The 2021 NHL draft is just days away, so it’s time to look at the top prospects available in this year’s class.
The Tampa Bay Lightning just wrapped up their second straight Stanley Cup championship, but attention now turns to the offseason. First up is the Seattle Kraken expansion draft on July 21. Then we’ll have the entry draft, which will be held virtually on July 23 (Round 1) and July 24 (Rounds 2-7). Round 1 will be broadcast on ESPN2, while Rounds 2-7 will be broadcast by the NHL Network.
There is a lot of uncertainty with this year’s class due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shortened the seasons for many leagues; in the case of the Ontario Hockey League, it wiped the season out completely. As a result, there will likely be some widely varied opinions on a number of players, so be prepared for some surprises early on in the selection process.
Here is the final ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2021 NHL draft class, from Owen Power on down.
Note: Heights and weights are from NHL Central Scouting. Ages are as of July 16.
1. Owen Power, D, Michigan (Big Ten)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 213 | Shot: L
By general consensus the cream of this year’s draft crop, Power is both massive and can move extremely well. That combination in a player doesn’t present itself too often. By no means the most graceful skater, the Mississauga, Ont. native still gets around at a high pace, thanks to his powerful strides. A solid two-way defenseman, Power can both contribute to the scoresheet and help keep his own net empty, as made evident by his recent appearance at the IIHF senior men’s world championship. He controls and passes the puck well and has a dangerous shot.
Then there’s the reach — effective in stripping opponents — that naturally accompanies his large frame. Heightened maturity and on-ice hockey IQ only enhances the defender’s more obvious attributes. Power makes good choices on the fly, far more often than not. Once he learns to truly unleash all that his physical makeup has to offer, look out. The current Wolverine is a top-pair NHL defenseman in the making. Probably soon.
2. William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden (Sweden)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 176 | Shot: L
There’s a lot of buzz about this prospect, and for good reason. In his first full SHL season, Eklund proved he could more than keep up. Forty games, 11 goals and 12 assists later, we’re left with little doubt the 18-year-old is already able to compete with professional men.
A quick, shifty skater with outstanding edges, Eklund presents as your classic 200-foot player. An intuitive and creative playmaker, he has great hands, an accurate shot, and battles equally hard in his own zone. He’s also super smart, rarely gets rattled, and works his tail off — a coach’s dream. With a look to Eklund’s future in the NHL, his diminutive size remains the only perceived weakness. And he’s still growing and filling out.
3. Matthew Beniers, C, Michigan (Big Ten)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 175 | Shot: L
Beniers is the top-tier, two-way center about whom hockey squads dream. While his offensive numbers aren’t as flashy as other top prospects, this pass-first playmaker makes his teammates better with his persistent quest for the puck and keen sense of anticipation. A relentless, high-paced, mobile skater and passionate competitor, his transition game is top-notch. Beniers never relents defensively, to the point of nearly serving as a third blueliner of sorts.
While most are in agreement the Massachusetts native is headed for a long NHL career as a second-line center, a top-unit role is hardly out of the question.
4. Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 175 | Shot: R
An impressive physical presence with great vision, Guenther is a production machine. He tallied 36 points in 23 games split between the Oil Kings, Sherwood Park Crusaders, and under-18 Team Canada in 2020-21; 19 of those points were goals. The versatile winger likes to shoot and shoots hard. A smooth skater — more quick than outright fast — Guenther is a challenge to contain in the offensive zone, with and without the puck.
He’s going to make some team happy as a top-six/power-play scorer for many seasons to come.
5. Luke Hughes, D, USA U-18 (NTDP)
Age: 17 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 184 | Shot: L
According to many members of the NHL scouting community, the youngest Hughes brother is the best skating defenseman in this draft class. That extraordinary speed and mobility helps at both ends of the ice, either in staving off opposing skaters or serving as a puck-moving commodity on the rush. A high hockey IQ, good vision, and above-average passing ability round out an appealingly complete, if still raw, blue-line package.
Already bigger than both of his older brothers Jack and Quinn, Luke — who doesn’t turn 18 until September — is due to bulk up a bit more. Fortunately, the foot laceration suffered in late winter of this past season isn’t expected to be an enduring issue. Eventually, this high-ranking defensive prospect should settle into the NHL as a valuable top-four asset.
6. Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie (OHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 185 | Shot: R
A brilliant offensive defenseman, Clarke often serves as a bonus forward on the ice. A skilled puck-mover with a right-handed shot, he’s built to run a power play — which he’s already done at the pro level in Slovakia, where he was loaned this past season. Patient and perpetually calm, Clarke anticipates play well and adapts quickly.
His skating remains a work-in-progress — particularly backwards — and his defensive play could use some refining, but this offense-minded blueliner is likely bound to fill a top-pairing NHL role in the not-too-far future.
7. Kent Johnson, C, Michigan (Big Ten)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 167 | Shot: L
A joy to watch, Johnson’s skill with the puck and ability to stickhandle around defenders is on another level. A nifty skater, he’s one of the most creative playmakers in the draft. (Occasionally he goes overboard in trying to do too much.) A fluid skater and agile in every sense of the term, Johnson will never be a huge figure, but still stands to fill out a bit more.
Accused at times of trying to make the most of each and every opportunity on offense, Johnson often succeeds. During his freshman year, he notched 27 points in 26 games with the University of Michigan.
8. Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda Jr. (Sweden Jr.)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 198 | Shot: L
This massive defender is skilled with the puck and has marvelous hands. A calm (yet not unaggressive) presence on the ice, Edvinsson can boast of holding his own with grown-up pros in Sweden this past season. He moves well enough, especially for such a big guy. With more seasoning — for example, his shot needs improvement — Edvinsson should eventually round out into a valuable top-four defender in the NHL. Skating on a top pairing isn’t out of the question.
9. Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 207 | Shot: L
Before a star turn at the IIHF under-18 championship this year, McTavish attracted positive attention by scoring nine goals and two assists in 13 games against professionals in Switzerland. Armed with a vicious and deceptive wrist shot, he’s exceptionally dangerous in the low slot or, preferably, in and around the crease, banging in a rebound.
Eager to exploit his size — this young man is solid — McTavish plays heavy and doesn’t back down from the nastier work in the corners or, again, in front of an opposing goaltender. While only a so-so skater, the Swiss-born Canadian is an adept passer and a tough and skilled customer, with and without the puck.
10. Chaz Lucius, C, USA U-18 (NTDP)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 185 | Shot: R
Lucius is a finisher. While also a fantastic playmaker and great in the faceoff circle, what truly sets him apart is his ability to put the puck in the net, thanks to an excellent shot and remarkable release. That, and his high hockey IQ.
Forced to plow through an injury- and illness-limited season, Lucius still managed to score 13 goals in 13 games. Committed to the University of Minnesota, the gifted forward should set his sights on battling for a top-line gig in the NHL one day.
11. Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea (Sweden)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 214 | Catch: L
This year’s No. 1-ranked goalie prospect might be special enough to merit selection as a top-five pick overall. A cool and collected presence, he’s big, athletic, and perpetually well-positioned. Gifted with an incredibly high hockey IQ, Wallstedt’s ability to read the action out front offers a valuable edge against even the most dangerous scoring skaters.
The recent season spent in the top Swedish pro league — where he managed well, especially early on — will only help to accelerate his inevitable march to an NHL crease.
12. Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls (USHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 197 | Shot: L
Widely heralded for his lethal wrist shot, Sillinger is one of a handful of elite scoring forwards in this draft. Having bolted the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers for the U.S. during the pandemic, he potted 24 goals and 22 assists in 31 games for Sioux Falls. He has great hands and reads the game particularly well. His considerable size and strength helps keep defenders at bay, along the boards and in open ice.
While there’s room for progress in Sillinger’s skating and defensive play, the positives far outweigh those concerns. However, he may end up on the wing in the NHL if he doesn’t improve upon the defensive aspects of the game.
13. Fabian Lysell, RW, Lulea (Sweden)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 172 | Shot: R
A top-tier competitor in transition, Lysell is an excellent skater whose pace rarely slackens. At his most dangerous, he’s quick as a lightning bug and is difficult to subdue. Lysell’s nine points in seven contests at the under-18 championship demonstrated his burgeoning offensive prowess and above-average hands. While there’s room for improvement with his shot, and his approach to the game still needs to mature, both will come with seasoning. He’s a dynamic player.
14. Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 210 | Catch: L
Even at the junior level, a 17-1-1 record and .941 save-percentage is pretty darn impressive. A huge figure at 6-foot-6, Cossa fills the net effectively. He’s also athletic, reads opposing shooters well, and gobbles up potential rebounds with the best of them. The second netminder pegged for selection in this year’s first round could very well serve as an NHL No. 1 some day.
15. Aatu Räty, C, Karpat (Finland)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 185 | Shot: L
Previously held in higher regard as a prospect, Räty hasn’t had the best time of it these past few months. Excluded from Finland’s squad for the IIHF world junior championship, he collected only six points in 35 games for Kärpät. At his best, Räty is a dynamic presence on the ice, with a strong, heavy shot, and exceptional stickhandling skills.
But while he needs to learn to use his size and strength to greater advantage, the bigger issue might lie with whether he can get his head together after such a disappointing stretch. Still, the 18-year-old forward boasts so much potential.
16. Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago (USHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 183 | Shot: R
It’s difficult to find fault with the winger’s recent scoring stats. Through 59 games, including a Clark Cup-winning playoff run, Coronato scored 57 goals and 41 assists with the Chicago Steel, in no small part to his terrific shot and ability to get himself into the right place at the right time. In addition to having good hands, Coronato is a creative playmaker — if occasionally a touch too cute with the puck — and serves as a responsible asset when called upon defensively.
An average skater, his tenacious approach to the game makes up for that minor shortcoming.
17. Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 197 | Shot: L
Without question, Lambos didn’t play as much as he would have liked this season, due to pandemic challenges and injury. Still, the Canadian defenseman was able to showcase some of his strengths in Finland, particularly with JYP’s under-20 squad. Gifted with great speed and mobility, he’s difficult to corral or evade in all three zones. His shot from the point is impressive, and he’s a strong, aggressive playmaker.
A consistent physical presence, Lambos’ approach to the game is bold, and he’s altogether a dependable defender.
18. Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 198 | Shot: R
This towering right-handed shot is a staunch defender who also pitches in offensively. Using his size to advantage, Ceulemans is especially tough on opposing forwards along the boards. Perennially eager to join the rush, he skates well and carries the puck out of his own zone with confidence. His shot is widely admired.
In the 14 games divvied up between the Bandits and Canada’s under-18 squad, Ceulemans contributed five goals and 14 assists. Destined for the University of Wisconsin in the short term, this 18-year-old is one to watch as a potential NHL power-play quarterback of the future.
19. Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 172 | Shot: R
This young man can score. After finding his feet in his rookie campaign, the versatile forward erupted for 53 goals and 58 assists in 92 games with Shawinigan these past two seasons (he was a bit quiet in the playoffs). Exceptionally mobile and adept in tight spaces, Bourgault makes and executes on-ice decisions quickly. Armed with a sneaky-good wrist shot, his passing is crisp and precise. He’s also competitive and smart.
Whichever team drafts Bourgault should benefit from his offensive abilities — perhaps as a third-line center or top-six winger — for years to come.
20. Oskar Olausson, RW, HV71 (Sweden)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 180 | Shot: L
Olausson moves exceptionally well — quick and shifty — for a big guy, and is particularly dangerous at full tilt. His heavy shot, excellent hands, and penchant for finding space adds to what appears to be the full package. Eager to use his body to fend off defenders, Olausson has a good head on his shoulders and anticipates the game well.
The four points collected in 16 SHL games proves he can already produce at a high professional level. No one should be overly surprised if he’s selected in the top 20.
21. Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint (OHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 175 | Shot: L
Fleeing the idle Flint Firebirds (OHL) for second-tier professional pastures in Switzerland, Othmann held his own just fine against fully grown men, scoring seven goals and nine assists in 34 regular-season games. His ability to quickly adjust to the pro game overseas is testament to his maturity and impressive hockey IQ. A near point-per-game showing at the under-18 championship tourney pads what was a relatively successful pandemic-riddled season all around.
Not yet the strongest skater, the winger makes up for that minor shortcoming with a hard, accurate shot and admirable puck-moving abilities. He doesn’t shy away from grinding out front of the net and in other dirty areas. The 64 penalty minutes earned with Olten in the Swiss League also speaks to Othmann’s willingness to lay it on the line physically.
22. Fedor Svechkov, C, Togliatti (Russia 2)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 187 | Shot: L
Methodical and responsible, Svechkov is most often found where he should be on the ice in any given situation. His vision is next-level. Absence of sparkling scoring numbers aside, the solidly built forward is committed to the 200-foot game and serves as a valuable asset in all three zones. He’s also committed to SKA St. Petersburg next season, where we’ll get a better sense of what he’s capable.
Svechkov’s 10-point output at the under-18 championship suggests he might have more offensive upside than generally thought.
23. Nikita Chibrikov, RW, St. Petersburg (Russia)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 170 | Shot: L
An elite skater with exceptional puck-possession skills, Chibrikov is a natural threat to carry and drive the play in the offensive zone. Already stronger than he appears — and he’s got a way to grow in that sense — the 18-year-old established himself as a potential top-20 draft pick with his strong 13-point showing (in seven games) at the under-18 championship. Scoring a goal and adding an assist in his first season in the KHL also turned heads.
His defensive effort needs work, but such improvement will come with time. A bit of an agitator, Chibrikov will fill a top-six role in the NHL eventually.
24. Logan Stankoven, C, Kamloops (WHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-8 | Wt: 170 | Shot: R
Diminutive stature notwithstanding, Stankoven has the makings of a star at the NHL level. Strong on his skates, the Kamloops Blazer plays much bigger than his 5-foot-8 frame, and doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff. At his finest when driving the play, Stankoven scored four goals and four assists at this year’s under-18 championship. He’s fast, he never stops moving, and he’s equipped with a booming shot. It’s all there, just in a slightly smaller package.
25. Isak Rosén, RW, Leksand (Sweden)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 156 | Shot: L
While he isn’t at all big, Rosén is extraordinarily fast, which serves as the winger’s most alluring attribute. He’s also an intuitive and creative playmaker with a good shot, but it’s his speed that truly sets him apart. A standout at the at the under-18 championship in which he scored seven goals and two assists, Rosén was held to one lone helper in 22 games with his pro team in Sweden this season. It will be interesting to see how he progresses in his second full campaign (he played a single game in 2019-20) in the SHL.
26. Sasha Pastujov, RW, USA U-18 (NTDP)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 184 | Shot: L
A smart, creative competitor, Pastujov puts up points with relative ease. Heralded for his playmaking and passing abilities, the winger scored 30 goals and 35 assists in 41 games for his under-18 squad, and registered another eight points in five contests at the under-18 championship. If not for his skating speed and comparative lack of explosiveness — considered his weakest asset — Pastujov would be considered a top-20 draft prospect by most in the scouting community. He attacks the game with relentless energy.
27. Mackie Samoskevich, RW, Chicago (USHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 191 | Shot: R
This skilled speedster averaged more than a point per game for the Steel when healthy this season, and another 10 points in eight playoff contests. A member of the Samoskevich hockey family — siblings Madison and Melissa are forces in the game — the future Michigan Wolverine is admired for his creative use of the ice and great anticipation, thinking a step or two ahead of the play. He sets up teammates with regularity and can score himself.
One of the more gifted skaters available, Samoskevich remains a threat to squeak into the top-20 come draft day. At this stage, an absence of grit serves as a minor turnoff.
28. Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski (QMJHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 175 | Shot: L
Most at home in the offensive zone, Bolduc likes to shoot the puck a lot. An above-average stickhandler, he has good hockey sense, particularly on offense. But while he skates well, Bolduc is prone to coast at times, and needs to bring more grit to his game. Putting forth an inconsistent effort is another concern. After scoring 52 points in his 55-game rookie campaign, 2020-21 was an injury-shortened letdown. Still, there’s a lot of raw upside to the young talent from Trois-Rivieres.
29. Francesco Pinelli, C, Kitchener (OHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 185 | Shot: L
On loan from the Kitchener Rangers to HDD Jesenice in the Slovenian pro league, Pinelli collected 11 points through 13 games in an altogether light competitive season. A more notable tour with Canada’s under-18 group resulted in an additional four goals and seven assists in seven contests. A play-driving center and innovative puck-handler, Pinelli thrives in the offensive zone. But he’s only a so-so skater who needs to work on his explosiveness and acceleration.
Still, with further development and improvement, the tools and on-ice smarts are in place for Pinelli to serve as a top-six center at the NHL level.
30. Zachary L’Heureux, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 196 | Shot: L
Four suspensions in a condensed season is four too many. Tempestuous, nonsensical behaviour aside though, the talent is there. Strong on the puck, L’Heureux is an aggressive handful with a great shot. The versatile forward is also an excellent passer and agitating presence with a gift for getting under an opponent’s skin. If L’Heureux can figure out how to keep himself in check, some NHL team will benefit from getting one of the better power forwards available in this draft.
31. Simon Robertsson, RW, Skellefteå (Sweden)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 190 | Shot: L
A skilled puck-handler and effective physical presence, Robertsson is most admired for his vicious and accurate shot. Strong on the puck, he doesn’t shy away from confrontation in the dirty areas. The imposing winger scored nine goals and 11 assists in 15 games with Skellefteå’s junior team, and earned a 22-game run at the pro level. Another round in the SHL will help further season Robertsson’s game. His skating could use some refining.
32. Daniil Chayka, D, CSKA (Russia)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 187 | Shot: L
An imposing figure, Chayka is admired for his reach and active stick. While not a prototypical offensive defenseman, he sports potential in that department, particularly as an asset on the power play. A standout with the OHL Guelph Storm in earlier years, he earned a taste in limited pro play in the KHL this past season. Laterally mobile, his edge work still requires refining. And he needs to learn to use his size more effectively. But, coupled with his stature, there’s plenty of talent to develop further.
33. Zach Dean, C, Gatineau (QMJHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 176 | Shot: L
While the Olympiques center isn’t a regular highlight-reel type, he does a lot of things right. Respected for his two-way game, Dean is responsible and engaged, whether he has the puck or not. He works hard, reads the game well, and never seems to take a second off. An asset in all situations, Dean just makes a team better.
34. Samu Tuomaala, RW, Karpat Jr. (Finland Jr.)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 174 | Shot: R
Scoring goals is what this Finnish winger does, and does very well. A sniper by nature with an outstanding wrist shot, Tuomaala turned heads by potting five goals in seven games for Finland at the under-18 championship. But he also contributed six assists, proving to a world audience there’s more dimension to his offensive game than putting the puck in the net himself. High hockey IQ and superior skating aside, Tuomaala is projected as a late-first/early-second round draft selection because he marks up the scoresheet where it matters most.
35. Scott Morrow, D, Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep (High MN)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 195 | Shot: R
An elegant skater with above-average agility, Morrow is an offensive powerhouse when in his own wheelhouse. Exceptional vision and high hockey IQ further helps the puck-moving defenseman fool or evade defenders on the rush. Sure, it’s only high school competition, but this season’s 48 points in 30 contests is still worth noting. Morrow’s next turn at the University of Massachusetts should help improve his play in his own end, which definitely needs work.
36. Stanislav Svozil, D, Brno (Czech)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 182 | Shot: L
Despite an underwhelming performance in recent international play, Svozil remains pegged to be selected early in the second round, if not late in the first. A solid skater, the Czech defenseman handles the puck wonderfully and serves as an effective physical presence. But there are concerns about his offensive game and that he doesn’t read the ice as well as other defensemen in this draft. His appeal largely lies in raw, untapped potential.
37. Ayrton Martino, LW, Omaha (USHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 160 | Shot: L
One of the more cerebral players in this draft class, Martino appears aware of what’s going on around him at all times. At his best with the puck on his own stick, the playmaking winger accrued 18 goals and 38 assists in 38 USHL contests this past season. An evasive skater with tremendous hockey sense, Martino is a natural goal scorer’s best friend. A middle-six role in the NHL is likely in the cards for the Clarkson University commit down the road.
38. Aleksandr Kisakov, LW, Dynamo Moscow 2 (Russia Jr.)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 150 | Shot: L
A gifted skater — equally elegant and quick — Kisakov is at his best when in possession of the puck. He’s tough to smother. Armed with a deceptive and quick release, he lit up the MHL with 36 goals and 37 helpers in 61 contests this season. The winger’s high hockey IQ only adds to an already (mostly) impressive package. Kisakov is … slight of frame, if you will. Which, if he doesn’t pack on some pounds, could be a problem at the highest level.
39. William Strömgren, LW, Modo (Sweden 2)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 175 | Shot: L
He’s big and he can skate. A skilled puck-handler, Strömgren also has a rifle of a shot. While the just-turned 18-year-old needs to ratchet up his physical play, he’s still due to bulk up a bit — which should bolster greater confidence in that regard. To his credit, Strömgren more than held his own playing with pros in Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan and HockeyEttan leagues in 2020-21.
40. Tyler Boucher, RW, USA U-18 (NTDP)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 205 | Shot: R
In the draft market for an imposing skater to win the puck off the opposition and create space for skilled teammates? Former NHLer Brian Boucher‘s kid is your guy. Headed to Boston University, the physical winger isn’t one to shy away from delivering a crushing hit. Dominating on the forecheck, he’s also a real handful on route to and in front of the net. Before falling injured this season, Boucher notched nine goals and five assists in 14 contests.
41. Jack Peart, D, Grand Rapids (High MN)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 186 | Shot: L
Awarded the “Mr. Hockey” title in Minnesota, Peart contributed 22 points through 33 contests (including playoffs) with the USHL’s Fargo Force, and dominated with another 35 in 18 games when competing for Grand Rapids high school. While size is a minor issue, this skilled, two-way defenseman makes the most of what he has: great hands, solid skating, maturity, deceiving strength, and a hockey IQ that’s through the roof.
A threat offensively through the neutral zone and beyond, and perpetually disruptive on defense, Peart could serve as a draft steal in retrospect for some lucky team.
42. Sean Behrens, D, USA U-18 (NTDP)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 177 | Shot: L
This quintessential offensive defenseman plays above and beyond his size. An explosive and quick skater — and gifted with great hands — he’s exceptional in transition. Despite his smaller stature, Behrens remains effective as a defender in his own zone. A high hockey IQ and excellent work ethic rounds out a résumé that should land the promising blueliner on an NHL power play some day.
43. Prokhor Poltapov, LW, CSKA 2 (Russia Jr.)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 176 | Shot: L
A scoring winger, Poltapov potted 25 goals and 27 assists in 61 MHL contests this season. He’s strong on his skates, protects the puck effectively, and thinks the game well. If his skating progresses, Poltapov could end up a steal for some lucky NHL club. He works relentlessly hard.
44. Dylan Duke, LW, USA U-18 (NTDP)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 175 | Shot: L
The future Michigan Wolverine loves it in and around the crease. At his best in tough situations near the net, Duke potted 29 goals and 20 assists through 50 games for the NTDP this past season, and another four points in five contests at the under-18 championship. Hard working with a seemingly inexhaustible tank of energy, Duke stands an excellent chance at scoring goals in the NHL some day. And if he progresses as a skater — currently not his best attribute — look out.
45. Olen Zellweger, D, Everett (WHL)
Age: 17 | Ht: 5-9 | Wt: 175 | Shot: L
Most admired for his smooth skating, this mobile defenseman never stops moving. An asset in all three zones, Zellweger is a skilled puck-mover who regularly makes sound decisions and creates opportunities for others. Collecting 21 total points in 18 games divvied up between the Silvertips and Canada’s under-18 squad, the 17-year-old presents as a future power-play star in the NHL.
46. Ville Koivunen, RW, Kärpät Jr. (Finland Jr.)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 161 | Shot: L
This just-turned 18-year-old is so fun to watch. A relentless skater, creative playmaker, and wonderful stickhandler, Koivunen erupted for 10 points in seven games at the under-18 Championship. He’s strong on the puck and wants to be involved in every play. Some NHL team will have plenty of raw skill to work with once he’s done his run with Kärpät. And he’ll likely be less raw by that point.
47. Danila Klimovich, RW, Minsk Zubry (Belarus 2)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 202 | Shot: R
A bit of a dark horse in this year’s class, Klimovich didn’t attract much attention until his showing at the under-18 championship, where he scored six goals in five games. An aggressive shooter with an excellent release, he also possesses admirable hands and is strong on the puck. Klimovich is big, fast, confident, and creative. And no longer a complete mystery to many in the scouting community.
48. Evan Nause, D, Quebec (QMJHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 186 | Shot: L
Nause doesn’t pile up buckets of points, but that isn’t his role. An archetypal defensive defenseman, the towering blueliner has a good head on his shoulders and consistently makes sound on-ice decisions. He has good mobility, is patient with the puck, and is excellent in transition. If Nause isn’t all that noticeable to the average hockey fan, it’s because he’s doing his job. And doing it well.
49. Kirill Kirsanov, D, St. Petersburg (Russia)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 198 | Shot: L
When defending at his best, Kirsanov is a goalie’s best friend. A defensive defenseman by definition, this smooth skater doesn’t sport a lot of flash. He doesn’t often contribute to the scoresheet. What he does do is diffuse dangerous situations in his own end, habitually creating opportunities for his teammates in transition. An intuitive, smart defender, Kirsanov will strengthen any NHL blue line with his stalwart approach to the game.
50. Tristan Broz, C, Fargo (USHL)
Age: 18 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 178 | Shot: L
Headed for the University of Minnesota, Broz shines as a playmaker above all. Most comfortable and confident in the offensive zone, he reads the ice well and makes good decisions. While the Minnesota native’s skating is good enough and his shot will further improve, Broz appeals most to scouts as a top-notch passer. A consistent performer, he wrapped up 2021-22 with 51 points in 54 games for Fargo.