NHL mock draft 2024: Blackhawks’ No. 2 pick will start run of interesting decisions

Just like last year, the uncertain part of the 2024 NHL draft begins with pick No. 2, where the interesting decisions will truly begin after a set-in-stone No. 1 selection.

This time, however, the Blackhawks will be the team starting that run of interesting decisions, and their choice come June 28 in Las Vegas will create a domino effect of repercussions throughout the first round — affecting their No. 18 pick, as well.

Here’s a rough guess about how things might play out.

Lottery picks

1. Sharks: Macklin Celebrini, C, Boston University (NCAA)

Celebrini going No. 1 overall this year is just as certain as Connor Bedard last year, and the Sharks haven’t bothered to be coy about it.

2. HAWKS: Artyom Levshunov, D, Michigan State (NCAA)

It’s a toss-up between Levshunov and Ivan Demidov, but the fact the Hawks have enjoyed much more access to Levshunov this season — including dining with him at the combine — makes him seem slightly more likely to be the choice.

In any case, he will be the highest-picked Belarus native of all time, surpassing former Ducks defenseman Ruslan Salei (who went ninth in 1996).

3. Ducks: Anton Silayev, D, Nizhny Novgorod (Russia)

If the Hawks pass on Demidov, he might not even be the first Russian off the board because of the Ducks’ believed interest in defensemen specifically. Silayev, a 6-7 shutdown guy, would nicely complement their existing prospect pool.

4. Blue Jackets: Ivan Demidov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (Russia)

The Jackets have become a Russian hotspot, although new general manager Don Waddell could change things. Demidov is a high-risk, high-reward proposition. His injuries and lack of experience facing elite competition are concerns, but his talent is undeniably elite.

5. Canadiens: Cayden Lindstrom, C, Medicine Hat (WHL)

Lindstrom missed the second half of the season with a back injury but is otherwise a low-risk pick. His size (6-3), physicality and defensive reliability mean his worst-case scenario is solid third-line center.

6. Utah: Zayne Parekh, D, Saginaw (OHL)

Parekh recently won the Memorial Cup and was named Canadian junior hockey’s defenseman of the year, so his NHL stock is rising.

7. Senators: Zeev Buium, D, Denver University (NCAA)

Buium averaged more than a point per game as a freshman defenseman at Denver.

8. Kraken: Carter Yakemchuk, D, Calgary (WHL)

The Kraken might use a first-round pick on a defenseman for the first time ever. Yakemchuk is big and physical but not as dynamic offensively.

9. Flames: Tij Iginla, C, Kelowna (WHL)

The storybook choice for the Flames at No. 9 would be the son of Hockey Hall of Famer and Calgary legend Jarome Iginla. Tij impressed in late-season tournaments.

10. Devils: Sam Dickinson, D, London (OHL)

Dickinson, known for his skating and puck-moving abilities, could be the sixth defenseman taken in the top 10. The Devils might also trade this pick.

11. Sabres: Berkly Catton, C, Spokane (WHL)

Catton gets knocked for his lightness, but he was the most productive draft-eligible player in the WHL this season, racking up 116 points.

12. Flyers: Cole Eiserman, LW, U.S. National Team Development Program

Eiserman’s stock has slipped substantially since last fall. The Boston University commit is still an elite shooter, though.

13. Wild: Beckett Sennecke, RW, Oshawa (OHL)

Conversely, Sennecke’s stock has risen substantially. He has grown five inches in two years — up to 6-3 — and plays a well-rounded game.

14. Sharks (from Penguins): Stian Solberg, D, Valerenga (Norway)

History will be made not only for Belarus but also for Norway this year. Solberg and Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, two Oslo natives, will be the first two Norwegians ever picked in the first round.

15. Red Wings: Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, RW, Mora (Sweden)

Brandsegg-Nygard has nonetheless spent the last two seasons in Sweden, which is historically the Wings’ favorite breeding ground.

16. Blues: Adam Jiricek, D, Plzen (Czechia)

Jiricek, the younger brother of Blue Jackets prospect David Jiricek, boasts similar talent but saw his development stalled by a major knee injury in December.

Later picks

17. Capitals: Konsta Helenius, C/RW, Jukurit (Finland)

Helenius’ stock might have slipped due to unremarkable showings in late-season tournaments, but he should still be a top-20 pick.

18. HAWKS (from Islanders): Michael Hage, C, Chicago (USHL)

If the Hawks take Levshunov at No. 2, they could seek a forward at No. 18. They wouldn’t have to look far to find Hage, who played basically in their backyard this season.

The Michigan commit uses his skating to be elusive and dynamic in open ice. He was hampered last fall by a lingering shoulder injury but exploded in the season’s second half.

19. Golden Knights: Igor Chernyshov, LW, Dynamo Moscow (Russia)

The usual Russian concerns apply, but the Knights’ risk tolerance is usually high and Chernyshov’s competitiveness is acclaimed.

20. Islanders (from Lightning): Trevor Connelly, LW, Tri-City (USHL)

Connelly, a Providence commit, is the draft’s most contentious player due to his combination of elite talent and alarming character concerns.

21. Kings: Jett Luchanko, C, Guelph (OHL)

Making their first first-round pick in three years, the Kings could be pleased to land Luchanko, who is undersized but versatile.

22. Predators: Liam Greentree, RW, Windsor (OHL)

In the 20s, the best remaining forwards project to be more like second- or third-line NHL players. That’s the case with Greentree, who is imposing but slow.

23. Maple Leafs: EJ Emery, D, USNTDP

Emery — a defensive defenseman committed to North Dakota — shattered records on combine tests like the vertical jump, but that stuff only matters so much.

24. Avalanche: Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon (USHL)

Boisvert, another North Dakota commit, is a good skater with good size and a good shot.

25. Senators (from Bruins): Terik Parascak, RW, Prince George (WHL)

Parascak, conversely, is a subpar skater with a small frame, but his puckhandling made him extremely productive this season.

26. Canadiens (from Jets): Andrew Basha, RW, Medicine Hat (WHL)

Basha — a playmaking forward from Alberta — speaks French, which matters to the Canadiens more than it probably should.

27. Hurricanes: Leo Sahlin Wallenius, D, Vaxjo (Sweden)

Wallenius, a defenseman known for his fantastic skating, may go higher than this.

28. Flames (from Canucks): Charlie Elick, D, Brandon (WHL)

Yet again, the storybook choice for the Flames here would be Elick, a smooth-skating Calgary native.

29. Stars: Cole Beaudoin, C, Barrie (OHL)

The Stars already have plenty of dynamic young scorers, so Beaudoin — a power forward whose specialty is winning puck battles — would fit in well.

30. Rangers: Dean Letourneau, C, St. Andrew’s College (Canada)

Letourneau is difficult to evaluate because he played high-school rather than junior hockey this year, but he’s 6-6 and the Rangers value size.

31. TBD: Julius Miettinen, C, Everett (WHL)

The Oilers’ first-round pick belongs to the Ducks, and the Panthers’ first-round pick belongs to the Flyers. The Stanley Cup Final result will determine the order.

Miettinen, a Finnish forward with size and offensive creativity, came to North America last summer.

32. TBD: Aron Kiviharju, D, HIFK (Finland)

Kiviharju missed most of the season with a knee injury but returned before it ended. He has elite hockey IQ.

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