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MCKEEN’S HOCKEY 2024 NHL DRAFT RANKINGS – December 2023 – Top 32 – Macklin Celebrini leads the pack early by a wide margin

NORTH ANDOVER, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 1: NCAA men's hockey at Lawler Rink on December 1, 2023 in North Andover, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon)

It’s time for a ranking update at McKeen’s Hockey as we approach the end of the calendar year. Hopefully you’ve all been following along with our early regional favourites series, where our regional scouts have been providing detailed breakdowns of some of their favourites for the 2024 Draft.

This article shows our top 32 and is available to everyone. For subscribers, we are providing our Top 64 with a few honorable mentions. Then in the new year, we will expand to a Top 100.

The top player on our list is Boston University’s Macklin Celebrini. One of the highest scoring players in the NCAA this year as a freshman, Celebrini has met the ultra-high expectations placed on him heading into the year. He is, in our opinion, a slam dunk to be the first player selected this year. Recently named to the Canadian World Junior camp roster, hopefully Celebrini can earn a roster spot and have a strong performance for Canada as a focal point of the team’s offensive attack.

Sam Dickinson of the London Knights. Photo by Natalie Shaver/OHL Images

After Celebrini is where things get…murky. We see a group of seven players in competition for that second spot; Sam Dickinson, Cayden Lindstrom, Konsta Helenius, Cole Eiserman, Anton Silayev, Ivan Demidov, and Artyom Levshunov. How those seven players are ranked was heavily debated amongst our scouts. There truly wasn’t much of a consensus among our staff and we know that NHL scouts are having a similar debate at this current time. An argument could be made for any of these seven to be ranked second. Conversely an argument could be made for any of these seven to be ranked eighth. Hopefully a few of these players can truly separate themselves from the pack in the second half. In particular, we’re looking to see if the three defenders, Dickinson, Silayev, and Levshunov, can clean up some of their poor decisions with the puck.

Rounding out the top ten are forwards Berkly Catton (Spokane Chiefs) and Michael Brandsegg-Nygard (Mora). Catton is a dynamic play creator who has a chance to jump into that second tier grouping if he can find a way to become a more consistent off puck player. While Brandsegg-Nygard is a winger who plays a game that should translate easily to the pro level in North America. He competes hard. He skates well. It’s just a matter of whether you feel that he has the offensive upside and skill to be a top six player. At this point, considering our high ranking of him, we do believe he possesses that upside.

Of the remaining 22 players currently in our first round, 11 are defenders. While we aren’t enamored with this draft crop (overall), we do really like the upside of this blueline crop. The question is, can the likes of Adam Jiricek and Aron Kiviharju hang on to a spot in our first round because there is no question that they have underperformed compared to their expectations thus far.

But what about the goalies? This is everyone’s favourite question. At this point, we don’t see any netminders worthy of first round consideration. But we did rank OHL goalies Carter George and Ryerson Leenders at the back of our Top 64. George has been the more consistent performer thanks to his excellent play reading ability and mature approach. This was on display at last summer’s Hlinka/Gretzky too, when he stole the starter’s job from Gabriel D’Aigle. Meanwhile, Leenders is unquestionably the better athlete and a netminder with a penchant for making the highlight reel save thanks to his quickness. He just doesn’t have as refined of a technical approach.

The List:

1 Macklin Celebrini C Boston University (HE) 6-0/190 13-Jun-06 15-10-15-25
2 Sam Dickinson D London (OHL) 6-3/205 7-Jun-06 27-6-14-20
3 Cayden Lindstrom C Medicine Hat (WHL) 6-3/210 3-Feb-06 27-22-16-38
4 Konsta Helenius C Jukurit (Fin-Liiga) 5-11/180 11-May-06 26-8-11-19
5 Cole Eiserman LW USN U18 (USDP) 6-0/195 29-Aug-06 21-25-16-41
6 Anton Silayev D Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL) 6-7/210 11-Apr-06 38-3-7-10
7 Ivan Demidov RW SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL) 5-11/180 10-Dec-05 7-2-5-7
8 Artyom Levshunov D Michigan State (B1G) 6-2/205 28-Oct-05 16-4-11-15
9 Berkly Catton C Spokane (WHL) 5-11/170 14-Jan-06 25-16-20-36
10 Michael Brandsegg-Nygard RW Mora (Allsvenskan) 6-1/195 5-Oct-05 21-2-4-6
11 Ryder Ritchie RW Prince Albert (WHL) 6-0/175 3-Aug-06 30-12-16-28
12 Carter Yakemchuk D Calgary (WHL) 6-3/190 29-Sep-05 26-12-16-28
13 Liam Greentree RW Windsor (OHL) 6-2/210 1-Jan-06 23-17-18-35
14 Trevor Connelly LW Tri-City (USHL) 6-1/160 28-Feb-06 20-8-18-26
15 Tij Iginla C Kelowna (WHL) 6-0/185 1-Aug-06 27-20-11-31
16 Zeev Buium D Denver (NCHC) 6-0/185 7-Dec-05 16-5-16-21
17 Zayne Parekh D Saginaw (OHL) 6-0/175 15-Feb-06 25-10-26-36
18 Matvei Shuravin D CSKA Moskva (KHL) 6-3/195 22-Mar-06 8-0-2-2
19 Adam Jiricek D HC Plzen (Czechia) 6-2/175 28-Jun-06 19-0-1-1
20 Aron Kiviharju D HIFK (Fin-Liiga) 5-9/170 25-Jan-06 7-1-1-2
21 Emil Hemming RW TPS (Fin-Liiga) 6-1/200 27-Jun-06 24-5-2-7
22 Igor Chernyshov LW MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL) 6-2/190 30-Nov-05 15-6-6-12
23 Leo Sahlin Wallenius D Vaxjo Lakers (Swe J20) 5-11/175 10-Apr-06 27-5-20-25
24 Beckett Sennecke RW Oshawa (OHL) 6-2/180 28-Jan-06 21-7-13-20
25 Michael Hage C Chicago (USHL) 6-0/190 14-Apr-06 20-7-13-20
26 Henry Mews D Ottawa (OHL) 6-0/185 9-Mar-06 22-3-19-22
27 Cole Hutson D USN U18 (USDP) 5-10/160 28-Jun-06 22-6-15-21
28 Maxim Masse RW Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 6-2/190 7-Apr-06 30-13-16-29
29 Adam Jecho C Edmonton (WHL) 6-5/200 24-Mar-06 19-8-10-18
30 Sacha Boisvert C Muskegon (USHL) 6-2/180 17-Mar-06 22-13-8-21
31 Veeti Vaisanen D KooKoo (Fin-Liiga) 6-0/175 15-Feb-06 23-1-4-5
32 Alfons Freij D Vaxjo Lakers (Swe J20) 6-0/185 12-Feb-06 27-8-12-20