2021 NHL Draft: Top 10 defensemen


Owen Power of the University of Michigan hopes to become the first NCAA player in 21 years to be chosen No. 1 in the NHL Draft.

The defenseman (6-foot-6, 213 pounds), No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters, scored 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) and had a plus-18 rating in 26 games this season, and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team.

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“When I watch Owen Power, if he’s in trouble, I don’t know it,” said Craig Button, TSN director of scouting, NHL analyst and a former NHL general manager. “He might sense trouble, somebody might feel that he’s in trouble, but the bottom line is he’s always on to the next play.”

Power helped Canada win the 2021 IIHF World Championship with three assists, 17 shots on goal and an average of 20:07 of ice time in 10 games. He played 24:17 in a 3-2 overtime win against Finland in the championship game, including a Canada-high 10:31 in the third period.

He said July 6 he’s considering returning to Michigan next season but hasn’t made a final decision.

“I wouldn’t say I’m committed to going back to school,” Power said. “I’m leaning towards it right now, but that’s obviously something I’ll have to talk to with whichever team drafts me. I’ll be looking into it more after I get drafted.”

The last player chosen No. 1 to not play in the NHL the following season was Erik Johnson, selected by the St. Louis Blues in the 2006 NHL Draft. The defenseman opted to play one season at the University of Minnesota and made his NHL debut during the 2007-08 season.

The Buffalo Sabres have the No. 1 pick in the first round, scheduled for July 23 (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, SN NOW), with rounds 2-7 on July 24 (11 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, SN NOW).

Power said he’d would welcome the opportunity to play for the Sabres.

“I know they’ve got a rich history,” he told TSN on July 9. “It would be an honor to play for them and to get drafted by them.”

Here are NHL.com’s top 10 defensemen available for the 2021 NHL Draft:

1. Owen Power, Michigan (NCAA)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 (North American skaters)

Power is a big presence with good vision and strength and has the look of a top-pair NHL defenseman. The 18-year-old scored two power-play goals and led Michigan with 40 blocked shots. He could be the third college player to go No. 1 in the draft, following Boston University goalie Rick DiPietro to the New York Islanders in the 2000 NHL Draft and Michigan State center Joe Murphy to the Detroit Red Wings in the 1986 NHL Draft.

Video: NHL Tonight on the importance of drafting defensemen

2. Simon Edvinsson, Frolunda Jr. (SWE-JR)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 2 (International skaters)

Edvinsson (6-4, 198) is a physical, left-shot defenseman with a good set of tools, including mobility, skating and a strong shot. The 18-year-old had one assist and averaged 5:48 of ice time in 10 games with Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League and scored six points (one goal, five assists) in Sweden’s junior league. Edvinsson scored four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games to help Sweden finish third at the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

3. Luke Hughes, USA U-18 (NTDP)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 4 (North American skaters)

Hughes (6-2, 184) is a great skater capable of playing a smart defensive game with good poise and reads. He scored 34 points (six goals, 28 assists), had 68 shots on goal and was plus-11 in 38 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team. The 17-year-old has resumed skating after sustaining a lacerated tendon in his foot from a skate cut March 7. He’s the younger brother of Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes and New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes, and is committed to play at Michigan next season.

Video: Highlights of USA Hockey NTDP defenseman Luke Hughes

4. Brandt Clarke, Barrie (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 7 (North American skaters)

Clarke (6-2, 185), the younger brother of Devils forward prospect Graeme Clarke, is a mobile, puck-moving right-handed shot considered to be an excellent passer and a playmaker with great vision. The 18-year-old scored 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) and was a plus-6 in 26 games on loan with Nove Zamsky in the Slovak Extraliga, the top professional league in Slovakia. He scored seven points (two goals, five assists) and was plus-12 in seven games for first-place Canada at the U-18 World Championship.

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5. Carson Lambos, Winnipeg (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 11 (North American skaters)

Lambos (6-1, 197) is a two-way defenseman who has showcased good patience in the defensive zone and in transition. He played two games in the Western Hockey League before leaving the team to have a season-ending medical procedure. The 18-year-old scored 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 13 games on loan with JYP in Finland’s junior league. He led WHL rookie defensemen with 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists) in 57 games in 2019-20.

6. Corson Ceulemans, Brooks (AJHL)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 14 (North American skaters)

The 18-year-old right-handed shot (6-2, 198) has the potential to become a top-four NHL defenseman able to play big minutes in all situations. He scored 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in eight games in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and scored eight points (one goals, seven assists) and was a plus-11 in six games for Canada at the U-18 World Championship. He’s committed to the University of Wisconsin for the 2022-23 season.

7. Daniil Chayka, CSKA (RUS)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 5 (International skaters)

Chayka (6-3, 187) is a smooth-skating left-shot defenseman with excellent mobility, calmness and poise who likes to play with pace. The 18-year-old scored two points (one goal, one assist) in 11 games on loan with CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League, and four points (one goal, three assists) in five games in the MHL, Russia’s junior league. He had nine shots on goal and averaged 12:39 in ice time in six games for fourth-place Russia at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. Chayka has experience playing in North America; he scored 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 56 games with Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League last season.

8. Stanislav Svozil, Brno (CZREP)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 16 (International skaters)

Svozil (6-1, 182) scored three points (one goal, two assists) and averaged 13:28 of ice time in 30 games in the Czech Extraliga, the top professional league in the Czech Republic. The 18-year-old is an excellent skater capable of moving the puck well with good vision. He had one assist and averaged 16:52 of ice time in five games for the Czech Republic at the WJC and one assist in five games for his country at the U-18 World Championship.

9. Shai Buium, Sioux City (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 20 (North American skaters)

Buium’s parents are from Israel but he was born in San Diego, California, and moved to Los Angeles to play for the Los Angeles Junior Kings in 2016-17. Buium (6-3, 209) scored 26 points (four goals, 22 assists) and was plus-16 in 50 games for Sioux City after scoring 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 17 games with Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep in Minnesota. The 18-year-old is committed to the University of Denver for the 2022-23 season.

10. Evan Nause, Quebec (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 22 (North American skaters)

Nause (6-2, 186) led Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookie defensemen with 22 points (four goals, 18 assists) in 32 games. The 18-year-old, who is mobile, shows solid agility and edge work, and played in all situations.

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