NHL Central Scouting released their final set of draft rankings for this summer’s 2021 NHL Draft on Thursday.
This year’s final Central Scouting rankings are unique, thanks to the annual scouting schedule being put in flux by the Covid-19 pandemic. Traditionally, Central Scouting’s final rankings come out in the early spring, allowing NHL teams time to perform a final check before North American junior league playoffs and the World U18 championships. This year’s ranking is fairly final, however, with most of those events having already passed. That’s fine though, since I think many would claim that the purpose of CSB rankings has shifted more in recent years to being more for casual observers than for actual NHL scouting departments.
In any case, the final rankings were once again very favorable for the University of Michigan and their prospects. Michigan defenseman Owen Power retained the number one overall spot among North American skaters, with teammate Kent Johnson third, Michigan commit Luke Hughes fourth despite missing the U18s due to injury, and teammate Matthew Beniers at sixth. Michigan commits Mackie Samoskevich(26th) and Dylan Duke(29th) also rank in the top 30 among North American skaters.
In all, it looks to be an exceptionally strong year for the NCAA, with current or committed prospects taking 15 of the top 30 spots on the NA skaters list. Though again, one could argue the effects of Covid-19 limiting the opportunities for CHL players to showcase themselves and rise throughout the season.
The upper parts of each list seem much heavier than usual on late-2002 birthdates players that participated in the World U18s this year, though granted, with no playoffs in the OHL and WHL, Canada was able to take more of their top prospects for the U18s than they normally do.
This will be fascinating draft to watch play out. It should be a big year for the USHL/NTDP because for much of the year, they were the only game in town, so to speak, with much of the CHL on hiatus. A strong showing from those players as they develop could start to change how those leagues are viewed in the hockey world.