Macklin Celebrini and Cole Yzerman, projected to be the top two picks in the 2024 NHL Draft, each earned an A grade on NHL Central Scouting’s Reserve Players to Watch list released Wednesday.
This list compiles draft-eligible players from all major developmental leagues in North America and Europe. Updated throughout the season as scouts evaluate players.
“They’re both hitting on all cylinders right away. The similarity between them is they’re competitors,” NHL Central Scouting Director David Gregory said. “You can tell how much they want to win and how much they’re willing to do to make sure their team wins.”
Players on the tentative list who are rated A are considered potential first-round picks. A player rated B is considered a potential second or third round pick, a player rated C is a potential fourth or fifth round pick, and a player rated W is considered a potential 6th or 7th round pick. Indicates “hot” players who may be considered. and first-time draft-eligible players who are “in the works” with limited scouting history and limited game play.
Related: 2023-24 NHL Featured Player List PDF | 2024 NHL Draft Scope | NHL Draft Class Podcast
Dan Marr, vice president of Central Scouting, said, “NHL clubs have provided feedback that there is a big difference between a fourth-round and a sixth-round candidate, so it would be better to stay further away from C-grade candidates.” I did,” he said. With a history of utilizing the PTW grading system, the timing was perfect to adapt and evolve for NHL club bidding. ”
Celebrini (6 feet tall, 189 pounds), a freshman at Boston University, underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason due to an injury sustained last season while playing for Chicago in the United States Hockey League, but the 17-year-old The left-shot center finished his season as a starter on schedule, leading the Terriers with five goals and six points in four games.
“I look at Macklin as a playmaker first and foremost,” Gregory said. “He can shoot the puck, he can finish, but he’s going to create a lot of chances, draw attention to himself and find teammates in good positions to be a finisher. But when it comes to finishing… When it comes, he’ll do it.’ I’ll be done too. ”
Last season with Chicago, Celebrini became the first player in USHL history to win Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year honors in the same season. He led the league with 46 goals and 86 points in 50 games.
Yzerman (6-0, 197) leads the U.S. Hockey National Team Development Program U-18 team with 18 goals, 23 points and 52 shots on target in 11 games. The 17-year-old right-handed forward had five points (three goals, two assists) in an 8-2 win at Boston College on October 14.
“Cole is a finisher,” Gregory said. “He almost always locks in and loads up and is ready to shoot and puts himself in that soft spot. His teammates know he’s going to get the puck from the puck going into the net. “I know. If I get the puck enough times, it’s almost guaranteed.”
Yzerman, who will attend Boston University in 2024-25, had 72 points (43 goals, 29 assists) in 42 games and 32 points (26 goals, 6 assists) in 20 games with the NTDP U-17 team in 2022-23. was recorded. After being promoted to the U-18 team. His 69 goals rank second all-time in a single season behind Cole Caufield (72 goals, 2018-19).
Among the A-rated skaters likely to be selected in the top half of the first round are defenseman Artyom Levshunov of Michigan State, Sam Dickinson of London of the Ontario Hockey League and Zane Parekh of Saginaw (OHL). , Adam Jilicek of Saginaw (OHL), and others. Plzen (Czech Republic), HIFK’s Aron Kibiharju (Finland), Torpedo’s Anton Silaev (Russia), and forwards Ivan Demidov of SKA St. Petersburg (Russia) and Muskegon (USHL) Sasha Boisvert.
The right-handed Levshunov (6-2, 208 points) has six points (three goals, three assists) in six games for the Spartans.
“His game has grown so much,” Gregory said. “His game has developed into a more complete player because he’s very dynamic offensively, pushing the pace and creating attacks, even though he can be an F1 player on the forecheck. , even if we get a turnover, we get it back and still defend.”
“Maybe this year it won’t be a two-horse race for the top (with Celebrini and Yzerman) like Levshunov will eventually have.”
Dickinson (6-3, 204 games) has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 11 games for the Knights, tied for sixth among OHL defensemen. Parekh (6-0, 178) is tied for fourth with 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in eight games for the Spirit.
Jilicek (6-2, 178) is a right-handed shot and the younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets rookie defenseman David Jilicek. He has not scored in nine games with Plzen.
“He’s a good guy, he’s a great physical presence,” NHL Director of European Scouting Jukka-Pekka Vuorinen said of Jilicek. “He’s still at his best in the defensive zone. (He’s) an effective checker and stays with his team.”
Earlier this month, Kibiharju (5-9, 170th place) underwent knee surgery and is expected to be sidelined for four months. However, his physical strength and good sense of the game make him a legitimate blue-chip candidate.
Similarly, Demidov (5-11, 181), who can play center or wing, is expected to miss four months with a knee injury.
Shilayev (6-7, 211) may be the most polarizing draft pick this spring. His first year in the Kontinental Hockey League, coached by former NHL forward Igor Larionov, he had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 21 games.
“He is a tower on the ice, has improved a lot and is now used in all situations,” Vuorinen said. “He’s incredibly mobile for a player his size, active, alert and involved. He’s a two-way defenseman who plays with intensity and a great winning attitude.”
There are currently no A-rated goaltenders on the list.