It seems strange to talk about the draft for a few reasons. The first is that this is a Leafs blog, and the Leafs are sitting at the top of the league. They are going to be picking late in the first and the player they draft isn’t going to be a focus for a number of years. This isn’t the decade of darkness where the first round pick was what pulled us in off the ledge from after a torturous season. Or in the case of the post Kessel trade years, it was salt in the wound as we saw Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton get selected with the Leafs pick. Frankly the pick isn’t that important anymore because we are no longer searching for the faces of the franchise, the draft has already gifted us Rielly, Nylander, Marner, and, of course, Matthews.
The other reason it seems a little strange is that no one at this point has any idea of if or when the 2021 draft will take place. There is talk of it being pushed back until December, or potentially a double draft next summer. As such there hasn’t been a lot of interest in discussing this draft class, that also has suffered from a lack of exposure, at least for the CHL eligibles, with the WHL just starting up and the OHL still firmly in TBD mode for when they’ll play.
Yes, this draft is an unfortunate mess, and you can’t help but feel bad for the kids who were expecting a big day and chance to walk up stage and throw on a new jersey.
As for why the draft is important for the Leafs, well, look no further than the salary cap and the present bottom six. The Leafs are going to be pressed right up to the cap for as long as Matthews, Tavares, and Marner are Leafs, and likely beyond that. Finding affordable high end talent that can supplement the lineup on entry level deals is important, and that’s where players like Liljegren, Sandin, Robertson, and Amirov are so important.
So with all that in mind, I give you early look at the Consolidated Draft Rankings for the 2021 Entry Draft.
The rankings are a consolidation of 11 different publications, and include TSN, Sportsnet, Hockeyprospect.com, Future Considerations, Elite Prospects, McKeen’s, Dobber’s Prospects, Smaht Scouting, Puck Authority, Draft Prospects Hockey, and Recruit Scouting. The issue with these early rankings is that some of the numbers are first look numbers from the fall mixed in with more recent rankings from February. We’re likely to see somewhat of a shift towards consensus in the near future. Names like Owen Power and Matthew Beniers will cement themselves at the top, while we might see a decline for players like Brandt Clarke.
Perhaps the most interesting name on the rankings is the 12th ranked player, Jesper Wallstedt. For the second year in a row there is a highly touted goaltender at the top of the draft, and based on the more recent rankings it’s a safe bet that he’ll go in the top 10, and possibly the top five.
While this draft was already dealing with the reputation as being an underwhelming one for top talent before the pandemic complicated things, it’s safe to say that belief will only grow now that entire leagues have been sitting a year without a game played. It’s not surprising that ten different players were ranked in the top three (again this is out of 11 publications.)
Now, not all draft rankings are created equally, and we respect that. Many of you have rankings you’d prefer to exclude, and that’s why I’ve created a tableau dashboard to allow you to pick and choose what rankings to include to establish your own rankings.
In addition to the ability to pick and choose rankings at the top, you can explore each player’s individual rankings at the bottom. And as you can see from the example, there is plenty of variance when it comes to ranking players.
As more rankings roll in, we’ll update the dashboard, and attempt to add some additional information, both biographic and statistical about the players on the list. For now, let me know what you think of the first version of the dashboard.