Top 2024 NHL Draft prospects: Macklin Celebrini, Artyom Levshunov and more ranked too early
I recently attended the World U-17 Challenge in Langley and Delta, BC where the 2006 age group was showcased. It’s still too early for many of these prospects to discuss where they might fit in a draft . But that has never stopped us before.
Today I’m going to focus on the clear group of players I’ve identified for the 2024 NHL Draft. These are just the players I’ve seen so far this season, so this isn’t a comprehensive look at the upcoming draft classes; I don’t know the Russians well in 2006, for example, and some top players were injured or unavailable. for the World U-17 Challenge so I haven’t seen them yet. One of the first themes is that, after the 2005 age group looked clear to the defenders, the 2006 group seems to have a lot more in that position.
1. Macklin Celebrini, C, Chicago-USHL
Celebrini is the likely favorite to be the No. 1 pick in 2024 NHL Draft as it stands now. He’s an electric offensive player with high-end skill and creativity with the puck and can make a lot of tough plays with good pace. He has excellent scoring ability, but given his average frame, I love how long Celebrini works on the ice to go along with his offensive talent. He looks like a guy who has separated himself from the pack for next year’s draft as it stands now.
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2. Artyom Levshunov, RHD, Green Bay-USHL
Levshunov has looked very impressive in the USHL to start this season. He is a player with all the traits you want in a top defense prospect. He’s very skilled, can make plays, is mobile and has good length. I don’t see him as an elite end-of-the-court defense guy; the offense is very good, but not amazing, and his defense needs some fine-tuning, but he has a ton of pro potential to be a top-tier defenseman in the NHL.
3. Cole Eiserman, LW, USNTDP-USHL
Eiserman has been scoring at an incredible level to start his first USNTDP season. His sheer skill level is elite, displaying individual and innovative skills to go along with a great shot. This combination allows him to be so dangerous despite not being the biggest winger. He’s a strong skater, but his skill is what drives his game.
4. Ivan Demidov, RW, SKA-MHL
Demidov has been putting up big numbers in Russia’s top youth league this season. He is a player with a special ability who can beat defenders one-on-one at any time to create a scoring chance. Combine that with a high-end engine, showing the kind of powerlessness you like from a 5-foot-11 winger, and he doesn’t shy away from playing in traffic. He has all the offensive flair you want, but Demidov lacks NHL speed and has an awkward-looking skating step that will be tested at higher levels.
5. Berkly Catton, C, Spokane-WHL
Catton is a notch or two below Celebrini in terms of pure offensive talent, but there are many similarities between the two of them in terms of their size, skating and level of competition. Catton can be a dynamic offensive playmaker in his own right, and he can be a high-end rusher at equal strength while not being as physically imposing.
6. Sam Dickinson, LHD, London-OHL
Dickinson is off to a strong start in London. He has plenty of NHL chops due to his 6-3 frame, strong skating ability and offensive touch. Dickinson is very skilled with the puck, but I wouldn’t call him a natural puck mover. Defensively he is quite solid because of his range, feet and competition. He has a lot of NHL potential.
7. Charlie Elick, RHD, Brandon-WHL
Elick’s physical tools jump out at you as a 6-3 defenseman with pro mobility. He’s not a high-end puck mover, but he has good hockey sense. He competes hard, isn’t afraid to use his big frame and makes a lot of defensive stops. It’s easy to think about Braden Schneider while looking at Elick because of his similar junior gear and hands, but I’d say he’s ahead of Schneider at the same age.
8. Aron Kiviharju, LHD, TPS-Finland
Kiviharju has been an excellent player at junior level in Finland and has excelled in the under-18 international game (he was a first-team player for Finland’s under-18 team as a 15-year-old). Kiviharju has exceptional hockey sense and can make a ton of tough offensive plays. He’s a strong skater, though for a 5-9 defenseman, I wouldn’t call it elite small-guy skating. That, and his frame in particular, will be the biggest debate about him, as there aren’t many 5-9 defensemen in the NHL, but he has a very good chance of being next.
9. Henry Mews, RHD, Ottawa-OHL
Mews is a solid all-round defender. He is a good skater who competes hard, which allows him to be a good defender despite his average size. He’s not a flashy offensive guy, but he’s very smart with the puck and can make plays from the point.
10. Will Skahan, LHD, USNTDP-USHL
Skahan is a very intriguing defender. He skates pretty well for a 6-4 Blue. His offensive touch isn’t high-end, but he can make strong outings and projects to have an offensive secondary as a pro. The length, feet and physicality combined with this offensive secondary give him a lot to work with.
11. Igor Chernyshov, LW, Dynamo Moscow-MHL
Chernyshov is a winger with tools. Skates well, has a good sized frame and excellent hands. He plays a straight North/South style, which will translate well to the pros, although he does have some play in his game.
2025 NHL Draft Eligible List
What follows is a look at the best late 2006 birthdates I’ve seen so far this season and Michael Misa, who plays junior as born in 2007. I haven’t seen a 2007 that isn’t Misa.
1. James Hagens, C, USNTDP-USHL
Very, very soon, Hagens sees himself a level above the field for the 2025 NHL Draft. He’s a dynamic forward. He is an excellent skater with dangerous speed and edge work. He has exceptional individual skill and playmaking ability and all these attributes make him capable of opening a shift at any time. His only drawback is his 5-foot-10 frame, but everything else about him points to NHL stardom.
2. Michael Misa, LW, Saginaw-OHL
Misa was granted exceptional status to play in the OHL as a 15-year-old and is off to a great start with Saginaw. He is an excellent skater with a lot of skill and offensive creativity. He has the ability to make a lot of tough plays at a fast pace, making him a huge pro prospect despite being just 5-11.
3. Roger McQueen, C, Brandon-WHL
McQueen hasn’t been too productive in the WHL yet, but there’s no doubt that he’s a top-tier pro prospect. He is a 6-5, right-handed center who skates well and has very good offensive skills. I would like him to be more consistent and he will be something to monitor over the next couple of years, but he is a player full of potential.
4. Logan Hensler, LHD, USNTDP-USHL
Hensler has a long way to go in his development, but 6-5 defensemen who can skate and move the puck are a rarity. Over time he has the ability to be a true top level professional.
5. Porter Martone, RW, Sarnia-OHL
Martone is a player that is easy to imagine becoming a good NHL player. He’s a big winger who skates well, has very good puck skills and good enough vision to make plays at higher levels. He has a direct playing style that will translate well to the pros.
6. Gabriel D’Aigle, G, Victoriaville-QMJHL
D’Aigle has looked very impressive for a 15-year-old in the QMJHL. From the same region of the province that Marc-Andre FleuryD’Aigle has the athleticism, sense and size to be a very intriguing pro prospect and will be on the radar for years to come.
(Macklin Celebrini Photo: Matthew Murnaghan / Hockey Canada Images)
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