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What if NHL Teams Could Only Draft in Their Backyards?

Our prospect expert went through the exercise to see what would happen if scouts were only allowed to pick players from a local radius.
Brandt Clarke. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images

Brandt Clarke. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images

Scouting the 2021 NHL draft has already proven to be an incredibly hard job due to the pandemic and teams are doing their best under the circumstances. But what if - as a thought exercise - NHL franchises were only allowed to pick players in their own backyards? Now, I don't mean players who grew up in the area (that's an entirely different blog), but players on teams within a reasonable driving distance? Let's say about three hours, one way - give or take a few minutes. And teams would have territories - the closer city wins. How would your team fare?

That's the question I asked myself and the results were very interesting. To begin with, only 17 NHL franchises qualified, so the others were out of luck. Those who did qualify were limited to seven selections (one per draft round) and I tried to go in order of Central Scouting's watch list (so if you were an 'A' ranked player, you definitely made it; a 'C' ranking? Depends on your city's depth). Also, import players count, so you'll see some Euros here.

I stuck with first-time eligible players for the most part with one notable exception: Columbus got a little jobbed on geography because Youngstown, Ohio is actually slightly closer to Pittsburgh, so I'm giving the Blue Jackets red-hot Ohio State freshman Travis Treloar, a 2001 birth year.

I have also ranked the draft classes by strength, focusing on the high end. So even though Edmonton only has three picks, they're all very strong - pushing the Oilers ahead of some other franchises with more selections.

Detroit is the runaway winner thanks to the University of Michigan's unprecedented freshman class and the goldmine that is the National Team Development Program. Chicago is unexpectedly strong and the Hawks can thank the USHL's Steel for being such a prospect factory these days. And Kraken fans will be happy to notice that their new NHL team is surrounded by prospects right now.

Of course, some of these leagues haven't played yet, but for the sake of argument I'm just assuming they will at some point. And players who will likely play Minnesota high school this year went to the Wild, even if they're currently in the USHL or NAHL. With all that said (and me tired of maps), let's get to the ranking:

1. Detroit Red Wings

Owen Power, D, Michigan (NCAA)

Kent Johnson, C, Michigan (NCAA)

Matty Beniers, C, Michigan (NCAA)

Luke Hughes, D, U.S. NTDP

Dylan Duke, C, U.S. NTDP

Roman Schmidt, D, U.S. NTDP

Sasha Pastujov, LW, U.S. NTDP

2. Toronto Maple Leafs

Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie (OHL)

Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL)

Daniil Chayka, D, Guelph (OHL)

Artyom Grushnikov, D, Hamilton (OHL)

Francesco Pinelli, C, Kitchener (OHL)

Brett Harrison, C, Oshawa (OHL)

Ethan Del Mastro, D, Mississauga (OHL)

3. Chicago Blackhawks

Mackie Samoskevich, C, Chicago (USHL)

Matt Coronato, LW, Chicago (USHL)

Ryan Ufko, D, Chicago (USHL)

Luke Levandowski, LW, Chicago (USHL)

Jackson Blake, RW, Chicago (USHL)

Sam Lipkin, LW, Chicago (USHL)

4. Ottawa Senators

Zach Dean, C, Gatineau (QMJHL)

Francesco Arcuri, C, Kingston (OHL)

Jack Beck, RW, Ottawa (OHL)

Emerik Despatie, G, Gatineau (QMJHL)

Vsevolod Gaidamak, C, Ottawa (OHL)

Evgenii Kashnikov, D, Gatineau (QMJHL)

Brenden Sirizzotti, RW, Ottawa (OHL)

5. Montreal Canadiens

Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Lorenzo Canonica, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Evan Nause, D, Quebec (QMJHL)

Tyson Hinds, D, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Fabio Iacobo, G, Victoriaville (QMJHL)

Viljami Marjama, LW, Quebec (QMJHL)

Israel Mianscum, LW, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

6. Calgary Flames

Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL)

Cole Sillinger, LW, Medicine Hat (WHL)

Jayden Grubbe, C, Red Deer (WHL)

Dru Krebs, D, Medicine Hat (WHL)

Sean Tschigerl, LW, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Brett Moravec, C, Calgary Canucks (AJHL)

Zach Stringer, LW, Lethbridge (WHL)

7. Vancouver Canucks

Jack Bar, D, Penticton (BCHL)

Owen Murray, D, Penticton (BCHL)

Ayrton Martino, LW, Chilliwack (BCHL)

Logan Stankoven, C, Kamloops (WHL)

Charles Alexis-Legault, D, West Kelowna (BCHL)

Zach Ostapchuk, C, Vancouver (WHL)

Finlay Williams, C, Penticton (BCHL)

8. Seattle Kraken

Conner Roulette, LW, Seattle (WHL)

Jack O'Brien, C, Portland (WHL)

Talyn Boyko, G, Tri-City (WHL)

Lucas Ciona, LW, Seattle (WHL)

Tyson Kozak, C, Portland (WHL)

Marc Lajoie, D, Tri-City (WHL)

Kai Uchacz, C, Seattle (WHL)

9. Edmonton Oilers

Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL)

Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL)

Ty Mueller, C, Sherwood Park (AJHL)

10. Winnipeg Jets

Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL)

Yaroslav Busygin, D, Brandon (WHL)

Jake Chiasson, RW, Brandon (WHL)

Vincent Iorio, D, Brandon (WHL)

Michael Milne, LW, Winnipeg (WHL)

11. Minnesota Wild

Scott Morrow, D, Shattuck-St. Mary's (MN HS)

Luke Mittelstadt, D, Eden Prairie (MN HS)

Cade Ahrenholz, RW, Lakeville South (MN HS)

Shai Buium, D, Shattuck-St. Mary's (MN HS)

Kyle Kukkonen, C, Maple Grove (MN HS)

Henry Nelson, D, Maple Grove (MN HS)

Joe Palodichuk, D, Hill-Murray (MN HS)

12. Boston Bruins

Dovar Tinling, C, Vermont (NCAA)

Nate Benoit, D, Mount St. Charles (RI HS)

Matt Copponi, C, Dexter (MA HS)

Tim Delay, C, St. Sebastian's (MA HS)

Paul Davey, C, Avon Old Farms (CT HS)

Cooper Flinton, LW, St. Paul's (NH HS)

Oliver Flynn, C, Loomis Chaffee (CT HS)

13. Buffalo Sabres

Isaac Enright, D, Niagara (OHL)

Connor Lockhart, C, Erie (OHL)

Colby Saganiuk, RW, Erie (OHL)

14. Pittsburgh Penguins

Yusaku Ando, RW, Youngstown (OHL)

Austen May, D, Youngstown (OHL)

Dylan Gratton, D, Youngstown (OHL)

15. Columbus Blue Jackets

Travis Treloar, C, Ohio State (NCAA)

16. New Jersey Devils

Evan Orloff, D, Rockets Hockey Club (USPHL)

17. Dallas Stars

Dom Rivelli, RW, Wichita Falls (NAHL)



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