NHL Mock Draft 2024: Macklin Celebrini goes to Blackhawks, Cole Eiserman to Senators in first projection

It’s trade deadline season in the NHL, which means the playoff picture is coming into focus. Contenders are gearing up for the postseason, while pretenders are waving the white flag and turning toward the draft.

Draft picks play a prominent role at the deadline as frequent components of trade deals. Bottom-dwellers can take advantage of win-now teams who are willing to give up future assets for present success.

Seven first-round picks for the 2024 NHL Draft already have changed hands, and more could follow.

Macklin Celebrini, the standout Boston University freshman, is the consensus top pick. And while this year’s class isn’t as deep as last year’s, there are a few more top-end talents, including a number of skilled defensemen.

Here are the latest 2024 NHL Draft projections from The Sporting News.

NHL TRADE DEADLINE: Live trade tracker | Top players likely on the move 

NHL Mock Draft 2024

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1. Chicago Blackhawks: Macklin Celebrini, C, Boston University (NCAA)

While we can expect a ton of shuffling at the top of the draft board, one name is cemented at the top spot: Celebrini. The Boston University star is not only the best freshman in college hockey but arguably the top player in the NCAA. He’s a dynamic offensive weapon who has all the makings of a top-line center in the NHL. Pairing Celebrini with Connor Bedard would be a no-brainer in Chicago. 

2. San Jose Sharks: Anton Silayev, D, Novgorod (KHL)

Every team needs a premier shutdown defenseman who can be deployed on a top pairing. Silayev is shaping up to be just that. The 6-7 Russian has played top minutes in the KHL this season, putting up strong showing night in and night out. He closes in on puck carriers quickly, using his size and reach to his advantage. Silayev won’t blow anyone away offensively, but he brings a high hockey IQ and compete level. San Jose has stocked up at forward with their recent first-round picks, so look for the Sharks to address the blue line in 2024. 

3. Anaheim Ducks: Artyom Levshunov, D, Michigan State (NCAA)

The Ducks have a plethora of young talent in the system, so Anaheim could go either forward or defenseman at No. 3 — but Levshunov may be too good to pass up. The Belarusian is an impressive skater who has done it all at Michigan State this season, contributing a ton of points while playing in all situations for the Spartans. While the Ducks have Olen Zellweger and Pavel Mintyukov on the rise, neither play the right side, which is where Levshunov comes into play.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets: Cayden Lindstrom, C, Medicine Hat (WHL)

The Blue Jackets used both of their 2022 first-round picks on defensemen, so I’d like to see Columbus go with a forward here. Lindstrom has vaulted himself up draft boards this season and very well could go within the first five picks. The Medicine Hat center owns a lethal shot and has a nasty side to his game as well. In ways he is similar to Adam Fantilli, Columbus’ first-round pick last year, so maybe the team looks elsewhere, but a 1-2 punch of Fantilli and Lindstrom down the middle would be dynamite for the Blue Jackets’ future. 

5. Ottawa Senators: Cole Eiserman, LW, USA U18 (NTDP)

There is no better scorer in this draft class than Eiserman. There’s a chance he is the best pure goal-scorer ever produced by the the U.S. NTDP — an organization that has churned out Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield. The problem with Eiserman is the rest of his game. If he’s not lighting the lamp, he isn’t effective, and that’s what has caused him to drop in draft rankings. He is a prime boom-or-bust candidate, but the Senators could take a gamble. 

6. Arizona Coyotes: Sam Dickinson, D, London (OHL)

One of the best skaters in the draft, the 6-3 defenseman has been excellent for London in the OHL this season. Dickinson can use his legs to be effective both offensively and defensively, and he also has a thunderous slap shot. The Coyotes reached a bit last year with their two first-round selections, so they should make the easy decision to draft Dickinson at No. 6 this time around.

7. Montreal Canadiens: Ivan Demidov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)

Demidov has dominated at the Russian junior level over the last two seasons. A crafty playmaker, the winger carries a high motor and is a pain to play against in one-on-one battles. The biggest knock on the Russian winger is that he is far from a smooth skater, so there are concerns about how his style will translate to the faster-paced NHL. Montreal fans were livid when the Habs passed on Matvei Michkov last year for David Reinbacher. He’s no Michkov, but Demidov is a tantalizing offensive prospect that could do wonders for the Canadiens. 

8. Buffalo Sabres: Berkly Catton, C, Spokane (WHL)

Catton is a well-rounded prospect who excelled at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup for Canada in 2023. The Spokane center plays with a ton of pace and has excelled in all situations. He’s the kind of prospect any rebuilding team needs to have in their system. The Sharks took a defenseman in Silayev at No. 2, and they should go with a forward at No. 11.

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9. Minnesota Wild: Zeev Buium, D, Denver (NCAA)

Minnesota has a number of talented forward prospects in its system, but the Wild need more on the blue line. And if there was one player that raised his draft value the most at the 2024 World Juniors, it’s Buium. He was already viewed as a first-round candidate before the competition in Sweden, but the American defenseman was stellar for the gold medal-winning team, putting him into the top-10 conversation. Buium is a slick puck mover who can rack up points on the back end. The Wild could use more offense out of their blue line, and Buiuim would provide just that. 

10. New Jersey Devils: Konsta Helenius, C, Jukurit (Liiga)

Helenius is undoubtedly one of the smartest players in the 2024 draft class. The Finnish center creates a ton of offense for himself and his teammates thanks to his elite passing ability and awareness in all zones. He isn’t the most dynamic center, but he plays an intelligent two-way game.

11. San Jose Sharks (from Penguins): Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, RW, Mora (HockeyAllsvenskan)

The hockey world has never seen a Norwegian prospect as talented as Brandsegg-Nygard. The right winger plays a gritty game, one that was on display for Norway at the 2024 World Juniors. He does a lot of things well, including scoring from range and handling the puck. While he may not possess that one elite-level skill, there is so much to like about Brandsegg-Nygard’s all-around game. The Sharks could use a little sandpaper in their youthful forward group. 

12. Seattle Kraken: Zayne Parekh, D, Saginaw (OHL)

The Kraken have been looking for a top-end offensive defenseman to add to their prospect pool for a couple of drafts now. This is the year they finally land the difference maker, selecting Parekh at No. 12. The Saginaw defenseman has lit up the OHL this year, showcasing an elite ability to create with the puck on his stick. His play away from the puck can be concerning at times, and will certainly need the right partner to unlock his potential. But there is a lot of offense that can be generated from the back end with Parekh. 

13. Calgary Flames: Tij Iginla, C, Kelowna (WHL)

This is the dream scenario for a Flames fan. Jarome Iginla was a legend in Calgary, so why not keep it in the family and take his son, Tij? Iginla is another player who has catapulted up the draft rankings thanks to a breakout season with Kelowna. He is a superb skater with standout puck skills that make him dangerous in transition. It would be a slam dunk PR move and an excellent hockey decision for the Flames to bring another Iginla era to Alberta. 

14. Washington Capitals: Carter Yakemchuk, D, Calgary (WHL)

The Capitals need to stock up on defensive prospects. Enter Yakemchuk. The 6-3 right-handed defenseman has been stellar in the WHL this campaign, with his shot standing out above all else. He can dance around defenders with ease, making him a constant threat with the puck. While Washington may elect to draft a lefty with a couple of right-handed prospects already in the system, Yakemchuk is worth taking. 

15. St. Louis Blues: Adam Jiricek, D, Plzen (Czech Extraliga)

The younger brother of Blue Jackets prospect David Jiricek, Adam Jiricek is right-shot defenseman with strong skating that makes him effective on puck retrievals. Like his older brother did in his draft, Jiricek suffered a major injury at the World Juniors, knocking him out of the rest of the season. There is certainly some concern with taking the defenseman, but the Blues had three first-round selections in 2023. The team can afford a bit of gamble this time around and take a swing at the talented Czech. 

16. New York Islanders: Igor Chernyshov, LW, Dynamo Moscow

Chernyshov is a big, well-rounded Russian who excels at puck protection, making him a constant headache in one-on-one situations for defenders. He carries a variety of tools in his arsenal, although there may not be one that stands out among the rest. The winger competes hard and uses his size to his advantage. The Islanders haven’t had a first-round pick since 2019, so Chernyshov provides a bit of a safer option. 

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17. Philadelphia Flyers: Beckett Sennecke, RW, Oshawa (OHL)

Sennecke is a bigger winger who possesses a ton of skill. He brings a really smart game to the ice, which helps him create offense with his teammates. His point totals this season with Oshawa haven’t necessarily correlated with his play this season, but Sennecke has the talent. There may not be an overly high ceiling on Sennecke, but he’s the kind of player who could translate his game to pro hockey. 

18. Chicago Blackhawks (from Lightning): Charlie Elick, D, Brandon (WHL)

Elick is billing out as a future shutdown defenseman in the NHL. The Brandon blue liner is an exceptional skater, using a smooth and powerful stride to chase down the oppositions. He doesn’t have a ton of playmaking abilities with the puck, but Emery isn’t a liability with it either. The Blackhawks appear to have hit on puck-moving defenseman Kevin Korchinski, who has adjusted well to the NHL at just 19 years old. He could use a stay-at-home partner on his right side like Elick. 

19. Nashville Predators: Trevor Connelly, LW, Tri-City (WHL)

Connelly is the most polarizing prospect in this draft class. He excels in transition, as his nifty pair of mitts helps him weave through defenders with grace, and his superb skating gets him to accelerate around his opposition. His offensive ability is dynamic, but Connelly comes with some package. He has a history of off-ice incidents and bounced around numerous youth organizations, which may cause some NHL clubs to pass on him. Nashville could take advantage and nab him at No. 19. 

20. Vegas Golden Knights: Cole Hutson, D, USA U18 (NTDP)

There should be 31 teams in the NHL kicking themselves for not taking Lane Hutson in the first round of the 2022 draft. Well, this year, they have a chance at landing another Hutson. Cole, the younger brother of Canadiens prospect Lane, is a similar player to his sibling. Cole may not be as defensively sound as Lane (yet), but the offensive upside jumps off the tape. The Golden Knights are lacking in defensive prospects in general, let alone a future power play QB like Hutson. 

21. Detroit Red Wings: Liam Greentree, RW, Windsor (OHL)

Greentree may not be fleet of foot, but his size and puck-handling draw attention. The Windsor forward is poised under pressure and makes the right decisions, finding his teammates to escape tricky situations. He also carries an above-average shot that can finish from mid-range. Detroit has had a recent run of taking Europeans in the first round, but the Red Wings could buck that trend in 2024. 

22. Los Angeles Kings: Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon (USHL)

Boisvert may be more of a project, but the tools are there with the Muskegon center. His shot stands out above all of his other skills, but he also has a strong touch with the puck and can get creative when needed. The Kings haven’t picked in the first round since 2021, and they can use No. 22 to add a solid center prospect to the pool. 

23. Toronto Maple Leafs: Henry Mews, D, Ottawa (OHL)

Mews’ strengths can be found in his offensive skillset. He’s an agile skater who loves to jump up in the rush to join the play. He also is a strong distributor on the breakout. Mews’ defense is a work in progress, but he has taken steps this year in Ottawa to round out his game. The Maple Leafs are lacking prospects in general, but especially on the back end. Mews would be a solid addition to the cupboard. 

24. Carolina Hurricanes: Michael Hage, C, Chicago (USHL)

The Hurricanes have been known to take risks on high-end prospects. Hage could fit into that category. When the center is on, he’s on. He’s hard to contain thanks to his skating and hands, but his play can be inconsistent, which is why he may fall lower in the first round. 

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25: Colorado Avalanche: Tanner Howe, LW, Regina (WHL)

Howe was one of Connor Bedard’s running mates last year in Regina. Despite the loss of the talented Bedard, Howe hasn’t seen much of a drop in his offensive production. He’s not the biggest forward out there, listed around 5-9, but Howe has a finishing touch and can make plays using his feet. He throws his weight around and can be a pest to play against. With undersized, he has shown the tools that can translate to the pros. 

26. Anaheim Ducks (from Edmonton Oilers): Ryder Ritchie, RW, Prince Albert (WHL)

Ritchie is in the midst of a sophomore slump. The Prince Albert winger was the WHL’s best rookie last year, but he hasn’t taken the expected step forward this year. Still, he’s shifty and finds ways to elude defenders with ease. He’s not a high-end offensive talent, but he has a solid motor and plays with a ton of smarts. Given all the skilled forwards the Ducks have taken recently, Ritchie could be a different kind of prospect for them. 

27: Dallas Stars: Aron Kiviharju, D, HIFK (Liiga)

Kiviharju was once viewed as a candidate to go first overall, but the Finnish defenseman hasn’t progressed as much as imagined. His draft year has been marred by a lower-body injury as well. Still, the 5-9 defenseman is an incredibly smart distributor who has a knack for finding his teammates, no matter how difficult the pass. The Stars have had immense success with Finns, so maybe Dallas is the place to unlock Kiviharju’s potential. 

28. Ottawa Senators (from Bruins via Red Wings): Leo Sahlin Wallenius, D, Vaxjo 

Another smooth-skating defenseman, Sahlin Wallenius is a solid two-way option for a team looking to upgrade its future blue line. He uses his fluidity to be a one-man breakout but also can utilize his feet to get back and close gaps on defense. The Swede has a lot of traits that should translate well to the NHL. Ottawa went offense at No. 5 with Eiserman, so the Senators should go to the blue line with the second selection. 

29. New York Rangers: E.J. Emery, D, USA U18 (NTDP)

Another top defenseman out of the U.S. NTDP, Emery is a talented blue liner who is efficient in his own zone. He skates well, which helps when making gaps on the rush and retrieving pucks. There isn’t a ton in his offensive game, but he plays smart and is willing to join the rush from time to time. The Rangers need defensive prospects and could add a solid projection in Emery. 

30. Calgary Flames (from Vancouver Canucks): Nikita Artamonov, LW, Novgorod (KHL)

A teammate of Silayev, Artamonov also has carved out a role on a quality KHL squad as a teenager. The left winger is incredibly intelligent, knowing what the right play is with the puck, and he also excels with his off-puck positioning.

31. Montreal Canadiens (from Winnipeg Jets): Cole Beaudoin, C, Barrie (OHL)

Beaudoin is a competitor. He isn’t the greatest skater and may not flash immense skill, but the center gets in on the forecheck, constantly winning one-on-one battles for pucks. The Barrie forward doesn’t shy away from physical play either. He projects as of a bottom-six forward, but every team needs those kinds of players.

32. Philadelphia Flyers (from Panthers): Dominik Badinka, D, Malmo Jr (Sweden Jr.)

The tape on Badinka may not jump off the screen, but he has a lot of attributes that teams look for in a defenseman. He’s got mobility, NHL size and enough skills to make plays on offense. He defends well in his own zone, bringing a solid two-way game to any lineup. The Flyers went forward with their first pick, and perhaps should go to defense to end the first round.

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