6. Detroit Red Wings: Mason McTavish
Mason McTavish didn’t play many games this season, but boy did he impress when he did. The physical two-way C is just a cannonball on the ice. Basically using his 6’2 207lbs frame to cause ruckus in the offensive zone and bulldoze the competition in his quest for retrieving the puck and driving it into the opposition’s net. What makes him special is that he has a very intriguing offensive tool box to go with that chippy style of play. He may not have the soft hands of a Beniers or Johnson, but he possesses a very heavy wrist shot and a surprisingly powerful slapshot, but his primary offensive tools, his vision and his exceptional passing ability, make him more of a playmaker
Mason McTavish strikes early in the second period to make it 3-0 for Canada. pic.twitter.com/YrzcriUi7x— TSN (@TSN_Sports) May 2, 2021
McTavish isn’t going to deke his opponents our of their pants in order to drive offense. He’s going to rip the puck away with you due to his great tempo and relentless motor, and put the puck in the back of the net with a very soft pass to a streaking teammate. He’s the type of center that will play in all situations in very different ways. At Even Strength he’s a bulldozer, looking to acquire possession and drive to the net aggressively. On the PK, he’s using his long reach and moving his feet in order to exert pressure and swoop on lose pucks. On the PP, he’s your net front presence, often shielding goalies and pouncing on lose pucks for the dirty goal.
Mason McTavish SNIPES to make it 9-0 Canada. pic.twitter.com/w1eas1NxTE— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 28, 2021
McTavish projects as that in-your-face, two-way 2nd line C that teams depend on to get far in the playoffs. I got serious Kesler vibes when I watched him play at the U-18s and I believe he’s exactly what Detroit needs in their prospect pool at this point in the draft. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see him go higher should a team really be in love with him. There’s a lot to like and he’s a very unique player in this draft.
7. San Jose Sharks: Simon Edvinsson
Simon Edvinsson looks like the total package in this draft for a defenseman. He’s got the size, speed, offensive tools and defensive potential to spearhead the rebuild that is seemingly going on in San Jose. Edvinsson’s massive frame (6’4 207 lbs) along with his exceptional skating has many comparing him to Philip Broberg, but I think Edvinsson is a much better puck handler and plays the game with a little more oomph than Broberg. Furthermore, I believe that he is a much better overall defender, as he is really good at gap control and using his stick to cut off passing lanes.
He’s an absolutely zone exit/entry machine due to his skating and puck handling skills. He has such a penchant for being a one-man breakout machine that it sometimes results in turnovers or a zone entry without sustained offense (due to a lack of teammates near him). Some scouts have voiced concern in regards to his offensive zone decision making, but I honestly believe it comes from nerves and a lack of experience vs top competition. It should be noted that Edvinsson played in J20, HockeyAllsvenskan and for Frolunda’s main roster team all in the same season. That’s a lot of change for a 17-year old.
However, once things calmed down for him and he was able to soak up all that information, he was very impressive for Team Sweden during the U-18s this spring. He used his speed, frame, good puck skills to overload the opposition and even silenced a few doubters with a solid 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points in 7 games. Personally, I think the sky is the limit for this young man, as he continues to grow in Frolunda.
This sequence from Simon Edvinsson (2021) defending the rush is fantastic.— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) December 5, 2020
Forces the rush out wide, seals the wall and finishes his check, and has the wherewithal to knock the loose puck away from the supporting attacker to turn play the other way. pic.twitter.com/MKr5sO8tbL
In order to excel at the NHL level, Edvinsson is going to have to reel in his penchant for darting up the ice at first moment’s notice and to stop forcing plays. This lack of structure will certainly come with maturity and good coaching. If he’s able to shore up his decisions under pressure and utilize his teammates better, Edvinsson could realistically become a minute-munching top-4 D that dominates possession and helps your team dominate the opposition.
8. LA Kings: Brandt Clarke
Brandt Clarke was on my radar for 1st overall pick in this draft prior to October 2020, but the lack of play, to go along with concerns around his skating mechanics caused him to drop in a very tight group of defenders at this rank. I think this is a fantastic selection for the Kings, who basically have their Drew Doughty replacement here. I think Clarke has bonafide #2-#3 potential, and that, in great part, has to do with his elite hockey IQ. He‘s rarely caught out of position and knows exactly when to join the rush or stay back to defend. He plays such a deceptive game, be it defensively as he tries to shake off forecheckers, or offensively as he attempts zone entries with ease and beating defenders on the outside.
Clarke, like many OHL players, did not have a very normal year. He had to head over to Slovakia to play for HC Nove Zamky (to play with his brother). In my viewings I saw him get better every game and was more assertive with the puck as time went on. He was able to improve his shooting tools with an added boost of muscle he acquired over the summer, and his wrist shot is quite impressive if I say so myself.
When Clarke joined Team Canada at the U-18s, people saw a glimpse of his potential, as he often joined the rush with his teammates to create scoring chances, while quickly regaining defensive position before the counter-attack even began against them. Sometimes he gets a little to selfish with the puck and could expand his playmaking game a little bit more by using his teammates more during intense situations, but that tends to come easier when you have more chemistry with players you’ve known for longer than 2 weeks.
Clarke’s most glaring weakness has to be his very unorthodox skating stride. This is not to say that he is slow by any means, but more suboptimal in his strides. If he is going to be effective at the next level, he’s going to have to correct his stride and add more power to his first few steps to create that separation and play that up-tempo style that made him so fun to watch over the last two years.
9. Vancouver Canucks: Kent Johnson
Kent Johnson is a human highlight reel. As a true freshman at the University of Michigan, Johnson put 9 goals and 18 assists for 27 points in 26 games. That’s a rather rare feat for a player of his age, especially when you consider how young Michigan’s roster was this season. Adversity surely didn’t stop Johnson, who hit the ground running in the NCAA and wowed everyone with his elite vision and exceptional passing ability. The hands on Johnson are certainly something to behold, as he constantly forces defensemen to second-guess themselves due to the speed his hands and body can shift from side to side. That’s not to say he’s a gifted skater, but he’s extremely agile, making him extremely slippery and hard to cover on the rush.
The ‘21 kids are alright at Michigan.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) February 19, 2021
Kent Johnson from Owen Power and Matty Beniers
Johnson also possesses a very dangerous arsenal of shots. His shots aren’t necessarily the ones with the fastest release or the heaviest swing, but they are extremely precise. Johnson’s backhand is better than most players’ forehand shots in this draft, I’m not kidding. His skill and ability to basically stickhandle within a phonebooth (ah, a good old reference there) have prompted many to compare him in style to Patrick Kane, and that’s pretty bang on.
I think Johnson could be a top-line winger at the NHL level, but, at worst, he’s going to be a top-6 winger that’s going to wow you with his skills. In order to really reach the top end of his potential, he’s going to have to pack on the weight and improve both his skating stride and first few steps. If he were just a little bit faster than average NHL speed, to create ample separation from defenders, Johnson could be absolutely dynamite and provide the Canucks with a running man for Elias Pettersson for years to come.
10. Ottawa Senators: Jesper Wallstedt
The Ottawa Senators get their goalie of the future after heated debates of picking Yaroslav Askarov in last year’s draft. The 6’3, 214 pound goaltender played for 22 games in the Swedish Hockey League for Lulea this season, putting up a very respectable .907 save percentage and a 2.23 Goals Against. Those are some rather solid numbers for a draft eligible goalie. He has a real strong style of play, predicated on lateral movements and playing big in tight. He plays a very mature game for a goaltender, and never gives up on the play, often repositioning himself after a wild save only to make another one.
It’s very interesting to watch the big man move in the crease, as he is able to track the puck very well, making him look calm and collected even in the most dangerous of defensive situations. Even when games get chippy and players start crashing his crease, he covers up the angles very well and his lateral movements assist him in close gaps instantly.
When I watch Wellstadt play, I immediately think to Tuuka Rask in terms of playing style. They play very big, have a very calculated approach to how they position themselves in defensive situations and very combative in front of their net. I certainly see a #1 goalie in the making here. The question is simply: will Wellstadt reach Vezina-level play like Tuuka? If all goes well, he certainly has the tools to do so.