We are inching closer to the 2021 NHL Entry Draft with every passing day. As things change on a daily basis, we take a look at a few names for Day 1 and where it is they may end up being selected.
Jesper Wallstedt, G – Lulea (SHL)
Wallstedt is viewed as the top goaltender in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. He’s both technical and athletic, which has become a trend for top ranked goalies in previous drafts. He’s been part of the Lulea developmental program for the last few years and got the opportunity to play in 22 games this year in the Swedish Hockey League, the top league in Sweden. Wallstedt posted a 12-10 record while having a 2.20 GAA and a save percentage of .908.
Wallstedt is a very calm and smooth moving netminder. His lateral shifts to square up with shooters is very mature for his age. He also has a relatively large frame, standing at over 6’3 on skates and takes up a good chunk of the net. Outside of his physical traits, he does have good athleticism and it stems from his strong pushes from his legs.
Wallstedt could be a higher pick. Possibly as early as sixth to Detroit, who is looking for a long-term prospect in net. If I was a betting man, I’d say he doesn’t fall past Calgary, who is selecting 12th.
Chaz Lucius, C – USNTDP (USHL)
There’s no doubt that Lucius is a first-round talent, and what makes him an interesting prospect is how NHL teams view his play transitioning to the pro level. He has a very strong offensive side to his game, and most importantly, possesses a strong goal scoring. Lucius can also play as a centreman.
There aren’t many centeremen in the NHL who shoot-first, often deriving from the mentality that they’re better playmakers than goal scorers, but Lucius, with the USNTDP, has produced admirably in the middle of the ice over the last few years.
What he does well, outside of scoring, is reading the play. Centremen are often regarded as the core of a five-man unit and he has a strong cerebral playing style when he doesn’t have the puck. His range as a forward is some of the best found in this draft and is often in the mix for loose pucks and starts the defensive zone exits with that cerebral perspective.
Looking at teams who could using a scoring centreman, most of the NHL is in that boat. He could crack the end of the 10’s, but for the most part, the consensus has him going in the teens.
Zachary L’Heureux, C – Halifax (QMJHL)
L’Heureux is a high energy, play driver for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. He is a player who likes to extend plays and makes a second and third effort in order to keep the play going. He uses a combination of pure power and speed to get by defenders and drive to the slot for high danger scoring opportunities.
L’Heureux is an offensive player by trade. He does most of his noticeable work when positioned in the opponents zone. The centreman is strong on the puck and directs traffic around the goalie to create odd-man plays. Along with his power, he brings high levels of intensity, which keeps defenders on their heels, as they try to figure out how to stop him.
The Montreal native can also beat goalies with his shot. Though not the best in the draft, he does have one that can surprise goalies and it comes from close and tight angles. He’s not a sniper, but he can pick corners and tight holes quite well.
His aggressive playing style is a double-bladed sword. He often uses it well, but also crosses the line, and this past season, received multiple suspensions for being excessively undisciplined. It’s possible that this conduct might result in his stock falling, as team executives may see this as a player with poor character. His range is in the mid teens.
Corson Ceulemans, D – Brooks (AJHL)
Ceulemans is a good sized defenseman who transitions and distributes the puck well. He is a rangy defenseman who makes himself available down low in cycles or during counter attacks. He’s not afraid to join in on high reward plays. Those aspects of his game are a result of an aggressive playing style and a straight line view of the game.
He’s among the higher ranked defensive prospects in a very limited pool of options on day 1 at the top of the draft. His abilities listed above, as well as being a right-handed shooter, makes him an attractive option for scouts who are looking for high potential blue-liners.
His game is still raw and unrefined. He does a lot of good things on the ice, but often leaving some juice left in the tank and wanting some more out of him. He will get the opportunity to build his game and sharpen the rough edges with head coach Tony Granato at the University of Wisconsin next year. He’s expected to be selected in the 20’s.
Isak Rosen, LW – Leksands IF (SHL)
Rosen is the type of player who uses his greatest abilities in all three zones. His straight line speed and range allows him to be involved in any play, whether he’s handling the puck or charging the player who has it. On top of his skating, Rosen also has great shooting skills. He’s a lethal shooter on the right faceoff dot and often shoots the puck with little to no effort. He possesses a strong one-timer and usually hits his target, being the net. He managed to rack up seven goals in seven games played for Sweden’s U18 team.
He’s done well at the junior level, but wasn’t as impactful during his stint with the pro team in the SHL. He’ll likely go back for a few more seasons in order to elevate his game and play at the same confidence level he’s played with against skaters his age. In addition to his confidence, he’ll need to mature physically. The good thing about his situation is that teams at the end of the draft order don’t need their first round selections to make an immediate impact. With that in mind, I expect him to be chosen at the end of the first round.
Sasha Pastujov, LW – USNTDP (USHL)
The pride of Bradenton, Florida is one of the more talented prospects entering the NHL Entry Draft.
He possesses great puck handling skills, a quality shot and smooth skating ability. All that combined makes him a quality offensive threat on the ice. In 64 games this past season between two leagues and one tournament, Pajustov tallied 99 points, scoring 45 goals, while adding 54 assists. Most of his scoring comes from below the top of the circles. He’s not afraid to charge the high danger scoring areas of the ice.
Even though he has great playmaking abilities, he’s often forgotten as a quality scorer. He’s got a quick release and likes to score from the right half wall. On top of being a good cycle scorer, Pastujov can score off the rush as well. He’s got good net driving abilities and it pays dividends with a goal or rebound for a teammate.
Looking at different rankings of Sasha, his range is late first round to early second round. I believe that someone will trade up for him if he falls beyond picks 27-28.