The NHL’s 2021 Entry Draft is going down later this month and a few University of Michigan players are going to be drafted pretty early.
Just this past year I got into college hockey and I don’t know what it was but the University of Michigan’s hockey team that really spoke to me. I come from a Iowa Hawkeyes family but because they don’t have a D1 team, I need somewhere to cheer for (besides Notre Dame). And let me tell ya, this team had some great players. In net they had the unstoppable Strauss Mann and Erik Portillo, they were a great duo. Their defensemen were solid. You had the standouts like Cam York and Owen Power, but they had some other trustworthy guys like Jacob Truscott and Jack Summers. Their forwards were electric. I mean Matty Beniers, Eric Ciccolini, Kent Johnson, Brendan Brisson, Thomas Bordeleau — all of them were awesome this year. It was a great season to become a fan of their team because they had their highs and lows but overall, they were fun to watch.
With that being said, some of their top guys from this past year are going to be drafted in the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. And yes I say first round with certainty because these guys are way too good for anyone with a cognitive brain to pass up.
We’ll start with everyone’s consensus on #1 so far– Owen Power. Power is the type of defenseman any team could use. He’s 6’6″, 214lbs, great with his puck control and passing. The kid has a great hockey IQ and when he sees his chances, he takes them. Before Michigan, he spent 2 seasons with the Chicago Steel and played a combine 103 games with 65 points (23G 42A), he also appeared in 11 playoff games with 2 assists. Then he hopped over to Michigan this past season and killed it. He played in 26 games with them and put up 33 points (9G 24A). He was a powerhouse on their defense and he was a great addition to the power play. Like I said, anyone would be blessed to have him because with more time and training, he’s only going to get better. I think he’s will either end up in Buffalo or Seattle – more likely Buff- but he is listed to be back in Michigan for next season.
Next up, Matty Beniers. One of my favorite college-aged players this year. A centerman standing at 6’1″, 174lbs, this guy is a workhorse. He is speedy, he can adapt quickly, and he is defensibly strong — very important. He blew me away this year both with Michigan and with team USA at the World Juniors. After leaving the USDP last season, Matty played in 24 games with Michigan and put up 24 points (10G 14A). He then went to WJC and played in another 7 games with 3 points (1G 2A), there he helped his team win Gold. Matty is such a dynamic player who scores big time goals when you need him to. I think he’ll go real high, somewhere between 2-5.
Kent Johnson is the third guy we’re talking about. Kent was another one of my favorites at Michigan. He’s a forward standing 6’1″, 164lbs. Kent’s got it all: the creativity, the hands, the speed, the snips. Another great guy to have on your power play. When he’s out there, he makes hockey look like a cake walk sometimes, overall fantastic kid. He’s an adaptable player and he proved that in his first year at Michigan. He was coming off a season of 101 points in 52 games over in the BCHL. He came over and put up 27 points (9G 18A) in 26 games. He’s predicted to go somewhere between 6-15, I’m hoping one of my teams slotted in 9, 11, 13, or 14 can grab him. Personally, I’m going to say/hope he’s going 11th.
Last but certainly not least we have Luke Hughes. Just 17-years-old but 6’2″, 176lbs, Hughes is another defenseman who has a high hockey IQ and great skating abilities. Luke hasn’t played his first game with Michigan as he is coming over from the USNDTP where he played 38 games with 34 points (6G and 28A). Regardless, he is going to light it up over here. Big body, takes shots at the net, creates space — he’s going to kill it in college hockey and later the NHL. I won’t compare him to his brothers because every kid is different. I work with both my brothers in some fashion (my bother Jake has a podcast on this site called “Ham Radio” and I intern at the same company my brother Nick works at) , not to mention I followed them through school so I know how much all of those comparisons can get annoying. Luke is his own guy and a great player, he’ll make his name in the league. He’s predicted to be drafted somewhere between 3-5, as cool as it would be to have the brothers Hughes drafted into New Jersey, I think he would fit well with the Ducks or Blue Jackets. Like I said, he deserves to build his own name plus the Ducks could use all the help they can get so I think he’ll likely go 3.
Michigan is going to be interesting to watch this season now that they’re missing some of their big guys from last year. The guys I talked about above are slotted in to be back/starting this season but the team did lose Strauss Mann, Cam York, Luke Morgan, and Michael Pastujov (so far). No doubt in my mind they’re still going to be stellar but the loss of Mann and York specifically are going to be an adjustment. Overall, this Entry Draft snuck up on me but I am excited to see how it plays out. Michigan is really taking the cake here with so many good players to offer. I can’t wait to see where they go but in the meanwhile I am just going to pray that they don’t go to either of the teams I cannot stand.
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Featured Image: University of Michigan