The Athletic: NHL Mock Draft 2024: Scott Wheeler’s final predictions for the first two rounds


Staff member

Welcome to my final mock for the 2024 NHL Draft.

Throughout the year and especially over the last several weeks, I’ve worked to gather info about team leanings, specific interest and the consensus range for players in this draft. Here, I’ve paired that with my understanding of each organization’s needs and the amateur scouting department preferences of each club. This two-round, 65-pick mock is my educated best guess for where things stand. Throughout, I’ve also made note of likely contingency plans and other considerations.

Round 1

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

No-brainer. No explanation necessary.

2. Chicago Blackhawks: Artyom Levshunov, RHD, Michigan State University

I’ve seen some others include Cayden Lindstrom and Anton Silayev in this conversation, and while I believe the Blackhawks like each, I think it has primarily been Levshunov versus Demidov here for a while and I think that’s exactly the right place to land. Ultimately, as impressive as Demidov is, I’d wager the rangy, talented, free-spirited stud defenseman will win out. The Blackhawks have prioritized speed up front and size on the back end, and Levshunov would give a strong group that already has Kevin Korchinski, Alex Vlasic, Sam Rinzel, Ethan Del Mastro, Nolan Allan and others the piece it’s missing in a potential first-pairing stud.

3. Anaheim Ducks: Anton Silayev, LHD, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod

The Ducks have been pretty quiet about where they’re leaning but the feeling I and others I’ve spoken to from around the league have about their pick is that they’re going to take a D at No. 3 (though if they don’t I do think Cayden Lindstrom is a Pat Verbeek type and I know Demidov’s stock is at its highest after Gold Star Hockey’s camp in Fort Lauderdale last week). They’ve got a really strong track record of hitting on D in recent years, I think they’d trust their group to develop a player like Silayev properly, we all know what they now have at forward with Mason McTavish, Leo Carlsson, Cutter Gauthier and company, and Silayev’s length, skating and defensive upside would just fit so naturally next to an Olen Zellweger or a Pavel Mintyukov long-term. That doesn’t mean they rule out Demidov, especially if they’re intent on moving off of Trevor Zegras and feel they could use a high-skill winger (I believe Demidov is firmly in the conversation for every team after San Jose), but Silayev feels like the best fit. I don’t think Sam Dickinson is completely out of the question here either because of his potential fit with a Zellweger or Mintyukov as well (and because of that track record with CHL D).

4. Columbus Blue Jackets: Ivan Demidov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg

I thought this pick was going to be Lindstrom (the idea of Fantilli and Lindstrom as a 1-2 down the middle is too exciting/rare to pass up, right?) right up until the last few days when I started hearing about just how impressive Demidov was in Fort Lauderdale. He’s in excellent physical shape (him looking 6 feet got the press but I was told he looks really strong and I have only heard good things about his work ethic). His English is stronger than expected. He was confident in himself and his timeline. All I kept hearing was that he was the real deal. The Blue Jackets have already got a pair of pure-skill wingers in Johnny Gaudreau and Kent Johnson, but I think Demidov plays a more competitive and driven style than either and it just feels like teams are going to have a tough time passing on him. I know they had dinner with Tij Iginla at the combine as well, but Iginla feels more like a backup plan/move-back candidate. Same goes for Zeev Buium, who I think belongs in this range and who I think the Blue Jackets like. Others will likely draw a line between Silayev and the Russians within the Blue Jackets organization or point to him being different than David Jiricek and Denton Mateychuk and therefore a fit, but he just doesn’t strike me as their type. The Russian connections also help with Demidov and I don’t get the sense that concerns some have expressed in recent months about SKA, his brother being there, etc., hang over him quite as much anymore.

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

If the Ducks and Blue Jackets don’t take Lindstrom, I think Montreal or Utah will. I know they had dinner with Tij Iginla at the combine and there is some chatter about Sennecke going really high (I had one OHL source tell me there has been chatter as high as No. 3 about Sennecke), but those feel more like Plan Bs and Lindstrom feels like a perfect fit within the forward group they already have in Montreal. If he’s a center, the Canadiens have their 1-2 with him and Nick Suzuki. If he’s a winger, it’s not hard to imagine him playing alongside (and off of) the smarts of a Suzuki. In the unlikely event that both Lindstrom and Demidov are available, I do wonder if the winds are blowing in Demidov’s direction. And if they do surprise and go with a D, I’d guess that Buium makes the most sense logically.

6. Utah HC: Sam Dickinson, LHD, London Knights

Utah didn’t tip its hat at the combine, taking a large group that included Berkly Catton, Sam Dickinson, Beckett Sennecke and Tij Iginla out for dinner. Of that group, I think Sennecke and Dickinson are the most natural fits both with how they’ve drafted in the past and within their org chart. Personally, I’d argue for Buium here. It would keep him on the West Coast close to Denver and San Diego, and he feels like the perfect foil to the lengthy D the Coyotes have targeted in the past in Maveric Lamoureux and Dmitri Simashev (if Silayev lingers and they want to triple-down on that type, he’d fit with how they’ve drafted in the past).

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

If the Senators go forward, I could see both Sennecke and Iginla making some sense (Sennecke in particular). But I still think a D makes more sense and that Parekh, in particular, feels like the perfect fit not just because he gives them something a little different to Jake Sanderson, but because he’s a righty. I believe Buium, despite being a lefty, would firmly be in this conversation, though (Dickinson too if he’s there).

8. Seattle Kraken: Zeev Buium, LHD, University of Denver

Buium should go higher than this, and I think there are good odds he does, but this has to be his floor. I don’t think there’s a better potential fit in this top 10 than Buium and the Kraken. He gets to stay close to home. The Kraken get the premium D prospect they’ve yet to draft, and one who checks all of the boxes their scouting team seems to have coveted in its infancy. I thought it was notable that he didn’t have any dinners at the combine and that none of the scouts in my scouting survey ranked him as the top D in the draft, but none ranked him last among the big group of six either and his play in college was as impactful as any freshman D I’ve watched at that level.

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

I believe the Flames would be interested in one of the top D here but I’m not convinced they’d take Yakemchuk if he’s the only one left. The Flames-Hitmen ownership ties and his Calgary roots (he trains locally with Doug Crashley, etc.) are a factors worth considering, but I wonder if their familiarity works against him, too. He wasn’t in the top 10 for most teams I’ve spoken to about him. I believe he hurt his case in the testing/interview process at the combine, too. If it’s not a D here, the belief is Iginla and Sennecke will go in this range and I think both fit with the Flames. I kept coming back to Iginla, though. There’s some smoke there, and not just because of his dad!

10. New Jersey Devils: Beckett Sennecke, RW, Oshawa Generals

There’s a belief among some scouts that Sennecke is going to go earlier than this but if he doesn’t, the Devils, who are loaded on defense and have Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier as their 1-2 down the middle long term, feel like a natural landing spot for one of the draft’s most talented wingers. Teams are excited about Sennecke’s skill level and ceiling once he adds some muscle to his lean but long frame. He’d be a great pick for the Devils. I’d expect them to consider Berkly Catton and Konsta Helenius here as well (Helenius could be an impactful middle-six center behind those other two and his timeline aligns with their desire to get better sooner than later), but Sennecke’s the consensus choice and I could see the Devils fancying the wingers. If they don’t trade the pick, he’d be a great fit.

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

The Sabres should probably trade this pick, but if they don’t I like the idea of them, with the depth of their pool and organization at both forward and defense, taking a big swing at No. 11 on a high-upside-but-also-flawed player like a Yakemchuk or a Cole Eiserman. Catton and Helenius, especially the former, should be in the conversation here, but they look a lot like what the Sabres already have. They’re in a position to try to find something different where the risks of a Yakemchuk or an Eiserman may not hurt them in ways others with a premium asset could if they don’t develop in some important areas. They can afford to shelter Yakemchuk behind the quartet of Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Mattias Samuelsson, and Bowen Byram while he works through things, too.

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

I don’t think Catton should be available for the Flyers, and I know he impressed folks in the interview process at the combine, but if he is here I can’t imagine the Flyers pass on his skill level as a potential complement to Matvei Michkov. Even if that pairing doesn’t have ideal size, the Flyers need an injection of skill into the organization and a potential first-line center for Michkov. Catton is the best bet to be that and be available. If Catton’s not here, I think Helenius is a natural fit as well, even if he doesn’t have the dynamic quality that a Catton has. Helenius is one of the smartest, most well-rounded players in the draft. He’d be able to keep up with Michkov from an IQ standpoint while also giving him more of a defensive conscience/battler than a Catton.


Konsta Helenius makes a lot of sense for the Wild with the No. 13 selection at the 2024 NHL Draft. (Mikko Kankainen / Jukurit)

13. Minnesota Wild: Konsta Helenius, C, HIFK

I had Eiserman to the Wild in my first mock and nearly picked him this time again for the same reasons, but I still believe they need and want to add down the middle and his smarts and work ethic are things they’ve targeted in players in the past. I actually think there are some lines to draw between Helenius and Marco Rossi and Marat Khusnutdinov, and I’m sure they’ll have a conversation about whether you can have too much of that thing, but the same things that drew them to those players will likely also draw them to Helenius and he might be the best of the bunch in the end.

14. San Jose Sharks (via Pittsburgh Penguins): Cole Eiserman, LW, U.S. NTDP

If Yakemchuk lingers, which I don’t think is out of the question, I’d expect the Sharks to take him here. If the big six D are gone, they feel like the earliest team that could take Stian Solberg and Adam Jiricek as well (the sense I have is that Solberg will go first). But as one scout told me recently: “My circles say if Eiserman is there at 14, San Jose won’t pass on him.” Taking Eiserman would continue to leave a huge hole in the Sharks’ pool on the back end relative to at forward, but I think the gap between Eiserman and the field of D here is strong enough that if the Sharks feel the same, I don’t mind it at all. Eiserman’s close friendship with Celebrini (they’re like family) doesn’t hurt either. Would be a great story.

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

If the draft plays out like it has and all of the quote-unquote big names are off the board, I think this pick probably comes down to four players: Michael Brandsegg-Nygard fits their profile the most; Michael Hage and Trevor Connelly (I think the Red Wings are the earliest Connelly could go, though I’d set the line at him being the pick here as the lowest of these four players) if they want to inject some skill into the pool up front; and defenseman Stian Solberg, who offers the competitiveness and physicality they’ve targeted in their D and gives them something a little bit different to a Simon Edvinsson or an Axel Sandin Pellikka. I know Red Wings fans are tired of us mocking Brandsegg-Nygard to the Red Wings, but every time I’ve thought they were going to depart from their well-rounded, 200-foot types in favor of a more pure puck-skill type they’ve doubled down, so I’m not going to predict against their mold anymore (watch this be the time, though). He’s got some skill and scoring, too, so I think Red Wings fans should still be happy with this pick if it’s him. Don’t sleep on Solberg as a potential pick here if the Sharks don’t take him, though. And if Sennecke were to somehow fall, I was told he wouldn’t get past the Red Wings. I believe this is the earliest Cole Beaudoin could go as well.
16. St. Louis Blues: Stian Solberg, LHD, Valerenga

I think there are good odds Solberg goes to both the Sharks at No. 14 and the Red Wings at No. 15, but if he doesn’t, the Blues at No. 16 and the Capitals at No. 17 — two teams that have both spent most of their recent high picks on forwards — feel like the floor for the Norwegian. His star was rising already after his play with Valerenga in the playoffs and then for Norway at men’s worlds, but that continued to build at the combine, where he impressed in interviews and testing.

17. Washington Capitals: Adam Jiricek, RHD, HC Plzen

The Capitals have used six of their last eight picks in the draft’s first two rounds on forwards and haven’t taken a D in the first round since 2018. There’s a belief among those I’ve talked to that they’re going to target a D this year after taking Ryan Leonard and Andrew Cristall last year and Ivan Miroshnichenko the year prior. Because Leonard, Cristall and Miroshnichenko are all wingers, I’d also expect centers such as Hage and Jett Luchanko to be in the conversation here. But I think if a Solberg or Jiricek is here they’re more likely to go D than center.

18. Chicago Blackhawks (via New York Islanders): Jett Luchanko, C, Guelph Storm

Luchanko’s one of the most well-liked players in the draft and fits with the speed, work-ethic combo the Blackhawks have targeted in the past. The consensus is — after his play in Guelph, his play with Canada at U18s and his performance at the combine (he’s a tremendous athlete and smart player whom teams view as a winner) — that Luchanko’s going to be a top-20 pick. If a Solberg or a Jiricek is here, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Blackhawks double down on D and then use their early second on a forward.

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

I think there are decent odds that one or two of Hage, Sacha Boisvert and Connelly are still here and I think the Golden Knights are a team that would consider drafting each, with the former two centers as the most likely candidates and Connelly as a wild card. I believe they actually consider trade value when making their picks, and Hage and Boisvert, with their size and skill (and Boisvert’s talked-about intangibles) will hold value and also immediately become top prospects for the Golden Knights if they do hang onto them. Those three feel pretty cut and dry for them, with Jiricek as a potential fourth if he’s still available, which I think is possible. I have heard chatter about Hage going earlier than this though, too.

20. New York Islanders (via Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks): Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon Lumberjacks

Boisvert is a player I only ever hear good things about from scouts and hockey folks, and one who is viewed in higher regard by teams than by public lists. His competitive, pro-style profile also fits with how they’ve drafted in the past (there are even some similarities to last year’s second-rounder Danny Nelson’s size/well-roundedness, though Boisvert has a higher upside than Nelson). There are some lines to draw between Connelly and the Islanders (Lou is a Providence College legend and Connelly’s agent is from Long Island), too.

21. Los Angeles Kings: Trevor Connelly, LW, Tri-City Storm

Someone is going to take Connelly at this point in the draft and I know the Kings have done their due diligence on him. I could also see their group fancying a Boisvert or a Beaudoin if Connelly is gone or they decide to steer clear.

22. Nashville Predators: E.J. Emery, RHD, U.S. NTDP

There are some Beaudoin to Ryan O’Reilly parallels, and I could see the Predators being interested in the well-rounded center. This is the range in which Igor Chernyshov and Liam Greentree are expected to go as well, but the Preds have a decent pool on the wing. I believe they’d like to add to their pool on D even after using one of their firsts on Tanner Molendyk last year as well, though, and the idea of Emery’s skating next to Molendyk on a potential pairing (the handedness works, too) seems too good to pass up. Those are two of the better-skating D in the sport.

23. Toronto Maple Leafs: Liam Greentree, RW, Windsor Spitfires

I could see the Leafs staff liking all of Greentree, Chernyshov (who I took in my first mock), and even guys like Andrew Basha or Terik Parascak as deeper cuts. I believe they’d like to add a D to their pool, too, but available guys like Charlie Elick would be a departure from how they’ve drafted in the past because of questions about hockey sense (though I do wonder if Brad Treliving’s stated desire to get bigger on D does begin to change the way their amateur department drafts). If they believe they can help Greentree add some pace to his game, he seems like the best fit. One name I wouldn’t be surprised they call if they go D: Dominik Badinka.

24. Colorado Avalanche: Igor Chernyshov, LW, Dynamo Moscow

The Avs bolstered their long-depleted prospect pool by adding OHL star forward Calum Ritchie and Russian defenseman Mikhail Gulyayev last year, and they need to continue to add quality prospects. Chernyshov is the consensus best-available here and is a player I could see their group liking. Chernyshov and Gulyayev are both 2005s who know each other, too, which I think helps with Russians. I could see them liking Greentree if he’s available here as well.

25. Ottawa Senators (via Boston Bruins): Cole Beaudoin, C, Barrie Colts

The expectation most now have is that Beaudoin will go higher than this, but this would be a great outcome for the Senators, who get one of the top D early and then add a pro-style, physically mature center everyone believes will be an NHLer late. Beaudoin’s also a local boy who fits with how the Senators have drafted in the past. Though I think they may begin to move away from that player type at least a little, Steve Staios will be familiar with Beaudoin through the OHL and many of their scouts remain as holdovers. Greentree and Emery are other names I could see them liking here as well. This also feels like the start of where Dean Letourneau could go and the end of where Beaudoin could go (I think he’s more likely to go higher).

26. Montreal Canadiens (via Winnipeg Jets): Dominik Badinka, RHD, Malmö Redhawks

I think there’s a chance the Canadiens trade this pick, but if they don’t, a few players come to mind as guys their group might like. At forward, I think names like Letourneau, Marek Vanacker, Egor Surin, Sam O’Reilly and Basha are types the Canadiens would like. I think this is about the earliest you could conceivably start to see the top Swedish forwards of Lucas Pettersson and Linus Eriksson go, and I could see the Habs liking each. If they take Demidov or Lindstrom early, though, I do wonder if they go D here, and I’d wager Badinka and Elick are more likely than a Henry Mews or a Leo Sahlin Wallenius just based off of what I’ve gathered about the consensus and what makes more sense for the Habs from a roster construction standpoint. I think things are trending toward Badinka being a first-rounder or close.

27. Carolina Hurricanes: Egor Surin, C, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

No team’s drafting has aligned more with my lists over the years than the Canes’ and my two best players available here are Emil Hemming and Parascak, so I’m going to put them in the conversation by default. If they go D, I could see them having some time for Sahlin Wallenius and Mews as well. They haven’t shied away from Russians either and both Surin and Nikita Artamonov are expected to enter the conversation in this type of range. I went Surin because he’s a center and they’ve drafted a lot of wingers of late (the two Swedish centers would make sense for the same reason).

The Canes feel like a potential floor for Connelly as well.

28. Calgary Flames (via Vancouver Canucks): Dean Letourneau, C, St. Andrew’s College

There are split opinions on Letourneau, with some viewing his rare finesse and skating for a player his size as appealing enough for first-round consideration, and others put off by the passivity of his game for a big man and the level of his prep school competition. I think a strong combine showing and the recent opening at Boston College that will allow him to go straight into the NCAA next year instead of to the USHL both make his first-round selection more likely and that this range is now the expectation for him. He’d also give the Flames pool something different, and I’ve been told he’s in play for the teams with two firsts, so I think they can afford to take the swing. He’s probably even more likely here if they take a D first. If they go D here, Elick and Emery come to mind as players who would give them something different relative to a Hunter Brzustewicz, a Jeremie Poirier or an Etienne Morin.

29. Dallas Stars: Ryder Ritchie, RW, Prince Albert Raiders

The Stars have used six of their last seven picks in the first four rounds across the last two drafts on D, and while I don’t think the state of their prospect pool on defense precludes them from taking another one (it’s not a world-beating group in the way that, say, Montreal’s young defense pipeline is), I do think a forward is more likely here and that a forward is quite likely to be the best player available. When I think Stars types and the players available in this range, I think Ritchie, Vanacker, Parascak, Eriksson, Pettersson, O’Reilly and maybe even a Teddy Stiga or a Basha. I wonder, with Johnston, Stankoven and Bourque all as natural centers, whether the wingers in Ritchie, Vanacker and Parascak actually make more sense for a change (I took Parascak in our podcast mock), though.

30. New York Rangers: Charlie Elick, RHD, Brandon Wheat Kings

The Rangers had success taking a big, strong, athletic Brandon defenseman when they drafted Braden Schneider, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went back here. They’ve used their first pick in the last seven drafts on a forward. I think that will change this year and while I’m partial to guys like Mews or Sahlin Wallenius, Mews is going to be a second-rounder and Elick’s size-skating package fits with how the Rangers have drafted. Emery, if he’s available, would also add length, skating and defense at an even higher grade as well (without Elick’s bite).

31. Anaheim Ducks (via Edmonton Oilers): Adam Kleber, RHD, Lincoln Stars

If the Ducks go D with their first pick, they’re probably more likely to go forward here. I do think they’re going to want to add size on their blue line with one of these two picks, though, and there aren’t bigger D in the draft than Silayev and Kleber, who’d both give them something completely unlike what they have in Mintyukov, Zellweger and company. If they do go forward here, I could see a player like Vanacker being a guy they like.

32. Philadelphia Flyers (via Florida Panthers): Sam O’Reilly, C, London Knights

O’Reilly’s stock is trending toward the first round and I like the Flyers to double down on adding centers after taking a winger (Michkov) and a defenseman (Oliver Bonk) in the first round last year, and trading for another D in Drysdale. And wouldn’t it be fun if after taking two Knights last year in Bonk and Denver Barkey, the Flyers went back there for O’Reilly and kept the gang together?

Round 2

33. San Jose Sharks: Leo Sahlin Wallenius, LHD, Växjö Lakers

After surprising by passing on filling a clear hole at No. 14 in favor of Eiserman, the Sharks make D a priority with the first pick of Day 2. I expect they’ll take a D here even if they take one 14th. If Badinka’s here, I’d think it would be him, too.

34. Chicago Blackhawks: Marek Vanacker, LW, Brantford Bulldogs

Vanacker completes a strong haul for the Blackhawks as they add a D, a center and a wing with their first three picks, each of which fits their DNA. Vanacker’s also a teammate of 2023 Blackhawks pick Nick Lardis, so they’d have had eyes on him. I think there’s a chance he goes late-first but I wonder if his recent shoulder surgery gives teams just enough pause for him to linger until early on Day 2.

35. Anaheim Ducks: Maxim Masse, RW, Chicoutimi Sagueneens

The Ducks have gone to the QMJHL regularly and I could see them looking past some of the concerns others have about Masse’s pace of play and seeing him for what he is: a well-rounded, potential middle-six winger who plays a pro style. I could see them liking Basha after watching him play a lot while scouting Lindstrom, too.

36. Columbus Blue Jackets: Andrew Basha, LW, Medicine Hat Tigers

I was told the Blue Jackets taking Michigan teammates Fantilli and Gavin Brindley and Youngstown Phantoms teammates William Whitelaw and Andrew Strathmann in 2023 was more coincidence than an actual approach, but whether or not the Blue Jackets take Lindstrom (I have them taking Demidov, obviously, but it feels close to me), they would have had a lot of eyes on Basha while scouting Lindstrom this year and I could still see them liking him here. I wonder if this is about the start of where overager Jesse Pulkkinen could go, too.

37. Winnipeg Jets (via Montréal Canadiens): Henry Mews, RHD, Ottawa 67’s

The Elias Salomonsson pick looks like a good one but the Jets’ pool is still much stronger at forward than it is on defense, and so they use their first pick of the draft to take another player, like Salomonsson, who was viewed as a first-rounder as a 16-year-old and then didn’t have the 17-year-old season many hoped for and fell to the second round as a result. There is a sense Mews might go a little lower than this, but this will be his range give or take.

38. Utah HC: Lucas Pettersson, C, MODO

Utah’s pool is deeper on defense and the wing than at center, especially if you believe Conor Geekie is a winger. They address that by taking the heady Swede, who is one of the top centers available (Eriksson would make sense for the same reason here).

39. Ottawa Senators: Linus Eriksson, C, Djurgardens IF

The Sens’ pool is depleted and they just need to add good players to give it a boost. A run of Parekh-Beaudoin-Eriksson would be a good start and add two premium positions in C and RHD. They’ve tended to like athletes over the years and Beaudoin and Eriksson both get high marks there as well.

40. Seattle Kraken: Emil Hemming, RW, TPS

I could see the Kraken going back to back with D here but I also don’t think they’re the type of team to pass on talent when it’s staring them in the face, and I could see their group being all over the skill of a Hemming or a Matvei Gridin here. I leaned Hemming after the early success they’ve had with Jani Nyman, another Finn with a similar makeup in some ways. Parascak and Stiga also strike me as their types here.

41. Calgary Flames: Harrison Brunicke, RHD, Kamloops Blazers

The Flames get a premium skill guy in Iginla with their first pick, then add two players on the back end that their pool could use more of in Elick and Brunicke. They had one of the bigger contingents at U18 worlds and Brunicke left a positive impression there. He’s also a local boy, which shouldn’t be a major factor but helps.

42. San Jose Sharks (via New Jersey Devils): Lukas Fischer, LHD, Sarnia Sting

Fischer is held in higher regard by NHL and OHL folks than public lists and I fully expect he’s going to be a second-round pick. He’s got a lot of pro tools, he has pro bloodlines and he impressed at the combine in both testing and interviews. The Sharks would be a great fit as they continue to build out their pool on D with their second pick of Round 2.

43. Buffalo Sabres: Matvei Gridin, RW, Muskegon Lumberjacks

I don’t think the USHL’s scoring leader can last long on Day 2, the Sabres (as mentioned) can afford to take some swings with their pool being where it is, and they’ve got a history of drafting Russians. He makes a lot of sense for them.

44. Pittsburgh Penguins: Terik Parascak, RW, Prince George Cougars

Just as I couldn’t see the USHL’s leading scorer lasting much longer, I don’t think the 105-point man out of the WHL will either. Parascak’s smarts, unique path and potential for growth in the gym all made me think of the type of players Kyle Dubas has liked to invest in in the past as well.

45. Minnesota Wild: Alfons Freij, LHD, Vaxjo Lakers

After going forward with their first pick (and each of their top-three-round picks in the last two drafts), I’d wager the Wild go D here. Freij, though he’s not viewed nearly in the same light by NHL teams as he is on public lists, would give them something a little different from the type they have a lot of (guys like Ryan O’Rourke, Kyle Masters and Daemon Hunt). Aron Kiviharju, Luca Marrelli and Leon Muggli could make some sense for them as well, though Kiviharju’s stock feels really cool these days.

46. Pittsburgh Penguins: Jesse Pulkkinen, LHD, JYP

Pulkkinen’s going to be the first overager picked, he’s going to be a second-rounder, and he’s another player I could see Dubas (who hasn’t shied away from taking overagers) and his group wanting to get their hands on and work with.

47. Detroit Red Wings: Ben Danford, RHD, Oshawa Generals

Danford checks the character, well-rounded, hardworking player and person boxes the Red Wings seem to really covet and it’s not hard to imagine him as an ideal third-pairing guy behind Moritz Seider, Edvinsson and Sandin Pellikka. If they don’t take a Solberg in the first round, I could see them prioritize a player like Danford here.

48. St. Louis Blues: Teddy Stiga, LW, U.S. NTDP

I think Stiga has a strong case to go earlier than this, but wingers his size tend to linger. That stops in this range for the skilled and hardworking waterbug, as I think he makes sense for the Blues if they take a D with their first-rounder.

49. Utah HC (via Washington Capitals): Adam Jecho, C, Edmonton Oil Kings

Utah continues to prioritize size with Jecho, whose statistical profile doesn’t pop but who has been on the scene for a long time, has some legitimate tools, and could become a solid bottom-sixer for them down the line.

50. Chicago Blackhawks (via New York Islanders): John Mustard, C, Waterloo Black Hawks

The Blackhawks have prioritized speed and work ethic when drafting forwards and Mustard’s one of the fastest players in the draft. If he’s available, I’d guess they’d have interest. If they go D here, some of the guys with length like a Kleber, a Brunicke or a Fischer would also check some of the boxes they’ve targeted.

51. Philadelphia Flyers (compensation pick): Luca Marrelli, RHD, Oshawa Generals

After taking centers with their first two picks, remaining D like Marrelli and Leon Muggli make some sense for the Flyers. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they considered smaller types like a Kiviharju or a Cole Hutson, but they feel a little less likely.

52. Washington Capitals (via Vegas Golden Knights): Cole Hutson, LHD, U.S. NTDP

The Caps double down on D and follow up the Jiricek pick by being the team that steps to the plate on Hutson. They didn’t shy away from Cristall a year ago and Hutson would give their pool something on D that it has absolutely nothing of.

53. Nashville Predators (via Tampa Bay Lightning): Leon Muggli, LHD, EV Zug

The Preds take Roman Josi’s countryman with their first of three late seconds. He’s going to go in this range, they could stand to continue to add on D, and I like the fit.

54. New York Islanders (via Los Angeles Kings): Tanner Howe, LW, Regina Pats

The sense I have is that Howe’s going to be a mid-to-late second-rounder and I could see the Islanders liking his competitive spirit and drive.

55. Nashville Predators: Julius Miettinen, C, Everett Silvertips

Miettinen’s trending toward going higher than this (6-foot-3 centers who work and play hard and have some skill and finishing touch don’t tend to last) but if the Preds take two D with their first two picks, I could see them prioritizing a center here and he’s one of the best left.

56. St. Louis Blues (via Toronto Maple Leafs): Simon Zether, C, Rogle BK

After taking a D and a wing with their first two picks, the Blues complete the trifecta with Zether, who I don’t think gets out of the first round as a productive 6-foot-3 center, even if his pace/skating needs work.

57. Montreal Canadiens (via Colorado Avalanche): Eriks Mateiko, LW, Saint John Sea Dogs

The Habs continue to add size with 6-foot-5 Latvian winger Eriks “Moose” Mateiko, whose game has improved rapidly in two seasons in the Q and who impressed teams in his combine interviews.

58. Anaheim Ducks (via Boston Bruins): Nikita Artamonov, C, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod

I do think there’s something to keeping Russian teammates together and after Utah (Arizona at the time) did it last year with Simashev and Daniil But, I won’t be surprised if the team that takes Silayev also takes Artamonov, whether that’s Anaheim or not. I do think the odds of Artamonov being here are less than the odds of him being gone, though.

59. Nashville Predators (via Winnipeg Jets): Aron Kiviharju, LHD, HIFK

When teams have three picks in a run like the Preds do here, they can afford to make picks like this one. I’d like this a lot for them.

60. Carolina Hurricanes: Justin Poirier, RW, Baie-Comeau Drakkar

If Kiviharju’s here, which I think is a possibility, I’d expect him to be firmly in the conversation for the Canes. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were prepared to take a swing on Hutson, either. But Poirier, one of the smallest but also most prolific scorers in the draft, is another I could see their team being more comfortable with than others as well.

61. New York Islanders (via Vancouver Canucks): Carson Wetsch, RW, Calgary Hitmen

Wetsch is another player who fits the Islanders’ DNA. He’s a worker who really gets after it and while he doesn’t have high-end skill, he might have just enough to project into a useful role player in the NHL.

62. Calgary Flames (via Dallas Stars): Matvei Shuravin, LHD, CSKA Moscow

I’m not sure the Flames would use three of their four top picks on D, even if they want to prioritize filling out that side of their pool, but I think Shuravin is going to be a second-rounder and I think they’re going to use at least two of those picks on D, so I’ll hedge my bets.

63. Seattle Kraken (via New York Rangers): Mikhail Yegorov, G, Omaha Lancers

In their first three drafts, the Kraken have taken just one goalie inside the first five rounds (Niklas Kokko). This is a weak goalie class but Yegorov really impressed in interviews and testing at the combine and feels like the most likely of the netminders in this group to be picked first.

64. Edmonton Oilers: Tomas Lavoie, RHD, Cape Breton Eagles

The former No. 1 pick into the Q hasn’t become the stud prospect some hoped for but he’s still a well-liked player and a big boy in a game that is trending that way on D. He’s not a sexy pick for the Oilers to make with their first selection but I expect he’ll go around here.

65. Utah HC (via Florida Panthers): Jacob Battaglia, RW, Kingston Frontenacs

Battaglia’s skating needs work but he has a lot of the other tools teams look for in pro wingers and his stock was on the rise in the second half of this season.

Some others whose stocks trended positively this season but weren’t selected here: Aatos Koivu, Alexis Bernier, Colton Roberts, Tomas Galvas. I think there’s a 50/50 chance a Gabriel Eliasson or a Will Skahan go in the second round as well.