2021 NHL Draft Preview: Hurricanes have 9 picks this weekend

The annual event will start Friday night, two days after the Seattle Kraken made their selections in the expansion draft

University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power is considered by most to be the top prospect in the 2021 NHL Draft. (Al Goldis / AP Photo)

A funny thing happened on the way to the 2021 NHL Draft. In a year that many warned would lead to spotty scouting and uncertainty, the top draft pundits and prognosticators mostly agreed on which players should be selected with the first dozen or so picks Friday night when the league holds the first round of its seven-round, two-day event that will conclude Saturday afternoon.

The first overall pick belongs to the Buffalo Sabres, and University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power is the likely choice. Power is one of three Wolverines who could be chosen early Friday as the league’s 32 teams — hello there, Seattle Kraken, who will draft second overall — make their selections in the virtual event.

The Carolina Hurricanes are set to select 27th overall in Friday’s first round and have eight picks overall. Along with the first-rounder, Carolina has one pick each in the second (59th overall), fourth (123rd overall) and sixth (187th) rounds. The added another third-round pick in Thursday’s Alex Nedeljkovic trade (94th overall) to go along with the 91st overall, and they also have three seventh-round selections: the 200th overall pick (acquired from Los Angeles in a swap of draft picks at last year’s draft), 209th (from St. Louis as part of the trade that sent Justin Faulk to the Blues in 2019) and their own at No. 219.

Carolina would like to forget the one time the franchise held the 27th overall pick.

In 2009, the Hurricanes went off the board to select left wing Philippe Paradis. He lasted just over five months with the organization before being traded to Toronto for another former first-round pick, Jiri Tlusty. Tlusty had some success in Raleigh, scoring 23 goals in 48 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-12 season, while Paradis never made it to the NHL and last played in the little-known LNAH — a low-level pro league in the province of Quebec.

The draft is also where many of the NHL’s offseason trades take place, and Carolina has preferred to go that route over free agency to plug roster holes in recent years.

The Hurricanes  have one extra spot to fill this offseason after the Seattle Kraken populated their roster in Wednesday night’s expansion draft. The Kraken selected forward Morgan Geekie from the Hurricanes, passing on Jake Bean and Nino Niederreiter to select a player Seattle GM Ron Francis drafted when he was running Carolina’s front office.

Now that Seattle has made its picks, the focus shifts to the aforementioned NHL Draft. The NSJ list of the top 100 prospects in this year’s draft is a composite ranking determined by a weighted formula that factors in the rankings of several top scouting services and journalists who specialize in evaluating prospects. Chances are, at least three or four players on this list will be Hurricanes come Saturday evening. Last year, six of the Hurricanes’ eight picks were in the NSJ Top 100.

Some names in this year’s class of prospects will be familiar. Chase Stillman (NSJ No. 52) is the son of Hurricanes 2006 Stanley Cup champion winger Cory Stillman and brother of Blackhawks defenseman Riley Stillman, and Oliver Kapanen (NSJ No. 72; see more below) is the nephew of former Carolina forward Sami Kapanen and cousin of Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen.

The Hurricanes will also likely target a goaltender with one of their eight picks. Jesper Wallstedt (NSJ No. 9) and Sebastian Cossa (NSJ No. 14) will likely both be gone when Carolina picks 27th, but Tristan Lennox (NSJ No. 70) is another goalie who could be of interest.

Draft Prospect Spotlight

Isak Rosen, RW
5’11, 156 pounds • Leksand (SHL)

The top scorer on Sweden’s U18 World Championship entry, Rosen is the type of skilled player the Hurricanes have targeted in recent years.

NSJ Rank: 31

What they’re saying

EliteProspects.com: “Isak Rosen is pure skill and finesse personified. The only real question is whether he’s skilled enough to make that work for him at the NHL level.”

Corey Pronman, The Athletic: “His game has a lot of pace to it, which should translate to higher levels.”

The Hockey News: “There’s still a chance for a growth spurt.”

Wyatt Johnston, C
6’1, 178 pounds • Windsor (OHL)

Limited to international play with Canada’s U18 team because of the pandemic, Johnston has been mostly evaluated on his solid OHL rookie season in 2019-20.

NSJ Rank: 41

What they’re saying

EliteProspects.com: “The fact that Johnston’s tools all grade out as above
average almost right across the board offers a nice foundation for new skills
to emerge.”

Corey Pronman, The Athletic: “He attacks the hard areas of the ice, shows good second efforts going for loose pucks and is a responsible defensive center.”

The Hockey News: “He offers a responsible two-way presence.”

Oliver Kapanen, C
6’0, 166 pounds • Kalpa (Finland Jr.)

The nephew of former Hurricanes winger Sami Kapanen, the hard-working Finn will need to improve his skating to make it to the top level.

NSJ Rank: 72

What they’re saying

EliteProspects.com: “Kapanen’s development curve has been on a steep
upward trajectory during the past two seasons.”

Corey Pronman, The Athletic: “Kapanen is an interesting prospect due to his skill and competitiveness.”

Scott Wheeler, The Athletic: “Kapanen’s a highly involved, gifted individual creator who … always seems to be around the net to finish off plays.”

NSJ’s 2021 NHL Draft Top 100 Prospects

1. Owen Power, D
2. William Eklund, LW
3. Matthew Beniers, C
4. Luke Hughes, D
5. Dylan Guenther, RW
6. Brandt Clarke, D
7. Kent Johnson, C
8. Mason McTavish, C
9. Jesper Wallstedt, G
10. Simon Edvinsson, D
11. Chaz Lucius, C
12. Cole Sillinger, C
13. Matthew Coronato, RW
14. Sebastian Cossa, G
15. Carson Lambos, D
16. Aatu Raty, C
17. Brennan Othmann, LW
18. Corson Ceulemans, D
19. Nikita Chibrikov, RW
20. Fedor Svechkov, C
21. Xavier Bourgault, C
22. Fabian Lysell, RW
23. Francesco Pinelli, C
24. Zachary Bolduc, C
25. Sasha Pastujov, RW
26. Zach Dean, C
27. Logan Stankoven, C
28. Zachary L’Heureux, LW
29. Mackie Samoskevich, RW
30. Sean Behrens, D
31. Isak Rosen, RW
32. Oskar Olausson, RW
33. Samu Tuomaala, RW
34. Simon Robertsson, RW
35. Daniil Chayka, D
36. Jack Peart, D
37. Aleksandr Kisakov, LW
38. Olen Zellweger, D
39. Dylan Duke, LW
40. Evan Nause, D
41. Wyatt Johnston, C
42. Stanislav Svozil, D
43. Samu Salminen, C
44. Tristan Broz, LW
45. Ayrton Martino, LW
46. William Stromgren, LW
47. Matthew Knies, LW
48. Scott Morrow, D
49. Ville Koivunen, RW
50. Prokhor Poltapov, LW
51. Aidan Hreschuk, D
52. Chase Stillman, RW
53. Brent Johnson, D
54. Kirill Kirsanov, D
55. Aleksi Heimosalmi, D
56. Anton Olsson, D
57. James Malatesta, LW
58. Shai Buium, D
59. Tyler Boucher, RW
60. Ryder Korczak, C
61. Justin Robidas, C
62. Cameron Whynot, D
63. Ryan Ufko, D
64. Nolan Allan, D
65. Jack Bar, D
66. Brett Harrison, C
67. Samuel Helenius, C
68. Ethan Del Mastro, D
69. Artem Grushnikov, D
70. Tristan Lennox, G
71. Vincent Iorio, D
72. Oliver Kapanen, C
73. Liam Dower Nilsson, C
74. Conner Roulette, LW
75. Ryan Winterton, C
76. Colton Dach, C
77. Jackson Blake, RW
78. Danila Klimovich, RW
79. Joshua Roy, RW
80. Jakub Brabenec, LW
81. Olivier Nadeau, RW
82. Peter Reynolds, C
83. Vladislav Lukashevich, D
84. Matvey Petrov, LW
85. Victor Stjernborg, C
86. Dmitry Kuzmin, D
87. Guillaume Richard, D
88. Riley Kidney, C
89. Cole Huckins, C
90. Lorenzo Canonica, C
91. Ty Gallagher, D
92. William Trudeau, D
93. Josh Doan, RW
94. Jack Matier, D
95. Manix Landry, C
96. Dmitry Zugan, C
97. Jimi Suomi, D
98. Dmitrii Katelevskii, C
99. Robert Orr, RW
100. Hunter Strand, C