Welcome back to The Journey, where we follow hockey prospects and their paths to the NHL, providing Fantasy predictions and analysis along the way. This week, we will be playing out the 2021 NHL Draft and attempting to predict teams' selections based on their needs, in a year where they matter more than ever. As discussed in last week's post, the 2021 NHL Draft is setting up to be the most volatile round of selections in recent draft history, with no consensus among the top-10 and very little to separate prospects in the middle of the pack.
The restrictions surrounding COVID-19 have made video scouting more relied upon than ever before, especially at the beginning of the global shutdown that halted travel and arena attendance. Footage and games from the USHL and Europe were plentiful and easy to obtain, whereas the OHL simply did not have a 2020-21 season from which to evaluate their prospects. This draft will reflect that in a sense, but the main rationale behind each selection is the team's needs and previous drafting tendencies.
Without further ado, here is our mock draft of the first 16 selections, with teams' draft order updated to reflect recent trade history (keep in mind that so many pick trades occur at the draft table, and some of these picks might move around a bunch; this is a mock draft reflecting teams' current draft positions, and how they should play out if everything stays the same).
1. Buffalo Sabres – Owen Power, LD – U. of Michigan, NCAA
The consensus first-overall pick among TSN's mid-season rankings, Owen Power's 6-5, 214-pound frame has a lot to do with his constant appearance among the 2021 NHL Draft's top-three. He uses his stick and reach intelligently, breaking off passes and collecting loose pucks left and right.
There are worrying warts in his defensive game, such as a physical presence that lacks for his size and the tendency to bobble loose pucks when recovering them along the boards under pressure, but Power's skating, passing, shooting, stickhandling and positioning make for an interesting profile with a high floor, one that almost guarantees him an NHL spot. A safe pick for a Sabres team that is looking for stability on the back-end, with Rasmus Dahlin and his fellow Buffalo blueliners performing at a worse level in 2021 than could ever be anticipated.
Floor: top-6 NHL defenseman
Ceiling: #2-3 all-situations defenseman
DP Fantasy Prospects Report<