Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

This is my final projection for how I think the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft will shape out. This is based largely on my understanding of the players’ skill sets, factoring in what the league in general tends to value in terms of player style and positions, what specific teams tend to value and some rumors about which players could be linked to certain clubs too.



NHL Draft Guide: Prospect rankings, mock drafts and more

For the last two years, the top 10 of my final mock has had a decent accuracy mark. I can assure you that is mostly luck. So, a caveat: I don’t know what’s going to happen — I’m just making educated guesses.

1. San Jose Sharks: Macklin Celebrini, C, Boston University (NCAA (H-EAST))

I’m 99.99999 percent sure they’re taking Celebrini. Next.

2. Chicago Blackhawks: Artyom Levshunov, D, Michigan State (NCAA (BIG10))

Our Chicago reporter Scott Powers thinks this is down to Levshunov or SKA winger Ivan Demidov. That’s what the league thinks as well, even though Cayden Lindstrom is often mentioned with Chicago too. However, as one NHL scout put it, “I would bet for at least half the league, they don’t have Levshunov/Demidov 2/3 on their list in some order.” That’s not a criticism of Chicago, it’s just the wide open nature of the top of the draft class, in that if the team order were different, the group of players being discussed would change notably (I’ve talked to at least one team that doesn’t have either player in their top five). Most of my league sources seem to think Levshunov is the likely bet here. Demidov impressed when teams met him. He’s a bit taller than expected and interviewed well, but I still think Levshunov’s toolkit and position, and familiarity with the player will persuade Chicago to take him. The way most teams tend to think is if it’s close, take the defenseman. And I’ve been led to believe that for Chicago, they think it’s close.

3. Anaheim Ducks: Anton Silayev, D, Nizhny Novgorod (RUSSIA)

Silayev checks a lot of boxes for the Ducks except for his nationality. He’s exactly the kind of player their management covets with his size, compete and hockey sense. He complements the young defensemen they have perfectly too and he fits here on talent. A lot of people in the NHL noticed when Pat Verbeek was following around Oshawa winger Beckett Sennecke in North Bay late in the season. He is often the name mentioned here by other teams as the potential “surprise” in the top five even though that name has become less of a surprise in the draft lead-up. Maybe if they trade Trevor Zegras before the draft Sennecke comes more into play. If Chicago passes on Levshunov, I don’t know which of him or Silayev would be Anaheim’s lean. I don’t think Verbeek would love the idea of taking a Russian at No. 3, but he has a strong relationship with Silayev’s coach Igor Larionov, who told The Athletic he’s talked to Verbeek quite a bit during the season about Silayev.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets: Cayden Lindstrom, C, Medicine Hat (WHL)

I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play a doctor either. All I can say is that several NHL teams have significant concerns about Lindstrom’s back injury — he had a disk herniation during the season. It doesn’t mean they are concerned to the point they wouldn’t draft him, or not draft him high, but that’s a major discussion point for any team in the mix for him. My understanding, though, is that teams have been assured by doctors he is generally healthy and can play, and it’s more about the long-term risks of drafting a big kid who has had back problems. I think Columbus is high on this player, and if the doctors clear him he’s the favorite to go at No. 4. If they don’t, then it gets interesting. Sennecke and Silayev seem to be the most common names suggested here as alternatives by other clubs. I think they like Demidov a lot but I don’t think he’s their favorite option at No. 4.

5. Montreal Canadiens: Zeev Buium, D, Denver (NCAA (NCHC))

If this scenario plays out, it will be tough on Montreal. I don’t know where the Canadiens would lean between Buium and Demidov, whom I think they both like a lot. They prefer a forward. However, they would be much more familiar with Buium even if they did get live views on Demidov. I think most NHL teams in their shoes, if they think Buium can be a premium NHL defenseman and they think the players are close on talent, would lean to the defenseman against the Russian winger. I think it would come down to how they project the two players, and how much or little of a talent gap they think there is relative to the position. Lindstrom being available at No. 5 likely means that the teams picking before Montreal had significant concerns on his back. That doesn’t mean every team will. I’ve heard enough stories of teams crossing off guys from their list due to medical issues that other teams had no issues with. However, it would be a variable, and if the medical analysis is more negative than I’m led to believe there are some in the NHL who think Lindstrom could fall on draft day. That said, I think if Lindstrom is available at No. 5, and Montreal’s doctors green-light him, then he would be the pick. If he isn’t, your guess is as good as mine. I think Montreal has a lot of interest in Silayev as well if he were to start sliding.

6. Utah Hockey Club: Sam Dickinson, D, London (OHL)

Utah likes big guys and needs defensemen in its pipeline, but also needs guys who can provide offense. I could see Buium here if he gets to No. 6, otherwise a lot of people in the league think they would lean to someone like Dickinson. Silayev would be a great fit here if he started to slip as well, although people around the league wonder if the team would take yet another Russian at No. 6 in Silayev or Demidov given it took two in the top 12 last year.

7. Ottawa Senators: Beckett Sennecke, RW, Oshawa (OHL)

As we’ve gotten closer to the draft the Sennecke hype train has continued to chug along. I think it’s gotten a bit over the top for a player who didn’t have an amazing regular season and has some minor attitude questions among teams, but he’s super talented and I get the top 10 case for sure. Around No. 7 it starts to become more of a serious conversation for Ottawa even if it would prefer a defenseman. Sennecke is one of the premium talents in the draft with true game-breaking ability. I’ve heard Ottawa linked to Dickinson and Carter Yakemchuk as well. I don’t see the Senators choosing Demidov or Silayev if available to them.

Seattle has a pressing need for a defenseman in a defense-deep draft. Yakemchuk and Zayne Parekh would be the last of the premium talents available to them in this scenario. Demidov would be in the mix here too, but my gut is they would still lean toward one of the top defense prospects, especially if players like Dickinson or Buium are available and I don’t think GM Ron Francis is a big fan of Russians high in the draft. I think Yakemchuk is more well-liked in the league than he is in public discourse as well.

9. Calgary Flames: Ivan Demidov, RW, Ska St. Petersburg Jr. (RUSSIA-JR.)

Demidov helped his status with some NHL teams (and in the eyes of my evaluation as well) by measuring in officially at nearly 6-foot-1, but for NHL teams that have already been deep diving into him, it wasn’t shocking news. Flames GM Craig Conroy met with Demidov in Florida last week along with a couple other managers with high picks. I think in the pre-draft process Calgary has had to balance the fact that Tij Iginla could be available to them at No. 9 versus the great young centers and defensemen available to them who it desperately needs. This scenario could throw those plans out, though — the Flames could just take the potential star winger and figure out the rest later. If Demidov goes fifth to Montreal, it would open up things for the more discussed scenarios such as Iginla here, or Buium/Parekh.

10. New Jersey Devils: Berkly Catton, C, Spokane (WHL)

New Jersey and Buffalo would be in a similar situation with Catton. He’s the best player available on talent likely at this pick, but they both have a lot of small forwards. Catton is a tier ahead of guys like Iginla or Konsta Helenius, so I think you bite the bullet on him and figure it out later because he’s the best asset.

11. San Jose Sharks: Zayne Parekh, D, Saginaw (OHL)

Teams take the best player available typically, but I would be surprised if the Sharks didn’t take a defenseman at 11 given how tilted their rebuild is toward young forwards currently. Parekh is the name nominated by scouts as the likeliest name considered a top 10 prospect to fall out of the top 10. Even if that’s the case I don’t see him lasting too long in the teens. At some point, his offense becomes too tempting even if there are concerns about his defense. At No. 11 that becomes the point for San Jose. I could see Stian Solberg or Yakemchuk here as well. One name teams have wondered about if the Sharks did decide to go the forward route is Cole Eiserman here.

12. Philadelphia Flyers: Konsta Helenius, C, Jukurit (FINLAND)

Philly has a pressing need to add at the center position in this draft, and it feels like the Flyers are going to have an opportunity to get one of Catton or Helenius in this draft. There are other possibilities at 12, but it’s starting to feel increasingly likely it will be one of those two players at this pick.

13. Minnesota Wild: Tij Iginla, C, Kelowna (WHL)

Iginla would fit the high compete style that Bill Guerin likes to target in his draft picks while also adding a lot of skill and goal-scoring. I think Minnesota would be highly tempted by Parekh or Yakemchuk here as the Wild don’t have a true top-end defense prospect in their pipeline if either started to slide a bit.

14. Buffalo Sabres: Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, RW, Mora (SWEDEN-2)

Buffalo has drafted a lot of smaller, highly skilled forwards in recent years. The Sabres have a deep stable of talent at both forward and defense, but up front they could use some forwards with bite and size, and Brandsegg-Nygaard has some of that. I could see Solberg or Adam Jiricek here as well if they went the defense route.

15. Detroit Red Wings: Stian Solberg, D, Valerenga (NORWAY)

I think ideally the Red Wings would prefer to add a forward at 15, but Solberg is so good, fits their identity too well and it’s no surprise he’s been a name rumored with Detroit. He’s a big, mobile defenseman who is very physical and played well versus men. MBN, Cole Eiserman or Michael Hage could fit here if they go the forward route.

16. St. Louis Blues: Adam Jiricek, D, Plzen (CZECHIA)

With the Blues likely in position to take one of the second tier of defenders in Solberg or Jiricek and that being a pressing need for them it seems like a good chance that one of those two will be their pick here. I’ve heard Jett Luchanko’s name mentioned here by some as a possibility too.

There’s a lot of helium behind Hage right now after a great second half in the USHL and he has a very good chance to be a top 20 pick. If Jiricek or Solberg got to Washington I think they would be very happy to add a potential top-four defenseman after drafting so many forwards, but I think they like Hage and he’d make sense on talent here too.

18. Chicago Blackhawks: Jett Luchanko, C, Guelph (OHL)

It feels almost likely at this point that Luchanko is going in the top 20. The league loves his two-way game, his skating and his compete. He fits the profile of the type of forward Chicago has targeted and has that profile in spades. I think Jiricek or either of the Norwegian players fit here too if they make it to 18.

This is the range where Eiserman starts becoming very tempting. He’s gotten beat up by NHL teams this season and I haven’t gotten a great sense of where he’s going to go given the overtly negative tone about him. At some point, it gets to overthinking and 19 is when he starts to look like a solid bet as someone who is going to play in the NHL and score goals. He’s the kind of player Vegas could try to bet on.

Beaudoin is a very likeable player and scouts often rave about his well-rounded game and compete level. His stock has only gone up after a great U18s for Canada and I expect him to go right around this area. The Islanders have a clear need for a legit young center talent and he’d fit here on talent too.

21. Los Angeles Kings: Liam Greentree, RW, Windsor (OHL)

Greentree’s stock got hit following his U18 worlds, but I still expect him to be a first-round pick. He has a ton of skill and scoring ability and good size, even if his play without the puck isn’t great. The Kings may move on from Arthur Kaliyev at some point, and Greentree would be a potential upgrade on that style of player.

22. Nashville Predators: Trevor Connelly, LW, Tri-City (USHL)

Connelly has been the subject of significant debate this season with teams doing a lot of background work on the player’s character. There are teams highly interested in the player, who is seen as a top 10 player on ability in this class, but there are plenty of teams who have no interest in him as well. My guess is around the 20 spot is when the talent drop-off is so significant that he will be the last highly rated player on team boards. Nashville is an organization willing to bet on high-end talent. The other common candidates are Vegas, the Islanders and Carolina.

23. Toronto Maple Leafs: Egor Surin, C, Yaroslavl Jr. (RUSSIA-JR.)

Surin is a well-liked player in the league due to a sky-high compete level and his stock is high following a great playoff in Russia’s junior level. He is a player with the traits that Toronto has tended to target in recent drafts.

24. Colorado Avalanche: Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon (USHL)

Boisvert may not have the numbers of Hage or Connelly in the USHL, but he’s a well-liked player by NHL teams due to his size and well-rounded play down the middle. I think early to mid 20s is his range right now. Colorado would be excited to add to their center depth alongside Calum Ritchie.

25. Boston Bruins: Dominik Badinka, D, Malmo (SWEDEN)

Badinka is well-liked in the league due to his size and mobility and being able to move the puck. He played well toward the end of the year in the SHL and a lot of decision-makers were going in to watch him. He could be a late first to a team like Boston.

26. Montreal Canadiens: Igor Chernyshov, LW, Dynamo Moscow (RUSSIA)

Chernyshov is a talented player, but he had some injury issues this season and with him being in the KHL, I do think there may be some risk factors that cause him to go lower than the top 20 where his talent dictates. With a second pick in the first round, Montreal takes a swing on the big, fast scorer with some power in his game.

27. Carolina Hurricanes: Nikita Artamonov, LW, Nizhny Novgorod (RUSSIA)

Carolina has not shown hesitation to take Russians over the last few drafts and the Hurricanes will likely be positioned with a late first to select a strong Russian prospect. Artamonov would be a high-end skill winger to add, but there is a chance Surin or Chernyshov get to their pick too. Carolina is seen as a floor for Connelly as well by other teams.

28. Calgary Flames: Julius Miettinen, C, Everett (WHL)

Calgary added a dynamic winger at No. 9, so at 28 the Flames can look to add to the premium positions by taking a big center in Miettinen, who can skate and provide some secondary offense.

29. Dallas Stars: Marek Vanacker, LW, Brantford (OHL)

Vanacker is an easy player to like due to his great compete level and translatable game to the NHL. His U18s weren’t good for Canada, but his stock remains high in the league and I get the sense there’s a moderate chance he can be a low first-round pick.

30. New York Rangers: Dean Letourneau, C, St. Andrews College (HIGH-ON)

The Rangers would love to add some size to their pipeline and to their center depth. By taking Letourneau, they can address both. He’s a long-term bet, but he’s a big man who can skate and has good puck skills and would be a potential third-line center of the future for them.

31. Anaheim Ducks: Charlie Elick, D, Brandon (WHL)

Elick hurt his stock at the U18s, as teams still have notable concerns on his hockey sense. This is the range of the draft or early on Day 2 where it becomes more likely for him to go. He’s extremely mobile for a 6-foot-3 defender and plays hard, and alongside Silayev, he would add a lot of size and toughness to Anaheim’s draft.

32. Philadelphia Flyers: Sam O’Reilly, RW, London (OHL)

O’Reilly is a name I’ve heard a lot as a late first-round candidate in the lead-up to the draft. It’s a tale as old as time — a London prospect having a late rise. He’s seen as a strong two-way center and has a lot of traits an NHL team will look for.

(Illustration: Dan Goldfarb / The Athletic; photos: Richard T Gagnon, Michael Miller / ISI Photos / Getty Images)

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#Final #NHL #Mock #Draft #Macklin #Celebrini #room #surprise

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