Scout’s Analysis: Ranking the top 40 prospects for the 2024 NHL Draft

Boston University forward Macklin Celebrini. (AP)

Some things have changed since I last did my rankings in January, which I did after the WJC, CHL-NHL top Prospects Game and the All-American Prospects Game.

As more hockey is played and I’m able to view more of them in person or through video we’ll get a clearer look at the 2024 class. A month after the last rankings, I’m expanding these to the top 40.

But while some things change, some will stay the same, including where we start at No. 1…

No. 1: Macklin Celebrini, F, Boston University (NCAA)
Height: 6-feet Weight: 190 pounds

Celebrini is the consensus first overall and he’s holding strong in the slot. He’s an elite play driver who brings relentless compete up and down the ice. He’s tied for third in NCAA scoring with 26 goals and 22 assists, including an incredible 16 goals and seven assists in his past 15 games overall.

Celebrini is a complete player. He has the compete, skill, and hockey IQ to be used in a variety of roles without sacrificing offence.

No. 2: Ivan Demidov, F, SKA St. Petersburg (MHL)
Height: 5-foot-11 Weight: 181 pounds

Demidov continues to be a nightmare for opponents playing against SKA in Russia’s top junior league. His elite element is clearly what he projects to bring offensively at the NHL level. He has top-line upside, plays with pace, possesses an outstanding release, and battles to make plays coming off the wall.

He’s too talented for the MHL. Demidov has scored nine goals and 19 assists in his past 10 games.

No. 3: Anton Silayev, D, Torpedo (KHL)
Height: 6-foot-7 Weight: 211 pounds

It’s very rare to see a prospect with the kind of skating and agility Silayev possesses in relation to his stature. His offence has been virtually non-existent in recent weeks, but he contributes to team success with his ability to kill plays in the defensive zone and launch the attack with on time outlets to his forwards.

Silayev has a chance to be a top pairing two-way/shutdown defender at the NHL level. The kind of player who complements someone like Quinn Hughes or Cale Makar.

No. 4: Artyom Levshunov, D, Michigan State (NCAA)
Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 208 pounds

No. 5: Sam Dickinson, D, London Knights (OHL)
Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 204 pounds

Dickinson continues to log a ton of ice time in London. He’s deployed in all situations. Dickinson’s a fantastic skater with an effortless stride. He shoots the puck with authority, and joins the rush as an extra layer in transition. He’s produced 17 goals and 45 assists. There are times I’d like to see Dickinson gap up and kill plays with more authority, but he has it in him and shows enough push back defensively overall.

Dickinson projects as a top pairing NHL defenceman who can be deployed in all situations. He has some Owen Power in his game and approach.

No. 6: Carter Yakemchuk, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 194 pounds

No. 7: Berkly Catton, F, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Height: 5-foot-10 Weight: 170 pounds

Teams are always looking for scorers and Catton fits the bill. A past first overall selection in the WHL draft, he is a dynamo offensively. He’s a crafty, hard to check, potential top-line NHL scoring forward who has produced 43 goals and 49 assists in his first 56 games this season.

No. 8: Zeev Buium, D, Denver (NCAA)
Height: 6-foot Weight: 183 pounds

Buium projects as a top pairing, two-way/transitional defenceman at the NHL level. He’s a highly skilled, competitive defenceman who brings offence and defends with purpose. Buium has plenty of push back physically. He plays quick and fast, pinches down to extend plays in the offensive zone, and gaps up with authority defensively.

Buium is second in defencemen scoring in the NCAA (behind Montreal draft pick Lane Hutson) with nine goals and 29 assists in 30 games.

No. 9: Cayden Lindstrom, F, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 210 pounds

I had Lindstrom too low in my last ranking. He’s out with injury and hasn’t had the opportunity to improve his stock on his own, but what’s easy to recognize is how valuable he is to his team when he isn’t in the lineup.

Medicine Hat misses having Lindstrom in their lineup. He was matching up against top lines, provided push back physically, pushed the play, and scored timely goals. He’s been limited to only 32 games, but has produced 27 goals and 19 assists. His 86 penalty minutes speak to his “involved” approach.

Lindstrom projects as a potential top-line NHL power centre.

No. 10: Zayne Parekh, D, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Height: 6-feet Weight: 181 pounds

Right-shot defencemen are worth their weight in gold at the NHL level, especially ones who project to produce offence the way Parekh does.

Zayne is a dynamic talent. He’s equal parts shooter and distributor when quarterbacking the power play. He’s an elusive defenceman who walks the offensive blue line to open lanes. He’s an area defender in his zone who relies on an active stick and jumping to space ahead of opponents to create turnovers.

It’s impossible to teach the skill that Parekh has. He projects as a potential top pairing/transitional NHL defenceman. He isn’t shy about taking chances, leading and joining the rush, offensively.

No. 11: Konsta Helenius, F, Jukurit (Liiga)
Height: 5-foot-10 Weight: 180 pounds

Helenius plays the game fast and he’s a threat off the rush. The kind of forward who leads zone entries off the power play breakout. He’s a play driver who’s sees the ice and makes plays. Although he isn’t the biggest player in the draft class he’s plenty strong. He leverages well along the wall and has the strength and quickness to escape pressure with the puck on his stick.

Helenius has been on a nice run of offence. In his latest 10-game segment he produced four goals and five assists. All of his ice time comes at even strength and the power play, skating for for Jukurit in Finland’s top pro league.

No. 12: Tij Iginla, F, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Height: 5-foot-11 Weight: 186 pounds

Iginla continues to score goals in the WHL. He’s the second-leading scorer for Kelowna with 40 goals and 30 assists in 54 games.

Iginla leans shooter more than play maker/distributor, but he sees the ice and makes responsible decisions moving the puck. He possesses solid pace, high end compete, some muscle in the trenches and a sound understanding of how to play the game in all three zones.

No. 13: Sacha Boisvert, F, Muskegon (USHL)
Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 176 pounds

Boisvert leads the USHL with 30 goals. He definitely leans shooter/goal scorer more than play driver, but his skating has improved to the point where he’s more of a threat off the rush. Boisvert is very difficult to defend in small areas. He’s crafty escaping his check and taking the play to the net. As he continues to add more strength, his separation in open ice should only improve.

No. 14: Cole Eiserman, F, USNTDP
Height: 6-feet Weight: 195 pounds

Eiserman is, arguably, the most elite shooter in the entire draft. He’s a pure goal scorer who has produced 39 goals and 22 assists. The bulk of his time on ice comes at even strength and the first power play unit.

Eiserman’s offensive element is attractive, but he has room to improve defensively. He continues to lack some consistency with his three zone detail and effort. Late offensive zone exits, and some cheat defending his own zone, need to be cleaned up before the end of the season.

However, teams are always looking for goal scorers and Eiserman is certainly that. He only needs to be average in the other areas of his game to earn more of my trust and move back up the rankings.

No. 15: Liam Greentree, F, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 211 pounds

Greentree continues to produce offence for the Spitfires. He’s a goal scoring power forward who’s hard to knock off the puck. He extends plays along the wall and hunts pucks in the crease area. Greentree is better than average defensively and he doesn’t cut corners. There’s a real possibility the could end up in a top six NHL role complementing lighter, equally skilled, linemates.

No. 16: Terik Parascak, F, Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Height: 5-foot-11 Weight: 176 pounds

In a most recent 10-game segment he produced five goals and 10 assists. More impressively he was a plus-7 over those games. Parascak is deployed in all situations for the Cougars, which speaks to his hockey sense and commitment. Doesn’t just bring offence, but his 34 goals and 51 assists certainly stand out.

No. 17: Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, F, Mora (Allsvenskan)
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 194 pounds

Good size and strength. Plays with pace. Rotates well off the cycle and finds quiet ice in the offensive zone. Solid release and he shoots the puck quickly and accurately. Averages around 13 minutes of ice time per game playing in Sweden’s second division. In his last 10-game segment he logged one goal and four assists.

No. 18: Andrew Basha, F, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Height: 6-feet Weight: 185 pounds

Basha continues to impress. He plays the game with a mix of skill and tenacity. Basha is the kind of prospect who projects to be able to adapt to whatever role a coach asks of him. His combination of energy and offence are attractive attributes.

Basha has produced 25 goals and 47 assists so far this season. He has a chance to become a top six NHL forward.

No. 19: Cole Hutson, D, USNTDP
Height: 5-foot-10 Weight: 159 pounds

No. 20: Igor Chernyshov, F, HC Dynamo Moscow (KHL-MHL)
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 189 pounds

Chernyhshov is a late birthday (November 2005) who’s tracking towards the end of his season in Russia. It will be interesting to see how much momentum he has towards the draft in June.

Chernyshov doesn’t have elite scoring numbers, playing at both the KHL and MHL levels in Russia, but he’s a big body who moves very well. He’s showing signs of potentially going to another level offensively, too. He has a great release and sees the ice, rotating off the cycle and finding seams to make plays, in the offensive zone.

No. 21: Ryder Ritchie, F, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Height: 5-foot-11 Weight: 175 pounds

Ritchie has been sidelined with injury and missed a significant amount of his season. Before sustaining a knee in jury in December he had produced 13 goals and 19 assists.

Ritchie is relatively young for this draft class. He was born in August, one month before the cut-off for this cycle. He isn’t the biggest body, but he plays hard between the whistles and has a bit of a throwback style of game. He’s a mix of skill and will who’s responsible on and off the puck.

22. Aron Kiviharju, D, HIFK Helsinki (Liiga)
Height: 5-foot-9 Weight: 170 pounds

It’s hard for me to envision Kiviharju falling any further than the early-20s after missing most of his season with injury. He’s due to return to Team Finland’s lineup in time for the U18 World Championships in April.

Kiviharju is a power play quarterback who leans distributor more than shooter. He’s a stocky and strong defender who relies on small area quickness to win pucks. Kiviharju is the kind of undersized defenceman who can launch the attack and join the rush as an extra layer, or escape his zone and lead the play up ice on his own.

No. 23: Adam Jiricek, D, Plzen HC (Czech)
Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 178 pounds

I’m monitoring Jiricek to see if there’s any chance of him returning to the lineup before the end of the season. He is also out with a knee injury that was suffered at the World Juniors and required surgery.

Jiricek is tall and lean. He has time to fill out his frame as he matures. He burst on to the scene at the U18 Worlds last spring in Switzerland. The two-way defenceman was having a bit of a disappointing season offensively before his injury, but there’s no denying he has the tools and hockey sense to potentially slide into a second pairing role at the NHL level in time.

Jiricek is a right-shot defenceman who can be deployed in all situations and provide secondary offence.

No. 24: Emil Hemming, F, TPS Turku (Liiga)
Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 194 pounds

No. 25: Michael Hage, F, Chicago Steel (USHL)
Height: 6-feet Weight: 187 pounds

Hage provides offence. It’s his most elite element. He has a great stick. He catches pucks and makes plays quickly, before opponents get set to defend against him. He has a gear off the rush, makes subtle plays in small areas, and the ability to rip pucks from the weak side flank on the power play. He’s average defensively, on and off the play. Offensive upside wins out when projecting his upside at the NHL level, though. Could end up skating in a top six role at even strength and certainly be used on the power play.

No. 26: Trevor Connelly, F, Tri-City Storm (USHL)
Height: 6-feet Weight: 156 pounds

Connelly is easily defined. He’s a light, skilled, crafty playmaker who provides offence. He’s verbally committed to Providence College, but not until 2025-26. Connelly is more quick than fast, but it could have something to do with his core strength. Once he adds more strength he should be able to sustain more pace in transition. For now, my list is based on a player’s play on the ice, but as we draw closer to the draft I’ll do my due diligence on any off-ice issues that may affect the rankings.

No. 27: Henry Mews, D, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Height: 6-feet Weight: 183 pounds

Mews started playing defence later in his minor hockey development. You can see how he thinks the game offensively might have something to do with his years playing forward. Mews is a play maker/transitional defenceman. There’s some risk/reward with his approach, but also no denying what he can provide offensively. He’s a power play quarterback who’s already produced 10 goals and 40 assists this season.

Mews is another player on this list who has loads of room for more consistent detail defensively, but his offence also wins out at this stage of the first-round.

No. 28: Beckett Sennecke, F, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 175 pounds

I appreciate the potential upside Sennecke could provide. He’s a big, rangy, skilled forward who’s difficult to defend when shielding pucks and using his reach as an advantage. He’s capable of making plays in small areas and escaping. He also has some net drive when he gains the edge off the rush.

In time Sennecke will add more weight and strength to his frame, which could lead to even more impact overall.

He is having a solid year in Oshawa (21 goals, 27 assists), but hasn’t exploded to a new level quite yet. I’m monitoring his game closely as we come down the stretch. He could easily move up in these rankings.

No. 29: Brodie Ziemer, F, USNTDP
Height: 5-foot-11 Weight: 190 pounds

Every time I watch Ziemer play I come away with something positive. He comes to me in every game I view.

Ziemer is the captain of the USNTDP U18 Team. He’s an infectious player who plays the game quick and fast. He creates offence at even strength and the power play. He has the commitment, and hockey sense, to be used in a variety of roles.

Ziemer has produced 20 goals and 22 assists in 42 games.

No. 30: Leo Sahlin-Wallenius, D, Vaxjo U20 (Sweden)
Height: 6-foot Weight: 176 pounds

No. 31: Maxim Masse, F, Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 186 pounds

Masse brings a combination of size and skill. He has excellent puck touch. He’s an equal threat playing the bumper or the flank on the power play. I appreciate how he extends plays along the wall and absorbs contact in the process. He doesn’t shy away from the hard areas.

Masse isn’t a burner in open ice and he’s not a transition threat off the rush, but once the play sets in the offensive zone he’s very difficult to defend.

No. 32: Cole Beaudoin, F, Barrie Colts
Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 209 pounds

I’m splitting hairs on a group of prospects in between slots 32-40, but Beaudoin has done enough for me (so far) to slot into what would be the last pick in the first round.

Beaudoin’s a big body power forward who leans goal scorer more than playmaker. He goes to the net to set screens and look for rebounds. He’s difficult to move off the play in the trenches and is a capable skater the full length of the ice.

Beaudoin is benefiting from being used in a variety of roles for the Colts. He’s produced 25 goals and 30 assists so far this season. If Barrie doesn’t go on some sort of a playoff run, Beaudoin should be a candidate for Team Canada’s U18 roster for the World Championships in Finland.

No. 33: Tanner Howe, F, Regina Pats
Height: 5-foot-9 Weight: 175 pounds

Howe’s primary element is offence and he’s produced 25 goals and 47 assists in 58 games. Howe has understated skating ability. His small area quickness, and agility, leads to escapes in the offensive zone, which lead to scoring chances.

Howe isn’t the kind of player who will roll over the boards in key defensive scenarios or on one of the penalty killing units. He should find a home amongst the middle-six forwards and slot into a power play unit at the NHL level.

No. 34: Lucas Pettersson, F, MODO J20 (Sweden)
Height: 5-foot-11 Weight: 170 pounds

No. 35: EJ Emery, D, USNTDP
Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 185 pounds

Some of my most recent viewings of Emery have been average compared to earlier in the season, but I still believe he could be an efficient two-way/leaning shut down defenceman at the NHL level.

Emery’s execution with the puck ranges. Simple is generally the best approach. But he’s a solid skater, has a long reach, and the ability to close physically on opponents. He’s the kind of defenceman who is best paired with more of an offensive/risk-taking partner.

No. 36: Alfons Freij, D, Vaxjo U20 (Sweden)
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 192 pounds

No. 37: Kamil Bednarik, F, USNTDP
Height: 6-feet Weight: 185 pounds

No. 38: Sam O’Reilly, F, London Knights (OHL)
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 178 pounds

O’Reilly has to be watched closely to be fully appreciated. On balance, he’s produced his share of offence for the Knights this season (17 goals, 31 assists) but it’s the other areas of his game that have earned the trust of the coaches in London.

O’Reilly can be trusted in most defensive scenarios. He skates fine on straight lines, but his edge work and agility has room to improve for the NHL game. His combination of skill and detail projects him as prospect who can be thrust into a variety of roles.

No. 39: Teddy Stiga, F, USNTDP
Height: 5-foot-10 Weight: 176 pounds

No. 40: Luke Misa, F, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Height: 5-foot-10 Weight: 170 pounds

Misa plays the game fast. He’s a threat off the rush offensively and an active “area” defender defensively. When he sees a lane to the net, in transition or coming off the wall in the offensive zone, he’s more than willing to take pucks to it.

Misa has produced 23 goals and 53 assists in 57 games this season, but he provides more than just offence. He has the hockey sense and commitment to be used in a variety of roles up and down the lineup. Assuming the statistic is accurate, he’s a tidy plus-35 on the year so far.

Jason Bukala is a former NHL scouting director and founder of The Pro Hockey Group

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