Central Scouting revealed its final ranking of the top North American skaters and goalies, and the top International skaters and goalies, on Thursday. Left wing William Eklund of Djurgarden in the Swedish Hockey League is No. 1 in the final ranking of International skaters.
“I think any kid that plays hockey also wants to go No. 1 [in the NHL Draft] if they can, so everyone dreams about it,” Power said. “Obviously it’d be a huge honor to me and my family, and we’d be really excited, but at the end of the day that’s also something I can’t really control.
“It’s not me making the decision, so if I don’t [go No. 1], it’s not that big of a deal and you still got to prove yourself anyway.”
The 2021 draft will be held virtually, with the first round July 23 and Rounds 2-7 on July 24. The NHL Draft Lottery to determine the first 15 picks in the draft will be held June 2; the Arizona Coyotes will be part of the drawing but forfeited their first-round pick because of violations of the NHL Combine Testing Policy during the 2019-20 season.
Power (6-foot-6, 213 pounds) scored 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) with a plus-18 rating in 26 games in his first NCAA season and the 18-year-old was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. He is the only draft-eligible player with Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Latvia, where he has two assists and is averaging 14:52 of ice time in four games.
“Owen Power is at the top of this draft class as he is the best at his position,” Central Scouting Director Dan Marr said. “His game presence displayed NHL skills and attributes and his game continued to mature and impact throughout the season.”
Rounding out the top five North American skaters are center Mason McTavish of Peterborough in the Ontario Hockey League, Michigan center Kent Johnson, defenseman Luke Hughes of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team, and right wing Dylan Guenther of Edmonton of the Western Hockey League.
McTavish (6-1, 207), a powerful skater with solid puck-protection ability, scored 11 points (nine goals, two assists) in 13 games on loan with EHC Olten in the Swiss League, the second-highest professional league in Switzerland. The 18-year-old also impressed with his play at the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, scoring 11 points (five goals, six assists) with 27 shots on goal in seven games for tournament champion Canada.
“McTavish is at No. 2 for us not from one tournament but rather from the collective history, knowledge and evaluations we’ve had over the past two seasons watching him develop and mature,” Marr said. “But any one of Johnson, Hughes, Eklund, Guenther or [Michigan forward Matthew] Beniers could be selected at the No. 2 spot.
“Our group views McTavish as that coveted power center that possesses the elite package of size, smarts, skills and compete which all NHL clubs look to add. But the next few names could also be selected in any order as each can be considered impactful franchise players.”
Johnson (6-1, 167), an offensive sniper who plays with pace and creativity, thrived at left wing this season at Michigan. The 18-year-old scored 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in 26 games, led Michigan with three power-play goals and was first among all first-time NHL draft-eligible NCAA players in assists and points. Johnson joined Power on the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
Hughes (6-2, 184), a left-handed defenseman capable of playing a smart defensive game, scored 34 points (six goals, 28 assists) in 38 games for the NTDP U-18 team. The 17-year-old sustained a lacerated tendon in his foot from a skate cut March 7, but should resume skating in June. He’s the younger brother of Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes and New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes, and is committed to play at Michigan next season.
Guenther (6-1, 175), an elite offensive player, scored 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 12 games and led the Western Hockey League with an average of 2.00 points per game. The 18-year-old scored seven points (four goals, three assists) and led Canada with 34 shots on goal in seven games at the U-18 World Championship.
Eklund was named rookie of the year in the SHL after the 18-year-old scored 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) and had 63 shots on goal while averaging 15:29 of ice time in 40 games with Djurgarden. He skated on a line with Alexander Holtz, a New Jersey Devils first-round pick (No. 7) in the 2020 NHL Draft.
“He’s a smallish forward with good speed, puck skills and vision,” Central Scouting director of European scouting Goran Stubb said. “He sets up teammates well in the offensive zone and is a very good passer and playmaker. He’s a good overall package but will need to bulk up.”
Defenseman Simon Edvinsson (6-4, 198) of Frolunda in Sweden’s junior league is No. 2 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of International skaters. He’s followed by center Aatu Raty (6-2, 185) of Karpat in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland; right wing Nikita Chibrikov (5-10, 170) of St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League; and defenseman Daniil Chayka (6-3, 187) of CSKA in the KHL.
The top North American goalie is Sebastian Cossa (6-6, 210) of Edmonton of the Western Hockey League. The 18-year-old went 17-1-1 with a 1.57 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage and four shutouts in 19 games.
Jesper Wallstedt (6-3, 214) of Lulea in the SHL is the No. 1 international goaltender. The 18-year-old was 11-8 with three ties, a 2.23 GAA, a .908 save percentage and two shutouts in 22 games. Wallstedt is projected to be the first Sweden-born goalie chosen in the first round of the NHL draft.
“He’s got excellent pro potential with a very good chance to be a quality No. 1 goalie in the NHL,” Central Scouting’s Al Jensen said. “He uses his size very well, plays the top of the paint and is square to the shot. He’s good at absorbing shots off the ice and he quickly covers loose pucks. Jesper plays with a lot of confidence and can track puck well through traffic.”
Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class