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

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 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.

3. Anaheim Ducks — Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

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 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 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 with his creativity. While his game is a little raw still, the potential is very 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

In what might have been the first of the draft, the Sharks take Eklund after he stepped into the SHL this season and excelled. For a draft-eligible prospect to play regular minutes in the top Swedish league and produce is a very big deal. The forward is arguably one of the most NHL-ready prospects in this class thanks to his strong possession and -end offensive skill.

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.