2024 NHL mock draft: Celebrini, Eiserman lead initial projections
Though we're less than halfway into the season, a handful of teams are already looking ahead to the NHL draft at Las Vegas' Sphere amid disappointing campaigns on the ice.
Our first mock draft of the 2024 cycle takes an initial look at the 16 lottery picks and where the top prospects of the class could go in June.
Selection order is based on points percentage through games on Dec. 10, and no lottery was applied.
Slackin' for Macklin.
That's the slogan for the projected top pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, but it could also describe the 2023-24 San Jose Sharks.
It's been a tough go for San Jose fans already, with the Sharks coming out of the gate 0-10-1 and giving up 10 goals in consecutive games. But the light at the end of the tunnel is a chance to draft in the top three for the first time in 26 years and a 25.5% chance at the franchise's first-ever top pick, should the team finish 32nd.
Celebrini isn't a Connor Bedard-level prospect. But he doesn't need to be that type of player to be a worthwhile first overall selection.
What Celebrini's doing right now at Boston University is remarkable, considering his age. We've seen draft-eligible freshmen like Adam Fantilli and Jack Eichel dominate over the past decade, but we haven't seen it from someone as young as Celebrini in decades.
Fantilli and Eichel both turned 18 in October of their draft seasons. Celebrini doesn't celebrate his 18th birthday until June.
He's the only 17-year-old in the NCAA this season. The last under-18 NCAA player to score at Celebrini's current rate was Craig Simpson back in 1985.
Sure, Celebrini isn't Bedard. But with 10 goals and 25 points in just 15 games at Boston University, he's making sure whoever gets the top pick won't be disappointed with who they're landing.
Nine of 10 NHL scouts polled by TSN's Bob McKenzie in September slotted Celebrini atop the 2024 class. The only other player receiving a first-place vote was Eiserman.
Sure, the gap has widened with Celebrini's exceptional start to the campaign. But that doesn't mean Eiserman should be overlooked.
The 6-foot winger is going to crush every goal record at the U.S. NTDP. He has 26 goals in 22 games after tallying 69 in 62 contests a season ago. He's eyeing Cole Caufield's single-season mark of 72 goals and looks to cruise past both Phil Kessel and Caufield to be the top goal-scorer in NTDP history.
The Blackhawks adding that level of shooter alongside Bedard should be a terrifying thought for NHL goaltenders.
One of the rapid risers early in the season, the Ducks snag an elite power forward in Lindstrom to add to their abundance of exciting, young talent.
The Chetwynd, British Columbia, native is a physical freak. He's listed at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, but doesn't lack speed and agility. Lindstrom can fly and is agile, too - a deadly combination when paired with his size.
Lindstrom's taken a huge step this year with Medicine Hat, posting 24 goals and 40 points in 29 games. He's also got a league-leading 64 penalty minutes - a reminder of the mean streak he can tap into at a moment's notice.
He may not have started the year as a projected top-five guy, but it's becoming increasingly likely we'll hear Lindstrom's name called on draft day exceptionally early.
First and foremost, Demidov isn't in the same situation as Matvei Michkov was a season ago.
Demidov's contract with SKA St. Petersburg expires after the 2024-25 campaign, one year after he'll be drafted. Michkov will still be on a KHL contract for another full season after Demidov can sign an entry-level contract.
He's not the best player in the class, but Demidov may very well be the flashiest. He's a human highlight reel, combining silky smooth hands with quality shooting and playmaking.
The Blue Jackets haven't shied away from drafting talent out of Russia, and they do so once again in this mock, landing another immense offensive talent to pair with Fantilli down the road.
Dickinson ticks every box a general manager could hope for in a potential minute-munching blue-liner that can anchor a team's top pairing for the foreseeable future.
The London Knight has an excellent frame, listed at 6-foot-3 and 194 pounds. His defensive acumen has been lauded as some of the best in the class. He's been part of leadership groups with Hockey Canada at the under-17 and U18 levels. His skating is a standout trait, and he's tapped into more of his offensive side this season in the OHL.
In a class rife with talent on the back end, Dickinson stands above the rest at this stage of the cycle. The Kraken are ecstatic to add a left-shot defenseman with his potential in this mock with their unexpectedly high pick.
The Sabres have a plethora of young, exciting talent on the roster and in the pipeline at forward. With yet another top-10 pick, Buffalo adds a high-upside right-shot defenseman to potentially pair with Rasmus Dahlin or Owen Power in the future.
Levshunov is on track to make Belarusian hockey history on draft day. The 6-foot-2, right-shot rearguard is in contention to be the first player from his nation to be drafted in the top five.
Taking a unique path from Belarus to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to East Lansing, Michigan, Levshunov has been exceptional everywhere he's played. He landed on the USHL's All-Rookie Team a year ago and has been among the NCAA's best freshman defenders this season, recording 18 points and a plus-16 in 18 contests at Michigan State.
Boasting similarities to his older brother and Blue Jackets top prospect David Jiricek, Adam is a quality two-way defender. He's shown an ability to chip in offensively at the junior level while also being an effective rush defender.
His results in the Czech pro league have underwhelmed to this point, but expect Jiricek to help his stock at the world juniors later this month.
Securing one of the top right-shot defensemen in this mock is a boost to an aging group of blue-liners for the Wild.
Many were surprised when the Arizona Coyotes took Dmitriy Simashev sixth overall in June. Silayev is taller, similarly mobile, and has produced more than Simashev; he's going early in the 2024 draft.
Silayev is a unicorn. He's 6-foot-7, but his skating is a plus trait, and you don't even have to grade on a scale for his size. He's playing regular minutes on a nightly basis for a good Torpedo squad. And he's been able to get on the scoresheet, already boasting the most points by a draft-eligible defenseman in KHL history.
He's far from a perfect prospect - Silayev's decision-making particularly stands out as an area for improvement - but the tantalizing upside of his defensive ability, given his size, reach, and mobility is too much for the Flames to pass on at No. 8 in this mock.
Note: The Penguins traded their first-round pick to the Sharks in the Erik Karlsson trade. As it's top-10 protected, Pittsburgh retains the selection in this mock.
A highly intelligent forward, the Penguins snag Helenius after an early run on defensemen.
The Finn's resume is impressive: He became a Liiga regular as a 16-year-old and was a key member of Finland's under-18 squad as an underage forward in the spring. Helenius' 20 points in 28 games in Finland's top league ranks as the fifth-best scoring rate by a draft-eligible forward over the past 25 years.
Not out of the question as a top-five candidate, Catton slips to the end of the top 10 with the aforementioned run on blue-liners.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and a slight 163 pounds, the Saskatoon native has dazzled in the WHL the past two seasons. After captaining Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Catton's been as advertised with 19 goals and 41 points in 27 games.
Note: The Senators have the option to forfeit this pick as punishment for their role in the invalidated Evgenii Dadonov trade.
Norway isn't exactly known as a hotbed for top NHL prospects; the country has never produced a first-round pick, after all. Brandsegg-Nygard looks primed to change that fact as Norway returns to the world juniors for the first time since 2014.
A forechecking menace with scoring ability, it's not hard to see Brandsegg-Nygard excelling down the road alongside the elite talent the Senators have in the top six.
The Oilers lack high-end talent in the prospect pool and need options on the back end. Edmonton addresses both with the selection of Parekh in this mock.
An electric offensive defenseman, Parekh scored a record-setting 21 goals for a 16-year-old OHL blue-liner last season. He's followed it up with 40 points in 27 games, making for the highest scoring rate by a draft-eligible defenseman in the league since Ryan Ellis in 2008-09.
Connelly is one of the most skilled forwards in the draft. His blend of puck handling, skating, and ability in transition gives him clear top-six upside when he's on his game. A recent Providence Friars commit, a social media incident in March 2022 could impact where he ultimately goes on draft day.
Note: The Blackhawks acquired this pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Brandon Hagel trade. It is top-10 protected.
Buium, a native of San Diego, has blown away expectations as a freshman at the University of Denver. With 25 points and a plus-13 in 18 games, he's been the best defenseman on a top-five-ranked Pioneers team, vaulting himself into the conversation as a potential top-10 pick. The left-shot blue-liner will look to earn a spot on USA's world junior team over the next two weeks at selection camp.
The Hurricanes dip back into the Russian pipeline as they've done so often in recent years to snag Artamonov in this mock. Artamonov's 14 points in 30 games rank behind only Vladimir Tarasenko and Michkov among draft-eligible forwards in the KHL's history.
An excellent start on a poor Windsor squad has pushed Greentree up rankings in the early going. Without much help, the Oshawa native has produced 19 goals and 39 points in 26 games to rank second among draft-eligible OHLers in points per game.