Celebrini Levshunov 5 questions CS meetings

Macklin Celebrini, a center with Boston University in Hockey East, is expected to be selected by the San Jose Sharks with the No. 1 pick in the 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft, according to the initial mock drafts by NHL.com writers Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale.

"It's just ridiculous what Celebrini was able to accomplish this year," Morreale said on the latest edition of the "NHL Draft Class" podcast. "Celebrini has a great 200-foot game, and he just has that compete level that is just unmatched among any player I've seen this season."

Said Kimelman: "What really stood out to me was when (San Jose general manager) Mike Grier talked about the work ethic in practice and in games, how [Celebrini] wants to be the first in every drill and do every drill right. He looks like he's going to be a very special player."

Kimelman and Morreale also had identical choices with each of the next two selections, which belong to the Chicago Blackhawks (No. 2), and the Anaheim Ducks (No. 3). They had defenseman Artyom Levshunov of Michigan State in the Big Ten at No. 2, and defenseman Anton Silayev of Torpedo in the Kontinental Hockey League at No. 3.

"I've been saying since the outset, to me Levshunov has the highest ceiling of anyone in this draft," Morreale said. "Still raw but boy was he good as a raw freshman in the tough Big Ten. He was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year and earned spots on the All-Big Ten First Team and All-Freshman Team.

"I know the Blackhawks can go either forward or defense here, but I'm taking the best available and who (NHL Central Scouting director) Dan Marr also said might be the most NHL-ready prospect in this class."

The real debate began with the No. 4 pick, where Kimelman had the Columbus Blue Jackets choosing center Cayden Lindstrom of Medicine Hat in the Western Hockey League, while Morreale believes the selection will be right wing Ivan Demidov of SKA St. Petersburg in Russia's junior division.

"The thought of being able to stack Adam Fantilli and Cayden Lindstrom in the middle is a pretty dominant 1-2 punch at center," Kimelman said. "[Lindstrom] has elite scoring ability and you get a player with that size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), and that skill would be a huge jump for Columbus."

Morreale said he thinks Columbus needs more dynamic playmakers in the lineup with the understanding the player it chooses may not be NHL-ready in 2024-25.

"The Blue Jackets need more star-power and push on offense," he said. "With forward prospect Gavin Brindley ready to make his mark on the team next season, this will give Demidov, who many believe is the best playmaking forward on the board, time to improve, mature and play out his contract in Russia before he's ready to come over."

Each writer laid out reasons for choosing the player they selected with each pick.

The 2024 draft will be held at Sphere in Las Vegas. The first round is June 28 and rounds 2-7 will be June 29.

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