NHL Draft grades 2021: Full results, analysis for every first-round pick

The 2021 NHL Draft is finally here.

Entering one of the most wide-open drafts in recent history, NHL fans will finally see how teams value certain prospects. The speculation that has been ongoing for nine months, since the 2020 NHL Draft in October, will finally have answers.

This year’s draft started early, with both the Sabres and the Coyotes adding first-round picks via trades prior to hitting the virtual draft floor. There are bound to be more surprises as well as one of the most exciting events on the NHL calendar progresses.

FCHockey and Sporting News are on the virtual draft floor for the 2021 NHL Draft, handing out grades and providing instant analysis of every selection made during the first round. Follow along below.

MORE: Watch the NHL Draft live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)

NHL Draft picks, grades: Round 1

1. Buffalo Sabres — Owen Power, D, University of Michigan (NCAA)

   Grade: A

As expected, the Sabres take the prospect that has been widely considered the top prospect available. With Rasmus Dahlin as the 1D, this has the potential to be an excellent fit for Power. He won’t need to be the top guy, but he should be an excellent No. 2. The NCAA defender brings high intelligence, an excellent transition game, a long reach and impressive four-way mobility. Combined with his 6-6 frame, this was a very expected selection.

2. Seattle Kraken — Matty Beniers, F, University of Michigan (NCAA)

   Grade: A

With the first-ever selection for the NHL’s newest team, the Kraken took the first forward off the board in Beniers. One of the most competitive players in the class, he has top-line potential thanks to his ability to impact the game at both ends of the ice. The NCAA standout is an excellent piece to build around as the Kraken look to fill out their prospect pool.

Grade: A-

The Ducks made the first surprise pick of the 2021 NHL Draft. McTavish is a strong power forward that will fit excellently behind 2019 first-rounder Trevor Zegras down the line. McTavish had a late-season push up draft boards after seeing his development overseas and his performance at the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship. He has one of the best shots in the class and plays an excellent two-way game. McTavish has the tools to be a future leader on this young team.

4. New Jersey Devils — Luke Hughes, D, USNTDP (USHL)

Grade: A

The Devils are uniting two brothers with the selection of Luke, who will be playing with 2019 first-overall selection Jack. The younger Hughes fits the organizational needs of the Devils extremely well as a potential x-factor on the blue line. One of the youngest players in this class, the ceiling is sky-high. He’s an excellent skater who excels in transition. Imagining a future with Hughes and Ty Smith should get Devils fans very excited.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets – Kent Johnson, C/W, University of Michigan (NCAA)

Grade: A-

With their first pick of the first round, the Blue Jackets selected the highest-skilled player in this class. Johnson has the best hands of any prospect in the draft, leading to eye-popping creativity. He has a high hockey IQ and is a walking highlight reel. He really impressed with his smooth transition from the BCHL to the NCAA, putting up a point-per-game this season.

6. Detroit Red Wings — Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda (SHL)

Grade: A- 

After taking Frolunda’s Lucas Raymond last season, the Red Wings stuck to the team for this selection. Edvinsson is a smooth-skating defender that has the size that NHL teams love at 6-4. He’s a very strong puck handler that can stun the opposition with his creativity. While his game is a little raw still, the potential is very high as he has top-line potential. He should be an excellent complement to 2019 first rounder Moritz Seider.

7. San Jose Sharks — William Eklund, C/W, Djurgarden (SHL)

Grade: A

8. Los Angeles Kings — Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie Colts (OHL)

Grade: A

The Kings have one of the best — if not the best — prospect pools in the league, and adding Clarke is a big addition to the system. The highly offensive defender has top-line potential and could be the heir to Drew Doughty. His skating mechanics need some adjustment as he is knock-kneed, but the rest of his package is very promising.

9. Arizona Coyotes (via VAN) — Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Grade: A

The Coyotes traded for this selection in the Oliver Ekman-Larsson deal earlier in the day. There were rumours that they were looking at Johnson but with him off the board, Guenther is an excellent selection. He is a strong forward with a high competitive edge. He’s a skilled offensive player, as was seen with his dominant play in the WHL this season. The winger joins the Coyotes system and immediately becomes the top forward in the prospect pool.

10. Ottawa Senators — Tyler Boucher, RW, USNTDP (USHL)

Grade: F

The Senators are the first team to go off-board, taking Boucher from the United States National Team Development Program. Boucher is one of the most competitive players in the class that works hard on and off the ice. He plays a very heavy game and is hard on the forecheck. He does struggle with his consistency and his offensive upside leaves some to be desired. This is a reach considering the players still available.

12. Columbus Blue Jackets (via CHI) — Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

Grade: A

13. Calgary Flames — Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago Steel (USHL)

Grade: B+

Coronato exploded this season, shooting up draft boards thanks to his impressive point total and relentless motor. He boasts an excellent shot, excellent possession and a strong transition game. He projects as a potential top-six forward but there are some questions as to whether his game will translate to the next level. Coronato joins the Flames and instantly becomes one of their top prospects.

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