2024 NHL Draft Preview

Are the Flyers just one more player away? There are five defensemen within my top 10 and 12 in my top 32, which is a big increase.  Sam Dickinson and Artyom Levshunov are two highly touted, mobile, and strong two-way defensemen who possess a lot of upsides. Following them are Henry Mews, Adam Jiricek, and Aaron Kiviharju as the next top defenders available. But overall, the skillset from both the forwards and defenseman is strong, even though this draft isn’t as deep. 

Cream Of The Crop

1. Macklin Celebrini, C, Boston University (NCAA)

Even though his draft year is going to be delayed after recovering from shoulder surgery. Celebrini still remains the top prospect for this draft class. Even before the 2024 draft season started, he was a human highlight reel with the Chicago Steel in the USHL­– putting 86 points last season– and for Team Canada at the World U18 Championship. It’s clear to see why he’s the top name. Celebrini is dangerous in every sense when he’s on the ice. From his playmaking to his goal-scoring, he will hurt you offensively.

Not Bedard But I Will Take Him

He has great control of the puck, making soft touches to make moves at a quick pace. Along with his strong and lightning-quick accurate shot. He is an offensive powerhouse. He plays with a great amount of poise as he has a strong IQ on both sides of the puck, showing his ability to be a workhorse constantly. He’s strong on the forecheck to get the inside edge and win puck battles and excels at driving hard to the net and middle of the ice.

Philly Sports Trips 2023 Football

The Crop

2. Cole Eiserman, LW, USA U18 (NTDP)

Already being compared to Auston Matthews and Alex Ovechkin. Eiserman’s shot is truly deceptive with his release as he can change the angle slightly in order to fool goaltenders. He has great accuracy in picking his spot and rarely misses when he does. He’s always making himself available on quick passing plays. Even when he sets up a powerful one-timer or snapshot. He does a great job of locating the puck right in front of the net, making quick moves to beat goaltenders or find a rebound opportunity. While he’s known for his shot, he also displays a great work ethic to hunt the puck down and show a competitive drive. 

Rest Of The Crop

3. Ivan Demidov, RW/C, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)

Whenever I’ve seen him play, Ivan Demidov has continued to amaze and impress me. Everything he does is effortless as he’s truly dynamic, playing at a high pace and showing elite-level skill and creativity. He utilizes his size extremely well, defending the puck with his body, and combines that with his quick hands to pull off quick dekes and fool defenders every time. He’s unpredictable as you never know what he’s going to do when he has possession, playing with a great amount of pace.

His slick playmaking and lightning-quick release make him a dual threat offensively. Can draw players in to open up the ice and distribute the puck. Can use them as a screen to get a shot off and find the back of the net. He has great speed to attack the neutral and offensive line and when cuts to the side, he never breaks stride or loses control of the puck. He never panics and is always calm in high-pressure situations.

4. Sam Dickinson, LD, London Knights (OHL)

 From his ability to move the puck swiftly to lead an attack or make strong breakout passes. He is effective every time he is on the ice. He can make smart reads knowing when to jump into the attack has strong gap control, is great with one-on-one coverage defending against the rush, and isn’t afraid to get physical when he needs to. I’ve said it before, but he’s going to have a strong season with the Knights.

He Is Top 5

5. Artyom Levshunov, RD, Michigan State (NCAA)

While all eyes are starting to be on Dickinson. Levshunov isn’t going to go quietly as he’s just as efficient leading the play from the backend. His impact to be a constant presence in the offensive zone is always noticeable. Walking the line to get open for a shot, or activating the cycle and attacking the middle of the ice. His defensive game also stands out in regard to his punishing physicality and ability to smoother attacking forwards and take away any opportunity. Committed to Michigan State this season. His refined two-way game is going to make him a household name.

Solid Future Building Blocks

6. Berkly Catton, C, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

Yes. Berkly Catton is undersized at 5-foot-11, 163 pounds, but he is such a dynamic catalyst and can take control of any situation that he’s in. He doesn’t take a shift off showing great drive and offensive instincts and when his team needs him, he steps up big time. If you saw him at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, he came up clutch at multiple moments for Canada, scoring eight goals. He excels in all three zones whether he has possession of the puck or not. The vision and awareness he possesses are outstanding, allowing him to still play with a great amount of pace, speed, and skill. 

Blocks

7. Henry Mews, RD, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Leading all defensemen at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in points with seven, Mews was a major factor offensively in regard to his mobility and ability to lead an attack. He displays great IQ with every decision he makes, a strong competitive level, and a responsible shutdown game. He’s strong in transition with his skating and has a knack for always getting pucks through on the net effectively. He knows when to prioritize defense to help get into lanes and take time and space away from the puck carrier. He’s intense when battling for possession and is always displaying a strong work ethic. 

8. Konsta Helenius, RW, Jukurit (Liiga)

A very skilled and energetic playmaker. Helenius continues to combine a great combination of vision and creativity with the puck. Displays great patience and precision with the puck when he has control, constantly drawing in the opposition and evading pressure. He can put the puck into the open ice easily and has the speed to recover and regain possession of the puck. He has a great burst of speed to engage on the forecheck and despite being a smaller player, he can protect the puck effectively and isn’t afraid of getting involved physically. 

Top 10

9. Adam Jiricek, RD, HC Plzen U20 (Czechia) 

Jiricek is poised for a strong year just like his older brother David. Adam is trying to match the success he had as he plays a similar style with the offensive mindset and ability to rush the play. He got a strong look in the top Czech league with two assists in 12 games last season and is looking to build off that this season. Jiricek possesses great vision in transition, constantly finding the open lanes and attacking with speed. He can be aggressive when in the neutral and offensive zone, but there always seems to be some sort of reward at the end of the play. His defensive game is a work in progress, but there are some things to like such as his gap control and aggressiveness to break up plays. 

Role Players Or Diamonds In The Rough

10. Aron Kiviharju, LD, HIFK (Liiga)

It’s hard to find the poise, confidence, and smarts in a defender at such a young age. For years Kiviharju has been displaying consistently for years now as he continues to show that he’s a top name in this year’s class. The 17-year-old has excelled at every level he has played in and for him to be a teenager in the top Finnish league is absolutely impressive. He’s such a smooth and agile skater displaying great balance and edges and is constantly pushing the play forward. He has excellent puck skills and control when walking the line to evade attacking forwards and he knows exactly when to pick his spots and jump into the attack. 

11. Beckett Sennecke, RW, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Sennecke has been low on some rankings as they start to come out. Call me a big fan of his after he was extremely impressive as a rookie, putting up 55 points with the Generals. I was always drawn to him on the ice with his creativity, powerful shot, and ability to think on his heels in one-on-one situations. He can be very illusive with the moves he makes on open ice or rifle it for a shot on goal. He can create plays from nothing and turn them into high-quality and dangerous opportunities. Even with his quick tape-to-tape passes, he opens things up quickly for his teammates. He needs to add some quickness to his game, but the skillset and ability to produce are starting to shine as he continues to make a name for himself. 

Role Players

12. Zayne Parekh, RD, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

This class is full of dynamic and dangerous weapons from the backend and Parekh is another one that continues to stand out. He set a rookie goal-scoring record as a 16-year-old last season as a result of his ability to read the play and pick his spots to join the attack. He has a quick and accurate wrist shot and his playmaking abilities are some of the best in this draft. He’s elusive with his skating and edgework and can connect easily with his passing and puck distribution.

He’s not physical, but he’s still a smart defender who can break up plays with an active stick and quickly transition the other way. He was fun to watch as a rookie and he’ll be even more fun to watch throughout his draft year. 

Cherry Law Firm Website Banner

More Role Players

13. Michael Brandsegg-Nygård, RW, Mora IK (Hockey Allsvenskan) 

The Oslo, Norway native has been tearing up the U20 level in both Norway and Sweden. As a result of his goalscoring abilities and overall smarts in the offensive zone. Brandsegg-Nygård– who was above a point per game last season with 38 in 35 games– possesses a heavy shot from anywhere on the ice. He has great awareness to find the open ice for a wrist shot or winding up for a one-timer, displaying his powerful release with great accuracy.

Has great speed to hunt down loose pucks, showing a strong work ethic and to regain possession and create quality chances in the offensive zone. He already has four goals and eight points in two games this season. He’s already establishing himself as an offensive powerhouse.  

More Role Players

14. Anton Silayev, LD, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)

Anton Silayev is going to be the most intriguing name in the 2024 NHL Draft. Initially, he wasn’t on the radar of many scouts, but once the KHL season got underway, Silayev jumped off the page with his all-around skillset. At 6-foot-7, 207 pounds, the 17-year-old already earning big minutes– averaging 17:56 per game– and is making every second count when he’s on the ice.

It’s difficult for players his age to get the ice time that he does. He’s making it count with six points in eight games. His mobility, puck movement, and hockey sense have been on display as he continues to make a name for himself. He’s already an early riser and will continue to do just that. 

15. Igor Chernyshov, LW, MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL)

Igor Chernyshov is a highly competitive and energetic playmaker who plays a responsible game on both sides of the puck. He’s always wanting to make something happen as he has a great work ethic and drive to take control of a shift and he’s always buzzing when he has the puck. He’s always making himself available for a pass or as a shooting option.

He has great speed to drive hard to the net and to be a factor on both sides of the puck. He can establish a forecheck and cycle and without the puck, he can close gaps quickly and anticipate plays very well.

GM’s Earn Their Money

16. Maxim Massé, RW, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL) 

The reigning QMLHL rookie of the year is already off to a great start in preseason for the Saguenéens with four goals in five games. Massé is a very versatile and dangerous goal scorer– scoring 29 last season­– who can either beat you in tight of the net or from far out with his swift wrist shot. Although he doesn’t have the best speed or skating, he makes up for it with his work ethic, positioning, and power game when in the offensive zone. He likes to wreak havoc in front of the net, digging for loose pucks, and screening goaltenders in order to take advantage and find the puck for an easy opportunity.  

Gets Interesting

17. Cole Hutson, LD, USA U18 (NTDP) 

With older brother Lane making strides as one of the top prospects for the Montreal Canadiens, Cole is definitely going to follow in his brother’s footsteps as a high-octane, puck-moving defenseman. Like his brother, Cole is extremely dynamic in transition, finding the open lanes with ease with his skating and agility.

He’s quick and very deceptive with his movements and he always seems to be one step ahead of his opponent. He needs work within his own end, but he has more potential with his defensive game. He was a standout with 12 points in seven games at the World U18 Championship with his playmaking vision and offensive game. 

18. Ryder Ritchie, RW, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

After being named WHL rookie of the year last season with 55 points, Ritchie didn’t stop there as he was a force with Team Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with nine points in five games. Needless to say, he’s going to build off his recent success and continue to dominate his league.

Ritchie is a very elusive, deceptive, and dynamic playmaker, using his high-end speed, strong crossovers, and edges to always play at a fast pace. He’s so confident in carrying the play himself as he’s able to maintain great control and leave defenders in the dust. It wouldn’t surprise me if he continues to climb my list as the season progresses. 

Reaching?

19. Cayden Lindstrom, C, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL) 

Cayden Lindstrom is probably going to be my favorite player in this class. Already possesses an NHL-like frame (6-foot-5, 205 pounds) and skills that’ll make him a threat at the next level. After registering 42 points in 61 games with the Tigers last season, he’s definitely looking to improve on that this season.

Moves extremely well for his size and has a long and smooth stride and great breakaway speed. Has great puck protection skills, using his size to his advantage and his stick handling in tight spaces with his long reach and control. He displays a strong work ethic without the puck as well, hustling back on the backcheck to pressure opponents. He scored Canada’s first goal in the gold medal game at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, showcasing his speed and skill in front of the net. 

20. Michael Hage, C, Chicago Steel (USHL) 

If Hage had been healthy last season. He would’ve been just as impactful and another threat along with Celebrini on the Steel. However, 10 points in 13 games when he played was a great start as he’s looking to continue that trend. Now that he’s healthy, he’s looking to bring his high-octane offensive game and pace of play to the table.

He’s great on both sides of the puck, using his high-end puck skills, creativity, and IQ in the offensive zone and his off-the-puck sense and ability to force turnovers is strong. He’s quick and agile with great edges to get himself out of tough situations and you see him rarely panic, showing great composure. 

Let’s Take A Shot

21. Carter Yakemchuk, RD, Calgary Hitmen (WHL) 

When you see Carter Yakemchuk’s play, he truly is dynamic when he’s in control of the play. He plays at a great level of pace as an offensive-minded defenseman. But it’s his decision-making with the puck and thinking at a quick rate that stands out. He’s very confident when it comes to that aspect. Whether it’s in transition or jumping into the cycle in the offensive zone, he’s always finding a way to be involved with his awareness. At 6-foot-2, 194 pounds, he’s extremely quick and mobile displaying great speed and edges. He has great hands, a strong point shot, and the mindset to impact the game.  

22. Tanner Howe, LW/C, Regina Pats (WHL) 

Even though he won’t be with Connor Bedard this season. Howe is expected to take a big step and build off the 85 points he had in 2022-23 and 154 in total in the WHL. He’s extremely skilled when the puck is on his stick and displays a strong work ethic and motor when he doesn’t have it. He’s constantly hunting down loose pucks and is looking to regain possession. He has great puck control and hands, pulling off moves in tight areas to make quick dekes, and does a great job of manipulating plays and fooling the opposition. 

How’s Your Aim

23. Emil Hemming, LW/RW, TPS U20 (SM-sarja)

He’s a 6’2″ winger who looks like a dual threat offensively. He has a wicked shot that they relied on a lot in the powerplay and is definitely his biggest weapon. But he also showed some nice puck handling and deception to open up more shot opportunities, and some playmaking that wasn’t as consistent but flashed high level. A strong season in Finland’s U20 junior, maybe some Liiga play, could push him into the borderline first-rounder range.

He’s only 17 years old. But Emil Hemming is already off to a torrid start. At the U20 level, he has eight goals and 13 points in six games and he scored his first goal in his first game in the Liiga. He’s always finding the open ice to get into a prime shooting target and unleashing his shot. He’s got a lightning-quick release, especially when he gets control of the puck off a draw. He does a great job of utilizing defenders as a screen and can be very deceptive with his movements. He’s got great hands as he’s a crafty and smart playmaker, drawing players in and always connecting with his teammates. 

A Wheat King

24. Charlie Elick, RD, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) 

Drafted third overall in the 2021 WHL Draft, Charlie Elick is more of a defensive specialist as he plays a smart, shut-down game. Even though he had 11 points all last season. He’s still a factor offensively with his transitional play and accurate breakout passing. He thrives within his own end, getting into lanes to block a shot, and has an active stick to break up plays. He’s strong at defending the rush and in front of the net and isn’t afraid to step up and be physical on the puck carrier. He’s smart positionally in all three zones and if the points come, he’ll be even more valuable. 

Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

25. Anthony Cristoforo, RD, Windsor Spitfires (OHL) 

Anthony Cristoforo was an under-the-radar player and even last season with the Spitfires. He was very effective and creative with his puck distribution and playmaking abilities. Showing great patience with the puck. His head is always up scanning lanes and finding teammates in the open ice. Can walk the line quickly to get into position and has the speed and edges to quickly get around defending players in the offensive zone. He takes chances, but it isn’t a detriment that can have a negative impact. He needs to get stronger, but the upside and offensive instincts are evident.

More Guessing

26. Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) 

Boisvert had an impressive rookie campaign in the USHL. He finished sixth in rookie scoring with 45 points. He has great awareness and strong goal-scoring abilities, be it with his quick release with his shot or even attacking the net with his strong puck skills. He’s always in a position to battle for the puck and get the inside edge to create separation and is quick on retrievals. He’s a dual offensive threat as he’s also a very deceptive playmaker, working give-and-go’s and making crisp cross-ice passes. 

27. Cole Beaudoin, C, Barrie Colts (OHL)

Cole Beaudoin is a highly energetic player and possesses a work ethic and motor that doesn’t quit. He brings a great balance to his skill set but also the intensity with his 6-foot-2, 201-pound frame to be physical and to challenge and pressure opponents. He’s always going to the dirty areas of the ice to constantly battle for the puck and isn’t afraid to get in and establish a forecheck with his speed and positioning. He had 20 points last season for the Colts and looked to have taken a big step in his game with a strong performance at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with six points in five games.

1st or 2nd Round

28. Alexander Zetterberg, C, Örebro HK J20 (Nationell) 

This might be a down year for Swedish prospects, but Alexander Zetterberg still has a lot to offer as a high-octane center. He’s undersized at 5-foot-8, 159 pounds, but that doesn’t hold him back as his high-end skill set and skating are evident. Quick on his feet and extremely agile, displaying strong edges, evading pressure, and getting to the middle of the ice. He’s got a quick release and is extremely crafty with the puck, displaying great control to make moves at a fast pace. He’s already off to a hot start in the National with seven points in eight games. 

29. Liam Greentree, RW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

Liam Greentree was one of the most dangerous rookies last season. Being named to the 2023 First All-Rookie Team. Greentree plays with a great amount of power and pace. While he can look to improve his overall speed, he’s still strong with his crossovers and edges and does a great job utilizing his size and skill to get to the small areas and make moves in tight spaces. He has great hands and a goal-scoring ability that makes him very lethal in the offensive zone.  

1st Or 2nd Round

30. Zeev Buium, LD, USA U18 (NTDP) 

Zeev Buium excels at controlling the play and being a real catalyst from the backend. He had 40 points last season with the NTDP and is constantly driving the play and leading an attack with his mobility. He doesn’t crack under pressure as he’s always able to evade with his quick pivots and edgework. He’s a strong playmaker and is always creating something out of nothing. He definitely has a lot of upsides as a strong puck-moving defender. 

31. Simon Zether, C, Rögle BK J20 (Nationell)

Much like other European skaters on this list, Simon Zether has had a surprising start to his draft year as he’s off to a hot start with nine points in six games. Zether displays a strong work ethic with his on and off-the-puck IQ, possessing a strong two-way game. He does a great job of creating for himself and his teammates and is always there for support. He has a heavy shot, great puck control, and is always finding the middle of the ice. He’s responsible without the puck and is always taking away lanes and passing options with his positioning. There’s a lot to like about his game. 

32. Adam Titlbach, C, Vancouver Giants (WHL) 

Adam Titlbach was absolutely electric for Czechia. While there’s still some growing to do at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, his offensive toolkit is outstanding. He has great footspeed and agility to blow by defenders and has the hands and creativity to pull off quick dekes in tight spaces. With that package, he’s able to evade pressure and make quick moves in order to create more space for himself in the open ice. 

Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.

Previous

Next