Macklin Celebrini of Boston University.

Macklin Celebrini of Boston University. Credit: TNS/David Berding

The NHL is bucking the trend.

While the other leagues are doing their best to stretch out and turn their drafts into showcase events, the NHL is likely to go to a de-centralized entry selection process next year.

If so, the NHL is going out in a big way in Las Vegas, holding its two-day draft at the futuristic Sphere, which, so far, has wowed audiences with its immersive concert experience for U2, Phish and Dead & Company residencies.

The first round will be Friday night with rounds two through seven on Saturday morning.

The first pick is known: Boston University’s Macklin Celebrini is going to the Sharks. After that, this draft has plenty of uncertainty in terms of who goes where.

The Islanders hold the 20th pick. It could be the first, first-round selection president/general manager Lou Lamoriello makes since 2019, having traded his last four. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Rangers own the 30th overall pick.

Newsday’s mock first-round draft

1.  San Jose – Macklin Celebrini, C, Boston University (NCAA), 6-0, 197: Long acknowledged as the consensus No. 1 pick, Celebrini won the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top player after notching 32 goals and 32 assists in 38 games in his first – and potentially lone – season at BU. He possesses a rare combination of offensive talent, skating ability and tenacity.

2. Chicago – Artyom Levshunov, D, Michigan State (NCAA), 6-2, 205: There’s no clear consensus for the second pick so this could be where the draft starts taking some unexpected turns. But it’s hard to ignore Levshunov’s high-end playmaking and shooting skills.

3. Anaheim – Anton Silayev, D, Nizhny Novgorod (Russia), 6-7, 211: And it’s hard to ignore Silayev’s size and the fact that, even at a young age, he’s acquitted himself well playing against men in the KHL.

4. Columbus – Cayden Lindstrom, C, Medicine Hat (WHL), 6-3, 213: The top-notch goal scorer was limited to 32 games (27 goals) because of a herniated disc. But he’s healthy now and tough to pass up.

5. Montreal – Ivan Demidov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg Jr. (Russia-Jr.), 5-11, 181: The dynamic talent is the second-ranked European skater behind Silayev. But he’s relatively untested against high-end competition. Some team is going to take a shot.

6. Utah – Zeev Buium, D, Denver (NCAA), 6-0, 186: An attractive combination of skating ability and scoring ability with 11 goals and 39 assists in 42 games as a freshman. Potential top-pair defenseman who can quarterback the power play.

7. Ottawa – Sam Dickinson, D, London (OHL), 6-3, 203: Could be a coin flip between Buium and Dickinson, who is slightly bigger and has elite burst with his skating, compiling 18 goals and 52 assists in 68 games.

8. Seattle – Zayne Parekh, D, Saginaw (OHL), 6-0, 178: Of course, Parekh could be included in a pick ‘em troika with Buium and Dickinson. Unlike the other two, Parekh is a right-handed shot – always a bonus – who notched 33 goals and 63 assists in 66 games.

9. Calgary – Tij Iginla, C, Kelowna (WHL), 6-0, 191: The son of Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla rose rapidly in the rankings with 47 goals and 37 assists in 64 games. He may go higher in the draft. But, oh, what a story if his father’s former team selects him.

10. New Jersey – Beckett Sennecke, RW, Oshawa (OHL), 6-3, 182: Some projections have Sennecke as a possible top-five pick because of his high-end playmaking ability and vision. He had 27 goals and 41 assists in 63 games and is tough to knock off the puck.

11. Buffalo – Konsta Helenius, C, Jukurit (Finland), 5-11, 189: Checks all the right boxes with his skating, playmaking and smarts. He notched 14 goals and 22 assists in 51 games in Finland’s top league as a 17-year-old.

12. Philadelphia – Carter Yakemchuk, D, Calgary (WHL), 6-3, 202: Size and offensive instinct can’t be taught and the right-handed shot has both, with 30 goals and 41 assists in 66 games. But Yakemchuk needs to improve his skating and defensive play to make a real impact in the NHL.

13. Minnesota – Berkly Catton, C, Spokane (WHL), 5-10, 175: A sniper who is also an extremely talented skater, Catton had a standout season with 54 goals and 62 assists in 68 games. Catton could find himself picked in the top 10 depending on how the draft unfolds.

14. San Jose (from Pittsburgh) – Adam Jiricek, D, Plzen (Czechia), 6-2, 167: A knee injury ended his season in December and it’s unclear how far that will knock Jiricek down teams’ draft boards. This feels like a good spot for the defensive-minded, right-handed shot.

15. Detroit – Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, RW, Mora (Sweden 2), 6-1, 207: It’s expected Brandsegg-Nygard will become the first player born in Norway to be selected in the first round. He had eight goals and 10 assists in 41 games after being called up to Sweden’s top league and adds some grit to his scoring.

16. St. Louis – Cole Eiserman, LW, USA U-18 (National Team Development Program) 6-0, 197: A straight up shooter who had 25 goals in 24 games and is headed to Boston University in the fall.

17. Washington – Stian Solberg, D, Valerenga (Norway), 6-2, 205: Would be the second Norwegian to go in the first round, after Brandsegg-Nygard. His stock rose after the World Juniors and World Championships. Physical, and a strong skater, he had five goals in 42 games in the Norwegian league.

18. Chicago (from Islanders) – Michael Hage, C, Chicago (USHL), 6-1, 188: Excellent skater and intelligent playmaker with leadership ability. Two-way player who had 34 goals and 75 points in 54 games and is headed to Michigan in the fall.

19. Vegas – Trevor Connelly, LW, Tri-City (USHL), 6-1, 160: If it were just about talent, he’d be the No. 2 overall pick. But he has baggage, and a lot of it. Years ago, he posted a photo of a friend posing with a Swastika. He’s worked to clean up his image.

20. Islanders (from Tampa Bay via Chicago) – Igor Chernyshov, LW, Dynamo Moscow (Russia), 6-2, 192: The Islanders clearly like Russian players – goalies Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov, defenseman Alexander Romanov and newly-signed forward Maxim Tsyplakov – and the big wing fits an organizational need with his strong play and scoring ability.

21. Los Angeles – Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon (USHL), 6-2, 183: Had 36 goals and 68 points in 61 games and projects as a second-line talent. He’s heading to the University of North Dakota in the fall.

22. Nashville – Liam Greentree, RW, Windsor (OHL), 6-2, 215: Big, with a big shot. Had 36 goals and 54 assists and was his team’s captain. Not a fast skater, though, and not physical.

23. Toronto – Emil Hemming, RW, TPS (Finland), 6-1, 205: Fast skater with a big body and a great shot, but inconsistent, and needs to improve defensively. Had seven goals and 11 points in 40 games in the pro league.

24. Colorado – Terik Parascak, RW, Prince George (WHL), 6-0, 179: Had 43 goals and 105 points in 68 games, but he needs to be better at the defensive end and needs to improve his skating.

25. Ottawa (from Boston via Detroit) - Jett Luchanko, C, Guelph (OHL), 5-11, 187: Hard-working and smart playmaker who projects as a middle-6 forward.

26. Montreal (from Winnipeg) – Charlie Elick, D, Brandon (WHL), 6-3, 202: Physical, crease-clearing, stay-at-home defender. Needs to improve his shot and his offensive instincts.

27. Carolina – Spencer Gill, D, Rimouski (QMJHL), 6-4, 186: Considered a middle-round talent at the start of the season, he improved his defensive play and had 12 goals and 46 points in 65 games.

28. Calgary (from Vancouver) – Leo Sahlin Wallenius, D, Vaxjo Jr. (Sweden Jr.), 6-0, 180: Elite skater who plays a two-way game, modeled after Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen. Had 11 goals and 42 points in 43 games at the junior level. Not physical, though.

29. Dallas – Julius Miettinen, C, Everett (WHL), 6-3, 201: Big-bodied playmaker and net-front presence who had 31 goals and 67 points in 66 games. Strong at the defensive end and projects to be a bottom-6 forward at the NHL level.

30. Rangers – Cole Beaudoin, C, Barrie (OHL), 6-2, 210: Improved his skating so much from the previous season that he vaulted from being a third-round prospect to a potential first-rounder. Strong playmaker with good vision, uses his size well. Projects as a middle-6 forward.

**31. Anaheim (from Edmonton) – Nikita Artamonov, LW, Nizhny Novgorod (Russia), 5-11, 187: High hockey IQ led to creative plays and rapid improvement as the KHL season went on. Had seven goals and 23 points in 54 games.

**32. Philadelphia (from Florida) –Yegor Surin, C, Yaroslavl (Russia), 6-1, 192: One of the youngest prospects in the draft, had 22 goals and 52 points in Russia’s top junior league. Strong skater with high compete level but can be undisciplined.

** Anaheim gets the 31st pick if Edmonton loses the Cup final. It'll be the 32nd pick if Edmonton wins. Philadelphia's pick from Florida will be the 32nd if Florida wins the Cup, or 31st if Florida loses.


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