2021 NHL Entry Draft – potential second-round picks – The Win Column

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The 2021 NHL Entry Draft is a few days away. We continue our draft coverage with a breakdown of potential high value second-round selections. Be sure to take a look at TWC’s consolidated draft rankings, the draft profiles of potential first-round picks, and the draft profiles of two Indigenous players eligible to be selected this year.

Conner Roulette – C/LW – Seattle Thunderbirds – WHL

Year Draft Relative Team League GP G A P P/GP
2019–20 D-1 Seattle Thunderbirds WHL 54 19 20 39 0.722
2020–21 D+0 Seattle Thunderbirds WHL 11 6 6 12 1.091

Conner Roulette, 5’11” and 176 lbs, is a Cree/Ojibway player who just finished a productive season with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. He improved his offensive pace considerably and could have been in the conversation for breakout candidate of the year in the WHL. He’s ranked 52nd on our consolidated rankings but has been seen as high as 21 on some draft boards. Roulette played for Canada in the U18s this year and scored two goals and five points in seven games.

Roulette’s strengths are his precision passing and incredible goal scoring ability. His skating could use some work but his shot makes him valuable all on its own. It’s hard to score goals in the NHL and having as many players as possible who excel at that skill is important for every organization.

William Strömgren – LW – MODO Hockey – HockeyAllsvenskan

Year Draft Relative Team League GP G A P P/GP
2019–20 D-1 MODO Hockey J20 J20 SuperElit 10 3 4 7 0.700
2020–21 D+0 MODO Hockey HockeyAllsvenskan 27 3 6 9 0.333

William Strömgren, 6’3″ and 176 lbs, is a Swedish forward that had a head-turning year. Mostly playing with MODO in Sweden, Strömgren advanced to the men’s team in the Allsvenskan scoring three goals and nine points in 27 games. This was the most points scored by a U18 player in the Allsvenskan this season. He also played for Sweden at the World Juniors, winning a bronze medal with Tre Kronor. Strömgren is ranked 50th on our consolidated rankings but has been ranked as high as 21 on some draft boards.

Strömgren is described as a boom or bust prospect. He has a knack of scoring goals at will, and possesses very strong skating skills. However, his defensive game could use some work and he can be selfish with the puck at times. If he learns to play a more complete team game, he could reach his potential as a top-six winger in the NHL. If not, he could be a player who drives coaches up the wall.

Aryton Martino – LW – Omaha Lancers – USHL

Year Draft Relative Team League GP G A P P/GP
2019–20 D-1 St. Michael’s Buzzers OJHL 48 29 50 79 1.646
2020–21 D+0 Omaha Lancers USHL 38 18 38 56 1.474

Aryton Martino, 5’10” and 170 lbs, is ranked 45th on our consoidated rankings but as high as 27 on some draft boards. Martino was selected to play in the OHL, but chose to stay in the OJHL so he could maintain his NCAA eligibility. He’s committed to attend Clarkson University in 2021–22.

Martino put up an obscene number of points in the OJHL two seasons ago. Then, he followed it up with another incredibly productive season in the USHL this past season. Martino’s greatest asset is his skating. It’s been described as outstanding and elite, which is a trait that is becoming more and more important in the NHL. On top of that, his offensive skills are very strong and he plays a solid two-way game. Areas of improvement are translating his skills from the USHL level to higher competition leagues. As well, his size could scare teams away and his tendency to create offense on the rush via his speed might not be as reliable at higher levels.

Samu Salminen – C/LW – Jokerit U20 – U20 SM-liiga

Year Draft Relative Team League GP G A P P/GP
2019–20 D-1 Jokerit U20 U20 SM-liiga 23 7 13 20 0.870
2020–21 D+0 Jokerit U20 U20 SM-liiga 17 10 16 26 1.529

I talked about Samu Salminen in our Draft Roundtable as a target for the Flames past the first round. He’s ranked 72 on our consolidated rankings but as high as 37 on some boards. He just captained Finland’s U18 team and scored seven goals and nine points in seven games in the tournament. He also dominated the Finnish U-20 league with 26 points in 17 games, outpacing fellow countrymen Aatu Räty, Samu Tuomaala, and Ville Koivunen, all projected as first- or second-round picks.

At 6’3″ and 190 lbs, he’s also physically ready for the NHL already and the most important thing about him in my eyes is his birthday. He’s born in April 2003 which makes him one of the youngest players in the draft. Salminen is committed to NCAA’s University of Denver starting in the 2022–23 season.

Salminen’s best quality is his goal scoring ability. A pure goal scorer, he’s beat goalies at every level and this is a skill NHL teams covet. His skating needs a bit of work which in turn affects his ability to defend off the rush, but with dedicated attention to this part of his game he could become a top-six scoring winger.

Cole Huckins – C – Acaide-Bathurst Titan – QMJHL

Year Draft Relative Team League GP G A P P/GP
2019–20 D-1 Acadie-Bathurst Titan QMJHL 64 13 25 38 0.594
2020–21 D+0 Acadie-Bathurst Titan QMJHL 33 14 18 32 0.970

Cole Huckins, 6’3″ and 201 lbs, is ranked 43 on our consolidated draft rankings but as high as 40 on some draft boards. Huckins is a massive center that just wrapped up his second season with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the QMJHL. He scored 14 goals and 32 points in 33 games, just shy of the point per game mark. Prior to the Q, Huckins played at Stanstead College, the same school that produced former Flames first-round pick Mark Jankowski.

As a big player, Huckins’ skating is a work in progress, as can be expected. He needs to work on his agility and edge work, but once he gets going his long legs lead to decent top speed. On offense, Huckins uses his size very well to bully his way to the front of the net and and create chaos. He has soft hands and can score in tight. He’s also a smart player which will help him translate his game to higher levels.

Wyatt Johnston – C – Windsor Spitfires – OHL

Year Draft Relative Team League GP G A P P/GP
2019–20 D-1 Windsor Spitfires OHL 53 12 18 30 0.566
2020–21 D+0 Windsor Spitfires OHL 0 0 0 0 0

Wyatt Johnston, 6’1″and 176 lbs, is ranked 58 on our consolidated rankings and around the 50s on most draft boards. Johnston is part of the OHL class that missed an entire year of development due to the pandemic, and is clouded with mystery ahead of the draft. What makes him intriguing is his strong rookie season in the OHL the year prior where he scored 12 goals and 30 points in 53 games. He was a point per game player for Canada at the U17 Challenge, and scored two goals and four points in seven games for Canada at the U18s.

Johnston has very strong skating skills. A good first step, acceleration , and top speed make him dangerous on the rush and in transition. His offensive game is described as “simple but effective”. He’s a relentless forechecker and wins battles along the boards to help set up teammates. He delivers quick short passes and has a tendency to drive the net and score most of his goals in tight. As well, he is strong on the defensive side of the game. He uses his size to box out opponents, backchecks hard, and works tirelessly on every single shift. The big question mark is how his development arc will turn out after missing a year. This will hold back a lot of OHLers from being drafted high, but Johnston could be one of the first OHLers to be selected.

Aidan Hreschuk – D – US National U18 Team – USDP

Year Draft Relative Team League GP G A P P/GP
2019–20 D-1 US National U17 Team USDP 49 4 20 24 0.490
2020–21 D+0 US National U18 Team USDP 50 6 31 37 0.740

Aidan Hreschuk, 5’11” and 187 lbs, is ranked 57 on our consolidated rankings but as high as 23 on some draft boards. The first defenseman on this list, he’s not at the same level as the top tier blueliners in the first round, but could offer value in the second. With the US Development Program, Hreschuk scored six goals and 37 pints in 50 games for the US National U18 Team this past season. He also put up two assists in five games for Team USA at the U18s. He’s committed to the NCAA’s Boston College in 2021–22.

Hreschuk is a smooth skating, puck moving defenseman. His agility and edgework make him a dangerous player in transition and on the rush. He makes good first passes out of the defensive zone, plays point on the power play with a booming slapshot, and is generally a threat in the offensive zone. Hreschuk’s all around game has room for improvement. He will almost definitely be an offensive defenseman that needs a defensive partner to succeed.

Jack Bar – D – Chicago Steel – USHL

Year Draft Relative Team League GP G A P P/GP
2019–20 D-1 St. Andrew’s College CAHS 49 18 34 52 1.061
2020–21 D+0 Chicago Steel USHL 34 5 10 15 0.441

Jack Bar, 6’2″ and 194 lbs, is ranked 53 on our consolidated rankings but as high as 24 on some draft boards. Bar is a massive right shot defender that just wrapped up a solid season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel. The Steel have been a first-round factory in recent drafts, and Bar could join that list of players this year. If not, he’s an interesting candidate for the second round. Bar is committed to play for Harvard University in the NCAA in 2021–22.

Bar is a strong skater and uses this to his advantage on both ends of the ice. He defends the rush well, and transitions from defense to offense smoothly off turnovers. Definitely more of a playmaker on offense than goal scorer, Bar makes good passes up the ice to his teammates and tries to set up stretch passes for breakaways. His shot is decent but not exceptional, but he uses it well as a tool to create rebounds rather than beat goalies every single time. Bar is a very good defender, which is what NHL teams will love. He cuts down angles well and doesn’t let attackers beat him wide. Bar could end up being more of a shutdown defenseman at the NHL level, but that’s a role that every NHL team needs.

Tristan Lennox – G – Toronto Marlies – AHL

Year Draft Relative Team League GP GAA SV% SO
2019–20 D-1 Saginaw Spirit OHL 33 3.63 0.876 0
2020–21 D+0 Saginaw Spirit OHL 0 0 0 0

Rounding out our list is Tristan Lennox, a 6’4″ and 190 lbs goaltender from the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. He is ranked 67 on our consolidated list and should go somewhere in that range. With many expecting two or three goalies to be taken in the first round, Lennox might be the fourth to go. Lennox is described as a huge goalie with outstanding raw talent, but in need of development before becoming a legit NHL option.

Lennox is one of the older players in the draft, which made him eligible to sign with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies during the covid cancellation. He did not play a single game though, and missing a full year of development didn’t help his draft stock. He didn’t have a great D-1 season with the Spirit, but went 3-0-0 with a 0.95 GAA and .951 SV% at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that year. He’s got the tools to be a great goalie but needs playing time to get there. Goalies are unpredictable, but betting on talent is always a good bet to take.

Seconds to spare

The second round of the NHL draft will see high-calibre prospects taken all over the place. There’s always good value to be found in this range and this year’s draft class makes it particularly chaotic even by the time the first round reaches its mid-rounders. Anything could happen in the second round, so teams and fans alike will definitely follow prospect development rather closely to see how these players pan out.