The NHL Entry Draft is one of the marquee events of the off-season. With NHL picks getting their name called through a league-wide video conference, the first introduction into the future of the sport happens on Friday. Buffalo has the number one selection, but a potential trade could change the entirety of the draft (and potential careers).
NHL Draft 2021 Odds & Predictions
The NHL Entry Draft is less than a week away and the wheels are in motion for one of the biggest events of the off-season.
This season, the Buffalo Sabres own the first overall selection. The Sabres are in desperate need of help, so will they stand pat and select first, or will they flip their pick for a potential return?
The consensus number one pick this year is defenseman Owen Power. The University of Michigan product cemented his place atop the draft class after his performance at the IIHF Men’s World Championship. With the Wolverines (NCAA), Power tallied 13 assists (16 points) in 26 games. Power became a known entity after his carer in minor hockey with the Mississauga Reps of the GTHL.
Power could easily help the Sabres’ blueline and is projected to be a number one defenseman in the NHL. Barring a potential trade, could Power be headed to Buffalo?
Seattle is preparing for the NHL Expansion Draft but looks forward to the Entry Draft as well. What makes Seattle an interesting team is that they could acquire several picks before the draft due to potential deals made at the Expansion Draft.
Matthew Beniers is another Michigan product that will go in the top-3 of the draft. Beniers has been linked to NHL forward Dylan Larkin and could make an impact with the Kraken if taken 2nd overall. If he falls to number 3, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Anaheim Ducks take a swing at Beniers. With the Wolverines, Beniers was a point-per-game player, registering 24 points in 24 games.
Speaking of the Ducks, they certainly need an injection of offense. Anaheim was one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL last season. Of the projected top forwards in the draft, expect Dylan Guenther (RW, Edmonton Oil Kings) or William Eklund (LW, Djurgarden) to be taken 3rd overall by Anaheim. If Beniers falls to 3, he would fit in as Anaheim needs added depth at the C position.
New Jersey, Columbus, Detroit, San Jose, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Ottawa round out the top 10 of the draft.
Of the top 10 teams, the Seattle Kraken own the best odds to win the Stanley Cup next season. The Kraken are listed at +4000 (Betway). Despite selecting first overall, the Buffalo Sabres own the worst odds of winning the Stanely Cup. Buffalo is listed at +25000 (Betway) to win the Stanley Cup in 2022.
In the past, former first overall selections have mainly been forwards. The last defenseman to go first overall was Rasmus Dahlin to Buffalo. Will the Sabres strike again and add another blueliner with their first overall pick?
What’s intriguing about the NHL Draft is the possibility of trades being made. Whether the intention is moving up to select a player or trades involving roster members, when commissioner Gary Bettman makes a trade announcement, everyone in the hockey universe is listening.
First overall selections can make or break a franchise. There have been home run picks like Crosby, McDavid, MacKinnon and Ovechkin in the past. But for every blue-chip first overall pick, there are players like Andre Veilleux, Nail Yakupov and Patrik Stefan.
The Draft takes place on Friday, July 23 and will be held via a video conference call.
Power and Beniers seem like obvious choices for 1-2, but hockey fans know that all it takes is one trade to change the outlook of the draft. What’s interesting is that NHL analysts believe the next few picks are a toss-up, so there are no guarantees.
We don’t know what front offices are thinking entering the draft. Plus, with potential trades, the current draft order may be changed at a moment’s notice. Either way, dreams will be made this Friday at the 59th NHL Entry Draft.
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