2024 NHL Draft Guide | LeoVegas

2024 NHL Draft Guide

The NHL Draft comes up shortly after the Stanley Cup is awarded. Teams and front offices want to get to work right away, shifting their focus to next season, and the draft is the first order of business. This year, the NHL Draft is set to take place on June 28th and 29th at Sphere at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas.

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After winning the NHL Draft Lottery back on May 7, the San Jose Sharks will have the coveted first pick overall. There’s a lot of hype for Macklin Celebrini, who is widely expected to be their choice, set to call California his new home for next season. Other top prospects like Artyom Levshunov, Cayden Lindstrom, and Zeev Buium are likely to be prominent picks, going within round one’s top ten.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about the upcoming 2024 NHL Draft. With player profiles, draft mechanics, and insights into this year's top young talents, this guide aims to get long-time hockey fans and those new to the game, draft day ready.


Overview of the 2024 NHL Draft

The NHL Draft can, in some cases, change the face of a team immediately, given a generational talent being available. Well-celebrated draftees over the past decade that fall into this category are stars like Connor Bedard, Connor McDavid, and Nathan MacKinnon. Historical examples of transformative draft picks include ‘The Great One’ Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Bobby Orr. These players have not only elevated their teams but have also become iconic figures in the sport. So, you can see how this event is crucial for teams and players alike, as it can significantly impact the future trajectory of franchises and the careers of young talents.

2024 NHL Draft Key Dates

The 2024 NHL Draft is slated for June 28th and 29th at Sphere in Las Vegas.

Since this spectacular new venue is known for its complex technology, it’s bound to be a spectacle unlike years past - so be prepared to be wowed! The draft takes place over two nights with round one on June 28th and rounds two through seven finishing up on June 29th. The event kicks off in the evening, giving hockey fans prime-time excitement.

Draft Order and Lottery System

In the past, the NHL draft order worked much like the NFL draft operating on a simple reverse-order finish: the last in the league from the previous season picked first. However, this system had its flaws.

The problem was, much like in other North American sports’ drafts, teams that were out of playoff contention might sit their best prospects and players, or send them to minor league affiliates, effectively giving up on a season since it had no more consequence. This strategy, known as ‘tanking,’ was used to improve their chances of getting a higher draft pick in the next season.

To prevent underperforming, and to ensure the best teams were on the ice at all times, the Draft Lottery came about. Essentially, teams get lotto balls that are indexed to their finish. This means the last team in the league gets the best numerical chance of the best pick, but it’s no longer a guarantee. Over the years, many teams have won when they were the most likely to win based on finish, and this would be one of those years with San Jose choosing first after the lottery results.

The NHL Draft Lottery ensures it’s no longer automatic for a team, and this theoretically lessens the incentive to tank in a given year. It’s for the integrity of the game that the lottery exists and to dissuade not putting forth a team’s best efforts.

Top 10 Prospects of the 2024 NHL Draft

Macklin Celebrini (C, Boston University)

This year’s gold standard and pretty much undisputed No. 1 draft pick is the young, 17-year-old Macklin Celebrini. The 6'0", 190 lbs player is a force on the ice, known for his exceptional playmaking skills and slap shots. It's no wonder he’s being touted as a complete prospect package. His offensive prowess, vision, and ability to control the pace of the game will likely benefit him and his (most likely) new team, the San Jose Sharks.

Ivan Demidov (LW, SKA St. Petersburg)

Demidov is a powerful winger with a lethal shot, known for creating scoring opportunities. His 6’1" 187 lbs stature brings a significant presence to the ice, although he has been plagued by knee injuries of late. Demidov’s ability to dominate offensively and his all-around game make him one of the top prospects in this year's draft. Word on the NHL street is he’s in contention for the second pick, which belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Artyom Levshunov (D, Green Bay Gamblers)

At 6’2" and 209 lbs at just 18 years old, Levshunov size alone has scouts salivating. Likely to be a top 5 pick overall (some even predicting he’ll go second), he’s currently regarded as the top right-handed defenseman in the 2024 NHL Draft. He brings the full package including exceptional puck-moving skills and a keen offensive upside, often joining the rush and contributing significantly to his team's offence. His potential, when put in competition at the NHL level, is something many sports fans will be keenly tracking.

Cayden Lindstrom (RW, Medicine Hat Tigers)

At 6’3" and 213 lbs, Canadian forward Cayden Lindstrom is a powerful combo of size, strength, and skill. Even though a back injury sidelined him for a chunk of this year’s season, he returned in March, with this same big scoring ability, amassing 27 goals and 19 assists in just 32 games. With a knack for scoring in tight areas, he’s a coveted prospect that many see going around fourth overall - with Columbus Blue Jackets, Salt Lake City’s Utah Hockey Club, and the Anaheim Ducks all possibilities.

Anton Silayev (D, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl)

Anton Silayev, a towering 6’4", 210 lbs defenseman, is known for his physical play and strong defensive presence. He uses his size effectively to shut down opponents and contributes offensively, making him a well-rounded player. The Anaheim Ducks, holding the third overall pick, are particularly interested in Silayev, and he is projected to be a strong candidate for their selection. However, his KHL contract, which runs through the 2025-26 season, means any NHL team drafting him will need to be patient, as he won't be available until the 2026-27 season.

Sam Dickinson (D, London Knights)

Dickinson, another Canadian prospect, stands at 6’2" and 200 lbs and combines powerful puck-moving skills with a reliable defensive presence, making him a valuable asset on the blue line. The Anaheim Ducks (third pick), Ottawa Senators, and Buffalo Sabres are all particularly interested in Dickinson, so it should be interesting to see where he lands.

Berkly Catton (C, Spokane Chiefs)

Catton is a creative playmaker with excellent puck-handling skills. Despite his smaller stature (5’10", 170 lbs), he is effective in creating scoring opportunities and is defensively responsible, making him a versatile center. After an impressive season with the Spokane Chiefs,, he’s in contention to be a top-10 pick in the 2024 draft, possibly going to the Buffalo Sabres (11th pick) or Philadelphia Flyers (12th selection).

Cole Eiserman (C, USA U18)

Eiserman is an elite goal scorer with a natural knack for finding the back of the net. At 6'0" and 196 lbs, he is known for his lethal shot and ability to exploit open spaces in the offensive zone. While his defensive game needs refining, his offensive upside is tremendous, making him a highly attractive prospect for teams needing scoring​. Eiserman is projected to go anywhere from the top 3 to around the 12th pick in the draft, with teams like the Seattle Kraken, New Jersey Devils, and Philadelphia Flyers showing interest.

Zeev Buium (D, Shattuck St. Mary's)

Standing at 6'0" and 183 lbs, Buium has a good hockey IQ and is reliable in his own zone, making him a well-rounded prospect with significant upside. He had an outstanding season with the University of Denver, showcasing his ability to excel both offensively and defensively. Buium is projected to be a top-10 pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, with teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild showing particular interest.

Scouting and Evaluation

Safe to say, things have changed a ton over the years since analytics became such an invincible force in the selection process. For the Cole's notes on this, have a go at the movie ‘Moneyball’ as it pretty much explains the effect stats have had on hockey and all major sports. There’s much less guesswork these days, and more of a hard data approach to player performance.

Stats aside though, NHL scouts still work in traditional scouting techniques for a comprehensive evaluation. They’ll regularly attend hockey games at all levels, from junior leagues and college games to international tournaments, all the while assessing skills, physical attributes, and a player’s impact on each game. Beyond old-school scouting trips, video analysis, and physical testing for strength, agility, and fitness are also factored in.

There are still many more intangibles that come into play that can’t fit onto a data-filled spreadsheet. How a player fits in with a team, their coachability, and their ability to thrive and quickly adapt to a new environment are also major considerations.

Remember, many of these prospects are still young kids - only 17 or 19 years old, making a scout’s insights into leadership and resilience crucial. Beyond watching gameplay observations, players are assessed through interviews and psychological evaluations.

By leveraging both approaches, teams aim to select players who not only have the skills and physicality to succeed, but also the character and mental toughness required to thrive in the NHL.

Player Evaluation Metrics

When scouts evaluate prospects, they look at many categories. While it may seem obvious, skating is always top, but there is also hockey IQ, physicality, and offence.

For skating, scouts assess a player's explosiveness (those first three strides), separation (open ice speed with and without the puck), and agility, with a focus on tight turns, pivots, and edge control. But beyond these basics, scouts also evaluate a player's hockey IQ. Here, they’re looking to find out how intelligently a player reacts on the ice. Reading the play, quick reactions, and positioning themselves correctly are all components of on-ice intelligence.

Scouts assess if a player is a goal scorer, a playmaker or a distributor, and their potential for power play contribution. These factors collectively gauge a player's offensive capabilities and their impact on scoring. And also help determine if they’ll fill a void on a team’s roster.

Alright, you want to delve deeper? Several specific advanced metrics and stats can help evaluate prospects on the ice. Let’s go over a few key ones:

Corsi and Fenwick - measures puck possession by tracking shot attempts, for and against a player. Corsi includes all shots (on goal, missed, and blocked), while Fenwick excludes blocked shots; overall aiming to provide insight on who’s going to be driving plays and who works better on the defensive.

Expected Goals - goes deep into shooting analytics for shot location, angle, and type to show a player’s scoring chances.

Zone Entries and Exits - metrics for understanding a player's ability to control the puck and generate offensive opportunities.

Shot Heatmaps: a visual representation of where a player's shots come from on the ice, helping scouts identify shooting tendencies and effectiveness from various locations.

Time on Ice (TOI): or power play time on ice (PPOI) tracks a player’s total ice time right down the minute and seconds, indicating endurance and the level of trust coaches place in them.

Per 60: a stat showing how often an event happens per 60 minutes of a player's ice time, making it easier to compare players with different amounts of playing time. For example, if a player scores five goals in 120 minutes, their goals per 60 minutes rate would be 2.5. This rate helps provide a clearer picture of a player's performance over a full game's length.

2024 NHL Draft FAQs

What is the NHL Draft?

The NHL Draft is an annual event that sees teams select fresh, young talent from junior, collegiate, and international hockey to join their NHL rosters.

How are draft picks determined?

Much like other major league drafts these days, NHL Draft picks are determined through a mix of a lottery system and reverse-order standings. Teams that missed the playoffs enter a weighted lottery for top picks, while the rest pick in reverse order of their regular-season finish.

Who are the top prospects in 2024?

The top prospect for the 2024 NHL Draft is Macklin Celebrini, from Boston University, who is expected to go first to the San Jose Sharks. Players like Ivan Demidov, a skilled left winger from SKA St. Petersburg, and Artyom Levshunov, a talented defenseman from the Green Bay Gamblers​ also have eyes on them as this year’s top prospects.

How can I watch the NHL Draft?

In Canada, the draft is a big event on Sportsnet or TSN and is shown live. It’s quite an exciting event if your team has a high pick, especially if teams go off-script, or quite divergent from central sourcing numbers to shake up an entire draft.

What happens to undrafted players?

Undrafted players can still try out for teams by getting an invite to camp or through a tryout organized by their agent, who typically has established relationships with team staff over the years.

How many draft picks do the Habs have in 2024?

Montreal will make its first pick this year in 5th position. They also pick again in the first round at the 26th spot.

What NHL team has the most draft picks in 2024?

The Montreal Canadiens have 11 picks in this year’s draft, the most draft picks in the 2024 NHL Draft overall. Of their 11 picks, two are first-round selections (5th and 26th overall).

How many draft picks does Calgary have in 2024?

Calgary has a total of eight picks in the first four rounds this year, a result of all the trades and fire sale transactions they’ve made the past two years with uncertainty around coaching, new arenas, and general team and player cohesion. They’re looking for a fresh start, a clean slate, and a decisive move to get younger on the ice.

How many draft picks do the Leafs have in 2024?

Seven. But they are disparate picks with a gap after the first round and not reconvening until the 4th round; meaning 50+ players will come off the board before Toronto makes their second pick this year.

What NHL teams have never had a first-round pick?

Canadian teams, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, have never selected first overall, along with the Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Seattle Kraken, and Vegas Golden Knights​. For the Canucks, that’s a 54-year drought!

Where is the NHL Draft in 2024?

The stunning and technology-rich Sphere in Las Vegas is the venue of choice for this year’s June 2024 NHL Draft, happening June 28 and 29. With its complex technology at hand, it is bound to be a spectacular show.

Can the Blackhawks get the #1 pick again?

The draft order for 2024 is set, with the San Jose Sharks picking first, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks selecting second.

Do the Ottawa Senators have a first-round pick in 2024?

They do have a first-round pick, but they’ll have the option to forfeit it this year or one of the next two years as a resolution in their dispute with Vegas and Anaheim regarding a player they traded, but not in good faith or transparent fashion. The player they traded had a 10-team no-trade clause listed and this was not disclosed by Ottawa in the now voided transaction. Much like the lottery system, this punishment was given to uphold good faith and league integrity.

Learn more about NHL and other leagues in our guides: