Every NHL draft is a crapshoot. Outside of a John Tavares, Connor McDavid, or Auston Matthews‘, there’s more than 200 draft picks each year who will never consistently play in the big show. Of course there are guys like goalie Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg’s 5th round pick in 2012, #130), Brayden Point (Tampa’s 3rd round pick in 2014, #79), or Kevin Bieksa (the Canucks 5th rounder in 2001, #151), who surprise everyone. Those guys are the classic diamonds in the rough. They’re out there, it’s just that in 2021, it was harder than ever to really find them.
Yes, like any other year, it will take a few seasons to discover who emerges, but this year, the Vancouver Canucks and the rest of the NHL were truly flying blind. The Covid-19 pandemic limited games for players and very much limited travel for scouts. Talk to any one of them and they’ll adamantly profess that it’s very difficult to discover a player’s important intangibles, those possessed by the likes of Point and Bieksa, by watching video.