2024 NHL Mock Draft: After Macklin Celebrini, who goes in the first round?


Staff member

Welcome to my first mock draft for the 2024 NHL Draft.

With the order of the first 23 selections now set following Tuesday’s draft lottery, I’ve made each of those picks (I’ll have a full first-round mock draft and a two-round mock closer to the draft itself).

As I begin to put together my final top 100 draft board, here I take a step back from my own evaluations to consider potential targets and fits for each team. After conversations with scouts, agents, those around many players and team staff, these are my best guesses based on a combination of team need, my sense for team leanings and amateur scouting department preferences, and the consensus.

Wherever I’ve felt comfortable enough to hypothesize, I’ve also mapped out some contingencies and other likely considerations for certain picks.

1. San Jose Sharks: Macklin Celebrini, C, Boston University

It’s signed, sealed, delivered.

2. Chicago Blackhawks: Ivan Demidov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg

I believe this is a two-horse race between Demidov and Belarusian defenseman and Michigan State freshman standout Artyom Levshunov. The Blackhawks now have the next month and a half to figure out which one it’ll be. I’d expect them to meet with Demidov and his reps at Gold Star Hockey’s planned showcase in Florida the week before the draft and with Levshunov both at the combine and the Gold Star event. I’d give Demidov the pole position if everything goes well in his meeting and the Blackhawks feel comfortable with the practicalities of drafting a Russian. Either way, look for one of Dan Milstein’s star clients to become a Blackhawk. They don’t have to operate in silence, either, because they’ll get whoever they settle on. Demidov is probably the most purely individually skilled player in the draft and would complement Bedard well both at five-on-five and on the power play. He’s got the desired work ethic the Blackhawks covet as well. Sticking at No. 2 is a game-changer for them.

3. Anaheim Ducks: Artyom Levshunov, RHD, Michigan State University

After the Jamie Drysdale-for-Cutter Gauthier swap and the use of recent high picks on Leo Carlsson and Mason McTavish, the belief among scouts I’ve talked to is that the Ducks will target a defenseman with their pick. If the Blackhawks take Demidov, Levshunov comes into focus. If the Blackhawks take Levshunov, the Ducks will likely consider and do their due diligence on each of towering Russian defenseman Anton Silayev, Denver breakout star Zeev Buium and London Knights two-way stud Sam Dickinson. With what they already have in Olen Zellweger and Pavel Mintyukov, I wonder if the size and defensive ability of Silayev and Dickinson will win out over Buium’s more active game. It’s worth noting both Mintyukov and Zellweger are lefties and so are Silayev, Buium and Dickinson, which may place an even greater premium on Levshunov. It’s also worth noting they’ve had a lot of success with CHL D, which could help Dickinson factor into the conversation if they trust their scouts there — even if he’s not the consensus guy at No. 3 league-wide.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets: Anton Silayev, LHD, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod

I took Medicine Hat center Cayden Lindstrom for the Blue Jackets in our staff mock, and I do still think the appeal of a one-two punch of Adam Fantilli and Lindstrom, with their similar makeups and their ideal size and skating, is and will be a strong consideration for them. But the more I’ve asked around in the last couple of days and the more I’ve thought about it, the more Silayev has come into focus. There’s the obvious connection to their many Russians within the organization, but he also just fits as a left-handed foil to a righty in David Jiricek, and the idea of their back end of the future built around the size, skating and defensive upside of Silayev; the boldness of Jiricek; and the capabilities of Denton Mateychuk is extremely appealing in its own right.

5. Montreal Canadiens: Cayden Lindstrom, C, Medicine Hat Tigers

With Kaiden Guhle already established and Lane Hutson, David Reinbacher and Logan Mailloux coming, plus several other young D who could factor into the depth chart in Montreal, the Habs are in a unique position in that in a draft highlighted by its half-dozen top D prospects, they shouldn’t feel the need to target one and can instead look at the impact forwards. If the Blue Jackets don’t take Lindstrom, he’s a natural priority for the Habs as desired size down the middle and the second top-six center they so desperately need behind (or maybe someday in front of) Nick Suzuki.

6. NHL Utah: Zeev Buium, LHD, University of Denver

The strength of the Coyotes’ pool at forward (Logan Cooley, Dylan Guenther, Daniil But, etc.) and on defense (Dmitri Simashev, Maveric Lamoureux, etc.) allows them to focus on taking the best player. It doesn’t hurt that that player is a California kid who plays a short flight away in Denver and whose game could really complement the length of Simashev or Lamoureux on Utah’s blue line of the future. Buium to Utah makes a lot of sense.

7. Ottawa Senators: Zayne Parekh, RHD, Saginaw Spirit

The expectation is the Senators will prioritize a defenseman with this pick. I know Steve Staios, with his connections in the OHL, will have a full book on Parekh and Dickinson. I think they’d like to get a righty over a lefty if possible, though, and while that could put Carter Yakemchuk and his size-shot-skill combo in the mix, Parekh’s unique point-producing ceiling probably should — and I think will — win out.

8. Seattle Kraken: Sam Dickinson, LHD, London Knights​

The Kraken have made 11 picks in the first two rounds of the draft since their inception. They’ve used eight of them on forwards, just two on defensemen (Lukas Dragicevic and Ryker Evans) and one on a goalie. All three of their first-round picks have been forwards. Their first three picks in each of the last two drafts have all been forwards. They’ve built a strong pool at forward in a short period. It’s time they use a premium pick on a D and Dickinson is the best available in this scenario. I think their group will consider Yakemchuk as well (they took two WHL D last year in Dragicevic and Caden Price), but Dickinson’s better skating and defense should win out. If Parekh is available, I think they’d give him a long look as well. Their group has not shied away from betting on skill or players other teams have questions about.

9. Calgary Flames: Tij Iginla, C/LW, Kelowna Rockets

If the No. 1-8 picks play out the way I have them here, or if those above eight players are all gone, this is where I think the draft will start to open up and become less predictable because the Flames have used their last four first-round picks on forwards going all the way back to Juuso Valimaki in 2017 and could use one of the top D (the acquisition of Hunter Brzustewicz helped add to a pool that was thin on D, as did taking Etienne Morin with their second-rounder a year ago, but they could still use a true stud). The best D available is Yakemchuk. He has played in their backyard all year with the Hitmen, who are jointly owned by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation. And while we’ve seen ownership connections play out before (Dallas owner Tom Gaglardi also owns the Kamloops Blazers and the Stars have drafted two of their players in recent years, for example), I do wonder if it may also work against Yakemchuk, whose warts they will also know. Sometimes overexposure isn’t a good thing.

Iginla to the Flames makes a lot of sense, and doesn’t feel like a nepotism pick either. Many believe he’s going to go in this range and he fits with the type of players the Flames have drafted. Plus, they don’t have to worry about whether he’ll want to stay, which, whether they’d admit it or not, does feel like it still looms over the Flames after the departures of Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau and company. Iginla would give them some scoring punch and top-of-the-lineup upside. Matt Coronato, Connor Zary and Samuel Honzek are all very good players; I’ve always been higher on those first two than most. But they’re missing a game-breaker and if things break right, Iginla could be that in a way some aren’t convinced Konsta Helenius can be. Certainly, Cole Eiserman and Berkly Catton also have that quality, but it’s close enough that I think Iginla wins out.

10. New Jersey Devils: Konsta Helenius, C, Tappara

If the Devils don’t move this pick, the expectation is they’ll take a forward after using their last two high picks on D in Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec (they’ve obviously just signed Seamus Casey, who I think has a real chance to become a good NHL defenseman — and one I think they believe in). The three best forwards available are Helenius, Eiserman and Catton. Helenius’ pro readiness (his coach this season, Olli Jokinen, told me he thinks he’s ready to compete for an NHL job next season) fits best within their timeline. There’s appeal to the idea of Jack Hughes feeding Eiserman on the power play, but I wonder if the troubles they’ve had getting another flawed goal-scoring winger in Alexander Holtz to where they want him makes them gun-shy. And Helenius’ game is more likely to work behind Hughes and Nico Hischier than Catton’s. You can build a contending team around a 1-2-3 down the middle of Hughes, Hischier and Helenius.

11. Buffalo Sabres: Carter Yakemchuk, RHD, Calgary Hitmen

Catton and Eiserman are obviously high-end talents to be available at No. 11. Beckett Sennecke has worked his way into this range on the back of his skill level as well. Catton, in particular, fits with the kind of forward they’ve drafted in recent years. And while they have shown a willingness to keep taking like-minded and built players, I do wonder if there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. They’ve used nine of their last 11 top-40 picks on forwards (Owen Power and Ryan Johnson being the only exceptions) and if one of the top D in the draft is available, they should be all over it. A blue line of Power, Rasmus Dahlin, Mattias Samuelsson and Yakemchuk certainly has the size every team covets nowadays, and hey, maybe they can bring back the two-D power-play unit to take advantage of Yakemchuk’s shot and skill.

12. Philadelphia Flyers: Berkly Catton, C, Spokane Chiefs

A year after Matvei Michkov fell to them and they pounced, the Flyers do the same with Catton and add Matvei’s potential future linemate. Catton’s skating and skill could really function off of Michkov’s smart, tactical attacking. This feels like a no-brainer if Catton’s available, especially after losing Gauthier. They need to draft and develop a top-six center of the future and if Catton or Helenius are still there, and I think there’s a good chance one is, they should be all over it.

13. Minnesota Wild: Cole Eiserman, LW, U.S. NTDP

The Wild have used their last seven top-two-round picks on forwards and the young D in Iowa struggled last year, but Brock Faber helps reduce the need to get a premium D, and with the top defenders in the draft all gone, I like them taking a swing on Eiserman. He played his final years of minor hockey at Shattuck, committed to Minnesota before decommitting to be closer to home, and has the ability to become the one-shot game-breaker the Wild have so often lacked. After Danila Yurov’s success down the middle this season, they don’t need to feel quite as pressed about their center-ice position either. They learn their lesson in reaching on Charlie Stramel for position last year and get back to taking cuts.

14. San Jose Sharks (via Pittsburgh Penguins): Adam Jiricek, RHD, HC Plzen

With Celebrini, Will Smith, Quentin Musty, Filip Bystedt, David Edstrom, William Eklund and company, the Sharks suddenly have a really good young group of forwards to build around. And while Shakir Mukhamadullin has grown on me, I think Luca Cagnoni has a real chance to surprise some people and I don’t mind some of their other B-level prospects like Mattias Havelid, they should look to use this pick on a defenseman and can afford to be the team that takes Jiricek — viewed as a potential top-10 pick last summer before two knee injuries derailed his season and turned him into a wild card in the first round in their rebuild.

15. Detroit Red Wings: Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, RW, Mora IK

I think the Red Wings could really use an injection of a skill-first type at forward in their pool, and there are two of them here in Sennecke (who many expect to go top 15 and maybe even top 10 at this point) and Trevor Connelly, but I’ve said that over the last couple of drafts and they just keep going after the well-rounded, projectable top-nine players with high-end work ethic. Brandsegg-Nygard fits their DNA to a tee and has real secondary offense as a scorer with some B-level skill/feel/skating to complement his motor and competitiveness.

(This will be the year they break away from it and take a Sennecke or Connelly type instead.)

16. St. Louis Blues: Beckett Sennecke, RW, Oshawa Generals

Based on pool needs, I’m sure the Blues would like to take a D here in a best-case scenario. But based on the talent pool in this draft, the mid-teens range is going to be where the top D and centers are gone and the gap between the high-skill wingers who are left and the next-best player at another position should be wide enough that teams take them anyway. I think Sennecke will likely be picked before this, but given the ordering of the teams and the needs of some of those in front of them, it feels like a talented forward or two will be available here. The Blues should probably take whoever that is. I could see them taking Jiricek and maybe the next player selected here as well, though.

17. Washington Capitals: E.J. Emery, RHD, U.S. NTDP

If there’s going to be a D who jumps up into the teens and maybe surprises some fans, it’s starting to feel like it could be Emery. He left a positive final impression on everyone at U18 worlds and I think he’s going to impress more people at the combine both in the testing and interview process. His length, skating, untapped physical potential and developing puck game have a lot of draw for teams. The Capitals, after taking forwards Ryan Leonard and Andrew Cristall with their first two picks a year ago, feel like a potential fit (he also lines up with the kind of D they targeted when they drafted players like Vincent Iorio and Ryan Chesley).

18. New York Islanders: Trevor Connelly, LW, Tri-City Storm

Connelly’s the clearcut most talented player left and whenever I’ve thought about which teams might take him, I’ve come back to Lou Lamoriello (a Providence College legend, where Connelly is committed) and the Islanders (who could really use his skill).

19. Vegas Golden Knights: Michael Hage, C, Chicago Steel

This is the point in the draft where I think Hage’s premiums of position, size and skating (plus the talent, playmaking, etc.) will start to feel distinguished from the remaining crop of players for some teams. Those are things that teams also covet in trades, and knowing Vegas, he’ll just be moved anyway. In all seriousness, though, the Golden Knights have selected their fair share of USHL players, have gone to the Steel-to-Michigan pipeline in the first round once before with Brendan Brisson, could use a natural center in their pool after trading Edstrom, and will likely actually consider that Michigan plays their young players and a strong freshman year is a real possibility for trade value as are all the eyeballs that team gets on them. If he becomes a trade asset in their never-ending contending window, great. If they hang onto him, he might be the best player available and a real part of their future. It’s a win-win!

20. Chicago Blackhawks (via Tampa Bay Lightning): Jett Luchanko, C, Guelph Storm

If the Blackhawks take Demidov, I could see more of an urge for them to take a defenseman here. If they take Levshunov, a forward like Luchanko fits with what they’ve prioritized in recent years (chief among them: skating). I’ve got them taking Luchanko here even after taking Demidov if only because this isn’t a range in which many teams will have a D at the top of their lists and Luchanko has pushed himself from the 30s conversation into the 20s conversation. He’s going to further solidify himself in this range in combine testing, too.

21. Los Angeles Kings: Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon Lumberjacks

Boisvert is a well-liked player whose size (with its room to fill out), competitiveness, intangibles, developing power game and decent skating and skill will have a lot of appeal for teams. I’ve had folks dangle top-15 hints to me about him, but a three-points-in-eight-games playoffs probably lands him about here and the Kings don’t have a ton in the pipeline at center anymore.

22. Nashville Predators: Cole Beaudoin, C, Barrie Colts

I know Barry Trotz has talked a lot about using the draft to inject skill and upside into the Predators organization, and that’s not Beaudoin’s M.O., but they’ve also seen the difference Ryan O’Reilly’s two-way game of detail and defensive positioning can make on their roster, and that’s what Beaudoin’s building toward. One of the fittest, strongest, hardest-working players in the draft, Beaudoin’s a projectable third-line center who impacts the game beyond the scoresheet and has put himself in the first-round conversation by turning himself into one of the age group’s most likeable players. If the D they like are gone, I think they’re more likely to target a center than one of the more talented wingers available here if only because they already have Matthew Wood, Joakim Kemell, Zachary L’Heureux and others coming on the wing.

23. Toronto Maple Leafs: Igor Chernyshov, LW, Dynamo Moscow

There are a number of players I could imagine the Leafs group liking here. They’re always dialed in on all of the OHL guys and I could see them looking past Liam Greentree’s disappointing U18 worlds (and Marek Vanacker’s because he was banged up) and appreciating what his game is about and what he accomplished in Windsor the last two seasons. I could see them liking Medicine Hat’s Andrew Basha and his competitiveness-skill combo. I could see them liking the smarts of Terik Parascak. But they’ve also shown a willingness to draft Russians, there will be a case for Chernyshov as the best player available in the mid-20s, and his game has some of the qualities they look for.