Cam Robinson's top 84 prospects ranking for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft
Well, it sure has been an odd scouting season, and we're nearing its close with the 2021 NHL Entry Draft set to take place virtually next Friday, July 23. What better time for me to drop my final board for this year's draft?
Some people will tell you that this year's class is more crap than shoot compared to most seasons, and I'd agree with that sentiment, for the most part. I'm not all the way there, though. Sure, we lost out on an OHL season. Many leagues had starts, stops, restarts, and more stops. The fluctuation and inconsistency of games, practices, and gym time surely impacted (nearly) every player.
We got viewings in though. Plenty of them, as a matter of fact. Whether they came in non-traditional feeder leagues, or in June showcase games. The job of a scout is to find those games, assess the talent and surroundings, find the stackable, translatable skills and make a determination on the players. That was no different this year than any other year. What adds to the difficulty is the lack of clear star... power at the top (pardon the pun).
This class is lacking the pop we've become accustomed to in recent seasons. It has more 2012 in it than it does 2017, for my money. However, both of those classes had a debate at the top and more so, throughout the first round. Will there be good players to come out of this group? Absolutely. Some stars? Very likely. A superstar? Well, that one is murkier. There may be one hidden in the mix, but he's yet to reveal himself.
Regarding the board, as always, my assessments are somewhat limited. I am but one man who also has a five-year-old son, a one-year-old daughter, a teaching career, and many writing commitments. However, I'm fortunate enough to have a very patient wife and am privileged to have a tremendous group to work with at EP Rinkside, as well as a host of other experienced scouts to bounce things off of.
This list isn't supposed to act as a mock draft, presaging the selections as they come in next week. This is how I perceive the player's current makeup in conjunction with how I believe they will progress and develop, hopefully towards an NHL career. It's more projection than an assessment of the current product. The translatable traits trump all. This year, I'm limited to assessing these players on their on-ice achievements via video. I had the chance to chat with a few of them, but knowing these young men better as individuals would be telling of their drive and determination. That's something that cannot be overstated. I lean on established scouts, coaches, and agents to help fill in the gaps.
Regarding my method, I place immense value on skating ability and processing speed. Physical attributes are great, but if you can't see the play develop or recognize your options quickly, both offensively and defensively, you're facing an uphill battle. If you're intelligent, you can overcome some of these limitations. If you're gifted physically, yet have limited awareness on the ice, you're at more of a disadvantage. Add them together and you have the recipe for immense success.
Realistically, the top-10 players are all housed in one single tier. If we wanted to split hairs, perhaps it's a break after pick five. At this point, I wouldn't fault a person for putting any of those five at the top of the heap. I know I gave them each a look at that spot. It's that wide open this year. After that, we're looking at a grouping from around 10 to 22, another tier from 23 all the way to 40. Call that next heap of players a mishmash of 'upside here, downside there' kids.
Let's dive in!
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