I’ve tried this a few different ways over the years and plan on doing the same again this year. I tried doing a mock draft, but after the first three picks some trades happened and it got ugly fast. I tried highlighting some of my favorite selections, and I might try that again in future years, but I wanted to try something fresh this year.
This is a strong draft class for defensemen specifically, with a few strong goaltenders up there as well. Without further ado, I’m putting the first round picks into tiers this year.
Owen Power (D). It looks like he has emerged as the clear cut #1.
Matthew Beniers (C ): A strong all around game, willing to back check but also a strong producer going on a point per game pace at World Junior Championship.
William Eklund (LW): Solid all around player who can create plays and has a higher ceiling, particularly with scoring.
Luke Hughes (D): Another Hughes enters the NHL arena and the first two have blazed quite the trail for the family name.
Mason McTavish (C ): He’s got a high hockey IQ and a good frame to help create plays at center for a team. He held his own well in the Swedish Hockey League last year.
Brandt Clarke (D): Solid skills on puck, reads the ice well, and shows a promising ceiling for a positionally sound defensemen.
Dylan Guenther (LW/RW): He held his own well at World Juniors, averaging a point per game. He is strong on offense with a shot that could measure among the best in this draft.
Kent Johnson (LW ): He’s a bit skinnier and might need to bulk up, but he has smooth handling and his quickness and IQ measure up well.
Simon Edvinsson (D): Simon is evidence of the defensive depth of this draft. He has offensive and defensive traits and he’s growing into a strong frame.
Jesper Wallstedt (G): Taking a goalie this earlier was a trend that reemerged a few weeks ago. He limits rebounds, reads shots and has pure skill in net.
Cole Sillinger (C/LW ): He has elite offensive skills and a great shot. He needs some maturation in his game but the ceiling is high.
Chaz Lucius (C ): He has elite scoring ability.
Fabian Lysell (LW): The elite skating winger has a high ceiling.
Sebastian Cossa (G): Another goalie making a rare two-goalie first round could be seen. He held a strong save percentage in WHL last year.
Matthew Coronato (LW): He won the award of USHL forward of the year. He has upside as a scorer due to his ability to find open spaces.
Corson Ceuelemans (D): He has size and the physical nature to be a strong defenseman in the league.
Carson Lambos (D): Solid all around ability on defense with few glaring holes in his game.
Fyodor Svechkov (C ): He doesn’t currently have the upside some others do on offense, but he’s a strong two-way playing center who has upside if developed properly on offense.
Brennan Othmann (LW): A solid goal scorer who isn’t afraid to battle in corners to win 1:1 battles as well as backchecking. Still working on skating a bit.
Aatu Raty (C ): He got a taste at big leagues in the Finnish league last year, he has decent size and showcases a hard shot. He finds open lanes and creates opportunities for his team.
Logan Stankoven (RW): He’s small but he has great skill and thrives as pace picks up. Players like Cole Caufield are making some GMs more comfortable with players of this size.
Isak Rosen (LW): He struggled a bit in Swedish league last year, but shined in World Juniors exceeding a point per game pace. He is a solid skater but a bit smaller.
Samu Tuomaala (LW): While the Scandanavian first rounders aren’t as robust as previous years, Samu is a strong skater with an accurate shot.
Nikita Chibrikov (RW): He has a great shot on the wing and can provide some scoring upside despite his smaller stature.
Oskar Olausson (LW): He is a workhorse who has a good frame and skates well, but he needs to add some strength. He projects a good ceiling but some development is needed before he can compete at the professional level.
Zachary Bolduc (C ): His skating needs some work but he is a strong puck handler and can make plays with his on ice vision and read of plays.
Xavier Bourgault (RW): he has a good hockey IQ and ability to change his play style to adapt to the opponent. He makes smart decisions on ice and is skilled, but he needs to grow and build a bit.
Francesco Pinelli (C ): A strong skater with a good read of the ice. He is a hard worker which could help him surpass expectations as he progresses.
Simon Robertsson (RW): He is a decent skater with good read of the ice. He excels as pace of play picks up, thriving on opportunistic hockey.
Sean Behrens (D): He’s on the smaller side but he has good power play point man potential. He can handle the puck well and fights hard on 1:1s on defense.
Olen Zellweger (D): He is an elite skater with good puck moving skills. He needs to develop in size a bit but his skills are promising
Zachary L’Heureux (LW): He is a hard skater who fights for the puck with great hockey skill. He might get too aggressive at times, but that could translate well into the big leagues.
Daniil Chayka (D): He has good size, good skating abilities, and he’s seen some exposure to big league time with KHL.
Sasha Pastujov (RW): He has good scoring abilities, a great shot, and could be a playmaker. His game needs some development and maturation.
Zach Dean (C ): Thrives in up-tempo pace, and has a good quick read of the ice. He has quick hands and is a strong protector of the puck.
Wyatt Johnston (C ): He’s a smart center who works hard. He creates plays but might need some development in his game for a couple of years.
Fyodor Svechkov (LW): He showed promising skills at World Juniors despite his real strength being as a backchecker. He creates turnovers and opportunities.