Weekly Question: How should we cover the 2021 NHL Draft?

If the 2020 draft class was overripe, the 2021 class is full of seedlings who haven’t yet had their chance to sprout

June means the end of that weird spring-to-summer transition, the infestation of creepy creatures that I am not a fan of, and the Stanley Cup playoffs. Around these parts, it signals the start of draft season.

The 2021 NHL Draft will be the weirdest year yet. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t let many aspects of our life remain untouched, and that includes the play of many junior hockey leagues across the world. Some leagues, like the OHL, had their season completely cancelled; others condensed schedules, played in modified bubbles, or were pressured to accept players who otherwise wouldn’t be eligible. All in all, this will be the most uncertain draft year ever.

Teams have responded differently to this situation. Some have opted to stockpile picks, especially in the middle to later rounds of the class, in hopes of uncovering a player who otherwise might’ve been a high pick in a “normal” year. Others, like the Senators, opted to trade for picks in the 2022 and 2023 classes — wanting to have more data before utilizing a valuable asset on players with limited information. If you wanted to hear about this from the source, listen to this TSN 1200 interview with Trent Mann, the team’s Chief Amateur Scout, last month.

Our team at Silver Seven have had a ton of fun covering the NHL Entry Draft over the course of the site’s existence. You’ve been kept up-to-date on the latest information surrounding draft logistics, read detailed player profiles, heard from scouts and analysts on our podcasts, participated in draft day discussion threads, and had your say as to where these players fit within the system during our annual Top 25 Under 25 series. You can use the site’s search engine to glean what our past coverage looked like, but here’s our draft tag for 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Last year, for arguably the organization’s most important draft class ever, we went all-in to present, in our view, the most detailed coverage you can find for free on the blogosphere. Taking that approach for this class doesn’t make sense, both because the Sens will likely only have four picks in the first three rounds — a far cry from the nine they had heading into 2020 — and because our usual data-driven approach utilizing consensus rankings to decide which players to cover won’t be as effective this year.

Hence, this post. We want your help in determining how we should bring you quality coverage of the 2021 class. So far, you’ve received:

  • An early look at the top 21 prospects in this year’s class based on pre- and early-season consensus rankings. [#1-10, #11-21]
  • A curated list of players to watch during the 2021 IIHF U20 World Junior Championship. [Group A, Group B]
  • Coverage in February focused on the team’s need at centre, the Michigan trio, and player tracking data. /

Moving forward, you can certainly expect:

  • Coverage of the draft lottery next week, on Wednesday, June 2nd
  • A profile on the first-round pick our staff votes to select as part of the annual SBNation NHL Mock Draft
  • An open thread on draft day to discuss all that’s happening around the league
  • A thorough summary of this year’s picks from yours truly, owing to the fact that while I don’t think I can rival our 2020 pre-draft coverage — I miss you, Colin! — I commit to turning over all the rocks to bring you everything I can publicly find on the players the team does select on July 23rd and 24th. /

Post-lottery, we have six weeks until the draft takes place, so I’d like to commit to five or six additional pieces of coverage. Dear reader, what would you like those pieces to focus on? Would you prefer a league-by-league check-in like we did last year? Long profiles of a few players, like our pre-draft coverage of Stützle and Sanderson? Brief profiles of a bunch of players, split by forwards and defence like we did in 2019? Broader draft analysis and opinion pieces? Do you have a different idea?

Please vote in the poll and share your perspective in the comments section. I’ll be reading every comment, and will pay special attention to the ones that get rec’d (in green). Thanks for using your voice to guide our coverage!

How should we cover the 2021 NHL Draft?

League-by-league check-in21
Long profiles of a few players (run a poll to decide players)22
Brief profiles of more players, like 2016-201950
A mix (I’ll comment my perspective)9
I have other ideas that I’ll share in the comments3

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