2024 NHL Draft: Reimer’s Final 3-Round Rankings

With the 2024 NHL Draft just days away, there’s just enough time to publish one final ranking. For some of you, this will be the first time you’ve checked out my rankings, but others may remember my first ranking that came out back in March as a premium piece on The Hockey Writers’ Substack.

With it being my first ranking, I limited myself to 40 prospects that I considered the most interesting and wrote a detailed breakdown of why I believed they were either first-round talents or just on the cusp. That seemed like a low enough number to provide plenty of detail without sacrificing quality, and since I’d never published any of my rankings before, I knew it would be a lot of work to put together. Yet I still wasn’t prepared for how much work it would entail, especially if I wanted to justify why one prospect ranked 28th and not 25th. After hours of tape and even more spent contemplating my decisions, I settled on something I was proud of and sat back to enjoy my accomplishment.

That’s when a fellow Hockey Writer asked me, “So, when’s the next one coming out?”

In my effort to finish the first one, I had completely overlooked the notion of doing a follow-up. But, as the draft inched closer and closer and I dove into more scouting reports, I found myself itching to return to the ranking that had taken up so much of my time in the spring. After all, a lot can change in three months. While Macklin Celebrini is still the unanimous choice for first overall, there’s been plenty of movement among the prospects fighting for a spot in the top 10 and the first round. Incredible playoff performances, strong showings at the U18 World Championship, and even a few appearances at the World Championship have boosted the reputation of several players fighting for a higher draft spot.

Related: THW’s 2024 NHL Draft Guide

However, impressive stats aren’t everything. When I watch a prospect, I try to watch for their skating. How does their stride look? Is it smooth or choppy? Are they able to get up to top speed quickly, or do they look laboured? I also pay attention to where they’re putting themselves on the ice, especially on defence. It’s common for young prospects to not have as developed of a defensive game as pros, so if they are putting effort into cutting off passing lanes and looking for weaknesses in the defence, I think that speaks highly to their future. I try my best to avoid size since smaller players have had plenty of success in the NHL, but if they seem like they’re invisible or getting pushed around, then that raises some red flags.

Putting all of that into a short paragraph wasn’t easy, but I’ve always enjoyed it when scouts provide reasons for their rankings so I’ve tried to do that with mine. It also helped me keep everything straight, since this is the most prospects I’ve ever ranked. Initially, I planned to focus on the first two rounds and provide write-ups for my top 65 prospects, but as I kept looking for potential hidden gems, I expanded my list to cover the top 96, with the last 32 listed without any descriptions. Over 9,700 words later, here are my final rankings for the 2024 NHL Draft.

First Round

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

There’s not much more to say at this point. Celebrini may not be a generational talent like Connor Bedard, but he is the best prospect available. If there was any doubt, he silenced it by becoming the youngest player to win a Hobey Baker Trophy as the NCAA’s top men’s player, then put up five points in three Frozen Four games. He’s asserted himself all season long as the most complete player of the 2024 Draft and earned the right to go first overall.

2. Artyom Levshunov, RD, Michigan State University (NCAA)

The difference between second and tenth overall will likely come down to preference, and while this isn’t a mock draft, it’s hard to imagine the Chicago Blackhawks taking anyone else other than Artyom Levshunov, who is arguably the best all-around defenceman in the 2024 Draft. He was the Big10 Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, helped the Michigan State Spartans claim a division championship, and was nominated for the Hobey Baker. It also helped that he was incredibly likable at the NHL Draft Combine, and when it comes down to it, that may be enough to separate him from the pack.

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

Yes, Ivan Demidov’s contract situation with SKA St. Petersburg is uncertain, and his absence at the NHL Draft Combine will certainly negatively impact some teams’ opinion of him, but when it comes to making things happen on the ice, he’s easily the second-best forward in the 2024 Draft. He finished second in the MHL with 60 points in 30 games while leading all players in points per game who appeared in at least 10 games, then led the playoffs with 11 goals and 28 points in 17 games en route to a league title with SKA St. Petersburg’s junior team and winning the league’s Most Valuable Player honours. However, I moved him behind Levshunov because he isn’t as strong of a skater and spent most of the season in a U20 league, as opposed to the NCAA, where most teams have an average age of 22. There’s no question he’ll be a top-line player, but he’s just a slight step behind his biggest competition at the draft.

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

I think Sam Dickinson has been somewhat underrated this year because of his left-handed shot. No defenceman has looked calmer or more in control than him. His ability to control the flow of the game around him made him one of the London Knights’ best defenders, regularly playing alongside Oliver Bonk on the top pairing. During the regular season, he put up 70 points in 68 games, then took a slight step back in the playoffs, putting up just 13 points in 18 games. However, he didn’t struggle; rather, he was playing a more defensive role to allow Bonk to take over offensively. Dickinson’s ability to adapt to any situation made the Knights nearly unstoppable, falling only to the Saginaw Spirit in the Memorial Cup Final.

5. Zeev Buium, LD, University of Denver (NCAA)

Another somewhat underrated defender because of his handedness, Zeev Buium was well-known as a skilled offensive defenceman after the 2024 World Junior Championship and he was named the NCHC’s Top Offensive Defenceman at the end of the season. But in the Frozen Four tournament, he proved that he could be a solid defender, too, helping the University of Denver claim the NCAA title while recording six blocked shots. He’s made progress all season long, emerging as a top-tier all-around defenceman, and better yet, he plays regularly on the right side. What’s not to love?

Zeev Buium University of Denver
Zeev Buium, University of Denver (Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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

It’s always difficult to scout a player who misses a significant chunk of the season, but if anyone can overcome that, it will be Cayden Lindstrom. A big, physical center who is highly skilled with the puck, he missed the latter half of the season, including the Kubota Top Prospects’ Game, with a hand injury, returning just in time for the Western Hockey League (WHL) playoffs. However, in four games, he had just a goal and an assist and injured his back, which required surgery and forced him to miss the U18s, a tough blow for any top prospect. However, reports are that he’s back to 100%, and given his massive potential, he should retain a very high draft position.

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

Since the WHL was founded, only 29 players have scored 50 goals and 100 points in their 18-year-old season. This season, Berkly Catton joined them, scoring 54 goals and 116 points. He’s everything you want in a top-six playmaker: quick, deceptive, engaged, and incredibly intelligent. He even managed to shine in the Spokane Chiefs’ brief playoff series against the Prince George Cougars, putting up four assists in four games, all of which were primary, and contributed to nearly half of all the Cheifs’ goals in the series. An injury prevented him from joining a stacked Canada U18 team, but he did enough to be one of the first forwards off the board, and his performance at the Combine proved he’s much stronger than his height would imply.

8. Tij Iginla, C, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

After his incredible showing at the U18s, NHL teams are now looking at Tij Iginla as a future first-line center. Alongside Ryder Ritchie and Jett Luchanko on the second line, he finished the tournament with the second-most goals and third-most points. Back with the Kelowna Rockets, he led all players with five goals and eight points over the first full week of the WHL Playoffs, earning Player of the Week honours for the second time this season. Even though the Rockets’ run ended in the second round, his nine goals in 11 games put him sixth in playoff scoring and was only behind players who made it to the conference final. Scouts have always cautioned fans not to think of him as his dad, Jarome, as he is not a power forward, but Tij might become a better scorer. The only question remaining is how high he’ll climb the draft boards.

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

There have never been any questions about Cole Eiserman’s scoring ability. The defensive side of his game, however, has received plenty of criticism, which he took to heart. By the time the U18s rolled around, he looked much more well-rounded, scoring nine goals from the Americans’ second line to put him third in scoring behind Gavin McKenna and James Hagens. That connects back to a conversation he had with his coach, Nick Fohr, who gave him a choice – do you want to put up big numbers for the draft, or work on your overall game and maybe take a draft-day hit? He chose to work on his 200-foot game, which I think shows a maturity not often talked about with him. So, while his totals maybe could have been better, he’ll be a much more dangerous player in the long run.

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

When he has the puck, no one is more dangerous than Zayne Parekh. He’s a dynamic offensive defenceman who can skate and shoot like no one else in junior. In the Memorial Cup, he had some of the best possession numbers of any player while putting up five points in five games, and was named the Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) Defenceman of the Year after scoring 96 points. Without the puck, he’s a bit less engaged, which can hurt his team, but he did make strides in that area throughout the season, posting a comparable average blocked shot rate to Dickinson in the Memorial Cup, and I moved him up two spots from my original ranking. He’s still not at the level of Dickinson or Anton Silayev, but he’s closer than he was to start the season, and his truly unique blend of skill on the blue line will make him an early selection on draft day.

Zayne Parekh Saginaw Spirit
Zayne Parekh, Saginaw Spirit (Photo by Natalie Shaver/OHL Images)

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

A fantastic skater, Silayev set several under-18 records in the KHL this season, surpassing Vladimir Tarasenko for the most points in a single season and clearing Andrei Petrunin’s 52-game season in 1995-96 by 11. He also finished second all-time in playoff points, putting up two assists in five games. However, he’s no Zdeno Chara; Silayev’s combination of skating, defensive presence, and offensive impact in the KHL are comparable to Shakir Mukhamadulin and Dmitri Simashev, which sets him up to be a solid top-four defensive defenceman, and his size will make him a strong shut-down option for any team. But for me, he’s no longer a guaranteed top-pairing defender, and while a lot could change as he grows and develops, I think he’s a better selection outside the top ten.

12. Konsta Helenius, C/RW, Jukurit (Liiga)

Konsta Helenius had an interesting end to his season, playing not only in the U18s but also in the World Championship for Finland alongside veterans like Mikael Granlund and Olli Maatta. The fact that he was able to make the team is a testament to his versatility and high-end skill, and along with his success in the Liiga, he promises to be a top-six two-way center in the NHL. My only concern was that, despite the many opportunities, he didn’t always flourish. He didn’t score a goal in the U18s and only put up one assist in four games at the World Championship, half as much as the rest of the team played. While I no longer think he’s a top-10 pick, he’s still a great prospect who should become a very solid top-six center on any NHL team.

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

Michael Brandsegg-Nygård might be one of the most NHL-ready players in the 2024 Draft. He thrived at the World Championship, forming a deadly pair with veteran Mats Zuccarello and put up a team-leading three goals in seven games. He’s competitive, intelligent, and already plays a very well-rounded game that blends skill with physicality. The only knock is that he doesn’t quite have first-line potential, but that’s hardly a problem for me. After all, every team needs a strong second line. If I’m picking just outside the top 10, he’d be one of my top priorities.

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

It feels strange to write that Beckett Sennecke might have the nicest hands of the 2024 Draft class. He was always projected to be a first-round player, but much closer to the end of the first than the beginning. Now some scouts are saying he’s a lock for the top 10. After getting off to a relatively slow start, he finished the second half of the season with 42 points in 34 games, making him one of the most productive players up for the 2024 Draft. He continued his tear in the playoffs, scoring 10 goals and 22 points in 16 games until an injury knocked him out of the OHL Final. He was always highly skilled, but a massive growth spurt slowed him down early in the season as it forced him to relearn parts of his finesse-driven style. With his new-found size and skill, he’ll be a highly-coveted player on draft day, but he’s just outside my top-10 group because he’s still on the raw side.

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

My opinion has changed very little about Carter Yakemchuk over the season. There’s no denying his skill with the puck, and paired with his 6-foot-3 frame, he’s a threat whenever he enters the offensive zone. He has a great shot and a creativity that is rarely seen in defencemen. But his decision-making is sometimes confounding; he’ll give up a soft pass that will lead to a great scoring opportunity for the opposing team, or make a terribly-timed pinch or line change that will put his team at a disadvantage. He’s a high-risk, high-reward player, and while I believe that a lot of his inconsistencies will iron themselves out, making him a dangerous offensive defenceman with a physical edge in the NHL, he will need more time than some of his contemporaries.

16. Igor Chernyshov, LW, Dynamo Moskva (KHL)

As I mentioned with Demidov, there’s something to be said for the level of competition a draft-eligible player regularly plays against. In Russia, teenagers rarely play big minutes in the KHL, so to see a young player earning regular minutes is worth noting, even if the points aren’t there. That brings me to Igor Chernyshov, a pure power forward who blends quickness, strength, offensive prowess, and defensive awareness into a very efficient package. He was called up from the MHL in December and remained in the KHL for the rest of the season, as well as their 10 playoff games. He wasn’t used a lot, often playing some of the lowest minutes on the team, but he was still playing, proving to any onlookers that he was trusted for his maturity and skill.

17. Alfons Freij, LD, Växjö Lakers Jr. (J20 Nationell)

In my previous ranking, I had some doubts about whether Alfons Freij’s production at the J20 level would follow him to tougher leagues, but after the U18s, I don’t have any more questions. He finished with two goals and six points in seven games, the most of any defenceman for Sweden, and was an expert quarterback for the Swedes in every situation. Like Dickinson, he always looks calm and in control but is always engaged and knows when to turn on the pressure. He’s incredibly agile but also deceptive, using his speed and edges to outsmart the other team. I think he could even rank higher than I have him here but he wasn’t able to play any minutes in the pro circuit, so I’ll be a bit conservative on his placement.

18. Adam Jiricek, RD, HC Plzen (Czechia)

There’s unfortunately a lot of mystery surrounding Adam Jiricek heading into the draft. He hasn’t been able to return to the ice since injuring his knee at the 2024 World Juniors, which required surgery, and he didn’t participate in any physical testing at the Combine. That leaves a very small sample size to rely on, and in it, he looked similar to Yakemchuk in that he was a strong offensive presence on the blue line who liked to try risky plays that didn’t always work out and occasionally hurt his team. However, while his offensive upside is lower than the Calgary Hitmen defender, his defensive instincts are more refined, making him a safer pick for a team looking for a top-four right-handed defenceman. If only we knew how his knee is.

19. Lucas Pettersson, C, MoDo (SHL)

Although Sweden doesn’t have the strongest contingency at the 2024 Draft, Lucas Pettersson could end up surprising a lot of people when he makes it over to North America. At the U18s, he tied for the team lead with three goals and eight points in seven games while serving as one of Sweden’s alternate captains. He’s very patient with the puck while moving at top speed and displays a lot of great two-way abilities, much like the Detroit Red Wings first-round pick in 2023, Nate Danielson, who I watched multiple times this season and see a lot of parallels in their game. I don’t think Pettersson has the same control over the game around him, but he’s just as smart and thinks the game several steps ahead of those around him.

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

It’s always tough to thrive on a weak team, but Liam Greentree did everything he could with the Windsor Spitfires, leading the team with 36 goals and 90 points (the next-highest total was 66). Yet he wasn’t able to sustain his effectiveness for the entire season; after scoring 64 points in the first 41 games, he started to slip, putting up 16 points in 13 games in February and then just 10 points in 11 games in March. At the U18s, it was more of the same, as he scored just two goals and four points in seven games. He’s still a strong net-front presence with great awareness, but his reduced pace to finish the season was disappointing.

21. Nikita Artamonov, RW, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)

With how much attention has been on Demidov and Silayev, it’s easy to forget that Nikita Artamonov just put up the second-highest point total from a draft-eligible prospect in KHL history. And back in October, he became the first U18 player to record a four-point game. When Torpedo was eliminated early from the playoffs, he went back to the MHL for the first time since January and finished third on the team in scoring, despite playing three fewer games. He oozes creativity with the puck, but I think his skating is holding him back right now. If he can improve that, he has the potential to be a dangerous top-six winger.

Nikita Artamonov, SKA Hockey Club (Photo by Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

22. Emil Hemming, RW, TPS (Liiga)

There’s a lot to like about Emil Hemming. He’s a bigger forward who can skate and generate bursts of quickness to get around opponents, and he uses his size to protect the puck well when pressured. He also led Finland with four goals in five games at the U18s, routinely putting himself in the right place to pick up a loose puck or receive a pass. However, he was also hesitant to engage along the boards, backing off after he thought he lost the battle and assuming a more passive, defensive stance. He’s aggressive when going after the puck, but that didn’t translate to his backchecking. He’s got a great nose for the net and some promising defensive instincts, but he needs to work on his awareness when he’s away from the puck. If he can get that sorted out, he’ll be a dangerous winger in the NHL.

23. Stian Solberg, LD, Vålerenga (Norway)

Stian Solberg had a solid 2024 World Juniors, demonstrating an intriguing combination of skill and physicality, but what caught everyone’s attention was his performance at the World Championship, where he finished with two goals and three points in seven games and was a force to be reckoned with every shift. Only Brandsegg-Nygård scored more goals than him, and no other Norwegian defenceman had more points. He’s a bit of a throw-back to a harder-hitting era and yet still brings much of the newer hybrid defensive style that relies on speed and agility; no one at the Combine had a better agility score than him. Add in his maturity and he’s bound to be one of the hottest risers on draft day.

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

I fell in love with Michael Hage’s style in my first ranking, but I’m a bit more wary heading into the draft after a shaky end to the season. Although he led the Chicago Steel in points in the playoffs, he was handed a five-minute major and was suspended one game for roughing which occurred in the last six seconds of the first game of the series against the Green Bay Gamblers. The Steel were down 6-5 and he scored a goal 10 seconds earlier to put his team within one. It was a moment of frustration and immaturity, yet this wasn’t the first time his emotions got the best of him. He’s been suspended three times since December, and in February, he was suspended for two games for abuse of officials. Despite his skill and effortless skating, he’ll need to grow up significantly before he can secure a spot on an NHL team.

25. Cole Hutson, LD, USA U18 (NTDP)

In 2022, Lane Hutson was widely regarded as a first-round pick, but because of his size, he fell to 62nd overall. Immediately, he established himself as one of the NCAA’s best offensive defencemen and is set to become a dominant top-four defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens. The NHL has a rare second chance to fix their mistake with his younger brother, Cole, who has already shown that he has a similar offensive impact with the NTDP. He recorded a higher point-per-game pace than Quinn Hughes and Adam Fox in their draft year and set a record at the U18s for the most points by a defenceman at the tournament. Add in the fact that he’s already two inches taller than his brother was on his draft day and plays a more physical, two-way game, and to me, there’s no question that he should be a first-round pick.

Cole Hutson USNTDP
Cole Hutson, USNTDP (Rena Laverty / USA Hockey’s NTDP)

26. Jett Luchanko, C, Guelph Storm (OHL)

Luchanko is a shifty, creative offensive winger with fantastic hands and great agility. He gave the Canadians some much-needed center depth at the U18s, scoring two goals and seven points, and has shown strong two-way abilities. He’s always in the right place at the right time to pick up a rebound and shove it in the net with a nifty move, but he’s more comfortable as a playmaker, making smart, crisp passes to wide-open teammates. His speed and vision make him a versatile forward who can fit in a variety of roles on a variety of teams. I skipped him on my first ranking, which was a mistake; Luchanko is a first-round player if I’ve ever seen one.

27. Teddy Stiga, LW, USA U18 (NTDP)

I had a hard time placing Teddy Stiga on my final ranking. He was absolutely stunning at the U18s, with his six goals trailing only Eiserman and 2025-eligible Hagens, and his 11 points sat tied for fourth on the team. I love his speed and tenacity. He has such great anticipation and a never-quit attitude that he’s a threat at each end of the ice. He’s got a good shot too, and while it doesn’t look to be the strongest, he beats goalies with a quick, deceptive release. He’s also the master of a no-look pass like the one he pulled off against Slovakia at the U18s.

Related: 2024 NHL Draft: Which Playoff Surges Will Lead to a Jump in Rankings?

It’s not like this is a new occurrence, either. Stiga finished third with 117 points split between the NTDP and USHL and was only surpassed by Hagens and Eiserman. His season is reminiscent of Luchanko, who I also bumped into my first round after leaving him off my initial ranking. My only hesitation with putting Stiga higher is that he’s been consistently surrounded by top-tier talent, which may pad his stats a bit. But I’ve also seen him start and finish a play entirely by himself, so I don’t think it’s a big concern like with other prospects later on in this list. He might be one of the most underrated players of the 2024 Draft.

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

Injuries are always a tricky thing to consider when looking at draft-eligible prospects. Lindstrom, Catton, and Jiricek all missed significant tournaments that would have helped them figure out where they were amongst their peers. Ritchie also missed a big chunk of 2023-24, which sapped any momentum he had from his Rookie of the Year performance last season. But when he returned to the Prince Albert Raiders, he was able to re-find his game and establish himself as a tenacious, two-way playmaker. He was a big reason the Raiders went toe-to-toe with the dominant Saskatoon Blades in the WHL Playoffs, leading the team in both goals and points, and, at the U18s, he was fourth on the team behind only McKenna, Porter Martone, and Iginla. He’s a hard worker and a smart player who could break out with a better team around him.

29. Andrew Basha, LW, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)

I haven’t been as enamoured with Andrew Basha as some other scouts, seeing a player who waits for the play to come to him rather than being the main force behind it. He was great alongside Lindstrom and did even better when he wasn’t there, which makes me more confident that he won’t suffer from having weaker linemates. In the playoffs, he was second in scoring only to 16-year-old phenom McKenna with five points in five games and led the Tigers with three goals. He also isn’t afraid to mix it up and play the pest when needed. I just wonder about his engagement away from the puck.

30. Luke Misa, C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Luke Misa is another beautiful skater with explosive speed and deceptive agility that I ended up moving down from my original rankings. I just had higher hopes for him in the playoffs. After leading the Mississauga Steelheads in the regular season with 26 goals and 81 points, he only put up a goal and two assists in the playoffs, finishing sixth in scoring. I noted his lack of high-end intelligence in my previous ranking and I think that was more evident in the postseason, but I still think he’s worth a late first-round selection.

31. Aron Kiviharju, LD, HIFK (Liiga)

I still think Aron Kiviharju is a great prospect and likely has a bright future ahead of him. He exhibited poise and maturity as Finland’s captain at the U18s and did well at the Draft Combine, participating in all events despite missing all but seven games this season with a knee injury. However, his third appearance at the U18s was also his most disappointing with just three assists in five games after being a point-per-game defender in 2022 and 2023. I think there could be an Erik Brannstrom type of player here – not the one that went 15th overall in 2017, but the speedy defensive specialist on the bottom four with the Ottawa Senators. That’s still worth a first-round pick in my opinion, but there are a lot of players that look like they can offer NHL teams more.

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

Sacha Boisvert jumped into the 2023-24 season with five goals in his first five games and by the new year, he had 18 goals in 29 appearances, including another five goals in the three games before the break. However, he began to slow down after that, scoring 18 over the next 32 games, and became much more streaky. In the playoffs, he didn’t register a single goal and put up just three assists in eight games. Some aspects of his game were rounded out as the season wore on, but a goal-less goal scorer is concerning. He’s still a first-round pick based on his early performances, but just barely.

Second Round

33. E.J. Emery, RD, USA U18 (NTDP)

E.J. Emery is a fantastic defensive defenceman, blending physicality with great awareness and patience. He doesn’t have great puck skills, but he is a strong passer which helped him put up six assists in seven games at the U18s and has more of a refined sense for offence than other defensive defenders available. But what impressed me the most was his fitness at the Combine. Not only did he lead several of the tests, but he did so by significant margins that I don’t remember seeing in previous years. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a first-round pick, but there are just a few too many guys for me that I would rather have.

EJ Emery, USNTDP (Rena Laverty / USA Hockey’s NTDP)

34. Henry Mews, RD, Ottawa 67s (OHL)

With so many elite offensive defencemen available in the 2024 Draft, Henry Mews has been somewhat forgotten, yet he might be one of the best skaters in the group, using fluid crossovers to get up to high speeds very quickly. At the U18s, his two goals and seven points were the most among Canadian defencemen and second-most at the tournament. Before that, he was the Ottawa 67’s highest-scoring defender, although he took a slight step back in the playoffs, dropping from nearly a point per game to an average of a point every two games. Like so many other draft-eligible defencemen, he doesn’t have great defensive instincts yet, but, as Eugene Helfrick wrote in his draft profile, skating can make a good player elite. I’d snag him early on Day 2, no question.

35. Trevor Connelly, LW, Tri-City Storm (USHL)

There was speculation about how Trevor Connelly would fare playing in a reduced role on Team USA, which can be hard for a star player, but he performed well, scoring four goals and nine points in seven games from the third line. But in the gold medal game against Canada, he was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for a hit to the head, which allowed the Canadians to score three unanswered goals on the powerplay and erase a 3-2 American lead to win the game 6-5. Because of his history, this shows that he not only hasn’t improved in his behaviour on and off the ice but lacks hockey sense. As I’ve stated before, I don’t think his off-ice antics justify a first-round selection, but now I’d add that I have concerns about his on-ice presence as well.

36. Yegor Surin, C/LW, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

Just like Solberg caught a lot of people’s attention with some strong international appearances, Yegor Surin could have been right up there with him if Russia hadn’t been banned from all IIHF tournaments. He’s a strong, physical forward who loves to throw massive hits and then can dazzle you with some of the softest hands in Russia’s MHL. He’s not the greatest skater but has some quickness in his step that has been enough to help him get around opponents. However, his ability to move the puck is something else. He finished with the most assists in the MHL playoffs with 18 in 19 games, one more than Demidov, and was third in points. He’s frustrated scouts with his lack of awareness in a similar way Yakemchuk has frustrated me, but I think there’s a hidden gem here.

37. Terik Parascak, RW, Prince George Cougars (WHL)

Terik Parascak had an outstanding season with 43 goals and 105 points, but he also had some incredible linemates in Riley Heidt, Zack Funk, and Ondrej Becher. That’s not to say that Parascak isn’t talented. He’s shown great awareness and is frequently in the right spot at the right time, but a lot of his points came not from his own hands, but from the efforts of those around him. He’s similar to Greentree in that both players are excellent net-front presences. Still, whereas the Spitfires’ forward did admirably with handling most of his team’s offensive responsibilities, I don’t think Parascak would handle that as well. His playoffs weren’t as strong, either, as he put up 14 points in 12 games – a good total for anyone, but after a 100-point season, it’s a bit disappointing.

38. Justin Poirier, RW, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

Another risky selection but for entirely different reasons, Justin Poirier has one of the best shots of the 2024 Draft class, second to only Eiserman. He led the QMJHL regular season with 51 goals – the highest total from a 17-year-old since Sidney Crosby – and did it again in the playoffs with 18 goals in 17 games. However, at just 5-foot-8, he’s very small for NHL standards. He’s already very strong for someone of his size, but his skating and awareness will need some work to get him to the next level.

Justin Poirier Baie-Comeau Drakkar
Justin Poirier, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (Photo Credit: Kassandra Blais Photographie)

39. Harrison Brunicke, RD, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

Harrison Brunicke missed a large chunk of the season with an upper-body injury, but he was able to return to the ice for the U18s for Canada. Despite playing primarily on the third pairing, he put up four points in seven games and was a reliable depth option for the Canadians en route to a gold medal. He didn’t put up great numbers with the Kamloops Blazers this season, but then again, no one was overly impressive on that team and Brunicke was tasked with taking on massive responsibilities. He is primed for a breakout in 2024-25 and could emerge as a top two-way defender from the 2024 class.

40. Marek Vanacker, LW, Brantford Bulldogs (OHL)

From what I’ve seen of Marek Vanacker, he seems like a similar player to Luchanko in that they both are great skaters who use a lot of deception and intelligence to create space for themselves and their teammates. Vanacker even outscored his Guelph Storm counterpart this season, posting 36 goals and 82 points compared to Luchanko’s 20 goals and 74 points. However, Vanacker is just a step behind in his all-around presence on the ice. Despite standing slightly taller, he’s not quite as strong, and his lone goal at the U18s was disappointing. There’s an element that’s not quite as refined, and while he still has the potential to be a top-six forward, there’s a greater chance he doesn’t reach it.

41. Leo Sahlin Wallenius, LD, Växjö Lakers Jr. (J20 Nationell)

I haven’t been blown away by Leo Sahlin Wallenius’ skating like some others. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, but it didn’t set him apart from others on the ice like his teammate Freij. I like his creativity in his passes, but like many other offensive-minded defencemen, he lacks commitment in the defensive zone and is usually looking to see where he can pick up the puck. I don’t think it was as bad as some others ahead of him and there were times he showed good anticipation and positioning as well as physicality, but his limited offensive ceiling makes him a second-round pick.

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

After a lot of the high-end forwards are gone, NHL teams will start turning their attention to the more well-rounded forwards who don’t have as much offensive upside, but do a lot of the little things very well. Of that group, Cole Beaudoin might be the best. An in-your-face two-way force that, whenever he steps onto the ice, it suddenly becomes a lot harder for the opposing team to get anything done. He uses his strength to out-muscle players against the boards and remove them from the puck and while he doesn’t have the best speed, he doesn’t give opponents any time to think, forcing them to make mistakes. He’s intelligent in his pressure, though, making him a player that can solidify a bottom-six. He’s a very safe second-round pick.

43. Brodie Ziemer, RW, USA U18 (NTDP)

Brodie Ziemer is a hard worker and a soft-spoken leader who is the perfect support for a star linemate. He was named captain of the American squad at the U18s and frequently paired with Hagens on the top line because he could consistently get the puck to his more talented teammate and had a more well-rounded two-way game. He’s not flashy and isn’t the fastest player, but he’s smart and never gives up. He’ll be a great NHLer someday.

44. Linus Eriksson, C, Djurgårdens IF (Allsvenskan)

Like Ziemer, Linus Eriksson is a strong leader and served as Sweden’s captain at the U18s, scoring a goal and seven points in seven games. He’s a good skater and has a well-developed awareness of what’s around him, which helps him get into the right position at the right time to break up a play or catch a pass from a teammate. He also has some decent offensive instincts; in the Allsvenskan playoffs, he was second on the team in goals with four in 12 games despite being the second-youngest player on the roster. I don’t think he’s quite as competitive as Ziemer, though, which is why I’ve placed him just a hair lower than him. I’d imagine they’d have similar impacts in the NHL, though.

45. Clarke Caswell, LW, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

Clarke Caswell has a lot of the attributes that I like to see in smaller forwards. He has a great work ethic, skates well, and is competent at both ends of the ice. But what set him apart for me was his sneaky offensive abilities. He moves quickly and subtly, drawing defenders away with just a glance while he moves the puck in the opposite direction. It’s difficult to figure out what he’s going to do next because he gives away very little before he actually does it. There’s a high intelligence at work here, and while he could stand to be a bit more physical, he’s a fantastic playmaker and could end up being a steal in the second round.

46. Sam O’Reilly, C, London Knights (OHL)

Yet another of the strong two-way forwards, Sam O’Reilly emerged as one of the Knights’ most important players during the Memorial Cup, playing a strong defensive game that helped the team get to the Final against the Spirit. But the tournament also allowed him to flex his strong offensive instincts, which led to him taking home the Player of the Game honours against the Moose Jaw Warriors and finishing the tournament with a goal and four points, placing him sixth on the team in scoring. He also was the highest-scoring rookie in the OHL playoffs with 12 points in 16 games. While his offensive potential is limited, he’ll be an excellent supporting player in the NHL.

Sam O'Reilly London Knights
Sam O’Reilly, London Knights (Natalie Shaver/OHL Images)

47. Dominik Badinka, RD, Malmö Redhawks (SHL)

Dominik Badinka hasn’t played much hockey since my last rankings came out, which allowed some other prospects to get more attention and surpass him in some draft rankings. He still offers an intriguing package of size, skill, and speed, and paired with a right-handed shot, he could end up a top-four defender in the NHL. He just needs to add some strength and quicken his decision-making to succeed at the highest levels.

48. John Mustard, C, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)

Like several of the guys above him, John Mustard has a good work ethic and constantly fights for the puck no matter where it is. He’s incredibly competitive and is always looking for where he can be to receive a clean pass or pick up a dirty rebound. He is also a strong backchecker and has some speed in his stride. However, after a hot start, he cooled off throughout the season, leading to him going pointless in two playoff games. He seems to have a good awareness of the play around him and putting himself in the right place but doesn’t quite yet know what to do with it in every situation, which can leave him floating without a purpose or sticking to one spot for too long. His competitiveness will get him quite far, but adding that extra dimension will greatly help his NHL career.

49. Alexander Zetterberg, C, Örebro Jr. (J20 Nationell)

Like Poirier, Alexander Zetterberg is a smaller forward with an incredible shot. He only had 21 goals with Örebro Jr. this season, which put him down at 20th in the league, but in the playoffs, he broke out, scoring the second-most goals of anyone with eight in eight games. He also had great chemistry with Melvin Fernstrom and Lucas Pettersson, scoring two goals and five points in four games before going down with an injury. He doesn’t have the same strength as Poirier, which is why I ranked him lower, but I’ll never count out a shorter prospect who can score at will. There are too many examples of players overcoming their size deficits to be impactful NHL players, and Zetterberg has everything else you want in an impactful player besides size.

50. Matvei Gridin, RW, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Yes, he’s not a great skater, but I like what Matvei Gridin brings to the ice. He’s aggressive on the puck, has a good shot, and has some agility that he’s not afraid to flex to create space. He still floats and lacks engagement when he’s not the primary puck carrier and wasn’t very impactful in the USHL Playoffs, which pushes him out of my first round, but he’s got the size and strength to be a solid middle-six producer in the future. He just needs to iron out some inconsistencies to make it there.

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

Another smooth-skating defensive defenceman, Charlie Elick has some strong defensive instincts and is always engaged with the play, positioning himself to maintain possession and cut off passing routes. He lacks offensive instincts, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to engage with the play. When he gets the puck, it’s a good chance he’ll fire it on net, whether there’s a better play or not, and can get caught trying to do too much. He also doesn’t trust himself to carry the puck into the offensive zone, instead opting to dump it into the corner. When he’s playing a steady defensive game, there are few better than him, but he needs to rein in his desire to always be involved.

52. Ilya Nabokov, G, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)

I’ll admit, I find evaluating goalies difficult. In the top junior leagues around the world, most goalies have the technical side of the game down pat, so a lot of their success depends on the skill of the team around them and the type and quality of shots they face. So, when a goalie wins Rookie of the Year and becomes the youngest player to win Playoff MVP in the KHL, you know they are doing something right. Ilya Nabokov is on the smaller side for goalies, but his confidence in the net is easily some of the best I’ve seen in the 2024 Draft class. He sets up quickly and stares down shooters, but if things change, he can quickly respond, using high athleticism to make game-breaking saves.

Although he has been passed over twice, I’m less wary of that fact with goalies, as they generally take longer to develop and can often experience big speed bumps along the way. Nabokov is performing at the top of his game now and is just 21 years old. Although there isn’t a lot of confidence in the group of goalies this year, there’s no question in my mind that Nabokov should be the first off the board.

53. Leon Muggli, LD, Zug (NL)

There are some intriguing aspects to Leon Muggli’s game. As a 17-year-old, he played 42 games in Switzerland’s National League (NL), which is just six games away from the record and surpassed Roman Josi’s U18 season by seven. His 12 points are also the most from a U18 defenceman in league history and just short of Christoph Bertschy’s record of 16 points set back in 2011-12. There are some intriguing offensive skills at play, but when I watch him, he looks like he’s constantly trying to fix some mistake, real or perceived. He seems hurried, which can push him out of position or cause him to give the puck away. He moves well and has good physicality, but I think there’s a lack of awareness in his game that needs to be ironed out before he can develop into a solid two-way defenceman.

54. Dean Letourneau, C, St. Andrew’s College (Prep)

It’s hard not to look at Dean Letourneau and imagine the next Tage Thompson. The 6-foot-6 center dominated the prep school scene, scoring a league-leading 61 goals and 127 points in 56 games with St. Andrew’s College. But there’s always a risk with drafting from high school leagues, and Letourneau is no different. He’s incredibly raw and often looks like he’s giving only a half effort when he’s on the ice, yet he still can keep up with everyone else thanks to his long stride. He’s engaged but doesn’t finish his plays and can get pushed off the puck by smaller, craftier defenders. Those issues were very evident during his two games in the USHL, and I wonder how much his size is giving him an advantage in AAA. He tested well at the Combine, so he’s at least on par with other 2024 top prospects, but for me, there are too many question marks for a first-round pick.

55. Ben Danford, RD, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Ben Danford is one of the better defensive defencemen in his draft class, blending a sound, reliable defensive game with some underrated offensive skills. His stats won’t jump off the page, but he’s smart about when he activates in the offensive zone and has a strong point shot. He’s also a decent skater who can move very quickly laterally. He’s not the biggest player, but he’s got the skills to be a smothering defender in the NHL for a long time.

56. Veeti Väisänen, LD, KooKoo (Liiga)

One thing that stuck out to me while watching Veeti Väisänen was his ability to protect the puck. When he got the puck, he was always aware of where the attacker was coming from and turned his body in that direction, giving him time and space to give it to a more open teammate. He’s defensively competent and a smooth skater, but he can get beat when skating backward and his reaction time seems to be just a touch slow. He also lacks a bit of strength and was pushed off the puck a few times in my viewing, but he’s not afraid of engaging physically. I liked how he played at the U18s, and although he didn’t look quite as sharp as his defensive partner, Kiviharju, he has plenty of raw skills that could help him develop into a reliable defensive defender.

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

I think what’s holding Maxim Massé back from being a first-round talent is his need for strong teammates. He’s a strong finisher and is often in the right places at the right time, but he can’t command a play on his own like Catton or Demidov. At the U18s, surrounded by some fantastic talent, he scored two goals and five points. In the right system, he’d be an excellent second-line scoring winger, but in another, he could be a third-line grinder. He has the smarts to be both, but his linemates and opportunities will have much more of an impact on his future than some others ahead of him on this list.

58. Melvin Fernström, RW, Örebro Jr. (J20 Nationell)

Melvin Fernström is a polarizing player among scouts, and I will admit that he doesn’t have a fantastic shot nor is he the fastest or smoothest skater on the ice, but I loved his two-way impact at the U18s for Sweden. He was great at picking pockets and finding creative ways to get the puck to his teammates. I also thought he had good anticipation and followed the development of a play well rather than showing a limited motor. His offensive totals are impressive in the J20 – in 45 games, he scored 31 goals and 63 points – which got him into a few SHL games to finish the season. I don’t think those totals will follow him to higher leagues, but having a strong sense for offence while developing a strong all-around game could make him a second-round steal.

59. Tanner Howe, LW, Regina Pats (WHL)

It was a perfect storm for Tanner Howe this season. Not only did the Regina Pats lose their star forward in Connor Bedard, leaving a massive hole in the offence, but the team took a nose dive in the standings, scoring the fourth-least goals in the league. Howe has a great work ethic, but he just wasn’t able to take control of a struggling offence all by himself, which hurt his draft stock. He still projects to be a solid middle-six winger but isn’t as dynamic as once thought.

60. Julius Miettinen, C, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

He has the size and the offensive skills to make the NHL, but I wonder if Julius Miettinen has the awareness to have an impact against tougher competition. Despite playing center, he would regularly wait up at the blue line for the puck carrier to get into the offensive zone and frequently found himself chasing the play any time there was a turnover or bad pass. He didn’t seem to anticipate the next step quickly enough and his foot speed wasn’t good enough to help him catch up with it. He looked solid when posted up in front of the net, but overall, he seemed a bit too passive.

61. Jesse Pulkkinen, LD, JYP (Liiga)

Drafting overage prospects who have been passed over in previous drafts can be risky; in junior, older players often get more minutes and better opportunities to succeed, which can inflate their stats above their actual skill. They also have a size and strength advantage over their peers, giving them an advantage they wouldn’t have in tougher leagues. With Jesse Pulkkinen, however, I’m betting on a late-bloomer. Bigger players always take longer to develop their game and at 6-foot-6 and 216 pounds, there are few players bigger than him. He showed off incredible creativity and mobility comparable to Yakemchuk but has a much better defensive presence, which earned him regular minutes in Finland’s top league and a top-pairing spot at the U20 World Juniors. I can’t imagine him falling much beyond here.

Jesse Pulkkinen Team Finland
Jesse Pulkkinen, Team Finland (Photo Credit: Pasi Mennander)

62. Tarin Smith, LD, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

I’m really interested to see what Tarin Smith can become in the NHL. He has a lot of tools that would transition nicely against tougher competition: he’s 6-foot-1, plays physically and isn’t knocked off the puck easily, is quick on his skates, intelligent, agile, and has a strong shot. He finished his first full season in the WHL with 44 points in 67 games, the most among the Silvertips’ defence and second among all first-year eligible defenders in the league. However, his tools are unrefined, and his defensive coverage needs work. Still, I think he could be a steal.

63. Luca Marrelli, RD, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Initially, I liked what I saw from Luca Marrelli. He moves the puck well, has a strong shot, and plays a well-rounded, competent game that keeps the puck in the offensive zone. However, one concern that emerged after some initial viewings was that he seemed to move slowly through the offensive zone. On the one hand, I think it’s a good example of his patience and ability to slow the game down around him, but on the other, he doesn’t seem to be in any rush to make a play happen. So far, his patient playstyle has worked for him as he finished second on the Generals with 51 assists, but he’ll have trouble replicating that in higher levels of competition.

64. Luke Osburn, LD, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

Luke Osburn may not have a lot of scouts paying attention to him, but those who have watched him love him. He’s a smart, smooth-skating defender who can handle the puck in a similar way to Pulkkinen, using unexpected quickness and deception to create space and open passing lanes. He’s difficult to push around and can easily pin players against the boards or haul them down in front of the net, which is all the more surprising after learning he stands just 6-foot-0 and weighs in at 172 pounds. If he adds some more muscle in college, I could see him being a force to be reckoned with in the NHL.

65. Daniil Ustinkov, LD, ZSC (NL)

Whereas I criticized Muggli for looking too rushed which led to mistakes, Daniil Ustinkov has the opposite problem of lacking a strong competitive edge. His calm demeanour helps him make good, straightforward decisions and take control of certain situations, but he doesn’t do it nearly enough as he seems more than comfortable to hang back and observe. He only played 18 games in the NL compared to Muggli’s 42 and registered just a single point during his time in Switzerland’s top league. However, internationally, he was more effective than his teammate because he didn’t get suspended at the World Juniors and didn’t get injured at the U18s. He may not take the same risks that Muggli does, which makes the latter a better player, but he will at least always be there. I like him as a potential bottom-four two-way defender in the NHL.

Round Three

66. Noel Fransén, LD, Farjestad Jr. (J20 Nationell)

Noel Fransén is a strong skating defenceman who moves the puck well and has some promising physical elements that could make him a reliable two-way defender in the NHL. He puts himself in good positions to receive passes or break up plays and he has an active stick that can easily pop the puck off an attacker’s stick. The only problem is that, when he’s on defence, he lacks the same engagement that he shows on offence, turning him from a reliable puck mover to more of a bystander. He’s also one of the oldest first-year eligible players up for the 2024 Draft yet he hasn’t been called up to play for Sweden in any IIHF tournaments and has just four SHL games under his belt. It doesn’t seem like he’s earning the trust of his coaches, which is concerning.

67. Spencer Gill, RD, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)

68. Miguel Marques, RW, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

69. Adam Kleber, RD, Lincoln Stars (USHL)

70. Jack Berglund, C, Färjestad BK Jr. (J20 Nationell)

71. Max Plante, LW, USA U18 (NTDP)

72. Yegor Graf, C, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

73. Tomas Galvas, LD, Bílí Tygri Liberec (Czechia)

74. Christian Humphreys, RW, USA U18 (NTDP)

75. Roul Boilard, C, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

76. Kamil Bednarik, C, USA U18 (NTDP)

77. Simon Zether, C, Rögle BK (SHL)

78. Colton Roberts, RD, Vancouver Giants (WHL)

79. Lukas Fischer, LD, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

80. Ryerson Leenders, G, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

81. Adam Jecho, C, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

82. Matvei Shuravin, LD, CSKA Jr. (MHL)

83. Carter George, G, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

84. Owen Allard, C, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)

85. Carson Westsch, RW, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

86. Jacob Battaglia, RW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

87. Mikhail Yegorov, G, Omaha Lancers (USHL)

88. Matvei Korotky, C, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

89. Will Skahan, LD, USA U18 (NTDP)

90. Tomas Lavoie, RD, Cape Breton Eagles (QMJHL)

91. Ollie Josephson, C, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

92. Evan Gardner, G, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

93. Tomas Mrsic, C, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)

94. Timur Kol, LD, Omskie Yastreby (MHL)

95. Mac Swanson, LW, Fargo Force (USHL)

96. Thomas Desruisseaux, C, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)

97. Jakub Fibigr, LD, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)