NHL Central Scouting released their initial set of ratings for the 2021 NHL Draft on Tuesday. If the 2020 Draft was a weird one for scouts because of the truncated season, this year, especially in the early going, may be even harder for scouts to peg. With this draft encompassing most of the 2003 birth year, scouts have really only been able to see those players play in actual games through the first half of their first junior season of hockey.
Which is to say that this year’s rankings about probably a lot more fluid than previous years. A lot could change once players can return to the ice, assuming they do return to the ice this season.
But Central Scouting put together a solid list, as they always do, and another a relatively quiet 2020 Draft for college hockey, at least at the front of the first round, 2021 should be another excellent year with some current and future college hockey players headlining this year’s top prospects.
31 players received an ‘A’ grade from Central Scouting as a potential first round draft pick. Of those players, nine out of the 31 currently list a commitment to an NCAA school, with a remarkable five of those nine either currently playing for, or committed to the University of Michigan.
Here’s a look at the nine NCAA players listed as potential first round picks:
Matthew Beniers(Michigan)-Beniers will be a freshman at Michigan this upcoming season after switching his commitment from Harvard when the Ivy League delayed the start of their season. Beniers is a small, extremely crafty forward with excellent offensive sense.
Corson Ceulemans(Brooks(AJHL), Committed to Wisconsin)-Ceulemans committed to the Badgers at a very young age and has continued to develop into an excellent player. Ceulemans is a big, smooth skating defensemen that has potential to be a dynamic, game-changing offensive defenseman.
Luke Hughes(NTDP U18, committed to Michigan)-The younger brother of Quinn and Jack Hughes, Luke is a dynamic offensive defenseman like his oldest brother. Blessed with the same incredible footwork and skating as his other brothers.
Kent Johnson(Michigan)-Johnson is fast, extremely skilled forward that lit up the BCHL in scoring last season. Johnson has elite level hands and puck-handling ability and can make dazzling offensive plays.
Chaz Lucius(NTDP U18, committed to Minnesota)-Lucius is the first Minnesotan to receive an ‘A’ rating from Central Scouting since Casey Mittelstadt in 2017. Lucius is a pure goal scorer with excellent hands and an ability to find open space in the offensive zone to finish off plays.
Sasha Pastujov(NTDP U18, committed to Notre Dame)-Pastujov is a strong winger that can do a little bit of everything in the offensive zone. He’s a strong, aggressive forward with high offensive upside.
Owen Power(Michigan)-Depending on how this season goes, Power has potential to be in the conversation for the first overall pick. A 6’6” defenseman with above average athletic ability that can make plays on the offensive end of the ice. He’ll begin the season as the top prospect in all of college hockey.
Mackie Samoskevich(Chicago(USHL), committed to Michigan)-The younger brother of former Quinnipiac star Melissa Samoskevich, Samoskevich really took off last season playing for a loaded Chicago Steel team. He’s an incredibly smart player with a ton of upside.
Roman Schmidt(NTDP U18, committed to Boston University)-Schmidt is a huge defenseman, listed at 6’5” and a very solid 206lbs., but moves well for his size and handles the puck well. He’s a very solid, reliable defenseman.