I use NHLE as a strong guiding light. I also use scouting reports from trusted sources and publications, although this year not as much. I punish poor foot speed liberally, but have been trying to establish something beyond “fast” and “slow” from sources. My list list rewards offense heavily, and players with a range of skills usually do well.
The biggest difference between my 2016 list and the 2020 edition? Pretty much all rankings now have the small skill players flooding the first round, in the case of this year, the top-10 overall. This morning, a few days early, my final 2021 draft list.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: An early look at the Oilers’ options for the 2021 draft
- New DNB: The pressure is on Oilers GM Ken Holland
- New Lowetide: What now for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?
- New DNB: Connor McDavid shows his frustration as another year of his prime is lost: ‘We’re a group that expects more’
- New Jonathan Willis: The NHL gifted the Oilers Connor McDavid; six years later, they have yet to adequately support him
- New DNB: The Oilers’ 10 biggest offseason priorities after a disastrous first-round playoff loss to the Jets
- Lowetide: The 5 biggest stories from the Bakersfield Condors’ 2020-21 season
- DNB: How Jesse Puljujarvi’s return to Finland primed him for Oilers success
- DNB: Darnell Nurse is on ‘another level’
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi has arrived for the Oilers — again
- Lowetide: Oilers final 2020-21 report cards: A regular season to remember
- DNB:What are the Oilers’ pressing questions ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft?
- Lowetide: An early look at ideal Oilers’ free-agent targets for the offseason
LOWETIDE FINAL TOP 125
This is a weird year for the draft. I like to get my list done and final by June 1 and had planned to release it next week. I decided to publish now because after this list, I get to read everyone else and enjoy the process fully. My list relies heavily on math, even this year, maybe especially this year. It isn’t like anyone else’s list, not meant to be and for me the proof will come over the next five or so years.
I didn’t mean to make the local scorer No. 1 overall for most of the late winter and spring, and sure as hell had no plans to demote him to No. 2 on the final list. It came down to Eklund playing in the SHL and Guenther playing in a portion of the WHL and the gap in NHLE washed away when that came into consideration.
I didn’t get time to read much this year, but want to point you to Corey Pronman and Scott Wheeler at The Athletic, Craig Button, Red Line Report.
The Draft Analyst provides mountains of useful information. I value McKeens, Grant McCagg, Tom Hunter, Brock Otten, Adam Sherren, ISS. Simon Boisvert has been on the show once this year and I’m going to have him on again soon. HockeyProspect.com remains a gem.
I follow him on twitter, but am going to spend the next few weeks leading up to the draft reading Byron Bader’s work at Hockeyprospecting.com. I think his work on prospects is brilliant, and want to see how he views this one (but wanted to get my list done first). I think Red Line will be along soon, too. Fun times. Here’s the list, enjoy!
- (2) LW William Eklund, Djurgardens. Exceptional offensive talent already in SHL.
- (1) RW Dylan Guenther, Edmonton Oil Kings. Great skater, has pure goal-scoring ability. Shoots right. April 2003.
- (3) RD Brandt Clarke Barrie Colts. Puck-moving defenseman with terrific speed and good size (6.01, 185). Feb 2003.
- (4) LW Matthew Beniers, Michigan Wolverines. Two-way center with impressive skill. Plus shot, great passer.
- (5) LD Owen Power, Michigan Wolverines. Great skater, terrific two-way ability and a great passer.
- (6) LD Luke Hughes, U.S. National Development Team Terrific skater with complete range of skills.
- (7) RW Nikita Chibrikov, St. Petersburg Small skill winger can stickhandle in a phone booth. Massive U18’s in Texas.
- (8) LC Mason McTavish Peterborough Petes. He’s a pure goal scorer, PF’s tools. Reports on skating are mixed.
- (10) LW Kent Johnson, Michigan Wolverines High skill level, impressive numbers, October 2002.
- (11) LC Zachary Bolduc, Rimouski Oceanic. A fairly complete talent, his offense is the main calling card.
- (9) LD Simon Edvinsson, Vasteras IK Huge (6.05, 207) two-way blue with great mobility.
- (12) LW Zachary L’Heureux, Halifax Mooseheads Plays like PF, is a streaky scorer, I like his numbers.
- (13) LC Francesco Pinelli, Kitchener Rangers Smart, high skilled center who passes well and has plus speed.
- (14) RC Xavier Bourgault, Shawinigan Cataractes There’s just too much offense to ignore.
- (15) RW Chaz Lucius, U.S. National Development Team Great shot, high skill, good speed. He could be a steal.
- (16) RC Logan Stankoven, Kamloops Blazers 5.07, 165. Demon on the forecheck with plus skills.
- (17) RW Fabian Lysell, Lulea. Breathtaking skill winger, great release.
- (18) G Sebastian Cossa, Edmonton Oil Kings. He’s a giant goaltender had a .941 save percentage this season.
- (19) G Jesper Wallstedt, Lulea. 6.03, 214, 22 games and a .908 SP in the SHL.
- (21) LW Matt Coronato, Chicago Steel Pure scorer, great release, headed to Harvard.
- (22) RW Olivier Nadeau, Shawinigan Cataractes More bull than beauty, he is effective.
- (23) LD Daniil Chayka, CSKA Moscow Two-way defender who will play big minutes wherever he lands.
- (24) LW Brennan Othmann, Flint Firebirds Best first-shot scorer among wingers in the OHL. Skating?
- (20) LW Eric Alarie, Moose Jaw Warriors 6.01, 196. Big PF with plus skill. I expect Tyler Wright likes him.
- (25) LW Fedor Svechkov, Ladia Togliatti. Smart two-way winger who can push the river.
- (26) LC Aatu Raty, Karpat Talented center who struggled in the Liiga but has a solid junio resume.
- (27) LD Carson Lambos, Winnipeg Ice A big man already (6.01, 200) he is a fine skater. Two-way blue.
- (28) RC Ryder Korczak, Moose Jaw Warriors A top play-making center in the WHL. Good speed, elusive.
- (29) LW Oskar Olausson, HV 71. Skill winger, great hands and 6.02, 181.
- (30) RD Corson Ceulmans, Brooks Bandits. Tremendous offensive defenseman, has size, overager.
- (31) LW Ayrton Martino, Omaha Lancers Small speedy winger, September 2002.
- (32) LW Conner Roulette, Seattle Thunderbirds He has good hands/speed, has a sixth sense for offense.
- (33) RW Chase Stillman, Sudbury Wolves At 5.11, 170 he has plus speed and is effective in all game disciplines.
- (34) RW Isak Rosen, Leksands. Speedy playmaker, March 2013. Sixth sense offensively.
- (35) LD Olen Zellweger, Everett Silvertips He is undersized (5.09, 165) but very skilled.
- (NR) LW Joshua Roy, Sherbrooke Phhoenix. Ridiculous skill, I’d have him high but pts-game a little shy.
- (36) RW Simon Robertsson, Skelleftea. Bert’s boy, has a powerful shot. Feb. 2003.
- (37) LC Cole Sillinger, Sioux Falls Stampede Dangerous shooter, fine passer. Average skater.
- (38) LD Evan Nause, Quebec Remparts Two-way defender is 6.02, 186 and spiking offensively.
- (39) LC Brett Harrison, Oshawa Generals A two-way center with good speed. Texas tournament hurt his ranking here.
- (40) RC Connor Lockhart, Erie Otters. Probably the best skater among draft-eligible forwards in the OHL this year.
- (41) LW Sasha Pastujov, USNDTP Plus shot, offensive winger. Average speed.
- (42) LW William Stromgren, MoDo Big skill winger with good wheels.
- (43) RC Riley Kidney, Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Another skill pivot, a good skater.
- (44) LD Stanislav Svozil, Brno. Outstanding outlet passer, patient, impressive with the puck, solid without it.
- (45) LC Oliver Kapanen JYP Smart offensive player who drives offense.
- (46) LC Wyatt Johnson, Windsor Spitfires Skill center showed second half improvement
- (47) RC Justin Robidas, Val d’Or Foreurs. He’s Yvan Cournoyer small, an absolute bullet on skates.
- (48) LW Alexander Kisakov, Moscow Dynamo Just 5.10, 141, terrific skill.
- (49) LD Sean Behrens, USNDTP. Undersized blue is very skilled and makes smart plays with the puck.
- (50) LC Lorenzo Canonica, Shawinigan Cataractes. Another skill center, one of the best skaters in the QMJHL
- (51) G Alekesi Kolosov, Minsk. KHL goalie, .911 SP and still a teenager.
- (52) RW Samu Tuomaala, Karpat Good shooter, average speed, two-way resume.
- (53) RW Prokhor Poltapov, Moscow. Skilled winger plays NA style. 25 goals in 61 games.
- (54) LD Ethan Dal Mastro, Mississauga Steelheads A big, strong shutdown blue with good speed.
- (55) LC Sami Päivärinta, Lukko. Small two-way center, fine playmaker.
- (NR) RC Danila Klimovich, Minsk Zubry. Size, speed, shot, set the U18s on fire.
- (56) LC Zach Dean, Gatineau Olympiques. He is going in the first round, numbers have him as a second-round pick.
- (57) LD Artyom Grushnikov, Moscow. Big shutdown blue, mobile, great passer.
- (NR) LW Zack Ostapchuk, Vancouver Giants. Speed and size, plus some skill.
- (NR) RD Aleksi Heimosalmi, Assat. Versatile two-way defender.
- (58) G Benjamin Gaudreau, Sarnia Sting. Impressive U18 (.919 SP) has him here.
- (NR) LC Jakub Brabenec, Brno. Skilled center with size, quality at U18s.
- (NR) LW Jackson Blake, Chicago Steel. Elusive skill winger with big-leauge moves. Smaller.
- (59) LD Nolan Allan, Prince Albert Raiders. A big (6.02, 190) D with good speed, lots of skill but the numbers are shy.
- (60) RC Daniil Tesanov, Yaroslavl. Big center with speed and range.
- (NR) LC Redmond Savage, USNDTP. Solid two-way center with speed.
- (61) RW Mackie Samoskevich, Chicago (USHL) Speedy skill winger.
- (63) LC Cole Huckins, Acadie-Bathurst Titan. He has size, can skate and posted 32 pts in 33 games. May 2003.
- (64) LW Matvei Petrov, Moscow. Big winger (6.02, 178) can score, great shot.
- (NR) RD Jacob Guévin, Muskegon Lumberjacks. Offensive defenseman, fine skater.
- (65) LD Anton Olsson, Malmo. Big, sturdy shutdown defender. Mobile.
- (66) LD Graham Sward, Spokane Chiefs. He’s 6.02, 169. Physical shutdown blue with mobility.
- (67) LD Janis Moser, EHC Biel-Bienne. Overager, fine skater and complete skill set.
- (68) LW James Malatesta, Quebec Remparts. Speedy winger is small (5.09) but plays a rugged style.
- (69) LD Vladislav Lukashevich, Yaroslavl. Another shutdown blue, he’s a good skater, good shot.
- (NR) LC Florian Elias, Mannheim. Small skill center, he’s a determined player.
- (NR) LW Sean Tschigerl, Calgary Hitmen. Two-way winger aggressive in all areas.
- (NR) LD Shai Buium, Sioux City Musketeers. Big defender plays smart two-way game.
- (70) LW Viljami Marjala, Quebec Remparts. C-LW is highly skilled and a creative playmaker.
- (71) LW Nikita Buruyanov, St. Petersburg. Small winger, terrific speed and aggressive play.
- (72) LD Aleksi Malinen, JyP. Fantastic skater, skilled, some chaos.
- (NR) LD Jack Peart, Fargo Force. Impressive young player, slightly undersized with range of skills.
- (73) G Brett Brochu, London Knights. Under the radar goalie who delivered a .919 SP as a rookie.
- (74) LC Victor Stjernborg, Vaxjo. Two-way forward, aggressive forechecker, great passer.
- (75) LD Vasily Machulin, Moscow Dynamo (MHL). Good size, dynamic skater, impressive player.
- (76) RD Jack Bar, Chicago Steel. Good size, plus shot, some skill.
- (77) LW Jeremy Wilmer, USNDTP. August 2003, great passer, high skill.
- (78) LW Ville Koivunen, Karpat. Smart winger with skill.
- (NR) Jake Chiasson, Brandon Wheat Kings. Good size, improved offensively.
- (79) LC Samuel Helenius, JYP. Huge checking center already in the Liiga.
- (80) LW Tristan Broz, Fargo Force. Nice range of skills, fine passer good skater.
- (81) RC Ryan Winterton, Hamilton Bulldogs. Solid prospect, skilled and September 2003.
- (82) LD Aidan Hreschuk, USNDTP. Solid two-way defender, effective in coverage.
- (83) LW Owen Pederson, Winnipeg Ice. Big winger with goal-scoring ability.
- (84) RW Zakhar Bardakov, Vityaz Podolsk. Big PF with some skill. He is 20.
- (85) LC Theo Rochette, Quebec Remparts. Undersized two-way center, intriguing offense.
- (86) LC Cameron Berg, Muskegon Lumberjacks. Good speed and skill.
- (87) LC Juuso Mäenpää, Kalpa. Very small but highly skilled playmaker.
- (88) RC Josh Pillar, Kamloops Blazers. Fast player, scored well and is draft re-entry.
- (NR) LC Vasily Atanasov, Mamonty Yugry. Great speed and he is skilled. Undersized.
- (89) LD Dave Ma, USHL, Chicago Steel. Tremendous skater and very creative.
- (NR) RW Ilya Fedotov, Nizhny. Smart player with skill and utility.
- (90) RW Oliver Suni, Lukko Rauma. Strong winger with range of skills.
- (NR) RD Brent Johnson, Sioux Falls Stampede. Undersized chaos blue with great speed.
- (92) LW Ilya Nazarov, Yaroslavl. Big winger with skill, May 2003.
- (93) RC Ethan Cardwell, Surahammars. Two-way center with skill, effective forechecker.
- (NR) RW Nikita Grebyonkin, Magnitogorsk. Skill and size plus some speed.
- (NR) LW Arvid Sundin, Brynas. Underzied burner has breathtaking shifts but not a complete game.
- (NR) LD Cameron Whynot, Halifax Mooseheads. Two-way blue, fine skater.
- (NR) LC Samu Salminen, Jokerit. 6.03 center with real talent, heavy boots.
- (NR) LD William Trudeau, Charlottetown Islanders. Puck mover with calm feet. Raw.
- (91) RD Roman Schmidt, USNDTP. Huge shutdown blue with some offense.
- (NR) LC Liam Dower-Nilsson, Frolunda. Two-way center with some offensive spark.
- (NR) G Patrik Hamrla, HC Energie Karlovy Vary. Dominated Czech junior.
- (NR) LW Matthew Knies, Tri-City Storm. 6.02, 210 PF, might be a little shy on top-9 skill level.
- (NR) LD Kirill Kirsanov, St. Petersburg. Good skater, passer, physical. Bet the Oilers like him.
- (NR) RD Scott Morrow, Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Big D has complete skill set at high school level.
- (NR) LD Yaroslav Busygin, Chekov. Big blue who can hit, has some skill.
- (NR) G Carl Lindbom, Djurgarden. Top draw U18s has him here.
- (NR) RW Robert Orr, Halifax Moosheads. Two-way winger with a great shoot.
- (NR) RD Ryan Ufko, Chicago Steel. Mobile puck mover can run a power play. Undersized.
- (NR) RW Albert Sjöberg, Sodertalje. Great shot and work ethic.
- (NR) RW Simon Knak, Portland Winterhawks. Prolific junior scorer, January 2002.
LAST YEAR’S MOCK
I always use a control list (usually Bob McKenzie) and always draft my best available player who is still on the guideline list. Here’s how I did a year ago:
No. 14 overall: RC Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks (WHL). I am not completely convinced the Oilers will take a small forward (see my article at The Athletic this morning) but it’s the right play here. Anton Blundell’s availability may change things, and I wonder if Rodion Amirov and Dylan Holloway are too much for Tyler Wright and Ken Holland to resist. Still, if you’re looking for the best available player, Jarvis is absolutely it if he’s on the board at No. 14 overall.
No. 76 overall: LW Daniel Gushchin, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL). Speedy winger with terrific skill, his size (5.08, 167) will be a drawback for some teams. Red Line compares him to Kailer Yamamoto.
No. 135 overall: RW Zayde Wisdom, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL). Agitating winger with skill, he’s an actual Coke Machine (5.10, 199) but has boundless energy and real scoring ability.
No. 169 overall: G Devon Levi, Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL). Guy Flaming said he was an intelligent guy and a great interview, and he had a .941 save percentage last season.
No. 200 overall: LD Peetro Seppälä (Liiga) 41, 2-10-12. He was a regular in the Liiga a year ago and is back with KooKoo again this season. Has size and some skill, easy to get lost in the flood of Finnish blue.
THE LOWETIDE 2021 MOCK DRAFT
No. 21 overall: LC Zachary Bolduc, Rimouski Oceanic. I have him No. 10 overall, The Draft Analyst has him No. 25. Bolduc has a nice range of talent and the QMJHL seems to be producing these complete players annually now. A fine center, great passer and owner of a great shot, Oilers fans should be thrilled if he falls to Edmonton at No. 21 overall, February 2003. NHLE 25.0
No. 117 overall: RW Olivier Nadeau, Shawinigan Cataractes. I have him No. 21, The Draft Analyst has him No. 127. He’s 6.02, 205 and posted 13-32-45 in 34 games. He’s a bull in a china shop, January 2003. NHLE: 30.8
No. 181 overall: RC Connor Lockhart, Erie Otters. I have him at No. 41, The Draft Analyst doesn’t have him on its list. He is undersized, didn’t play in 2020-21, and that could work to Edmonton’s advantage. He is fast, quick and skilled. NHLE for draft-minus-one: 12.5
No. 189 overall: LC Lorenzo Canonica, Shawinigan Cataractes. I should mention that I don’t target leagues, etc, the QMJHL does have some gems but this is unusual and perhaps a reflection of The Draft Analyst’s list being unique. I have Canonica No. 51, he is NR by The Draft Analyst. He’s a fast skater, has skill and projects as a two-way NHL player if he develops as hoped. NHLE: 15.5
No. 213 overall: G Alekesi Kolosov, Minsk. KHL goalie, .911 SP and still a teenager. Not ranked by The Draft Analyst, I had him No. 52. You may think that’s strange but last year’s list (in a minute) had similar results. My list is unique no matter the other list I use in these things.
If you’ve read this far, there’s a chance you’re saying “Lowetide, no WAY you get five of your top 52 names with these picks! Impossible. Well, let’s look at the 2020 draft.
- No. 14 overall: Oilers select Dylan Holloway, my list chose Dawson Mercer (who I ranked No. 10 overall). Using just NHLE, Edmonton’s Holloway (41.6) has the edge on Mercer (36.5) but it’s a mighty long way down rock and roll.
- No, 100 overall: Oilers select Carter Savoie, my list chose Martin Chromiak (my list had him No. 31). Again the Oilers chose wisely, with Savoie delivering 30.0 NHLE in draft plus one. Chromiak posted 7-12-19 (32 games) in the Slovak league, a less impressive season, but remains a quality prospect.
- No. 126 overall: Oilers choose Tyler Tullio, my list grabbed Connor McClennon (who I had No. 44). Tullio played in the same Slovak league as Chromiak, posting 4-9-13 in just 19 games. McClennon had a strong WHL season, owning an NHLE of 34.0. Math works! Having said that, Wright had a strong start with the Oilers, those picks are quality.
- No. 138 overall: Oilers chose Maxim Berezkin, my list produced Veeti Miettinen (I ranked him No. 48). Wright and the Euro scouts may have a gem in Berezkin, who played most of his season in the KHL. Miettinen played for St. Cloud State and delivered 27.9 NHLE. Both are solid prospects, I think my guy is better.
- No. 169 overall: Oilers select Filip Engaras, my list chose Oskar Magnusson (No. 60 on my list). Engaras had a solid season with UNH in Hockey-East, delivering an NHLE of 16.1. Magnusson scored 6-7-13 in 24 HockeyEttan games in Sweden. HockeyEttan is Sweden’s third league. I’d give Edmonton the edge here.
- No. 200 overall: Oilers pick Jeremias Lindewall, LT list was Owen Pederson (No. 63 on LT list). Lindewall went 2-3-5 in 36 Allsvenskan games (4.1 NHLE) while Pederson went 13-18-31 in 24 WHL games (NHLE 32.0). Edge my list.
Six picks a year ago, my list filled every slot by selection No. 63. Here’s last year’s list. The best part of last season for me came in seeing Wright and the Oilers scouts picking skill. I know they did, because I ranked their players high through several rounds:
- Holloway was No. 25 on my list.
- Savoie was No. 56 on my list.
- Tullio was No. 53 on my list.
- Berezkin was No. 122 on my list.
I’m excited to see the results of this year’s draft, wrote a piece at The Athletic this morning about what I believe we might see the Oilers do at the 2021 draft.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we start the weekend rolling on TSN1260. Steve Lansky from Inside the Truck podcast will break down the Oilers playoff series and what can be learned, while Matthew Iwanyk from TSN 1260 will talk summer moves and I’ll ask why the Edmonton Football Team still hasn’t announced the name. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!