Hello again! It’s your resident draft nut, back again with another prospects series to keep busy with while practicing social distancing.
I’ve come to the realisation that I’ve likely exhausted any and all posts about 2020 NHL draft-eligible prospects this season (that is, until my final draft rankings, which I’m holding off on doing until we know there won’t be anymore hockey until next season). In the same breath, I’ve also been itching to write about 2021 draft-eligible prospects since last fall.
This series was originally going to be one, brief post that I kept putting off for one reason: I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to only talk about four or five prospects. I was able to condense the list down to 21, which is why I decided to turn it into a longer series.
With the lack of hockey (and any and all sports) to keep us occupied these days, I decided that I might as well start doing this now, all while trying to finish up my final month of college (I’m beginning to think I’ve lost my mind).
Starting tomorrow, for the next 21 weekdays, I’ll be profiling one top 2021 draft-eligible prospect. They’re not in any particular order, so the players who come at the tail-end of this series aren’t necessarily projected top-5 draft picks.
To kick things off, here are two honorable mentions: players I considered including in the 21 Days of 2021, but ultimately decided to leave off. Also included at the bottom are ‘honorable honorable mentions’, which include prospects having fabulous seasons, but I wasn’t able to watch enough of them over the last five months.
And with that, here’s to the next 21 weekdays!
Eric Alarie (LW/C) — 6’1, 198lbs
Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
January 27, 2003
This entire post series began from a desire to write about Eric Alarie — which was why it was devastating when I had to take him off my list. At the end of the day, though, I couldn’t quite justify him being in my top 21.
Alarie was a first round pick of the Warriors in 2018. The natural center got his start out on left-wing at the end of the 2018-19 season and resumed that position in Moose Jaw this season. A pass-first power forward, he has drawn comparisons to recent 2019 draft picks Samuel Poulin and Serron Noel. Alarie uses his strong frame to engage in puck battles in the corners and can create from there, often finding his teammates with passes to the crease or slot. He has a heavy shot with a whip-like release.
Alarie has a strong lower body, which fuels his powerful skating stride. Like other taller, heavier players, Alarie’s acceleration is clunky and his stride, although powerful, isn’t as smooth. However, he has quick edges and can change directions rapidly — his acceleration could use improvements.
In his rookie WHL season, Alarie put up seven goals and 21 points in 67 games in a third-line role. Alarie projects as a mid-round draft pick in 2021.
Jesper Wallstedt (G) — 6’3, 209lbs
Lulea HF (SHL)
November 14, 2002
Wallstedt is only an honourable mention in this series because I haven’t watched enough of him this season to give an in-depth and detailed scouting report — and I tend to leave goalie evaluations up to the experts.
However, there’s no denying what Wallstedt has done in Sweden this season. The late-02 born goaltender put up a .923 save percentage in 28 games with Sweden’s junior league, and in his one start in the SHL, posted a .944 save percentage. Wallstedt has been starting games in SuperElit (Sweden’s junior league) since he was 15 and despite his size, he is incredibly agile in goal.
From Hockey Prospect’s 2019 Draft Black Book:
Wallstedt has improved his skating and feet movement during the season and he is now more active, with small, controlled movements which allow him to have full control of where he is positioned. He is constantly calm and composed, which is impressive since he is very young. His authority is also impressive and he is very vocal with his defenders, letting them know exactly what he wants them to do. [Black Book]
In order to grow as a goaltender, Wallstedt will need to continue to improve his positioning and his ability to mentally reset when he allows a bad goal. Still, Wallstedt was solid at the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, and, thanks to his stellar numbers this season, remains the top goalie prospect available in 2021.
Honorable Honorable Mentions: Isak Rosen (SuperElit), Connor Lockhart (OHL), Jeremy Wilmer (USNTDP), Logan Stankoven (WHL), Owen Power (USHL)