2024 NHL Draft

2024 NHL Draft: Macklin Celebrini Leads Way Too Early Top 10

2024 NHL Draft: Macklin Celebrini Leads Way Too Early Top 10

Macklin Celebrini, Cole Eiserman and Artyom Levshunov lead our way-too-early top 10 for the 2024 NHL Draft.

Jun 30, 2023 by Chris Peters

As we close the book on the 2023 NHL Draft, we’re already looking ahead to 2024. While we don’t have another Connor Bedard to track, we will have some exceptional talents that have potential to rise up the ranks throughout the season.

The 2024 NHL Draft is highlighted by a pair of former Shattuck-St. Mary’s teammates who had historic seasons with different teams in 2022-23 – Macklin Celebrini of the Chicago Steel and Cole Eiserman of the U.S. National Team Development Program.

On top of that, there is a very exciting class of defensemen that are going to be watched very closely, perhaps none moreso than Artyom Levshunov of the Green Bay Gamblers and Sam Dickinson of the London Knights. Both have size and a boatload of potential.

And for those of you keeping score, yes, three of the top players eligible for the 2024 Draft played in the USHL this season, so you can go back and watch a number of their games in our archives to brush up ahead of next season.

To give you a jump on the next class, here is our way too early top 10 for the 2024 NHL Draft. Keep in mind, there’s a long, long way to go and anything can happen.

1. Macklin Celebrini, C, Chicago Steel 

Celebrini has been among the top players in his age group for some time, but really solidified himself as the No. 1 prospect with record-breaking performances during the USHL season and at the 2023 IIHF World Men’s Under-18 Championship. He is the top-scoring U17 player in a single season in the USHL by a wide margin and then became Canada’s single-tournament record holder with 15 points at the U18 Worlds, which also matched Canada’s single-tournament scoring record for a player at any age. He also became the first player to take home the USHL’s Rookie, Forward and Player of the Year awards in the Tier 1 era.

A legitimate goal-scoring threat from all areas of the ice and a highly-skilled playmaker, Celebrini can do it all. Even though he had teams focusing a lot of their energy on shutting them down, he played with sturdiness and confidence. He was hard to knock off pucks and engaged physically to challenge opposing defenders. He has a high-end release on his shot, but also can get in tight to the net and make plays on the interior. His hockey sense is another high-end trait as he knows how to pick opposing teams apart and often makes mature decisions with the puck on his stick. 

As Celebrini recently revealed to FloHockey, he played most of last season with an injury that was corrected with surgery as soon as Chicago’s season ended. That could potentially delay the start of his season next year Boston University, which he’ll attend a year early after accelerating his schooling.

While Celebrini may not have Connor Bedard-level upside, he looks like a true No. 1 prospect who will be difficult to challenge for the top spot this season.

2. Cole Eiserman, LW, U.S. National Under-17 Team 

It’s hard to believe, but just over a year ago, Cole Eiserman and Macklin Celebrini were on the same team at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, but their paths diverged as the Canadian Celebrini went to the USHL and American Eiserman went to the National Team Development Program. But just like Celebrini, Eiserman had a historic season himself. He set the NTDP’s single-season record for goals by a U17 player with 69 last season, just three shy of Cole Caufield’s record of 72 for a player at any age at the NTDP. 

Eiserman won both the U17 World Challenge and U18 World Championship with Team USA last year. He also tied Alexander Ovechkin for most goals in a U17 Challenge with 12 on his way to a 20-point tournament.

Eiserman is a true sniper with a deadly shot and incredible accuracy. He plays with some quickness and gets to the goal-scoring areas well. He has higher-end puck skills that allow him to open up some space for himself, but he doesn’t need much to get his shot off. Eiserman may be more of a finisher than a driver, but that finishing ability is special. You have to score goals to win and he scores a whole bunch of them.

3. Artyom Levshunov, D, Green Bay Gamblers

Levshunov put up 42 points in the USHL last season, which is the second most by a player in his Draft-minus-1 season. A 6-foot-2, right-shot defenseman with mobility and two-way skills is going to be a premium commodity in any draft as we just saw with David Reinbacher. If Levshunov was in the 2023 Draft, he would have been my top defenseman available. 

Having had the chance to see him live multiple times this season, there are special qualities in his game that allow him to stand out. He has good hands, makes solid passes and can direct pucks to the net well. Putting up 40-plus points in his first season in North America was no small feat. I saw Owen Power at the same age and I think Levshunov may be further along that Power was then. 

READ: Artyom Levshunov Adapting, Shining With Green Bay

4. Ivan Demidov, RW, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg 

After setting the single-season record for points by a U18 player in the MHL, Demidov was named the Russian junior league’s MVP. He thinks the game at a high level and plays with supreme confidence at the U20 level. He’ll get more KHL reps next season which will challenge him, but Demidov takes pucks to the middle, can dangle defenders and can fire pucks at the net. We’ll see what the world looks like next year at this time, but the uncertainty around Russians did not stop NHL teams from taking those players early. Demidov is the kind of player teams are going to be looking at as a guy to take the swing on after outproducing some of the NHL’s top Russian stars at the same age in his league.

5. Sam Dickinson, D, London Knights 

A massive defenseman with outstanding athletic tools and good mobility, Dickinson is an exciting prospect to watch develop. He has a solid enough playoff run with London this year, but will likely have more responsibility next season. Offensively, his game is coming along gradually as he had 23 points in 62 games this season. After watching teams go up and get big defensemen as early as they could in the draft, Dickinson will be one watched very closely.

6. Aron Kiviharju, D, TPS (Liiga)

A teenage sensation in Finland, Kiviharju appeared in 21 games in Finland’s top pro league this year and just turned 17 at the beginning of 2023. He has dynamic puck skills and skates well, while moving pucks with ease. The question about him will always be his size as he’s listed at 5-10, 165. He needs to be a special talent to go high in the draft and early indications are that he can be thanks to strong hockey sense and an ability to read the game. We’ll see what happens with his game this season as he gets more pro games under his belt and gets challenged by men. The potential there is really enticing, however.

7. Konsta Helenius, RW, Jukurit 

Playing significant games in Liiga at 16 years old is a pretty special designation for Helenius. What’s more is he actually put up some points. He scored three goals and had eight assists in 33 Liiga appearances, which is actually pretty special given his age. Only two U17 players in the history of Liiga had more points than the 11 Helenius scored. The all-time record holder is Aleksander Barkov, who had 16 points as a U17. Helenius also showed extremely well internationally playing against U18 opponents. 

8. Berkly Catton, C, Spokane Chiefs 

A highly-skilled player who put up 55 points as a 16-year-old in the WHL this year, Catton has a lot to like about his game. His ability to read plays and get pucks through traffic allowed him to excel immediately as a former No. 1 WHL pick. He dominated at the World U17 Challenge and made Canada’s U18 team for Worlds as an underager, though his role diminished as the tournament wore on. That said, he’s got the upside thanks to his skill and hockey sense to be a top-end pick.

9. Henry Mews, D, Ottawa 67s (OHL)    

A 6-foot defenseman with scoring pop, Mews had a big World Under-17 Challenge last season while captaining one of Canada’s teams. He also had 31 points for Ottawa which puts him in the top 10 for U17 defensemen in the OHL over the last decade. Mews moves pucks well and plays a heady, steady game.

10. Zayne Parekh, D, Saginaw Spirit 

With 21 goals from the back end this season, Parekh set an OHL record for most goals by a U17 defenseman in a single season. He can really fire the puck and makes good plays at the offensive blue line to open up space. Parekh is aggressive in jumping into plays and there are certainly reservations about his overall defensive game. A 6-foot, right-shot defenseman who can score is going to bring a lot of value and we’ll have to see how he progresses this season while Saginaw loads as the Memorial Cup host this season.

Other players of note:

Cole Hutson, D, U.S. National Under-18 Team

Adam Jiricek, D, HC Plzen

Maxim Masse, RW, Chicoutimi Sangueneens

Becket Sennecke, RW, Oshawa Generals

Ryder Ritchie, C/W, Prince Albert Raiders

Liam Greentree, RW, Windsor Spitfires

Veeti Vaisanen, D, KooKoo U20

Will Skahan, D, U.S. National Under-17 Team 

Alexander Zetterberg, C, Orebro U20

Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon Lumberjacks