There are so many incredible names in hockey history: Larry Playfair. Tony Twist. Hakan Loob. Dit Clapper. Miroslav Satan. Radek Bonk. Jan Bulis.
They say in hockey that you play for the logo on the front, not the name on the back, but it’s a lot more fun to cheer for the logo on the front when the name on the back is fun to say.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to pay careful attention to a player’s name when scouting for the NHL Entry Draft. If you’re stuck between ranking two good players, the guy with the great name has to get the edge.
At least, that seems to be the strategy for the Vancouver Canucks. Every year, Pass it to Bulis ranks the best names available in the NHL Entry draft. In three of the last four years, the Canucks picked a name from my list: Jack Rathbone, Jett Woo, and Nils Höglander.
It really seems like I deserve a little bit of credit for the Canucks’ success in the draft, to be honest.
Last year, with only five picks in the draft, the Canucks didn’t get one of my top-20 names, though Viktor Persson is such a wonderfully mundane name that it loops back around to being great. Will they pick one of the best names available in the 2021 draft?
There are some who say this is a bit of underwhelming year for the draft and that rings true for great names as well. There are some gems, however.
There are a couple of reentries into the draft who made my list of best names last year, like Jérémie Biakabutuka and Roman Faith, who would be strong contenders to make the list again, but I decided against including them for a second time.
Likewise, Primo Self would be an easy winner for best name, but he was already last year’s best name.
Then there’s Carson Lambos, younger brother of Jonny Lambos, who made my 2019 list of best names. Alas, “Carson Lambos” just doesn’t have the same frat-bro ring to it as “Jonny Lambos.”
Another name that I’ve seen some getting excited about online but won’t be appearing on my list is Red Savage, a very good forward prospect who had 42 points in 48 games with the US National Team Development Program and should get picked in the 2nd or 3rd round. It’s just unfortunate that his name kind of sounds like a slur. It’s not his fault, but maybe he should go by his full first name, Redmond, instead?
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top-20 names for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Honourable Mentions: Jack Bar, Tristan Broz, Shai Buium, Tim Delay, Darrels Dukurs, Jesse Fishman, Hobie Hedquist, Simon Knak, Brody Lamb, Luca Münzenberger, Ivan Björkly Nordström, Ruben Rafkin, Will Staring, Blake Swetlikoff, Gleb Veremyev
20 | Chase Stillman
The wonderful thing about Chase Stillman is that it is very easy to accomplish what his name suggests. It is no problem at all to chase and catch a still man.
Is this a terrible joke? Yes. But like I said, this isn’t the best year for cool names.
On the plus side, Sillman is a quality prospect. He’s a speedy and creative winger with a playmaker's touch and some checking ability that could land him on a third line in the NHL someday. He might be an option for the Canucks with the 41st-overall pick in the second round, though they’re more likely to grab a centre or a defenceman.
19 | Dru Krebs
This isn’t a hockey prospect, it’s a Star Wars character. I’m pretty sure I had a Dru Krebs action figure when I was a kid. I think he was one of the aliens in the Mos Eisley Cantina.
Dru Krebs is the little brother of Peyton Krebs, a first-round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2019. Unlike Peyton, Dru is a defenceman like his oldest brother, Dakota Krebs.
Krebs could be a late-round pick in the draft thanks to his agile skating, decent transition game, and safe decision making. And then he’ll hunt down Han Solo and deliver him to Jabba the Hutt.
18 | Ethan Del Mastro
It’s too bad this fantastic last name is slightly let down by the mundane first name of “Ethan.” Sorry to all the Ethans out there — it’s a fine name, just not typically top-20 material.
Del Mastro, on the other hand, is magnificent. It comes from the Italian for “Son of the Master Craftsman,” and Del Mastro is certainly a craftsman on the ice. The 6’4” defenceman plays solid defence with a physical edge, but is also a strong skater who can jump up the ice and dangle past forecheckers when the opportunity presents itself.
His lack of consistency will drop him down the draft, but he should get picked some time after the second round.
17 | Jimi Suomi
This guy’s name is basically Jimmy Finland, which is outstanding.
This smooth-skating defenceman represented Finland at the World Under-18 Championship, where he had 4 points in 7 games. With his ability to attack in transition and quarterback the power play, he could be a late-round pick, but he needs to take steps defensively, particularly as a 5’10” defenceman.
16 | William Jupiter
I’m a simple man. You show me a prospect with the last name of a planet and I put him in my top-20 names for the draft.
Billy Jupiter only played six games in Sweden’s under-20 Nationell league, but he had a respectable .910 save percentage. He represented Sweden internationally at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and his .917 save percentage was third best in the tournament.
Regrettably, he’s not likely to be drafted this year and isn’t ranked by any draft outlets, which shows a startling dismissal of name-based metrics.
15 | Cameron Whynot
It’s a good question. A 6’1” defenceman with some two-way upside, who had 23 points in 34 games in the QMJHL, Cameron Whynot could be drafted as high as the second round. Some draft experts, however, suggest he doesn’t have enough standout skills to project as an NHL player, so I guess that’s why not.
Whoever drafts Cameron Whynot is going to sound like Dr. John A. Zoidberg. I’ll pick Cameron, why not?
14 | Chaz Lucius
This is a pretty sick name. “Chaz” is a solid enough name on its own, but then you throw in “Lucius,” like Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter, and we’re in elite name territory.
“I'm pretty thankful for my parents for giving me a cool name,” said Lucius to TSN, and he should be.
Lucius is also an elite prospect, who racked up 13 goals and 20 points in just 13 games with the US National Team Development Program. He’s a natural goalscorer with one of the best shots in the draft. He might actually be an option for the Canucks at 9th overall in the first round.
13 | Bennet Roßmy
NHL teams are obsessed with character when what they really should care about is characters. We need more good characters on the back of jerseys.
Case in point: Bennet Roßmy. That odd-looking “B” in the middle of his name is an eszett, otherwise known as a “scharfes s,” which translates as “sharp s.” It essentially sounds like “s” in English and is usually transliterated as “ss.” So, we could write his name as Bennet Rossmy.
But we shouldn’t. As we learned from Nils Höglander, it’s far more fun to use the actual spelling of a player’s name and the same should be true for Bennet Roßmy.
The 6’3” forward is among the younger players in the draft, with an August birthday, and is ranked 81st among European skaters by Central Scouting. He was the captain of Germany at the World Under-18 Championship and led them in scoring, albeit with just 2 points in 4 games. He’s got size, pace, and a dash of scoring ability.
12 | Matthew Argentina
Most recently, he was in the USHL with the Waterloo Black Hawks, where he had 19 points in 45 games. While his point production doesn’t inspire much interest, he’s still ranked by Central Scouting and has the speed and compete level to potentially have an NHL future.
11 | Robert Orr
“Hey Mom, can we get Bobby Orr?”
“We have Bobby Orr at home.”
It’s probably a good thing that Robert Orr, who actually does go by “Bobby,” doesn’t play defence. Instead, this Orr is a forward.
Orr put up 32 points in 41 games with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL this past season and should be picked somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft thanks to his work rate, two-way game, and high potential thanks to being one of the youngest players in the draft.
10 | Roman Zap
A Roman Zap is what you get when Jupiter hits you with a thunderbolt.
Roman Zap is also a 5’11” forward who played for Germany at the World Under-18 Championship. He’s got some speed and skill with the puck, but is a bit undersized. He’s definitely a longshot to get drafted but maybe someone will take a chance on his quickness, stickhandling, and playmaking.
9 | Chandler Romeo
"But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and could Juliet be anymore the sun?"
Chandler Romeo is not just a fun way to crossover Shakespeare and late-90’s sitcoms. He’s also a 6’5” defenceman ranked 169th among North American skaters by Central Scouting.
Regrettably, he lost his entire draft year when the OHL canceled their season. That might make NHL teams nervous to pick him without seeing him play in his draft year, but maybe a team will take a chance on him based on his size and solid defensive play in Junior A and Junior B before this last season.
8 | Logan Stankoven
I thought a Stankoven is when you’re in bed and then you fart and pull the blanket over your partner’s head to trap them with the stench. No?
Logan Stankoven is a gritty yet undersized winger who could be a late first-round pick but might fall to the second round because of his 5’8” stature. The biggest issue is his skating, which is something smaller players typically need to be a strength to succeed at the NHL level.
Still, he has a ton of offensive skill and a complete lack of fear. He was dominant in limited games this year — he had 7 goals and 10 points in 6 WHL games, then racked up 8 points in 7 games for Canada at the World Under-18 Championship en route to a gold medal. Beyond the offence, he also displays a diligent work rate in the defensive zone.
That said, he’ll likely need to overhaul his skating in order to make it in the NHL.
7 | Riley Kidney
What I would give to see this guy make the NHL. Why, I’d give my left...hm, what’s the name of that organ? I forgot.
Kidney is an intriguing forward prospect, likely to get picked somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft. He’s a smart playmaker, putting up 38 points in 33 games in the QMJHL last season, then racking up 17 points in 9 playoff games. His skating and shot, however, might keep him from being drafted before the third round.
Bonus: if he ever gets into a fight, we can all use the phrase “Kidney punch!” and giggle.
6 | Florian Bugl
This is simply a lovely name, particularly when you consider his full name: Florian Manuel Bugl.
His name also sounds like a simple brass instrument, which is also delightful. It’s a simultaneously beautiful and funny name, which is a rare combination.
Florian Bugl is ranked 13th among European goaltenders by Central Scouting. He’s a 6’0” goaltender who represented Germany at the World Juniors, posting an .897 save percentage in three games.
Honestly, it was a pretty strong tournament for Bugl despite the underwhelming save percentage. He made 31 saves in a crucial win over Switzerland that got Germany into the quarterfinals, then nearly stunned Russia with 25 saves on 27 shots in a narrow 2-1 loss in that quarterfinal game.
While Bugl might not get drafted this year, but he’ll be worth watching at next year’s World Junior tournament, where he’ll be the presumptive starter for Germany.
5 | Sixten Jennersjö
Some general manager is going to hear a scout say, “This guy is 6’10”” and insist on drafting the towering winger. Jokes on him: Sixten is actually 5’10”. His name is lying like it’s his Tinder bio.
Sixten Jennersjö tore up prep school hockey with 22 goals and 53 points in 33 games for Mount St. Charles Academy and is heading to Long Island University, who just started a Division I program in the NCAA last year.
He’s not going to get drafted but keep an eye on him and his excellent name — maybe he’ll be a free agent out of the college ranks in a few years.
4 | Jacob Goobie
The 5’10” Jacob Goobie had a rough year as backup for the Charlottetown Islanders in the QMJHL, posting an .878 save percentage across 16 games. It’s similar to his performance in his rookie season in the QMJHL, when he had an .876 save percentage.
Before these last two seasons, however, Goobie was a highly-regarded prospect. He was the Islander’s top pick in the 2019 QMJHL draft and was seen as their goaltender of the future at the time. There’s a chance that the competitive 5’10” goaltender could put it all together in the years to come.
Also, his name is delightful to say. Goobie Goobie Goobie Goobie.
It also immediately brings to mind the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.
“His chops are too righteous!”
3 | Bogdans Hodass
I love this name so much.
Bogdans Hodass is a 6’3” defenceman out of Latvia who is a bit of a project. He had 16 points in Finland’s junior league, good for fourth among first-time, draft-eligible defenceman, but he’s more of a defensive defenceman with a conservative, stay-at-home game. If he wants an NHL future, he needs to step up the physical side of his game.
Ironically, he needs to be more of a hard-ass.
2 | Lorenzo Canonica
This is the name of a Final Fantasy character, likely the cocky antihero who you initially fight early in the game, but then becomes your ally when you realize you were both betrayed by the villain. He’s effortlessly cool and always makes you wonder why the game designers didn’t just make him the protagonist.
Or maybe the Lorenzo Canonica is a legendary lost codex supposed to contain the writings of Jesus’ forgotten 13th disciple, who was written out of the Bible. Why? Nobody knows, but symbologist Robert Langdon has vowed to find out.
In real life, Lorenzo Canonica is a playmaking centre, who might land on the wing at higher levels. He’s got speed and a strong two-way game, but his limited offensive upside likely sees him waiting until the later rounds of the draft to be selected.
1 | Nikita Quapp
This is simply an incredible last name. I have no idea what it means and, when I looked it up, the internet simply told me, “The meaning of Quapp has not been submitted. If you have the meaning of Quapp, please submit it along with any reference pages referring to the meaning of Quapp.”
The phrase “The meaning of Quapp” is the most delightful thing I’ve ever read.
As for Nikita Quapp, he’s ranked 12th among European goaltenders by Central Scouting. The 6’3” goalie represented Germany at the World Under-18 championships and posted an .888 save percentage in two games. That’s not really an accurate reflection of how well he played given how overmatched Germany was in that tournament but he’s a longshot to get drafted.
But it would be worth it to put “Quapp” on the back of a jersey.