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2021 NHL Mock Draft Roundup: Expect At Least One Defenseman for the New Jersey Devils

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The New Jersey Devils have two first round picks in what is considered to be a wide-open 2021 NHL Entry Draft. In order to get a handle on who could be available at each pick, 23 mock drafts were rounded up to see who others think New Jersey will take at fourth and twenty-ninth overall.

2019 NHL Draft - Round One
More Luke Hughes? More Luke Hughes.
Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Tomorrow, the second main event of the 2021 NHL offseason will begin. The 2021 NHL Entry Draft will start on Friday night with the first round with all 31 players (Arizona forfeit their pick) being selected remotely. The 2021 NHL Entry Draft will continue on late Saturday morning for the remaining six rounds. The New Jersey Devils currently have two picks in the first round. They will be selecting fourth and twenty-ninth overall barring any transactions involving these two draft picks. The big question many fans have for any draft: Who will they take?

In order to get an idea of that, I turned to the larger world of mock drafts. Plenty of people and services rank prospects in a draft class based on how they value each player and what they could do. A mock draft asks those people to consider the team making the pick and their own potential needs and tendencies. It is a thought exercise that reveals that where a prospect may be ranked may not be where they end up getting picked. I have found that the real purpose of a mock draft is to get a sense of the players who could be available at a certain spot as opposed to trying to exactly guess which player will get picked by each team.

As I have done last season, I searched the Internet for mock drafts - not rankings - from all kinds of sites and sources. From amateurs to bloggers to media people to prospect enthusiasts to experts. If there is a mock and it completes the first round (some go beyond the first round like Corey Pronman’s and Lines.com’s drafts which include all seven rounds), then I took a look at it. Some will likely be put up or updated today or tomorrow morning. Still, I found 23 mock drafts as of July 20 to get a handle on who could be selected by the Devils and the teams around them at each first round pick. Let us go over what they have:

2021 NHL First Round Mock Draft Roundup: Picks #1 - #5

2021 NHL Mock Draft Roundup Picks #1 - #5

Mock Draft Mock Date Buffalo (#1) Seattle (#2) Anaheim (#3) Devils (#4) Columbus (#5) Link
Mock Draft Mock Date Buffalo (#1) Seattle (#2) Anaheim (#3) Devils (#4) Columbus (#5) Link
SBN NHL 07/12/21 Power Beniers Guenther Hughes Eklund Link
MyNHLDraft 07/14/21 Power Beniers Hughes Clarke Eklund Link
NHL.com – Kimelman 07/17/21 Power Beniers Guenther Clarke Edvinsson Link
NHL.com – Morreale 07/17/21 Power Beniers Edvinsson Hughes Eklund Link
The Sports Bank – Paul Banks 07/14/21 Power Beniers Guenther Clarke Edvinsson Link
Draft Utopia – Chris Ransom 07/17/21 Power Beniers Guenther Clarke Edvinsson Link
The Athletic – Corey Pronman ($) 07/16/21 Power Beniers Guenther Hughes Edvinsson Link
The Hockey Writers 07/05/21 Beniers Power Guenther Hughes Eklund Link
The Hockey Writers – Youtube 07/18/21 Beniers Power Eklund Clarke Hughes Link
Will Scouch 06/03/21 Beniers Eklund Hughes Clarke Lysell Link
Will Scouch's Gut 06/03/21 Power Beniers Clarke Hughes Eklund Link
Tankathon 07/18/21 Power Beniers Eklund Hughes Clarke Link
Recruit Scouting 07/18/21 Power Beniers Eklund Clarke Hughes Link
CalgaryFlames.com – Torie Peterson 07/14/21 Power Beniers Eklund Hughes Edvinsson Link
CalgaryFlames.com – Ryan Dittrick 07/14/21 Power Guenther Beniers Hughes Clarke Link
CalgaryFlames.com – Alex Medina 07/14/21 Eklund Power Beniers Hughes Clarke Link
Lines.com (Formerly DraftSite) 07/20/21 Power Beniers Hughes Eklund McTavish Link
OHL Prospects – Brock Otten 07/19/21 Power Beniers Guenther Eklund Edvinsson Link
Sporting News – Josh Bell 07/20/21 Power Eklund Beniers Hughes Edvinsson Link
NBC Sports – Ryan Wagman 07/19/21 Power Beniers McTavish Hughes Wallstedt Link
Yahoo! - McKeen's (Wagman & Otten) 07/19/21 Power Beniers McTavish Hughes Clarke Link
Bleacher Report – Joe Tansey 07/19/21 Power Beniers Guenther Hughes Edvinsson Link
TSN.ca – Craig Button 07/20/21 Power Beniers Guenther McTavish Edvinsson Link
2021 NHL Mock Draft Roundup Picks #1-5

Expect the Devils to draft a defenseman. If you are hoping, pleading, praying, and/or demanding that the Devils take a defenseman, then you should be pleased that the larger crowd tends to think it will happen. Out of 23 mocks, 20 have them taking a defender. And the choice is either Luke Hughes or Brandt Clarke. The majority choice among the 20 was Hughes. 13 different mock drafts have the Devils taking The Big Deal’s younger brother. Seven did pick Clarke as the alternative. Personally, I would be more than fine with Hughes being the pick. I would be fine if it turns out to be Clarke. I could even defend and like a pick of William Eklund at #4, which two mocks did. The only mock draft with a result I am not a huge fan of is Mason McTavish, which comes from Craig Button’s mock at TSN. Button has never been afraid to beat to his own drummer so I am not bothered by it.

The mocks for the other top five picks tell their own tale. Owen Power has become the consensus #1 pick even if some sites feel Beniers or Eklund are better prospects. When it came down to make a mock draft, only a handful did not go with the large Wolverine defender. Likewise, the heavy favorite for Seattle’s first ever draft pick is another Wolverine in Matthew Beniers. There was some more variation involving Power, Eklund, and Dylan Guenther. If the mock drafts are any indication, the draft can start going in different directions with Anaheim. Dylan Guenther had the most selections going to the Ducks at #3 but with only 9 mocks. It could just as easily be Eklund, Hughes, Clarke, or even McTavish.

Curiously, a plurality of mocks for Columbus at #5 have them taking defenseman Simon Edvinsson. More than Clarke (4) or Hughes (2). One would think if the Blue Jackets wanted a defenseman, then they would take who ever New Jersey did not take at fourth overall. Instead, there is an opinion that Edvinsson is their man. I am fine with that. Out of the top defensemen in this year’s draft class, he is the one I would be the most concerned about the Devils taking at fourth overall. If it is not a defenseman, then the Jackets could opt for Eklund, McTavish, or go a bit off the board with Fabian Lysell (Will Scouch’s non-gut stood alone on that) or Jesper Wallstedt (Ryan Wagman stood alone on that at SN).

Still, the variety of picks among the mock drafts for Anaheim and Columbus suggest there is no real set order after second overall. And it only takes one team to surprise people to change how the draft goes. By the time the Devils’ second pick in the first round comes up, the number of available players

2021 NHL First Round Mock Draft Roundup: Picks #27 - #31

2021 NHL Mock Draft Roundup Picks #27 - #31

Mock Draft Mock Date Carolina (#27) Colorado (#28) Devils (#29) Las Vegas (#30) Montreal (#31) Link
Mock Draft Mock Date Carolina (#27) Colorado (#28) Devils (#29) Las Vegas (#30) Montreal (#31) Link
SBN NHL 07/16/21 Othmann Zellweger Robertsson Dean Bourgault Link
MyNHLDraft 07/14/21 Bourgault Samoskevich Pastujov Behrens Dean Link
NHL.com – Kimelman 07/17/21 Rosen Dean Samskovevich Buium Pinelli Link
NHL.com – Morreale 07/17/21 Svechkov Tuomaala Dach Chibrikov Pastujov Link
The Sports Bank – Paul Banks 07/14/21 Svechkov Olausson Rosen Bourgault Chayka Link
Draft Utopia – Chris Ransom 07/13/21 Svozil Olausson Broz Chayka Pinelli Link
The Athletic – Corey Pronman ($) 07/16/21 Lysell Olausson Buium Kirsanov Knies Link
The Hockey Writers 07/05/21 L'Heureux Chibrikov Olausson Pinelli Morrow Link
The Hockey Writers – Youtube 07/18/21 Rosen Olausson L'Heureux Cossa Samoskevich Link
Will Scouch 07/09/21 Koivunen Samoskevich Pinelli Ceulemans Stromgren Link
Will Scouch's Gut 07/09/21 Chibrikov Morrow Chayka Rosen Olausson Link
Tankathon 07/18/21 Olausson Chibrikov Bourgault Pinelli Chayka Link
Recruit Scouting 07/XX/21 Peart Robertsson Bourgault Samsokevich Olausson Link
CalgaryFlames.com – Torie Peterson 07/14/21 Bolduc Johnston Chayka Pastujov Stankoven Link
CalgaryFlames.com – Ryan Dittrick 07/14/21 Rosen Johnston Stankoven Olausson Dean Link
CalgaryFlames.com – Alex Medina 07/14/21 Rosen Olausson Pastujov L'Heureux Robertsson Link
Lines.com (Formerly DraftSite) 07/20/21 Dean Svechkov Robertsson Samsokevich Svozil Link
OHL Prospects – Brock Otten 07/19/21 Nause L'Heureux Chibrikov Pinelli Knies Link
Sporting News – Josh Bell 07/20/21 Peart Olausson Stankoven Chayka Pinelli Link
NBC Sports – Ryan Wagman 07/19/21 Svechkov Tuomaala Poltapov Lambos Samoskevich Link
Yahoo! - McKeen's (Wagman & Otten) 07/19/21 Koivunen Othmann Bolduc L'Heureux Tuomaala Link
Bleacher Report – Joe Tansey 07/20/21 Buium Samoskevich Olausson Dach Dean Link
TSN.ca – Craig Button 07/20/21 Chayka L'Heureux Samskovevich Rosen Pastujov Link
2021 NHL Mock Draft Roundup 27-31

We did not come to a conclusion among the writers for the 29th overall pick. After looking at 23 different mock drafts, the conclusion is that there is no conclusive pick for this spot in the draft. The most a player appears for the Devils among the 23 mocks is twice. The only common thread among the mocks is that a majority of them chose a forward. Most of them (and among the few chose twice) include the likes of Simon Robertsson, Xavier Bourgault, Matthew Samoskevich, Sasha Pastujov, or Oskar Olausson. These are all fine. I would be thrilled if it is Isak Rosén or Nikita Chibrikov. I would sigh if it was Colton Dach or Zachary L’Heureux. I would raise an eyebrow for Prokhor Poltapov. I feel like I would have to pump a first for Tristan Broz. As for the defensemen, the mocks have it being either the large Daniil Chayka or the raw talent of Shai Buium. And that was among three out of 23. But if the vast majority of the mock drafts have the Devils taking either Luke Hughes or Brandt Clarke, then a vast majority have them taking a forward with this second pick. That’s better than nothing, I guess. As far as who that player would be, that is a total shot in the dark.

Speaking of a shot in the dark, look at the other picks from 27th through 31st. A lot of the names that could be Devils could just as easily be members of Carolina, Colorado, Las Vegas, or Montreal per these same mocks. Curiously, Olausson’s name came up a little more often for Colorado compared to the others amid this wide range of players. There were also some other long(er) shots in this group from Stanislav Szovkil to Matthew Knies to Scott Morrow to William Stromgren to Samu Tuomaala to Zach Dean to Sean Behrens. At a glance, it looks like a lot of forwards but do not be shocked if a defenseman ends up here among this group of five.

Your Turn

If you do not like any of these 23 mock drafts, then you can give it ago yourself. You can make a list of your own mock draft and put it in a Fanpost or in the comments to this post here. You can make a video about it and upload it. You can go to social media and put it there through Tweets or a picture on Instagram or somehow cram a 31-name list into a TikTok. You can (and I recommend this) use the Mock Draft Builder by FC Hockey to make picks for any number or all NHL teams, 1 or all 7 rounds, and have the program make picks for the teams you’re not picking using FC Hockey’s rankings.

I hope you enjoyed this year’s mock draft roundup. There were more found from last year and, again, there could be more released and / or updated between today and tomorrow night. What did you learn from the mock drafts rounded up for this year’s draft? Were there any you especially liked? Did it help your expectations for the actual 2021 NHL Draft that will start on Friday? What are your expectations for the Devils and other teams picking around the Devils’ spot? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this year’s mock draft round up in the comments.

Thanks to everyone who published a mock draft. Thanks in advance to those who plan to make a mock draft; it is not an easy task and I respect putting your take out there for people to read and react to. Thank you for reading.