Tyson Hinds said two emotions quickly come to mind when he thinks about the 2021 NHL Draft.
“I’m a little bit stressed, I’m not going to lie to you,” said the defenseman for Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. “But I’m excited.”
Hinds is one of at least six players of color who could be selected in the 2021 NHL Draft. The first round is July 23 (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, SN Now) with rounds 2-7 Saturday (11 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN NOW).
Here’s a look at some of the players available:
Tyson Hinds, D, Rimouski (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 73 (North American skaters)
Hinds (6-foot-3, 178 pounds) credits a change of scenery for taking him from a draft question mark to an attractive prospect.
The 18-year-old from Gatineau, Quebec, scored 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 23 games with Rimouski after he was acquired in a trade with Shawinigan, where he had one assist in 10 games.
“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t really confident,” he said. “When I got traded to Rimouski, it was a new start for me.”
The change made Hinds become one of the most improved QMJHL players last season, Central Scouting’s JF Damphousse said.
“He obviously got the opportunity to play an offensive game more, got some power-play time and did extremely well,” Damphousse said. “Early in the year, I started to doubt if he would be drafted at all. With the progression I’ve seen in Rimouski, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go mid-draft.”
Trevor Wong, LW, Kelowna (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 90 (North American skaters)
Wong (5-foot-8, 154 pounds) averaged a point a game last season, scoring 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 16 games with Kelowna of the Western Hockey League. The 18-year-old Vancouver native scored 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 58 games in 2019-20.
“I wasn’t in the first (2021) rankings,” said Wong, who is of Chinese and Indonesian heritage. “I had a chat with my coach, and I said, ‘I’m not worried at all, I know I’m a good player, I know what I can do.’ I didn’t think about the draft at all during the short season. I just went out and played my game.”
Kelowna coach Kris Mallette said Wong is “a smaller player, quite tenacious, has very good edges and skates extremely well.”
“I’d say he’s more of a playmaker,” Mallette said. “I’d like him to be a little bit more selfish at times.”
Wong said he’s working to heed his coach’s advice.
“I’ve been working on my shot,” he said. “I definitely need to get that ‘shoot a little bit more’ mentality.”
Bryce Montgomery, D, London (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 146 (North American skaters)
Montgomery (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) didn’t play last season because the Ontario Hockey League canceled its season due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The 18-year-old Bowie, Maryland, resident had two assists in 33 games for London in 2019-20.
“He’s got range,” Central Scouting’s Joey Tente said. “He’s got good offensive instincts. He can move the puck up ice efficiently. He’s a guy that looks to jump and join the rush and become that trailing option. He can make plays and it looks like he’s got a good shot.”
Montgomery’s father, Matthew, was an All-American defenseman at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, an NCAA Division III school. Bryce’s 16-year-old brother, Blake, is a forward who London selected in the ninth round of the OHL Priority Selection draft in June.
Zack Stringer, LW, Lethbridge (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No 190 (North American skaters)
Stringer (6-foot, 155 pounds) scored 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 23 games last season after he scored 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 48 games in 2019-20.
“His hockey sense is elite,” Lethbridge coach Brent Kisio said of the 18-year-old Lethbridge native. “He wins a lot of puck battles. He makes tight area plays and his puck skills are elite as well.”
NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said what makes Stringer interesting is his upside.
“His size is OK,” Marr said, “but he’s still getting stronger and once that occurs, then his skating will pick up and he’ll be capable to play the game with more power and confidence. He’s a young player who has some tools and will need to follow a steady development path to grow his game and potential.”
Colby Saganiuk, C, Erie (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 193 (North American skaters)
Like Montgomery, Saganiuk (5-foot-7, 160 pounds) didn’t play in 2020-21 because the OHL canceled its season. The 18-year-old Plainfield, Illinois, native participated in the PBHH Invitational showcase in Erie in May and June.
Saganiuk scored 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 37 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program’s Under-17 team in 2019-20.
Saganiuk (5-foot-7, 160 pounds) is “exceptionally quick and fast and has good puck skills to contribute offensively,” Marr said.
“He faces the same challenges as all smaller players in that he’ll need to find a way to utilize his speed and skill assets to play a pro game and get the same results.”
Saganiuk’s grandfather, Rocky Saganiuk, scored 122 points (57 goals, 65 assists) in 259 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins from 1978-84. The Maple Leafs selected him in the second round (No. 29) of the 1977 NHL Draft.
“He tells me either it happens, or it doesn’t,” Colby Saganiuk said. “No matter what, you keep working. If you go to team camps, you go work your tail off there and show what you can do. Just keep humble.”
Kaidan Mbereko, G, USA U-18 (NTDP)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 20 (North American goalies)
Mbereko (5-11, 182 pounds) was 13-5-0 with a 3.01 goals-against average, .885 save percentage and one shutout in 25 games with the NTDP U-18 team and also played three games with the NTDP U-17 team.
He played three games for the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championship, held April 26-May 6 in Frisco, Texas. He was 1-0-0 with a 2.85 GAA and .915 save percentage.
“One of his strengths is his positional play,” Central Scouting’s Al Jensen said. “He reads the plays well. He’s out challenging properly. He has some qualities in his game that are better than some of the bigger goalies.”
Mbereko, who turns 18 on July 28, was born in Aspen, Colorado, and is committed to play at Colorado College next season. His father, Isaac, played rugby for Zimbabwe’s national team.
Photos: Erica Perreaux; Marissa Baeker/Kelowna Rockets; Rena Laverty/ USA Hockey National Team Development Program; Matt Hiscox Photography
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