Before the 2021 NHL Draft, Sportsnet prospect expert Sam Cosentino was asked questions about this year’s prospect collection, how deep the class is and more.
1. We have had a consensus No. 1 overall pick for the previous number of drafts, but is that the case in 2021? Is there any chance that Owen Power is not chosen first?
Sam Cosentino: I do not believe it. Regardless of whether you choose to return to Michigan, it shouldn’t scare Buffalo. Power cemented his status with his play on the worlds. At six-foot-six and 215 pounds, the expectation is that he will be an all-round type player in the big minutes very early in his career. Buffalo could really be on his way if they get it right with the Jack Eichel deal and the Power draft to eventually play alongside Rasmus Dahlin in his main partner.
2. What selection is the draft done? Really start you?
For me it starts at 11. I think we have some predictability for the top 10 names, maybe not in the exact order, but I think the names that a lot of tipsters have in the top 10 are very similar. One of the doormen can shake that up a bit. After 11, you have so many variables that they will get pretty random, pretty quickly. I think we will see some Yegor Chinakhov-type surprises (Colón 21 overall in 2020) in the later stages of Round 1.
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 16, 2021
3. Who is a prospect not projected to be elected in the first round that we might look back and wonder why they weren’t?
Two names, the first is Josh Doan, son of Shane. He had a monster year on that rock star Chicago Steel team (31 goals, 70 points in 53 games), and is in his second year of draft eligibility. He has seen some growth and with the Doan name, you don’t have to worry about character. It’s not typical for reentry players to enter Round 1, but it’s not unprecedented either. Doan is a big right hand, right winger with a great work ethic and obvious shooting ability.
The other is Olen Zellweger from Everett. His game grew so large in the U-18 team that it didn’t take him long to run PP1 on the Canadian gold medal team. He skates extremely well, he’s confident with the puck and at the end of that tournament he realized that he could handle the physical side of the game at that level as well. He’s very focused on playing in the NHL and in terms of projection, we have to remember that he is one of the youngest players in this draft class.
4. Who is a first-round projected prospect who doesn’t get enough thought about?
Zachary Bolduc. The two strikes against him are the fact that he played for a powerful Rimouski team two years ago, which featured Alexis Lafreniere, then was injured for much of the second half of this season. In a vacuum, he skates really well and has top edge work. He has elite hand-eye coordination and has shown improvement year after year away from the puck and on the defensive side of it.
5. Do you have a favorite player (or players) to watch from this class?
I really like Zachary Dean from Gatineau. Play an old school type of game. He has the speed to beat him outside and he loves to bring the puck to the net. It is dangerous in the 20 foot radius around the net with the ability to find soft ice, anticipate the location of the bounce, and with your hand and eye good enough to tilt the pucks.
6. We had gotten used to not seeing a goalkeeper again in the first half of the first round, but now it has happened two years in a row with Spencer Knight and Yaroslav Askarov. Will Jesper Wallstedt or Sebastian Cossa make those three in a row, and how do they compare to Knight and Askarov?
I think one is in the upper half and the other is not far behind, but probably in that 18-22 range. The problem is that, while Wallstedt was the first goalkeeper to leave, I would not be surprised if Cossa was the first goalkeeper to leave the board. A goalie comes into play from Detroit at pick six. Knight and Askarov are exceptional talents as are Wallstedt and Cossa. Both Knight and Askarov have better international resumes because the other two were caught up in the pandemic.
7. What is the defining characteristic of this year’s prospect class?
High-end D, predictable names within the top 10, and a guessing game of a savage beyond choice 15. All in all, it’s very difficult to predict the depth of this class based on limited play in previous key development years. to the draft. That being said, scouts were talking about the 2002 draft class two years ago and didn’t have much to say about the 03 a year later.