We already blogged about names that we loved, ranging from undrafted camp invites to guys that might be there in the late first round, but looking at what names have gone on Friday night, here’s some other names that we think could really be available for the Minnesota Wild on the second day of the 2021 NHL Draft.
Olen Zellweger, D
One of the premier defensemen in the draft, Zellweger is one of the most mobile defensemen of the class — just moving up the ice with top-tier skating ability and agility. The best part about Zellweger’s skating, is he’s not just one of those lightning-quick guys that when they have the puck, they don’t really know how to continue their stride. The Everett Silvertips blueliner can easily take a pass and then dish it out, all in this one smooth motion and never really sacrificing any speed or movement.
Zellweger is just a pure transitional demon that will get the puck out of his zone, and into the high-danger areas in the offensive zone. Even defensively, he has fairly good gap control and can use his skating to make some solid defensive plays and puck recoveries.
If Zellweger is available for the Wild in the second round, I take him and run.
Ayrton Martino, LW
Ayrton Martino is a really interesting case study for how well you believe in your development staff. He has a very high ability to read plays after transitioning from the OJHL to the more highly regarded USHL (where he scored 56 points in 38 games) and now he’s off to Clarkson University in the fall. His passing ability, handling, and shooting is fairly good, but the one main thing he needs a lot of work on is his skating.
And we have heard the same story before with mid-round picks — mostly recently Brayden Point being a terrible skater in the WHL and look at him now — so if Martino is there in the third or fourth, I would certainly not be upset with taking a flyer on him. Some rankings have him in the early second round, but with the way Friday night went, I can see him slipping down and down.
Sean Behrens, D
Outside of Zellweger, probably my personal favorite defenseman option for the Wild outside of the first, Sean Behrens is a product of the National Development Program and has been heralded by so many scouts as one of the most intelligent players in the draft class when he’s talking about hockey. Like Lebron James or Steven Stamkos recalling goals or points smart.
Which is why he’s probably the top playmaking blueliners in the entire draft class. He just sees the ice so damn well and has the ability to make the right pass. He stands at 5-foot-10, so he’s fitting right into that archetype of under-6 foot American offensive defensemen, but he’s just so damn poised with the puck, he’s not intimidated by larger opponents.
Again, if he’s available in the second round for Minnesota, it’s a no-brainer.
Ville Koivunen, RW/LW
One of my personal — and some online scouting services — favorites, Ville Koivunen has been under the radar due to people watching his teammate Samu Tuomaala more frequently and ranking the latter way higher in their rankings. But in almost every underlying number tracked, Koivunen is miles better than Tuomaala and has been able to show off some top-tier vision and playmaking.
Again his skating needs work — it’s kind of a trend, isn’t it? — but he has soft buttery hands that can weave him through the most dangerous of traffic. He led the U20 Finnish league in scoring and just has a full toolbox of skills that are very projectable into a top-six NHL winger.
I wouldn’t blink if he was taken in the second round, but similarly to Martino, with his pre-draft ranking and what other prospects are still on the board, this might be a lay-up third-round pick.
Prokhar Poltapov, RW
Poltapov is a truck. Just everything about him screams power and skill and is destined to be one of those hard-ass professional power wingers that coaches love.
He doesn’t have the cleanest skating, but that’s easily the most improvable skill out of the main tools — imagine trying to improve a player’s hockey sense or vision. Poltapov creates scoring chances from the boards and in tight with his opponents, coming away clean with the puck and setting up his teammates. When it comes to projectability, Poltapov is certainly a project, but I would rather have a player that seeks out those high-danger in-tight scoring chances than someone that has just scored around the perimeter for their entire amateur career.
He’s ranked lower than the prospect I’ve previously mentioned, but there was early hype around him last week that some teams are really keen on him. I personally would rather have a different type of player in the top-64 picks, but if he’s in the third or fourth, I’m swiping him up.
Ty Voit, C/LW
Certainly the least talked about prospect out of this list, Sarnia Sting forward Ty Voit. He didn’t play any organized hockey at all — unless it was the June showcase, and that was just a mash-up of top prospects trying to show off their wheels — so it’s tough to get a read on him, but he was projected to be a top-40 pick a year ago and has just slowly slipped as other players were able to be actually watched by NHL scouts.
The Pittsburgh, Penn. native is an explosive offensive talent that is really shifty with his play, he doesn’t let the defenders really know where he’s going to go next and keeps them guessing until the last minute. There’s a really solid foundation of tools that can be built upon, so if Voit is there in the fourth or fifth round, again, I would be happy with that as a forward option.