Wish to compete for the Stanley Cup? Hit in your first-round decide. Then the second-rounders and people thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths and sevenths, too. End up some sleepers.
Why? Look no additional than the Lightning.
Nikita Kucherov? He was the No. 58 decide a decade in the past. Ondrej Palat went at No. 208 the identical yr. Brayden Level was picked 79th total in 2014. Anthony Cirelli went within the 72nd slot in 2015 and Stanley Cup-clinching goal-scorer Ross Colton was No. 118 in 2016. None of those picks appeared good on draft day. However these sleeper swings look so much like dwelling runs now after back-to-back Cups.
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Hammering out some potential items on the NHL Draft has by no means been extra essential, and there are positively some large swings available within the 2021 class.
Whereas nobody can say for sure which prospects will pop, this is a rundown of 5 candidates that would very properly flip into some grand slams down the street if chosen in the course of the 2021 NHL Draft that shall be held July 23-24.
2021 NHL Draft sleepers
Jimi Suomi, D, Jokerit U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
FCHockey rank: 120
Suomi is a sleeper in that he has the flexibility to ultimately outplay his draft place. But when he slides, it will not be as a result of groups are sleeping on him. He performs a loud recreation and therein lies the rub.
“Quick, puck-moving defensemen have gotten increasingly useful within the NHL, and Suomi performs that type of hockey,” FCHockey scout Derek Neumeier mentioned. “Not solely does he have fast ft and fast arms, he additionally has an assault mentality. He loves having the puck on his stick and may create area for himself with it, generally making opponents look silly as he escapes their strain.”
There aren’t many defensemen on this draft who’re extra high-risk, high-reward than the 5-9, 147-pound rearguard who scored at over a point-per-game tempo in junior with Jokerit this season. When he is feeling it, issues go very, very properly. He is pure talent. When he is struggling, Suomi’s consciousness and decision-making are completely absent, making him an enormous legal responsibility.
“It is a very high-risk type of play, and Suomi will get himself into hassle greater than you’d wish to see,” Neumeier added. “He’ll sometimes make the incorrect learn or attempt to power a play that is not there, and the result’s typically a turnover.
“He is a dangerous decide due to how a lot improvement work must be performed. If he can maximize his expertise and taking part in type whereas additionally slicing down on his errors he might grow to be a distinct segment NHLer sooner or later.”
Sasha Teleguine, C, Chilliwack (BCHL)
FCHockey rank: 115
Teleguine, who tiptoed in direction of a point-per-game tempo this season, is perhaps the draft’s ahead model of Suomi.
He is received as dynamic a skillset as any participant ranked outdoors the highest 100 for the 2021 draft, and is certainly one of Western Canada’s most harmful and enjoyable gamers to look at on this class. His skating is top-notch and his imaginative and prescient and playmaking skill are greater than engaging.
“He has the makings of an elite skater and has nice imaginative and prescient with and with out the puck,” famous FCHockey scout Justin Froese. “He has a fantastic expressive talent set and assaults deceptively to open up lanes. To be trustworthy, I assumed that the numbers might have been so much higher however I really like how dynamic he’s.”
With the puck on his stick, Teleguine is dynamic. With out it, not a lot. The 5-10, 183-pound heart struggles to commit himself when he is not the go-to play driver for his staff and is a legal responsibility in his personal finish.
“How onerous he works away from the biscuit or cheats for offense makes him a little bit of an enigma,” Froese mentioned. “However the components of talent are actual.”
Ben Boyd, C, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
FCHockey rank: 283
Boyd would not have the high-end offensive talent to maintain tempo with the likes of Suomi and Teleguine on the subject of tangible expertise. He did handle simply 10 factors (seven targets, three assists) this season.
However there’s one thing there that groups covet.
“Detractors will level out a scarcity of refinement in lots of areas of his recreation … puck expertise, skating, playmaking, imaginative and prescient,” started FCHockey scout Shaun Richardson. “That being mentioned, I describe him as not proficient at what he doesn’t do, and elite at what he does do.
“He is a participant who’s enthusiastic in regards to the forecheck and loves laying the physique and creating turnovers. He’s a little bit of an unpleasant skater however he’s nonetheless quick. In entrance of the web, he’s onerous to maneuver. [He] performs with anger and appears to take gamers battling him as a private offense.
“He is a momentum-shifter when his staff can’t get going,”
Boyd is at all times keen to interact the opponent, and at 6-3 and 205 kilos, most of his interactions are of a punishing nature. Combine in some untapped offensive potential and Boyd could possibly be a late-round steal that ultimately carves out a job on the backside of an NHL lineup.
“Gamers like Boyd are much less frequent than they was in order that will increase his worth,” Richardson mentioned. “He can play his function successfully on restricted minutes and produce factors, too.”
Ryan Mast, D, Sarnia (OHL)
FCHockey rank: 277
Mast has all of the substances.
Dimension? He is 6-4 and 210-pounds. Skating? He reveals a powerful two-step burst that will get him as much as prime velocity shortly. Instincts? He is not shy to leap into the play so as to add a second layer of offense to the assault and he is aware of when to transition again to protection.
As an early-January 2003 birthdate, there’s nonetheless loads of room for progress and improvement, too. And he’ll want it. He missed a whole season within the Ontario Hockey League because of the pandemic.
“Mast has the dimensions and aggressiveness to mission him as a second- or third-pair defender with some power-play potential,” mentioned FCHockey scout Joseph Aleong. “His play as an OHL rookie was spectacular however missed on a struggling Sarnia staff. If he can assist lead a creating protection group subsequent season in all conditions, it could solidify him as a possible future NHLer.”
It must be famous that he is not with out his required areas of progress too. Knocks on the proficient younger participant embody a penchant for turning the puck over and poor decision-making. That is the risk-reward with a possible sleeper like Mast.
“He’s nonetheless fairly turnover-prone and the identical aggressiveness that makes him an offensive risk in transition can even result in scoring possibilities towards,” Aleong added. “Mast’s dimension, skating and offensive instincts are all traits scouts search for in NHL draft picks, significantly given the shortage of his place as a right-shot defender.”
Justin Ertel, LW, Summerside (MJAHL)
FCHockey rank: 273
Ertel is a deep lower on this yr’s draft, having performed within the Maritime Junior A Hockey League earlier than he heads off to Cornell subsequent season. However he is not going under-scouted, and it is an unrefined energy recreation that would have groups questioning how he slid thus far on draft day.
At 6-2 and 190 kilos, Ertel has that coveted dimension and construct, and he is proven he can produce together with his off-the-rush skill to drive to the web after pushing broad on defenders and firing off a convincing shot.
“Absolute upside for Ertel is his skill to take pucks to the web,” Richardson mentioned. “He’s so good at web drives due to his velocity, he can get across the nook on the protection, and a mixture of dimension and power offers him excellent puck safety expertise.”
Velocity and energy is a modern mixture that by no means goes out of fashion. With 28 factors (9 targets, 19 assists) final season with Summerside, manufacturing is not precisely frowned upon nowadays, both.
However there’s additionally a cause Ertel ranks extra among the many sleeper class than the sure-fire phase of the draft.
”For Ertel, he should get somewhat stronger to play that web drive recreation however the large challenge is that his velocity by way of the impartial zone should enhance to take care of the flexibility to create offense off the frenzy,” Richardson famous. “His lack of explosive velocity means he might want to additionally enhance his timing and puck help so he is ready to get pucks whereas in movement.”
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Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of FCHockey.