Final Mock 2024 NHL Draft: Intrigue after 1st 3 picks | NHL.com (2024)

The 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be held June 28-29 at Sphere in Las Vegas. The first round will be June 28 (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) and rounds 2-7 are June 29 (11:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+, NHLN, SN, SN1). NHL.com is counting down to the draft with in-depth profiles on top prospects, podcasts and other features. Today, NHL.com deputy managing editor Adam Kimelman and senior draft writer Mike G. Morreale submit their final mock draft of the first round. NHL.com's full draft coverage can be found here.

The most intriguing moment of the 2024 NHL Draft could come when the Columbus Blue Jackets go on the clock with the No. 4 pick.

NHL.com writers Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale are in agreement on how the first three selections will go, starting with the San Jose Sharks selecting Boston University center Macklin Celebrini with the No. 1 pick, Michigan State defenseman Artyom Levshunov going No. 2 to the Chicago Blackhawks and Nizhny Novgorad defenseman Anton Silayev going to the Anaheim Ducks at No. 3.

But starting with the No. 4 selection, their opinions vary widely.

The 16 teams that missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs took part in the NHL Draft Lottery on May 7, with the Sharks winning the No. 1 pick and the Blackhawks No. 2. The remaining teams were ordered based on the regular-season NHL standings.

The 12 teams that lost in the first two rounds of the playoffs were slotted into picks 17-28. Teams that did not win their division were placed in inverse order of regular-season standings points, followed by the one division winner that lost, the Vancouver Canucks.

The No. 29 pick went to the Dallas Stars, the team that lost in the conference finals with the fewest regular-season points, and No. 30 went to the New York Rangers, the other team that lost in the conference finals.

No. 31 goes to the team that lost in the Stanley Cup Final, but the Edmonton Oilers traded the pick to the Ducks for forwards Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick on March 6.

The Stanley Cup champion Florida Panthers receive No. 32, but that selection belongs to the Philadelphia Flyers from the trade for forward Claude Giroux on March 19, 2022.

1. San Jose Sharks

Kimelman -- Macklin Celebrini, C, Boston University (NCAA): The unquestioned best player available in the draft, Celebrini (6-foot, 197 pounds) also is one of its hardest workers. Sharks general manager Mike Grier already has raved about Celebrini's work ethic from watching him in practices and games. The youngest player in NCAA hockey, Celebrini didn't turn 18 until June 13 but still dominated the competition with 64 points (32 goals, 32 assists) in 38 games.

Morreale -- Macklin Celebrini: He was flawless in his draft-eligible season and is a franchise talent in the making. Celebrini was the youngest player in NCAA Division I men's hockey this season and the youngest ever to win the Hobey Baker Award, presented annually to recognize the top NCAA men's hockey player. Celebrini will be a major building block for a team in need of high-end, two-way talent, especially at the center position.

2. Chicago Blackhawks

Kimelman -- Artyom Levshunov, D, Michigan State (NCAA): After selecting a franchise-altering center in Connor Bedard with the No. 1 pick of the 2023 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks can focus on finding a game-changer on defense. After Celebrini, Levshunov might be the most NHL-ready player in this year's draft with the size (6-2, 205) and skill set that helped him have 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists) in 38 games as an 18-year-old college freshman.

Morreale -- Artyom Levshunov: The Belarus-born right-handed shot was the third-youngest player in men's college hockey. He was second among NCAA freshman defensem*n and tied for 10th among all defensem*n in scoring. The Blackhawks need a future pillar on defense, and Levshunov fits that bill.

3. Anaheim Ducks

Kimelman -- Anton Silayev, D, Nizhny Novgorod (RUS): The left-shot defenseman is one of the most intriguing players in this year's draft because of his size (6-7, 211) and developing offensive side of his game. The Ducks have stockpiled young offensive-minded defensem*n, among them Tristan Luneau, Olen Zellweger and Pavel Mintyukov. Silayev has the potential to be a tremendous complementary piece on a top defense pair.

Morreale -- Anton Silayev: He had 11 points (three goals, eight assists), 74 blocked shots and was second on his team with 98 hits in 63 Kontinental Hockey League games. Silayev, who turned 18 on April 11, more than a month after his final game (March 9), had the most points by an under-18 player in Kontinental Hockey League history, topping Vladimir Tarasenko's 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in 38 games for Novosibirsk in 2008-09.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets

Kimelman -- Cayden Lindstrom, C, Medicine Hat (WHL): It was a bit of a lost season for Lindstrom because of back and hand injuries that sidelined him for the second half of the regular season, but he still scored 27 goals in 32 games. The 18-year-old already is back on the ice training for next season after returning to play four games during the Western Hockey League playoffs, and the belief is the back problem he dealt with will not be a lingering issue. After taking Adam Fantilli (6-2, 194) with the No. 3 pick of the 2023 draft, the addition of Lindstrom (6-3, 213) would create a physically imposing 1-2 punch at center in the near future.

Morreale -- Ivan Demidov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg Jr. (RUS-JR): The 18-year-old left-handed shot (6-0, 192) is one of the most naturally skilled players in this draft class. He possesses smarts and adapts well in stride. He had 60 points (23 goals, 37 assists) in 30 regular-season games and 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in 17 playoff games in Russia's junior league.

5. Montreal Canadiens

Kimelman -- Ivan Demidov: Demidov dominated Russia's junior league, showcasing his dynamic offensive skill set and outstanding skating, and he'll likely get the chance next season to test those skills in the KHL. Demidov is under contract with SKA St. Petersburg through the 2024-25 season, so a little patience could be met with a great reward for the Canadiens.

Morreale -- Cayden Lindstrom: He remains a top forward option in this draft despite missing 36 regular-season games because of injuries to his back and hand. Lindstrom is a pure shooter but will need to prove he can distribute the puck effectively as a center at the next level. He had 46 points prior to getting injured and had two points (one goal, one assist) and 17 shots on goal in four WHL playoff games.

6. Utah Hockey Club

Kimelman -- Sam Dickinson, D, London (OHL): Dickinson's high hockey IQ helps him pick his spots for when to jump into the play in the offensive zone or use his great puck-moving ability to find an open teammate to spark the rush. The 18-year-old is poised and controlled even when the game gets charged up. Utah has done a good job building a plus-size defense corps with Dmitry Simashev (6-4, 198), the No. 6 pick of the 2023 draft, and Maveric Lamoureux (6-6, 196), the No. 29 pick of the 2022 NHL Draft. Dickinson (6-3, 203) would fit nicely with that group.

Morreale -- Zeev Buium, D, Denver (NCAA): The second-youngest player in men's college hockey, Buium (6-foot, 186) led NCAA defensem*n and was fifth among all freshmen with 50 points (11 goals, 39 assists) in 42 games and helped Denver win the NCAA championship. The 18-year-old had five points (three goals, two assists) and was a tournament-best plus-11 in seven games to help the United States win the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship.

7. Ottawa Senators

Kimelman -- Zeev Buium: With their first pick in the first round since 2021, the Senators could opt for Buium, who has a smooth, poised approach to go with his maturity, outstanding skill set and high-end athleticism. The left-handed shot is a fantastic skater who showed no panic in his game against older competition or on big stages in the NCAA Tournament or at the 2024 WJC.

Morreale -- Sam Dickinson: A powerful and elusive skater capable of playing big minutes and producing offensively, Dickinson was the quarterback on London's power play and had 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) with the man-advantage. He finished second in on-ice testing at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 23, placing first in 30-meter forward skate with puck and 30-meter backwards skate with puck, and second in transition ability.

8. Seattle Kraken

Kimelman -- Zayne Parekh, D, Saginaw (OHL): Parekh (6-foot, 178) is an offensive force that led Ontario Hockey League defensem*n with 96 points (33 goals, 63 assists) in 66 games and was voted the top defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League. The 18-year-old has earned comparisons to Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson. Questions surround his defensive play, but Parekh is driven to get stronger and improve; for someone graduated high school at 16, there's no question he knows how to put in the work.

Morreale -- Zayne Parekh: He set Saginaw records for goals and points by a defenseman this season and helped it win the Memorial Cup. The right-handed shot also had 34 power-play points (10 goals, 24 assists) and scored two short-handed goals. Parekh scored 21 goals as a rookie last season, the most by a 16-year-old defenseman in OHL history.

9. Calgary Flames

Kimelman -- Tij Iginla, C, Kelowna (WHL): Iginla has elite offensive skills which allowed him to score 47 goals in 64 WHL games, and helped Canada win the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in seven games. The 17-year-old (6-foot, 191) is versatile enough to play center or on the wing and has the elite hockey sense that comes from being the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. There could be pressure skating under the retired jersey of his father 41 nights a season, but Iginla's upside is just too high for the Flames to pass on.

Morreale -- Tij Iginla: Iginla is a dynamic offensive talent with speed, quickness and natural instincts you can't teach. He tied for sixth in the WHL in goals, was second for Kelowna with 84 points and 11 power-play goals. He also showed he could raise his game in a big spot as a key piece of Canada's run to the gold medal at the Under-18 Worlds.

10. New Jersey Devils

Kimelman -- Konsta Helenius, C, Jukurit (FIN): Helenius blends his high-end offensive skills with a strength on the puck that you might not expect from a player his size (5-11, 189). The 18-year-old profiles as a good mix of Jack Hughes' offensive ability with Nico Hischier's determination and competitiveness. And he's already shown he can make an impact playing with and against older competition, finishing with 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 51 games in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland. He also became the first player from Finland, and fifth ever, to play in the World Under-18s, World Juniors and the IIHF World Championship in the same season.

Morreale -- Beckett Sennecke RW, Oshawa (OHL): If Sennecke is still on the board, he'd make an excellent choice to ride shotgun alongside Hughes or Hischier at some point in the future. He has a nice combination of size (6-3, 182) and strength, delivers a heavy shot, plays a 200-foot game and has a solid work ethic. The 18-year-old had 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists), seven power-play goals and was tied for eighth in the OHL with seven game-winning goals in 63 regular-season games. He tied for fourth with 10 goals in 16 games during the OHL playoffs.

11. San Jose Sharks (from Buffalo Sabres)

Kimelman -- Carter Yakemchuk, D, Calgary (WHL): Yakemchuk led WHL defensem*n with 30 goals this season and his poise with the puck and skating allow him to find holes to create plays in the offensive zone. And at 6-3, 202 pounds, the 18-year-old right-handed shot has NHL-ready size but said his offseason goal is to get even stronger to be more effective in the defensive zone. After taking a foundational piece at No. 1 with Celebrini, the focus can turn to defense here.

Morreale -- Cole Eiserman LW, USA U-18 (USHL): Eiserman possesses one of the best shots of any player in the draft class and can utilize that big asset every shift from anywhere in the offensive end. In addition to his standout season with the NTDP, which included a team-leading 25 power-play goals, he helped the U.S. win the silver medal at the U-18 Worlds with 11 points (nine goals, two assists) in seven games.

12. Philadelphia Flyers

Kimelman -- Berkly Catton, C, Spokane (WHL): The Flyers need more top-end skill, especially at center, after trading forward Cutter Gauthier, the No. 5 pick of the 2022 draft, to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Jamie Drysdale on Jan. 8. Catton (5-10, 175) checks all the boxes. The 18-year-old has pull-away speed with a top-end offensive skill set, and could develop into the set-up man for right wing Matvei Michkov, their first-round pick (No. 7) in the 2023 draft.

Morreale -- Carter Yakemchuk: Yakemchuk is positionally sound, knows where to go to make himself available, has an advantageous reach and is good in battles along the boards. He was fifth among WHL defensem*n with 71 points (30 goals, 41 assists) in 66 regular-season games and was a finalist for 2024 WHL defenseman of the year.

13. Minnesota Wild

Kimelman -- Stian Solberg, D, Valerenga (NOR): Getting younger on defense is something the Wild need to consider, and Solberg (6-1, 205) opened eyes with his top-end skating, poise and willingness to play physical in Norway's top league. He was also a standout at the 2024 IIHF World Championship, where the 18-year-old had three points (two goals, one assist) while leading Norway with an average ice time of 22:44 in seven games. He would be the first player born in Norway to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft.

Morreale -- Konsta Helenius: Helenius is skilled, quick and offers a high compete level. The right-handed shot scored five power-play goals, won 50.2 percent of his face-offs and averaged 16:57 of ice time in 51 games for Jukurit in Liiga, Finland's top professional men's league. He's been compared by some scouts to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point. He was the youngest player (17 years old) at the World Championship and centered Finland's top line with Mikael Granlund (San Jose Sharks) and Valtteri Puustinen (Pittsburgh Penguins).

14. Buffalo Sabres (from Pittsburgh Penguins, via San Jose Sharks)

Kimelman -- Cole Eiserman: The Sabres have drafted several good young forwards the past few years, among them Zach Benson (2023, No. 13), Jiri Kulich (2022, No. 28), Matt Savoie (2022, No. 9) and Isak Rosen (2021, No. 14), but adding the player who has the best shot in this year's draft is too tough to pass on. Eiserman scored 58 goals in 57 games this season, and his 127 goals are the most by any player in USA Hockey National Team Development Program history. But can he round out his game to be more than just that dynamic shot? Scouts seem to be torn on that issue, but a growing number believe he can become more of a threat as a playmaker and reliable defensively. The 17-year-old will spend at least one season at Boston University trying to expand his game; if he can, he has the chance to be one of the top players in this year's draft class.

Morreale -- Berkly Catton: Catton plays a hard-driving game, is relentless in puck pursuit and has a compete level too good to ignore. Catton was fourth in the WHL with 116 points (54 goals, 62 assists) in 68 games; he's the third NHL draft-eligible WHL player since 2000 with at least 115 points in a season, joining Bedard (143 points in 2022-23) and Nic Petan (120 in 2012-13). Catton also won 53.4 percent of his face-offs, led the WHL with seven short-handed goals and was third for Spokane with 30 power-play points (13 goals, 17 assists).

15. Detroit Red Wings

Kimelman -- Beckett Sennecke: The Red Wings have used their first pick the previous two years at the draft on centers Marco Kasper (2022, No. 8) and Nate Danielson (2023, No. 9). Now would be a good time to find them some talented scorers on the wing. Sennecke is a strong skater and knows how to pull pucks out of traffic and make plays in tight. It will take time for him to fill out his frame, but the Red Wings philosophy always has been to allow their prospects as much time as needed to maximize their potential.

Morreale -- Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, RW, Mora (SWE-2): Born in Norway, Brandsegg-Nygard (6-1, 207) plays in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division, and is a hard-working two-way player with good first-step quickness, decision-making and vision. The 18-year-old had 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 41 regular-season games and 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 12 playoff games. He also had five points (three goals, two assists), and averaged 17:22 of ice time in five games for Norway at the 2024 WJC.

16. St. Louis Blues

Kimelman -- Michael Brandsegg-Nygard: The Blues go back to Sweden after using their three first-round picks at the 2023 draft on players from the country, forwards Dalibor Dvorsky (No. 10) and Otto Stenberg (No. 25) and defenseman Theo Lindstein (No. 29). Brandsegg-Nygard is a very good skater who is strong on the forecheck and can produce offensive chances from between the dots low in the offensive zone. He led Norway with three goals in seven games at the World Championship.

Morreale -- Adam Jiricek, D, Plzen (CZREP): Jiricek (6-2, 167) sustained a season-ending injury to his right knee while playing for Czechia in the first game of the 2024 WJC on Dec. 26. The right-handed shot, who turns 18 on Friday, had one assist in 19 games in Czech Extraliga, the nation's top professional league, and is the younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Jiricek. A two-way defenseman with good vision and competitiveness on every shift, Jiricek has been compared to Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce.

17. Washington Capitals

Kimelman -- Michael Hage, C, Chicago (USHL): Hage (6-1, 188) plays with a physical edge and impressed with his ability to take over games late in the season. The 18-year-old was fourth in the United States Hockey League with 75 points (33 goals, 42 assists) in 54 games, including 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in his final 14. Hage would be the best player available at this spot and fill a need for centers in the prospect pipeline. He'll continue his development at the University of Michigan in the fall.

Morreale -- Stian Solberg: Solberg had a strong second half to his season and finished with 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 42 regular-season games and nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 17 playoff games in the top men's league in Norway. He is expected to play for Farjestad in the Swedish Hockey League next season.

18. Chicago Blackhawks (from New York Islanders)

Kimelman -- Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon (USHL): Scouts like the way the 18-year-old improved his skating as the season went on, further improving his 200-foot game. With Bedard, Oliver Moore (2023, No. 19) and Frank Nazar (2022, No. 13) the Blackhawks have stockpiled high-skill centers; Boisvert (6-2, 183) brings a bit more size and a 200-foot game to go along with the skill that saw him total 68 points (36 goals, 32 assists) in 61 games this season.

Morreale -- Michael Hage: Hage is considered a two-way player with a lot of creativity. He led Chicago in scoring during the regular season and had four points (two goals, two assists) in two USHL playoff games. It was a big return for Hage, who played 13 games last season after missing six months recovering from a shoulder injury sustained on his first day of training camp. He's the type of player that can take over a game.

19. Vegas Golden Knights

Kimelman -- Trevor Connelly, LW, Tri-City (USHL): Connelly was second in the USHL with 78 points (31 goals, 47 assists) in 52 games, and also had nine points (four goals, five assists) in seven games to help the United States take home the silver medal at the Under-18 Worlds. Connelly (6-1, 160) has game-breaking talent, but there are questions about his on- and off-ice maturity that need to be answered by whatever team selects him; that includes a game misconduct for an illegal check to the head in the third period of the gold-medal game at the U-18s that led to three Canada power-play goals, and a 3-2 U.S. lead becoming a 6-4 loss. The 18-year-old is committed to Providence College.

Morreale -- Jett Luchanko C, Guelph (OHL): The 17-year-old right-handed shot is smart and tenacious on pucks and had 33 power-play points (30 assists) in 68 games. Luchanko (5-11, 187) can play center or wing and finished among the top five in six of 10 on-ice categories at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January, placing first in reaction with puck and second in transition ability with puck.

20. New York Islanders (from Tampa Bay Lightning via Chicago Blackhawks)

Kimelman -- Jett Luchanko: Luchanko is an explosive skater who can contribute on the power play and penalty kill. When injuries and graduations to pro hockey forced him into a larger role this season, Luchanko responded with a team-high 74 points (20 goals, 54 assists) in 68 games; he had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 46 games last season. With Bo Horvat (29), Brock Nelson (32) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (31) expected to be the Islanders' top three centers next season, finding youth and athleticism at the position could be the best direction here for the Islanders.

Morreale -- Liam Greentree, RW, Windsor (OHL): Greentree (6-2, 215), Windsor's captain, led the Spitfires in goals (36), assists (54), points (90) and power-play goals (11) in 64 games. The 18-year-old left-handed shot can protect the puck, goes hard to the net and is very nimble and creative for a player his size. He had four points (two goals, two assists) in seven games to help Canada win the gold medal at the Under-18 Worlds.

21. Montreal Canadiens (from Los Angeles Kings)

Kimelman -- Terik Parascak, RW, Prince George (WHL): Parascak's hockey sense is his best attribute, and a big reason he was able to lead WHL rookies with 105 points in 68 games despite not having overwhelming size (6-foot, 179) or speed. He's fearless in traffic and was able to produce from the slot with a quick release on a deceptive shot. All the elements of his game that are good now will only get better as the 18-year-old continues to develop physically.

Morreale -- Terik Parascak: He really opened eyes this season to become a blue-chip prospect, contributing on the power play and penalty kill because of his speed, vision, and intelligence on the ice. He led WHL rookies with 43 goals and four short-handed goals and tied for the lead with 12 power-play goals. He maintained a high level of play all season and proved he deserved to be in the conversation among other top-end talent this season.

22. Nashville Predators

Kimelman -- Adam Jiricek: The Predators have made no secrets about size on defense being a need, and Jiricek supplies that to go along with a high skill set and a right-handed shot. Jiricek only played 19 games in the top league in the Czech Republic because of a knee injury, but is expected to be healthy for the start of next season, when he should be able to again show his strong skating and an offensive game that projects to get better as he adjusts to playing a full season in the top men's league.

Morreale -- Igor Chernyshov, LW, Dynamo Moscow (RUS): Chernyshov (6-3, 204) had four points (three goals, one assist) in 34 KHL games, and 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists) in 22 games with Dynamo in Russia's junior league. The 18-year-old right-handed shot, who thrives on his off wing, has the look of a playmaking wing or center with power-forward potential at the next level.

23. Toronto Maple Leafs

Kimelman -- Charlie Elick, D, Brandon (WHL): Elick is the kind of defenseman the Maple Leafs could be looking for: a big (6-3, 202), physical right-handed shot who is considered an excellent skater with a good shot he was able to consistently get on net from the blue line. The Maple Leafs haven't drafted a defenseman in the first round since Rasmus Sandin in 2018, but Elick could be the player to change that.

Morreale -- Sacha Boisvert: Big, strong, and ultra-competitive, Boisvert was born in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, and is expected to further his development at the University of North Dakota next season, where he would become the first Quebec-born player with the program. He takes pride in his two-way game and success on face-offs and was fifth in the USHL with 36 goals in 61 games.

24. Colorado Avalanche

Kimelman -- Igor Chernyshov: The Avalanche will have to be patient to get Chernyshov to North America, but the reward could be worth it for a big, skilled forward who already has shown an ability to use his body to attack the net and produce as an 18-year-old in the KHL.

Morreale -- Trevor Connelly: His game is predicated on speed, skill, vision and compete, and he's too good to pass up at this point in the draft. He averaged 1.50 points in 52 games, first in the USHL among players with at least 30 games.

25. Boston Bruins (via Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators)

Kimelman -- Egor Surin, C, Yaroslavl Jr. (RUS-JR): Center was an issue for the Bruins this season, and it also goes to the prospect level. That could make Surin (6-1, 197) an appealing option. The 17-year-old is well-regarded for his skating, work ethic and compete level, and was third in scoring in Russia's junior league during the playoffs with 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 19 games.

Morreale -- Cole Beaudoin, C, Barrie (OHL): The left-handed shot (6-2, 210), a well-conditioned athlete with fantastic compete and hockey sense, and often is compared to Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner. The Bruins need depth at forward, and Beaudoin can offer just that. He's a responsible 200-foot player who had 62 points (28 goals, 34 assists) in 67 regular-season games, five points (two goals, three assists) in six OHL playoff games, and four points (two goals, two assists) in seven games for gold medal-winning Canada at the U-18 Worlds.

26. Los Angeles Kings (from Winnipeg Jets via Montreal Canadiens)

Kimelman -- Liam Greentree: Greentree has NHL-ready size and showed a high level of maturity as captain and leading scorer on a Windsor team that finished 19th among 20 teams in the OHL. As one NHL scout said, "I think he's a beast right now. Imagine him in two years."

Morreale -- Eric Emery, D, USA U-18 (USHL): Emery (6-3, 183), committed to the University of North Dakota in 2024-25, had 16 assists in 61 games with the NTDP Under-18 team this season and six assists in seven games for the U.S. at the U-18 Worlds. He has high pace to his game, likes to defend and covers a lot of area with his length and his speed.

27. Carolina Hurricanes

Kimelman -- Leo Sahlin Wallenius, D, Vaxjo Jr. (SWE-JR): The Hurricanes haven't drafted a defenseman earlier than the fourth round the past two years and haven't selected one in the first round since Jake Bean in 2016. But without a defenseman currently on the roster signed beyond the 2025-26 season, there's a need build prospect depth at the position. Sahlin Wallenius (6-0, 180) is a very good skater with great vision and puck movement skills. The 18-year-old had 42 points (11 goals, 31 assists) in 43 games in Sweden's junior league.

Morreale -- Leo Sahlin Wallenius: Sahlin Wallenius could turn out to be the best Sweden-born player in this draft class. He's a smooth skater with high hockey IQ, can transition the puck well and handles a lot of ice time. His playing style compares to Red Wings defenseman prospect Axel Sandin-Pellikka, the No. 17 pick of the 2023 draft, according to NHL director of European Scouting Jukka-Pekka Vuorinen.

28. Calgary Flames (from Vancouver Canucks)

Kimelman -- Aron Kiviharju, D, HIFK (FIN): Kiviharju began the season as a potential top-10 pick, but a dislocated left kneecap in October sidelined him until U-18 Worlds in April. When healthy, Kiviharju (5-9, 184) is a strong skater who is poised and confident with the puck even as an 18-year-old playing in Liiga. The Flames could get a potential steal if Kiviharju is available at this spot.

Morreale -- Charlie Elick: Born in Austria, he moved with his family to Calgary when he was 6 years old. Elick has good size and is a right-handed shot who competes and battles with consistency, makes good decisions and can transition effectively from his end. He had 27 points (four goals, 23 assists) in 65 WHL games this season, and had three assists and averaged 18:40 in ice time in seven games to help Canada win gold at the U-18 Worlds.

29. Dallas Stars

Kimelman -- Julius Miettinen: Miettinen flew up Central Scouting's rankings, from No. 49 in the midterm in January to No. 18 in the final release in April. The 18-year-old improved his skating as he adjusted to the pace of play in his first season in the WHL and was able to show a mean streak that allowed him to create space for himself around the net in the offensive zone. The Stars have done well adding talented offensive players like forwards Wyatt Johnston, Logan Stankoven and Mavrik Bourque; Miettinen projects to be a Wayne Simmonds-type who can use his size (6-3, 201) and strength to bang in loose pucks around the net.

Morreale -- Marek Vanacker, LW, Brantford (OHL): Vanacker (6-0, 178) is a 200-foot left-handed shot who is a strong skater and can dig in on the forecheck or backcheck. He had 82 points (36 goals, 46 assists), 22 power-play points (four goals, 18 assists) and five short-handed goals in 68 regular-season games, and had seven points (three goals, four assists) in six OHL playoff games. He did it while playing with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, an injury sustained in November. He had surgery in June and is expected to need 4-6 months to recover.

30. New York Rangers

Kimelman -- Cole Beaudoin: New York's top two centers, Mika Zibanejad (31) and Vincent Trocheck (30), remain productive players, but finding a center who could play on the top two lines in the near future could be a focus here. Beaudoin is a fantastic athlete with a high-end compete level with. "He just has an unmatched work ethic; nobody's outworking that kid, and he does the elite things well," said one NHL scout.

Morreale -- Ryder Ritchie, RW, Prince Albert (WHL): The right-handed shot (6-0, 177) is reminiscent of Penguins forward Bryan Rust. The 17-year-old is a high-end skater with good puck skills, creativity, patience and grittiness. He had 44 points (19 goals, 25 assists) in 47 regular-season games, and led Prince Albert with seven points (three goals, four assists) and 20 shots on goal in five WHL playoff games.

31. Anaheim Ducks (from Edmonton Oilers)

Kimelman -- Sam O'Reilly, RW, London (OHL): O'Reilly (6-1, 184) is a very good skater who plays a competitive, 200-foot game and seemed to earn more ice time on a very talented London team as the season went on. The 18-year-old led OHL rookies during the playoffs with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 16 games.

Morreale -- Andrew Basha, LW, Medicine Hat (WHL): Basha (5-11, 187) has an unbelievable compete level with high-end puck skills, impressive skating and an ability to shake off and beat defenders. He's great on the forecheck, something the Ducks covet in their players (see Mason McTavish, Leo Carlsson, Cutter Gauthier). The Calgary native, who speaks fluent French, had 85 points (30 goals, 55 assists), and scored 10 power-play goals and two short-handed goals in 63 games.

32. Philadelphia Flyers (from Florida Panthers)

Kimelman -- Eric Emery: Emery impressed with his high-end athleticism during the NHL Scouting Combine, after already standing out with his smarts, skating and defensive ability during the season. He likely won't be a big offensive contributor but should develop into a very good complement to a high-end offensive-minded defenseman.

Morreale -- Egor Surin: After targeting their future pillar on defense with the No. 12 pick, how about another incredibly talented forward prospect to one day play alongside countryman Matvei Michkov? Surin is a skilled, hard-nosed, two-way forward with good offensive instincts and a strong work ethic. He's played wing much of this season but has the size and playmaking ability to one day serve as a middle-six center.

Final Mock 2024 NHL Draft: Intrigue after 1st 3 picks | NHL.com (2024)
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