NHL Mock Draft 2024: Where will the stars go?

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
San Jose had luck on their side in Vegas, winning the rights to Celebrini in the 62nd Annual NHL draft.

On June 28 and 29, the Sphere in Las Vegas will host the 62nd NHL draft. Revamped in 2016 and then a second time in 2021, it is similar in many ways to the NBA draft. Both leagues share a lottery system where the worse a team finishes, the better the team’s odds are to get a top prospect. 

The NHL lottery itself was held on May 7th, where the 16 non-playoff teams had a chance to move up in draft position. The Sharks (19-54-9) finished last in the regular season with a dreadful -150 goal differential.

This meant that they were the favorites to win the draft lottery, and did end up doing so. They will have the right to whichever prospect they think is the best fit, however there is a pretty clear choice on who that should be.

1) San Jose Sharks: Macklin Celebrini, Center, Boston University

The Sharks have a lot of work ahead of them in order to become a good team, but having the honor to pick first is huge for the franchise. San Jose has used all of their first round picks since 2020 on forwards, and adding Macklin Celebrini might be what finally breaks out the young offense. As the Sharks are in a rebuilding period, it would make sense for them to use one of their two first round picks on a star studded offensive player such as Macklin Celebrini.

The 17 year old Canadien played last year for Boston University and tallied an impressive 64 points in 38 games played. He has won almost every award possible — New England rookie of the year, Hockey East Rookie and Player of the Year, Hockey East Scoring Champion, National Rookie of the Month during October and March, and winning the Hobey Baker Award — all before he was legally allowed to vote. Practically the only sure thing in the draft, it will be fun to see what the young Terrier does for the Sharks.

2) Chicago Blackhawks: Ivan Demidov, Right Wing, MHL

The Blackhawks scored big last year in the draft lottery. They came into the draft tied for second in the end of year standings before jumping to the first pick. Connor Bedard was the easy choice last year, becoming the top rookie since Auston Matthews and putting up a similar amount of points as him in 14 less games.

This year the Hawks were lucky enough to have a similar outcome, and a great choice for them is Ivan Demidov. The young winger would pair great with Bedard. An extremely dangerous offensive threat, the Russian native had videogame-like numbers, with 60 points in 30 games during the MHL last season. He has had injury problems in the past, however if he stays healthy he could be one of the leagues stars within a few years.

3) Anaheim Ducks: Artyom Levshunov, Defense, Michigan State

The Ducks have been struggling since their last playoff appearance in 2017-2018 when the rival Sharks outscored them 16-4 during their brief four game matchup. This season looked promising, with stars such as Trevor Zegras, Ryan Strome, and Frank Vatrano leading the charge to try and find a wild card bid for this season’s playoffs. Unfortunately the team was injury plagued, with Frank Vatrano being the only player on the current roster to play all 82 games. Despite the 30th place finish, if looked at the right way the season can be seen as a win. The team was able to get the third pick in the draft, as well as acquiring a first round pick from the Oilers.

One of their picks should go to the first defenseman in the draft, Artyom Levshunov. The Michigan State Spartan is one of many right handed defensemen that will be taken in the first round of this draft. A large blue line presence that will be the backbone of Anaheim for many years to come, Levshunov averaged almost a point per game during his latest season at MSU. Combined with a healthy Ducks offense, Levshunov might be what the team needs to finally make a playoff push again.

4) Columbus Blue Jackets: Cole Eiserman, Left Wing, USHL

Averaging 2.85 goals per game in the latest season, the Blue Jackets did not produce as much offense as they would have liked. Although this is not the worst in the league, they were allowing solidly over three goals against per game. Goaltending issues are typically fixed with free agency acquisitions or through trades, so it can be assumed that Columbus will likely be in search to fix that issue through their relationship with other teams.

The scoring issue can be fixed with a few young stars, the best being Cole Eiserman. At times during his short stint with the U-18 US National Team, it looked like he couldn’t miss. With 49 goals and 27 assists, the point getter is exactly what the Jackets are looking for. The only downside to this pick is the left winger would likely have to switch to the other side of the ice. With other left-siders such as Johnny Gaudreau, Dmitri Voronkov, Alexander Nylander, and a very different Patrik Laine from what was seen in Winnipeg, Eiserman will have to adapt if he wants to have a contribution to the team.

5) Montreal Canadiens: Anton Silayev, Defense, KHL

The Habs struggled this year with their depth. Top players Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Mike Matheson played great but did not have much help behind them. Montreal would love a well rounded player that can help on offense, but thrives at the blue line and in their own zone. 

Anton Silayev would be that player, sitting at the number one spot of international skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking. With similar dimensions to Shea Weber, it is hard to pass on such a good defensive player. The one downside to this pick is that Silayev is signed to play through the 2025-2026 season in Russia. This would make this pick a delayed success. The Habs are not just throwing away their first round pick, as they previously traded for the Jets’ selection later in the round. It would be imperative that if they do pick Silayev, to get an offensive threat later to secure another output of scoring for the team.

6) Arizona Coyotes/Utah: Cayden Lindstrom, Center, WHL

The Coyotes will have a lot of change in this upcoming season. It was announced very suddenly that the Arizona Coyotes will be rebranded to Utah and have a completely new name. Many names have been trademarked such as the “Yetis”, the “Ice”, and the “Mammoth”, however it will not be new owner Ryan Smith’s choice. On April 22nd during The Pat McAfee Show, Smith stated that there will be a bracket for the fans to vote on the new team name.

Although the team name may be new, the players themselves will stay the same. The team was pretty average statistically this year, finding themselves in the middle of the pack for goals scored and toward the top in goals against. For this reason, they might be looking for a solid two way player, and Cayden Lindstrom is the best choice for that. Standing at 6’3”, Lindstrom struggled with injuries last year and still found a way to put up 46 points. The downside to this pick is he is likely a long term investment that would not help in regards to the stat sheet until he gains experience.

7) Ottawa Senators: Zayne Parekh, Defense, OHL

Ottawa has struggled since their playoff run in the 2016-17 season in which they made it to the conference finals before losing to the Penguins in 7 games. Not much has happened since, only breaking 80 points once and not being able to break the 40 win mark at all. The real issue that needs to be addressed for the Senators is if they need to rebuild. Currently, they are in a half-in half-out situation with a very young team: the average age is about 26. There is much to change for the Senators, however a good start would be drafting 18 year old Zayne Parekh.

Another right handed defenseman, Parekh put up 96 points in 66 games in the OHL this past season showing he is more than just a strong skater that can avoid pressure. Parekh, like all draft picks, has room to grow still. One weakness he has had in the past is his defensive awareness, however he is still young so this is somewhat expected. With a young squad around him, the Senators could become a very dangerous team in the future.

8) Seattle Kraken: Carter Yakemchuk, Defense, WHL

The Seattle Kraken are still finding who they are in the league. Last season they snuck into a wild card position and beat the Avalanche who were the top seed and defending champions. This past year they struggled, specifically on the offensive side averaging 2.61 goals per game while simultaneously having 2.83 goals against average. The former statistic led them to be the fourth worst in the league offensively, while the latter made them tied for the eighth best defensively. 

A good pick for the new franchise would be someone who could help them on both sides of the ice, scoring goals while also improving on the already decent defense. Another right handed defenseman, Carter Yakemchuk is a big body who fits the criteria listed above. Scoring 30 goals in the WHL for the Calgary Hitmen, Yakemchuk has a hard shot as well as the ability to play physically. The Kraken should be ecstatic if they have the opportunity to draft a player that could have an immediate effect for the team. 

9) Calgary Flames: Tij Iginla, Left Wing, WHL

Calgary was yet another team that was slightly below average in almost every single category. The team had a good year in 2021-22 getting the first seed in the west before losing in five games to their rival Edmonton Oilers. They have gone downhill since, barely achieving 80 points this year and missing out on a playoff spot by a large margin.

The Flames have had previous success with Hall of Famer Jerome Iginla, and they might try to find the same luck with his son Tij Iginla. He had 47 goals this past season in the WHL and has a very valuable shot as well as strong work ethic. With a player like Iginla, the Flames could shape him into whatever they would like him to be – likely switching to the other side of the ice and working with Huberdeau for his first few seasons before moving alongside Nazem Kadri and the top line. There is no real downside to taking Tij Iginla this early in the draft. He is a very good player that may help the Flames improve their record by a few games, and with smart offseason moves, very well could be what Calgary needs to make a run for the playoffs.

10) New Jersey Devils: Zeev Buium, Defense, Denver University

There is no doubt that the Devils prospered from drafting Jack Hughes. Although missing 20 games, he still was able to put up 74 points. The team did not have a problem with putting up the goals needed to win, but did struggle defensively with 3.43 goals against per game. It would be a smart move for New Jersey to draft an offensive focused defenseman in this draft, adding on to the scoring power the team already has but also having a defensive minded player on the ice at the same time.

Zeev Buium from Denver University had 50 points last season on the Frozen Four winning squad, as well as winning a gold medal with the United States U18 teams in 2023 and 24. He has all of the credentials to be an NHL level player, it all depends on which team wants to take the young star.

11) Buffalo Sabres: Konsta Helenius, Center, Liiga

The Sabres have been struggling for a few years. They have not made the playoffs since 2011, when Ryan Miller was still between the pipes and the Bruins beat the Canucks for the Stanley Cup. Buffalo has started to pick up a little bit in the past few years, having more than 80 points in the last two seasons. Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin have also stepped into leadership roles which will only elevate the overall chemistry of the locker room.

The problem with the Sabres is they do not have enough offensive firepower. With a few injury problems, no player broke 60 points on the roster. Ranked third among international skaters, Konsta Helenius is an offensive threat that would likely be third or fourth liner for a few years, providing the Sabres with a little bit more depth at the Center position. With attributes that could make him a decent center in the league, he is a great pick but is a little too young to make an impact just yet.

12) Philadelphia Flyers: Sam Dickinson, Defense, OHL

The Flyers are in the process of rebuilding, which is a great sign because they are currently a middle of the pack team. They have been steadily increasing their amount of points every year, and were almost able to hit the 90 mark for the first time since 2017-18. For a team that is rebuilding, they were still able to produce and were close to making the playoffs. The Flyers could go many directions with their draft pick, however I think a safe choice would be with left handed defenseman Sam Dickinson.

Dickinson is another offensive oriented defender who had 70 points over 68 games in the OHL last season. He has a strong shot but the thing that attracts many teams is his 52 assists. A big and strong facilitator like Dickinson could be what Philadelphia needs to finally get back into the playoffs.

13) Minnesota Wild: Trevor Connelly, Left Wing, USHL

Minnesota is on a downward trend, only achieving 87 points this year compared to their 113 in 2021-22 and 103 in 2022-23. They desperately need to stop the bleeding, and it is not going to be through the draft that they do this. The Wild are going to have to work hard during the offseason to sign some legitimate talent before they have to commit to a rebuild.

Regardless of this, a good addition to the team would be a player such as Trevor Connelly. In the USHL, Connelly was able to achieve 78 points across 52 games. The promising lefty seems like a pick that should go earlier in the draft, however he has had some social media issues that will definitely pose a problem for any front office.

14) San Jose Sharks (Traded by Pittsburgh Penguins): Igor Chernyshov, Left Wing, KHL

The Sharks will be on the clock twice in the first round thanks to the Erik Karlsson trade that was done back in August. The Sharks will want to try and pair Celebrini with someone who has a complimenting skill set.

Igor Chernyshov is definitely a risk, however he has the potential to be extremely good and help the Sharks win a cup down the line. The young 18 year old still has yet to prove himself in the KHL, however he dominated the MHL junior league with 28 points in 22 games. He is a strong winger who has the offensive awareness to pair well with Celebrini and can take up the role of a goal scorer or playmaker.

15) Detroit Red Wings: Adam Jiricek, Defense, Czech Extraliga

Detroit is starting to return to their former glory. While they still have a long way to go, 91 points is well on their way to finding a playoff bid next year. The big issue was with their defense. A strong scoring offensive team, they averaged over 3.3 goals per game, but they let in just as much. 

Adam Jiricek is the final right handed defenseman that will be talked about, and he is someone that has the possibility to quickly become an asset for the team. Returning from a knee injury, his previous draft stock was much higher than it is now. It is a risk to take a player coming off an injury, but with the potential to be a high minute, lockdown defender like Drew Doughty it is almost certainly worth the risk.

16) St. Louis Blues: Michael Brandsegg-Nygård, Right Wing, HockeyAllsvenskan

St. Louis is still hanging around playoff territory, but they are riding a fine line of success and failure. The Blues weren’t necessarily the best at scoring, in fact they were in the bottom third of the league. They also weren’t the best at defense, sitting in the bottom half of the league in goals against as well. For how below average this team was, it is a shock that they were even as close to a playoff position as they were.

Michael Brandsegg-Nygård could be the final lottery pick. A Norwegian winger who is good on both ends of the ice, he is a player that can help the Blues prove they are a legit team. St. Louis could take this pick in many directions, however most of their issues can be fixed with free agency. Nevertheless, Nygård is a player that can fill any role and do it as soon as he enters the league. He played great in the World Juniors and might be able to give the Blues the final points they need to make the playoffs.