NHL Draft Confidential 2024: What insiders think of Celebrini, Demidov and more

At the moment we deliver you our annual NHL Draft Confidential. This piece includes conversations I’ve had with NHL personnel over the previous weeks and months in regards to the prime names and the most important questions within the 2024 NHL Draft.

As a notice, references to “Scout 1” or “Government 1” throughout varied questions don’t imply these solutions got here from the identical individual — which means “Scout 1” might seem in numerous questions however could also be answered by totally different individuals. Scouts and executives have been granted anonymity so as to converse freely in regards to the prospects in query.


There are massive debates and essential inquiries to get to on this draft. None of these debates revolve across the first decide, however let’s begin there on what the league thinks of Boston College and future San Jose heart Macklin Celebrini.

Scout 1: “I got here into the season pondering at worst he might be Nico Hischier. He’s a lot better than Hischier although. I’m not saying he’s Crosby, however he might be Sidney Crosby-lite.”

Government 1: “I don’t suppose the offense goes to be elite in his sport within the NHL, however he’s a fantastic all-around ahead and I feel he’s a greater model of what Matty Beniers is.”

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Scout 2: “He was the no-doubt No. 1 decide from his first week within the USHL final season. He’s a possible famous person, a man you can construct a successful franchise round.”

Scout 3: “He’s nearer to the Matthews/Bedard vary of prospects than he’s to Jack Hughes/Dahlin. There have been issues he did this season that always jogged my memory of Crosby. He’s tremendous aggressive and clever.”

Government 2: “Jack Hughes could have seasons with extra factors, however Celebrini is the kind of participant I’d quite construct my group round to win.”

After Celebrini, the large story on this draft has been across the defensemen. After a traditionally poor protection class within the 2023 NHL Draft, that is shaping into one of many higher protection teams in latest reminiscence. It’s attainable to see 5 and even six defensemen picked within the prime 10.

So who’s the most effective defenseman of the group? Many scouts suppose it’s Michigan State’s Artyom Levshunov, who’s 6-2, cell and had an enormous freshman season, or the 6-7, extremely athletic Anton Silayev, who performed very nicely for Torpedo within the KHL. However Sam Dickinson from London who’s 6-3 and will get plenty of love. Denver’s Zeev Buium and Saginaw’s Zayne Parekh put up monster offensive numbers and Calgary’s 6-3 defender Carter Yakemchuk bought plenty of love too. I requested scouts who their desire could be.

Scout 1: “Parekh might be the subsequent Quinn Hughes, the subsequent Erik Karlsson if he hits. He has particular ability and hockey sense. The opposite guys on this draft could also be safer — they’ll provide you with 22 minutes an evening. You might miss with him for certain, however he might be particular.”

Scout 2: “Silayev is a freak. He has star written throughout him. If he have been in North America he would have challenged Celebrini all season for the No. 1 prospect.”

Scout 3: “Yakemchuk generally is a No. 1 defenseman. He’s massive, imply, athletic, and has a ton of pure offensive talents. He’s a man you construct a winner round.”

Government 1: “On pure expertise, it will be Silayev, however I don’t know if I may name that title given the KHL dangers versus one of many different studs obtainable. Levshunov has all the things you need in a possible No. 1 defenseman. He’s dominated school hockey after being so good as an underage participant within the USHL.”

Government 2: “Levshunov. Worst case state of affairs you’re getting a better-skating John Klingberg. Greatest case you’re getting a star.”

Government 3: “Silayev is so tantalizing. He’s such skater for a man his measurement. He’s very bodily. He can transfer pucks. He has famous person potential. You possibly can’t discover somebody like him apart from the draft.”

Scout 4: “Levshunov is the man. Don’t overthink it. He’s tall, cell, very good, can run a professional energy play, has some chew in him. He’s going to be the No. 2 or 3 general decide.”

Scout 5: “Yakemchuk scored 30 targets, is 6-3 and skates nicely. I’ve not often seen him have a nasty sport and sometimes he makes an impression.”

Scout 6: “Dickinson doesn’t have a miss issue. I feel worst case you’re getting a top-four-minute-eating massive defenseman who can fly. If he actually hits and there’s some offense the excessive facet is an impactful NHL defender.”

Government 4: “Levshunov is as full as you will get. He was a dominant school participant from the get-go. He has no weak spot. He was taking part in massive minutes at massive instances. Silayev is correct there with him though not as a lot offense and Parekh/Yakemchuk are behind these two for me.”

Scout 7: “It might be actual shut for me between Levshunov, Yakemchuk and Dickinson, and relying what day I get up I’ve a unique one on the prime. I’ve entertained Buium as nicely. Silayev appears nice however we by no means noticed him dwell so it’s robust to really feel assured in placing a man that top in your listing.”

Scout 8: “I solely watched the gamers in USA, however I preserve seeing Levshunov ranked very excessive, and I didn’t even suppose he was the most effective protection prospect in school. Buium was approach higher after I noticed him. Levshunov is excellent, however I assumed Buium was an impactful school defenseman all season.”

Scout 9: “I’ve the least considerations about Yakemchuk. He’s persistently aggressive and he creates a ton of offense. I really feel he defends higher than Levshunov, who could be No. 2 for me.”

Scout 10: “It got here all the way down to Buium or Levshunov for me and I leaned Buium. Levshunov began off nice, however I didn’t love his postseason play. Buium was impactful from the get-go and proper into the essential video games as nicely.”

Government 5: “I’m between Buium or Parekh and gave the sting to Parekh. Buium defends higher, however he doesn’t have the kind of hockey sense Parekh does. That’s not to remove from Buium — he’s tremendous good, he makes plenty of performs — however Parekh sees the sport at a complete totally different stage.”

Scout 11: “It’s clearly Levshunov. He appears like a future star. He’s going No. 2 to Chicago or No. 3 to Anaheim, no questions requested.”


There’s an absence of consensus about who the most effective ahead on this draft class is after Celebrini. Berkly Catton is a contender, however the knock towards him is his measurement. (Jonathan Kozub / Getty Photos)

Simply as there’s a lack of consensus on the most effective defenseman within the draft, there’s a lack of consensus on who’s the subsequent greatest ahead on this draft after Celebrini. You’ve the three WHL forwards in Spokane’s Berkly Catton, who’s dynamic however 5-foot-10, the aggressive objective scorer Tij Iginla, and the 6-3 heart in Lindstrom who can fly and is very bodily. There’s the dynamic 5-11 SKA winger Ivan Demidov. After which you’ve gotten 6-2 winger Beckett Sennecke, who was lights out within the OHL playoffs.

Scout 1: “With Lindstrom, greatest case you’re getting a legit No. 1 heart. I feel even in case you miss on Lindstrom and he’s a third-line heart, he’s a kind of third-line heart a GM is ecstatic to have, the type that successful groups have within the playoffs.”

Government 1: “I do have a priority on Lindstrom that you just’re simply getting a second-line two-way man. His instruments are excellent however I don’t see the high-end ability and sense to attain quite a bit within the NHL. They’re small however my lean is to Catton or Demidov as a result of they’ve a lot offense.”

Government 2: “Catton appears like a can’t-miss top-line ahead. He might be a first-line heart. I don’t say this calmly about 5-10 forwards, as a result of so few of them can keep within the center, however I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a 1C within the NHL.”

Government 3: “I’d take Catton or Iginla. They’re extremely expert guys who compete, play quick, put the puck within the internet and have been glorious within the WHL. Give me a break the place all of the lists have Demidov. He’s lighting up the MHL, however that league is so dangerous. Michkov was nice versus males over there and went seventh.”

Government 4: “Iginla has plenty of professional components to his sport. He’s tremendous expert and might rating, however he’s detailed, he competes exhausting, he will get offense within the robust areas of the ice. He’s not that massive but, however you take a look at the dad and also you’re hoping when Tij fills out he’s going to be a handful to take care of. The trajectory he’s on is pointed straight up as nicely.”

Scout 2: “It’s Lindstrom for us. It’s possible you’ll be getting a second-line heart, however he’s a second-line heart who performs tremendous exhausting, is a good skater and your coaches will be capable to depend on.”

Government 5: “I can see the arguments for Catton and Sennecke however I’d decide Demidov as a result of he’s barely extra dynamic offensively than the opposite guys. Sennecke has extra of an influence component. Catton is an entire participant offensively — he has no weaknesses — however Demidov could make so many performs and is high-end with the puck. Demidov doesn’t lead with pace, however is nice east-west though he doesn’t skate like the opposite two. Lindstrom could be fourth for me.”

Government 6: “The physique of labor would go to Demidov. The pure bodily instruments would make you decide Lindstrom. The most effective participant within the final six months could be Sennecke, and he could be my lean.”

Government 7: “The disrespect I see for Catton is loopy. He scored 110 factors, Captain Canada on the Hlinka the place he dominated, is a dynamic play-driving heart. If he have been two inches taller he’s the no questions requested No. 2 decide.”

Government 8: “Demidov. He’s simply dynamic, he’s the clear No. 2 ahead for me. Then it will be between Lindstrom or Iginla.”

Scout 3: “Demidov has an opportunity to be the subsequent nice Russian star within the NHL. He’s a sport breaker.”

Scout 4: “I’d in all probability take the large man in Lindstrom. The skating, the heaviness, the offense, it’s all very interesting. I like Catton and Iginla however I don’t see particular small-guy traits in them.”

Scout 5: “It’s clearly Sennecke for me. He has the potential to be a sport breaker. He’s massive, he’s quick, he has elite ability and processing, even has some chew in him. I get the considerations on his manufacturing, however you watch the final 2-3 months of his season, he seemed like a star.”

Whereas a lot of the dialog within the first spherical can be on the order of forwards and defensemen picked, we will’t neglect the boys in internet both. This isn’t a flashy goaltender class. The principle names to observe are 6-6 goalie Marcus Gidlof from Leksands, 6-5 Mikhail Yegorov from Omaha, 6-1 Carter George from Omaha and the 2 KHL goaltenders Ilya Nabokov and Pavel Moysevich.

Government 1: “It’s a nasty goalie 12 months. I don’t suppose the run on goalies begins till late second/early third.”

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Government 2: “Yegorov in Omaha is an excellent prospect, he’s simply the sufferer of a horrible group and construction round him. You place him on a unique group and he could be the consensus No. 1 goalie prospect. He’s enormous and really athletic within the internet.”

Scout 1: “I don’t suppose you’re going to see a goalie picked till the third spherical. We’d be debating between Yegorov and Marcus Gidlof as our prime choice.”

Government 3: “Yegorov, however I’m not completely happy about it. This may be 12 months to move on a goalie.”

Government 4: “Carter George is the most effective man. He’s full however he’s small. Pucks are going to whack into Yegorov and Gidlof’s chest that can get by George however he’s so athletic and good that I feel he finds a option to play. Gidlof is second and Yegorov third for me. Yegorov has a lot expertise. He’s an excellent child who speaks excellent English. He wants plenty of work, however I’d like to take an opportunity on him.”

Scout 2: “We like Moysevich. He’s massive, he has traits that play nicely versus professionals. He could be in consideration within the second or third spherical.”

One title we haven’t even talked about but is all-time U.S. NTDP goal-scoring chief Cole Eiserman, who got here into the season as a possible top-five decide. Thoughts you, even in the summertime I used to be listening to from NHL scouts who thought the hype on him was a bit excessive. Eiserman had a fantastic season — he scored 58 targets in 57 video games for the NTDP — however different components of his sport drew some considerations from evaluators.

Government 1: “He jogs my memory a lot of Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom. He’s very expert and might rip the puck however so lots of his particulars and habits are going to be an issue as a professional. I’ll let another person take him.”

Scout 1: “This child is getting ripped aside by individuals, I feel there may be some paralysis by evaluation happening. He’s not Celebrini, and he’s in all probability not the next-best ahead or three obtainable, however he’s a heck of a participant. He’s tremendous expert, he can rating like few others, and I don’t see as many holes in his sport as others do.”

Scout 2: “Individuals keep in mind his dangerous video games, however they don’t keep in mind the video games the place he will get a ton of scoring probabilities, is engaged and makes scoring look simple. This man didn’t simply rating quite a bit with this system, he scored at excessive ranges.”

Government 2: “There’s plenty of work to do with this child. He’s the most effective within the draft on the hardest factor to do within the NHL however that’s why Oliver Wahlstrom went so excessive, and I see plenty of similarities between the 2, though I feel he’s higher than Olly on the identical age. The chance and the reward stability itself out extra within the teenagers.”

Scout 3: “I preserve questioning: What’s his impression with out the puck? He’s aggressive, he finishes checks, blocks photographs, and many others., however he’s not that massive, quick or good. I don’t suppose the best way he performs works within the NHL.”

One other ahead I requested plenty of NHL individuals about was Demidov. He needs to be a really excessive decide — presumably as excessive as second general within the draft — however there was sufficient divergence of opinions that I felt it was value digging into.

Scout 1: “His skating is awkward-looking. I don’t know many, if any, NHL forwards who skate fairly like him. He’s a dynamic participant clearly, however within the prime 5, there’s plenty of danger for me with the ft, measurement, place, nationality. I’d be extra snug with him nearer to 6-10 on this draft.”

Government 1: “He’s as dynamic a ahead as there may be within the draft with the puck on his stick. He’s a tenacious competitor who performs an sincere sport with out the puck.”

Scout 2: “He’s superb. He’s an elite-skill participant who performs exhausting. The skating is a bit of unorthodox, however he will get round superb, it might be NHL common. He must be within the combine to be the second ahead picked. That mentioned, I can inform you who could also be the most effective hockey participant, but when it’s my job at stake and I’ve to select between super-talented Canadians like Catton, Iginla or Lindstrom or a 5-11 Russian winger I’m in all probability taking the Canadians.”

Government 2: “He’s not near Matvei Michkov on the identical age. I felt Michkov was on the identical stage as a participant as Connor Bedard, there have been simply danger elements outdoors of his sport.”

Scout 3: “He’s a extra direct participant, higher habits, extra aggressive than Michkov is. I’m way more snug that his sport goes to translate.”

Scout 4: “His skating appears a bit of bizarre, however the outcome remains to be good. He was dominant of their junior league, back-to-back MVP of that league, and he was so good of their playoffs. He appears like a possible star.”

NHL individuals take note of public discourse and the place guys are being slotted on lists. So I made a decision to ask them who they suppose is being underrated among the many prime group of names.

Scout 1: “Marek Vanacker. He has good pace. He performs with plenty of vitality. He can rating, he can PK. There’s plenty of utility in his sport.”

Government 1: “Parekh. I’d have hassle eradicating Parekh from Buium. Parekh’s ability, skating and sense combo is a stage above everybody else. His protection is a serious concern. I don’t ever see Parekh prime 5 or 6 on all of the lists. Buium will get there, however we don’t see Parekh talked about in that breath as a lot.”

Government 2: “Adam Kleber. He’s 6-5, he’s a fantastic skater. He kills performs in all places. It’s simple to s— on him as a result of he’s not overly bodily.”

Scout 2: “Beckett Sennecke is simple to dislike due to his first half. The second half he answered the entire questions I had within the first half. He competed tougher each night time and elevated within the playoffs. Individuals might have hedged themselves on him early on however he’s a prime 10 participant within the draft, perhaps even prime seven to eight.”

Scout 3: “Carter Yakemchuk. I preserve seeing him at 11-12 and it surprises me. He might be the most effective defenseman within the draft when it’s all mentioned and executed.”

Scout 4: “I feel Sennecke is in play proper after Celebrini goes. I’m not saying he’s going within the prime 5, however he’s within the dialog with all these different guys being generally mentioned.”

On the opposite facet, which gamers are being overhyped?

Scout 1: “Anton Silayev. “I fear in regards to the offense in his sport. His puck shifting, for the NHL, is primary. He’s superb however I don’t see the star potential others do.”

Scout 2: “Adam Jiricek. There’s an excessive amount of uncertainty with him. He was nice on the Hlinka, however he missed many of the season, and he wasn’t nice in his league after the Hlinka too.”

Scout 3: “Cole Eiserman. He jogs my memory plenty of different shooters with out different dimensions of their video games like Alex Holtz, Filip Zadina, Oliver Wahlstrom. He’s simply not the type of participant I like.”

Scout 4: “I see Artyom Levshunov usually talked about because the No. 1 D on this class and I don’t see it. He could also be when it’s all mentioned and executed, however Dickinson, Buium, Yakemchuk, Silayev are proper there with him for me. It’s actually not a clear-cut scenario.”

We finish this 12 months’s scout survey with a rapid-fire ballot of the most effective traits within the draft.

BEST SKATER

Berkly Catton

Sam Dickinson (a number of votes)

Michael Hage

Cole Hutson

Cayden Lindstrom (a number of votes)

Jett Luchanko

Zayne Parekh (a number of votes)

Anton Silayev

Stian Solberg

BEST HANDS

Ivan Demidov (a number of votes)

Berkly Catton

Trevor Connelly

Michael Hage

Zayne Parekh

Beckett Sennecke

Carter Yakemchuk

BEST HOCKEY SENSE

Macklin Celebrini (majority votes)

Berkly Catton (a number of votes)

Zeev Buium

BEST SHOT

Cole Eiserman (majority votes)

Tij Iginla (a number of votes)

Carter Yakemchuk (a number of votes)

Macklin Celebrini

MOST COMPETITIVE

Cole Beaudoin (a number of votes)

Michael Brandsegg-Nygard

Macklin Celebrini (a number of votes)

Konsta Helenius

Jett Luchanko (a number of votes)

Stian Solberg

Carter Yakemchuk (a number of votes)

(Illustration: Dan Goldfarb / The Athletic. Photographs: Maksim Konstantinov / SOPA Photos / LightRocket by way of Getty Photos; Richard T Gagnon / Getty Photos)

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