11. Chicago Blackhawks: Cole Sillinger
Cole Sillinger is a shooter. That is the best way to describe him. There were some nights where I’d watch him play in the USHL this past season, I would marvel at how many ways he could hurt the offensive team with his shooting talent. Be it his blistering wrist shot, his heavy slapshot or his deadly accurate one-timer (really gets that puck up in a hurry), Cole Sillinger is likely the best pure scorer in this draft with Eklund and Lucius. I honestly feel like he would have been a top-10 pick had he not been force out of the U-18s this spring due to Covid.
En écrivant sur Cole Sillinger, je suis tombé sur cette séquence qui démontre ce qu’on doit savoir sur ce jeune.— Mathieu Paradis (@mat_paradis) June 18, 2021
– Crée son espace
– Protection de rondelle
– Se faufile tel un chat malgré sa shape de lion
– Tir puissant même en déséquilibre#NHLDraft @Toutsurlehockey pic.twitter.com/jEX0x8yqiY
Sillinger is also not one to shy away from contact, as he loves to engage n board battles or use his body in order to separate defenders from pucks in the offensive zone. He plays a very crash and bang style around the boards, and that could be extremely valuable when trying to overload other teams. Where Sillinger needs to work on is most certainly his speed and expanding his playmaking ability. One of the main things when looking at him play for the Sioux Falls Stampede, is that you want him to utilize his teammates a little more regularly. Sure he got 22 assists in 31 USHL games this past season, but there were many, many times where Sillinger chose to shoot, rather than pass and increase the danger of their offensive chances.
I think if Chicago drafts Sillinger, he will fit extremely well within the org, as he brings a blend of scoring excellence and physicality that is not often found in the draft. For him to play that effective power game, he will have to improve his explosiveness and gain some agility when coming up the ice. To increase his likelihood of winning foot races and being more effective in all three zones, skating is the key factor for this young man, but he’s got time to grow into his body and optimize his lower body strength. You don’t pass on goal scorers like this.
12. Calgary Flames: Matthew Coronato
The Bisson, as he is referred to within the Chicago Steel organization in the USHL, was nothing short of a phenom this season. Likely the biggest riser in this draft, Coronato exploded this season for the Chicago Steel of the USHL. Forming a deadly pair with Montreal Canadiens prospect Sean Farrell, Coronato broke records this season en route to a staggering 48 goals and 37 assists for 85 points in 51 games. Coronato even broke the record for the most amount of consecutive games with a goal in the USHL with 26.
Here’s hoping your weekend is as enjoyable as a Matt Coronato highlight! pic.twitter.com/n5BqZ5piXb— Chicago Steel (@ChicagoSteel) July 2, 2021
Not bad for a player originally ranked in the 2nd round to start the season. So what changed? Well, he began to express himself a little more offensively through the combination of his elite hockey sense and solid offensive tools. Coronato has a really surprising release, which allows him to shoot on a dime from optimal areas. By constantly finding the hole in defensive coverage, Coronato is able to escape checking and either drove the puck to the net fearlessly, or set up one of his teammates for a tap in. Further to that, his hands and puck handling skills make him so very difficult to predict. He will often fake out defenders to gain open ice along the boards, and then fake them out again to crash toward the net for a scoring chance. For me, he’s got that wow factor that few prospects in this draft have.
For Coronato to truly excel at the next level he’s going to have to get more explosive and stronger, as well as bring noted attention to his work without the puck. His stickhandling and Hockey IQ in the offensive zone are what sets him apart from the other forwards in this draft, but if he can round out his game and gain that extra edge in his first few steps, watch out.
13. Philadelphia Flyers: Chaz Lucius
Flyers fans have had to see their team draft left-shot defenseman after left-shot defenseman for years, and thankfully today is not that day. Continuing the new trend started last year after selecting Tyson Foerster, by selecting another solid goal scorer in Chaz Lucius. In my opinion, one of the best combination of hands and shooting mechanics in the draft (second to perhaps only William Eklund). He plays a very intelligent game, and uses his threat as a goal scorer (the release on his shot will have many in awe) to also adeptly set up many of his teammates for scoring chances.
This goal is the poster child for “Chaz Lucius puck control in tight-areas” 👀 pic.twitter.com/Xeq54AKcGQ— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) February 27, 2021
The University of Minnesota commit put up 13 goals and 7 assists for 20 points in 13 games this season for the USNDT U-18 team and looked dangerous after almost every shift. That’s because Lucius simply knows where to be on the ice and is very much the “right-place-right time” kind of goal scorer. He has very good hockey sense, to compensate for what many for describe as average skating and pace. That being said, he’s got every tool you need in an offensive player (hands, shot, hockey sense, deceptiveness, etc) and really needs to work on being more consistent defensively and stronger (two things that come with maturity).
Although Lucius can play C, I see him ending up as a winger in the NHL. That’s quite okay for the Flyers, who have no qualms about drafting and converting centers to wingers in offensive situations. I believe Lucius could be ready for the NHL within two years, as the University of Minnesota has quite the program. I expect a top-6 goal scorer with solid PP numbers. Whether or not his tools translate to consistent 5 on 5 offense will depend mostly on his ability to become more explosive and agile, of which I personally have no doubt. One of my favourite prospects in this draft class.
14. Dallas Stars: Corson Ceulemans
Ceulemans is a rare commodity at this point in the draft. A right handed defenseman that has the size he does (6’2 and 201 lbs) with really good skating ability. The issue is that, he has all the tools, but hasn’t really put his game together in a structured way for him to be projected to be efficient, but the talent and ability is there, and Dallas is getting thin on right shot defensive prospects.
It’s very hard to evaluate Ceuleman’s play in the AJHL, as it is a lower level league than what we are used to watch in major junior. That being said, the Wisconsin Badger commit possesses great speed and a very solid shot, making him a solid bet for powerplay use down the line. His 8 games in the AJHL left scouts likely wanting more from his really attractive offensive tools (that wrist shot from the point is quite something and that one-timer is a laser), but his 6 games for Canada at the U-18s this spring more than made up for it. He looked composed, structured and extremely motivated. He was walking the blue line quite well and this is where I first began believing that he could indeed put it all together.
If all goes relatively well, Ceulemans could develop into a physical offensive D-man that can join the rush and hold down a 2nd pair. He will have all the time to work on his structure under Wisconsin Badgers coach Tony Granato, who knows a thing or two about bringing structure to a young player’s game (Just ask K’Andre Miller and Cole Caufield). Ultimately, I think this is a high potential pick, and Dallas, adding Ceulemans to Harley as their two top D prospects, is now covered at every position moving forward.
15. New York Rangers: Fyodor Svechkov
Svechkov has to be the best two-way C in this 1st round, as his exceptional hockey IQ and incredible vision make him an ideal centre to take for the New York Rangers at this point in the draft. He plays a very cerebral game, allowing him to use his high Hockey IQ to cut passing lanes and put himself in the right position at the right time. A lot of his offense, as evidence during the U-18s for Russia, was produced through a solid defensive base and a strong ability to counter attack.
Svechkov played most of the season bouncing from the MHL and VHL and looked very solid no matter where he played. His mature game was put on wide display at the U-18s, where he put up 4 goals and 6 assists for 10 points in 7 games. This is due to great anticipation and a strong set of offensive skills to go with his defensive acumen. He is a 5 on 5 monster and a guy that eats up a ton of minutes the tighter games get, but doesn’t isolate his game to defensive excellence. He’s the type of forward that could burn you in many ways if you play too aggressive in front of him.
Russia comes all the way back!!!— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) April 27, 2021
Fyodor Svechkov (#2021NHLDraft) shows insane patience and finds Ivan Miroshnichenko (#2022NHLDraft) in front for the young Russian’s second of the game!!!
Imagine he didn’t get those visa issues sorted out? #WorldU18s pic.twitter.com/XwQ14d46aT
A playmaking C with a mature defensive game is exactly what the doctor ordered for the New York Rangers, who are loaded with young, scoring wingers in their prospect pool/roster. I feel like the KHL factor in this case will not bother them in the slightest, just like it didn’t bother them with in the 2018 draft with Vitali Kravtsov. Svheckov could pan out into a solid #2 C that plays a similar game to Joel Ericksson Ek.