By Warren Kozireski —
It has been a different kind of year in many ways including the inability for the most part of hockey scouts to see potential 2021 National Hockey League draft picks in person.
NHL Central Scouting typically releases a pre-season ranking and a mid-season update in January. But this year, due to the circumstances, they have only released an alphabetical list of A, B and C prospects. A signifies a potential first round selection, B rounds 2-3 and C projected at rounds 4-7.
It is a bit of a down year numbers-wise for New York State-born players with only four making the list as of March.
Huntington native Matt Coronato tops the list. Listed as a B by Central Scouting, at least one other list has him going late in the first round. The Harvard University commit is in his second season with the Chicago Steel in the United States Hockey League (USHL) where he has doubled his goal output from last season with 36 tallies in 39 games. The 5’10”, 183 lb. left wing has added 31 assists this season as well.
Fellow Long Island native (Smithtown) and Chicago Steel teammate Ryan Ufko is listed as a C prospect for the draft. The 5’10”, 181 lb. right-shot two-way defenseman had 33 points in 41 games with nine of those goals. He is committed to the University of Massachusetts next fall.
Rockville Centre product Jeremy Wilmer is also listed as a C prospect. A small, play-making center with the U.S. National Team Development Program, he stands 5’7” and 141 lb. and will surely add some weight next fall at Boston College. He has combined this season for 46 points in 50 games including 14 goals.
And Rochester (Aquinas HS) goaltender Grant Riley slots in as a C prospect. Standing 6’4” and 203 lb. already, he has split this season with Tri-City and now Omaha in the USHL after a December trade. He is committed to Boston College, but not until 2022-23 so he’ll have another year to develop in juniors. Since the trade, he has appeared in five games with a 4.10 goals against average.
Not a New York native, but Union College commit Colin Graf is also slotted as a C prospect for the draft. The 6’0”, 170 lb. forward is skating this season with the Boston Jr. Bruins where he had 19 goals and 54 points over 42 regular season games before adding four more playoff points over three games.
As of now, the NHL Draft is slated to still take place in late June, but it is still undecided if it will be in-person or virtual. The 2020 Draft schedule for Montreal was postponed and eventually held virtually.