Top 5 Prospects for the 2024 NHL Draft

As the Stanley Cup playoffs heat up between Florida and Edmonton, another big event is on everyone's mind: the NHL draft. The lottery picks have been announced, and all 32 NHL teams are now getting ready for the draft on June 28–29 at The Sphere in Las Vegas.

NHL Draft 2024
NHL Draft 2024

While this year's draft class may not match the star power of last year's lineup with players like Bedard, Fantilli, and Leo Carlsson, numerous promising prospects generate excitement. Here's a look at the top five projected prospects who are set to make waves in the 2024 NHL draft.

No. 1: Macklin Celebrini, F, Boston University

Celebrini stands out as the crown jewel of this NHL draft class, poised to become a franchise cornerstone center in the near future. His game is built on a solid foundation: a 200-foot player who impacts both ends of the ice. His ability to protect the puck, navigate through defenders, and maintain play intensity are skills that easily translate to the NHL.

Moreover, Celebrini excels as a two-way player, particularly in transitional play. His outstanding freshman year culminated in winning the prestigious Hobey Baker Award, recognizing him as college hockey's top performer. Scoring an impressive 32 goals and totalling 64 points in just 38 games with Boston University this season underscores his readiness for the next

level. With the San Jose Sharks holding the first overall pick, Celebrini's return to the city where he honed his skills in youth hockey is anticipated to accelerate their rebuilding efforts.

No. 2: Ivan Demidov, F, SKA St. Petersburg

Ivan Demidov is a standout offensive talent, recognized for his exceptional skills as a right-winger. With incredible hands and a knack for driving offensive play, he excels in every facet of the game. Demidov possesses a lethal combination of shooting prowess, playmaking ability, and exceptional skating. His hockey IQ on the offence is remarkable, allowing him to extend plays along the boards and make impactful drives toward the crease.

He's a complete offensive package poised to deliver as a potential 40-goal, 40-assist producer in the NHL. However, uncertainty surrounds his contract situation, leading to expectations that he will spend the next season playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with SKA St. Petersburg.

No. 3: Artyom Levshunov, D, Michigan State

Artyom Levshunov is the consensus best defender in the draft class and is impressive in many aspects. A highly sought-after right-shot defenseman, he asserts his physical presence on the ice while contributing significantly to his team's offence. Levshunov played crucial minutes for Michigan State this season, demonstrating his offensive capabilities with nine goals and 35 points in 38 games as a draft-eligible defenseman.

While he continues to refine his defensive game, it's far from a weakness. Despite not being the most physical defender, Levshunov compensates with outstanding skating ability and a high success rate in puck battles. His style and composure with the puck indicate readiness for the NHL, where he's projected to excel as a top-pairing defenseman capable of influencing play in all zones. His overall potential suggests he could become a pivotal figure on any NHL team.

No. 4: Zeev Buium, D, Denver

Zeev Buium made a significant impact in his freshman year by leading all NCAA defensemen in scoring. He's projected to be a top-pairing defenseman at the NHL level, excelling in both offensive contributions and defensive reliability. Buium's game revolves around his exceptional skating ability, which allows him to evade defenders, lead rushes up the ice, and maneuver effortlessly along the blue line.

He's known for his aggressive play on both ends of the ice, never shying away physically while consistently generating offensive opportunities. Buium's ability to elevate his performance in critical moments was evident as one of the USA's standout players, winning a national college championship and a world junior gold medal. Overall, Buium embodies a highly skilled and competitive defenseman who brings offensive firepower and defends with determination. With his skill set, he's poised to become a pivotal play-driving defenseman in the NHL.

No. 5: Anton Silayev, D, Torpedo

Anton Silayev stands out as an imposing figure on the ice, towering at 6-foot-7 and 207 pounds. Despite his size, he possesses remarkable agility and mobility, traits that served him well during his standout season with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in the KHL. Silayev's skating ability, coupled with impressive edgework and agility, allows him to excel in both defensive transitions and offensive zone play, where he adeptly navigates the blue line. Silayev is seen as just beginning to tap into his potential, leveraging his physical gifts and talents to elevate his game further.

What sets Silayev apart from other top defensemen in this draft is his proven ability to compete and succeed in a professional league like KHL, suggesting a higher floor in terms of NHL readiness. However, his current contract status extends through the 2025-26 season, delaying his NHL debut until 2026. Without this contractual commitment, he could arguably be considered the most NHL-ready prospect in this draft class.

While rankings may differ across mock drafts and teams will assess each prospect differently, it's a safe bet that these top five players will feature prominently in the top seven of any draft rankings, their talent and potential are undeniable.

However, as with everything in sports, nothing is guaranteed in the draft. Teams make their selections based on their specific needs and strategies. So, while these prospects are highly touted, the draft outcome will be determined once each team makes their picks.