomes even half what Nash was in the NHL, Blue Jackets fans will be very happy.

8) Vancouver Canucks – Fabian Lysell (RW, Sweden, Lulea HF SHL)

ANALYSIS: The Canucks may have dropped again in this mock, but come away winners with yet another potential Swedish superstar. After selecting Elias Pettersson fifth overall back in 2017, Fabian Lysell might just become the ying to his yang. Boasting tremendous speed, hands, creativity, and a snipe show of a shot, GM Jim Benning could not resist going back to Sweden for another beauty like him. Like Edvinsson, he had an impressive showing at the U18s and was one of Team Sweden’s top players, opening eyes with several highlight-reel plays where he used his aforementioned speed and shot to score three goals and eight points in six games. With Lysell, the Canucks have added yet another exciting prospect to go along with Nils Hoglander and Vasily Podkolzin.

9) Ottawa Senators – Kent Johnson (C, Canada, Michigan NCAA)

ANALYSIS: The Senators continue to build their talented prospect pool with Kent Johnson. At this point, they have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to forwards. From Josh Norris, Tim Stutzle, and Colin White to Drake Batherson, and Alex Formenton, they are just bursting at the seams with talent. Adding a force like Johnson is just icing on the cake. Joining forces on a line with fellow top pick Matty Beniers, he showed everyone why he was going to be a top-10 pick with nine goals and 27 points in 26 games with the Wolverines. His toolbox of size, speed, and vision was on display nightly, as was his two-way play. With his addition to the Sens’ prospect pool, they have yet another center to potentially pair with Stutzle in the future. If you weren’t scared of their potential for greatness already, get ready to be very, very soon.

10) San Jose Sharks – Cole Sillinger (C, Canada, Sioux Falls USHL)

ANALYSIS: Rounding out the top-10 are the Sharks with their highest draft pick since 2015 when they selected forward Timo Meier at ninth overall. With their lack of blue-chip center depth beyond Tomas Bordeleau, they venture out to the USHL and choose Cole Sillinger from the Sioux Falls Stampede. The versatile pivot could eventually become the Sharks’ number-one center with his NHL-caliber shot, vision, and high hockey IQ. He still needs work on his skating and defensive game, but with time and effort, he could become as special as Mark Scheifele turned out to be for the Winnipeg Jets one day.


Recapping Results for Mock 1.0

1) Detroit Red Wings – Owen Power (D, Canada, Michigan NCAA)

2) Chicago Blackhawks – Brandt Clarke (D, Canada, Colts OHL)

3) Buffalo Sabres – Jesper Wallstedt (G, Sweden, Lulea HF SHL)

4) Anaheim Ducks – William Eklund (C/LW, Sweden, Djurgardens IF, SHL)

5) Seattle Kraken – Matt Beniers (C, United States, Michigan NCAA)

6) New Jersey Devils – Simon Edvinsson (D, Sweden, Frolunda HC SHL)

7) Columbus Blue Jackets – Dylan Guenther (LW, Canada, Oil Kings WHL)

8) Vancouver Canucks – Fabian Lysell (RW, Sweden, Lulea HF SHL)

9) Ottawa Senators – Kent Johnson (C, Canada, Michigan NCAA)

10) San Jose Sharks – Cole Sillinger (C, Canada, Sioux Falls USHL)