There aren’t a lot of reporters who have been as focused on prospects for as long as Chris Peters.
Over the last decade, from United States of Hockey to ESPN to his recent launch of Hockey Sense, Peters is, you might say, one of the OGs of the now-exploding NHL Draft and prospects scouting scene. You’re not going to find a lot of reporters as in tune or as connected with what’s going on as Chris.
So when it was confirmed that the San Jose Sharks would pick seventh in the 2021 NHL Draft, he’s the first guy that I went to for a sense of where the Sharks could go with their first top-10 selection since the 2015 Draft. I’ve seen Chris’s most recent mock draft, it was a surprise where he had San Jose going.
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Chris Peters, on how wide-open the 2021 Draft is after Owen Power:
Power is probably the closest thing we have to a consensus No. 1. Then you have a tier that would include Matty Beniers, William Eklund, Luke Hughes, Simon Edvinsson, Dylan Guenther, Brandt Clarke, Kent Johnson. There’s probably that group of [skaters] all in the mix for two through whatever.
Then you have Mason McTavish, really popped at the World Under-18’s. He’s kind of entered the fray. I think he’s a little higher — [the Central Scouting Bureau] has him No. 2 in North America [skaters]. That’s a little too rich for my blood, just in terms of his his overall skill-set. But he looks like a top-10 talent now, which you couldn’t have said, going into the season or at midseason. That’s a guy who has really popped and has improved his stock.
Then you throw in the two goalies, Jesper Wallstedt and Sebastian Kossa, both of which could be top-10 picks.
Peters, on who could fall to the San Jose Sharks at No. 7:
The one that I’m pretty certain won’t drop is Beniers. I think it’d be pretty unlikely to see Luke Hughes there. After that, your guess is as good as mine.
Guenther even, he didn’t have a great U-18’s. He had a lot of points, but it wasn’t like he blew anybody away. He would be an amazing pull [at No. 7] if he’s there.
Peters, on why picking a goalie in the top-10 might be attractive in this Draft as opposed to past years:
For one, the class as a whole is not super-strong, where you say, okay, well, how much are we leaving on the table if we don’t take a forward or a defenseman? This year, I think you don’t worry about that as much.
There’s certainly a chance [that Cossa is drafted ahead of Wallstedt].
If I’m looking at pure upside, I think there’s more with Cossa. If I’m looking at likelihood to reach his ceiling, I’m looking more at Wallstedt.
He’s a little bit more in control. He played professionally at a young age. He was playing the SHL this year, played more games than any goalie at that age group.
Kossa is a little bit more of an erratic goalie, he’s super quick. Sometimes he maybe overplays it a little bit, things like that. Those are things that can be cleaned up too, but I think Wallstedt is a little bit more technically skilled and sound. That gives you a little more comfort with a player like him.
Peters, on who he thinks the San Jose Sharks will pick at No. 7:
Any of the defensemen, Hughes, Edvinsson, Clarke. There’s a chance that none of them are there. I think that there could be a run on defense early because it’s a pretty good draft for defensemen.
There’s a decent gap between Power and those guys, then those guys and the next group. I think we’ll see a little bit of an earlier run on defensemen. That could leave Guenther or Eklund there.
You’re gonna be real happy if either are there. But then, you might also have the advantage of the second-best center in the draft being there and that’s McTavish.
He’s a super-competitive player, good two-way skills, good playmaker. He is not one of the high-end skaters, that’s a big separating factor between him and Beniers. Beniers is a far better skater. But you have a little bit of nastiness, a little bit of griminess to his game, that’s what I love about McTavish. But then he also has good soft touch skills.
Peters, on who else raised his stock in the recent U-18’s in Frisco:
Isak Rosén, who’s kind of a later first-round kind of player, he scored seven goals in the tournament. It’s the most goals a Swedish player has ever scored in that tournament. Pretty much every big Swedish player that you’ve heard of, played in that tournament, with the exception of I think Landeskog.
He’s a really speedy skater, good two-way ability, hood physical profile. He played pro some this year, and did really well, didn’t have huge numbers, but he held his own.
A second or third-round kind of guy, Olen Zellweger, he actually ended up replacing Clarke on the first power play for Canada.
Pretty good skater, liked his puck-moving abilities.
Sean Behrens from USA, he had kind of an up-and-down tournament, but I think he proved that he can play along with the elite players. He’s very aggressive, good puck-moving ability, not a big guy, but he played physical. He got really engaged, I liked the way that he defended for his size. He has a full understanding of what he needs to do to be more solid defensively.
Fedor Svechkov is another one from Team Russia, he’s a mid-first guy for me. I liked him a lot.
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