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NHL mock draft: Iginla surges post-lottery

Julian Catalfo / theScore

After months of simulations and excitement, the NHL's draft lottery offered little drama on Tuesday as the order remained unchanged for the first time since 2010.

With the first 23 selections of the draft finalized following the lottery and the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's time to take another look at how the picks could play out in June.

Celebrini continues to make history as the first Hobey Baker winner to go first overall in the NHL draft.

The Sharks get a dynamic future No. 1 center in Celebrini, who is an incredibly well-rounded and polished prospect considering he doesn't turn 18 until June and dominated every level along the way to cementing his place atop the 2024 class.

Not only is Celebrini an incredibly exciting player to add to a rebuilding team, but he's also a bit of a local product for San Jose. Celebrini played for the under-14 Sharks in 2019-20 when living in the Bay Area, and his father, Rick, works with the NBA's Golden State Warriors as their director of sports medicine and performance.

The Sharks - and Rick - get their wish to commence the draft, giving San Jose a scary one-two punch of Celebrini and 2023 No. 4 pick Will Smith down the road.

After landing a generational prospect in Connor Bedard last summer, the Blackhawks snag the top defenseman in the 2024 class.

Levshunov leads an array of exciting blue-liners that will litter the top 10. The Belarusian was a beast at Michigan State as a freshman, registering 35 points in 38 games and leading the Big 10 champs with a plus-27 rating.

Chicago adds a future top-pairing rearguard whose two-way skill set will feature nicely alongside either Alex Vlasic or Kevin Korchinski.

Standing at 6-foot-7, 211 pounds and boasting skating skills is what launched Silayev into the conversation at the top of the draft after a strong start to his season in the KHL.

The Ducks are more than happy to take a home-run swing on a potentially elite shutdown defender to complement the offensive blue-liners in the system like Pavel Mintyukov and Olen Zellweger.

The combination of size, skating, and skill that Lindstrom presents is too tantalizing for the Blue Jackets to pass on at No. 4.

Lindstrom tallied 13 goals and 21 points on a 12-game point streak in December before his campaign was disrupted by a hand injury. He plays mean - just look at his 66 penalty minutes in 32 games - and gives Columbus a legitimate double-headed monster with Adam Fantilli down the middle.

The Habs don't pass on a supremely skilled Russian winger for a second time in a row and take the best player available in Demidov.

The most electrifying player in the draft, Demidov decimated the Russian junior circuit with 60 points in 30 regular-season games before a hilarious 28 points in 17 playoff games.

There's a case to be made that Demidov has the highest potential in the draft, but he's also average-sized, has barely played above the Russian junior league, and has no international history to lean upon.

After a conservative pick in 2023, Montreal takes a swing in 2024.

GM Bill Armstrong is moving to a new state, but his roster-building philosophy remains the same.

After using a top-10 pick on 6-foot-4 Dmitriy Simashev last summer and a first-rounder on 6-foot-7 Maveric Lamoureux two years ago, Utah's first selection continues the theme. Yakemchuk stands at 6-foot-3, has an absolute cannon from the point, and racked up 30 goals this season. However, he'll need to become more disciplined before reaching the pro ranks.

Among the most exciting risers this season is Iginla. After being a bottom-six depth player with the Seattle Thunderbirds last season, a move to the Kelowna Rockets has seen the son of Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla flourish.

His 47 goals in the regular season and another nine in 11 playoff games were punctuated with a splendid showing at the under-18s with Canada. Make no mistake - Tij is in this spot on his own merit.

Buium solidified himself as a top-10 prospect in the class with a historic freshman campaign at Denver. The 6-foot left-shot defender toyed with NCAA competition this season en route to a national title. He's a worthy pick as the Kraken take a defenseman in the first round for the first time.

As much as Flames fans want Iginla in this slot, Dickinson could be even more impactful. The 6-foot-3 left-shot defender has flirted with the top five all season with a point-per-game campaign on the OHL's best team.

Helenius has already played two seasons in Finland's top league and has high-end hockey IQ. With a strong showing in the playoffs and an impressive under-18s, Helenius can help his draft stock even more at the upcoming Worlds with Finland.

Parekh is getting more and more hype on public lists, but NHL teams remain NHL teams. A 6-foot, 179-pound all-offense defenseman isn't too convincing, especially with numerous other elite prospects at the position in the draft.

The Sabres are prioritizing upside in the draft and do so again by snagging the 33-goal, 96-point right-shot defender.

Catton put together one of the best draft-eligible seasons in recent WHL history, tallying 54 goals and 116 points. With six defenders going in the first 11 picks, the Flyers run to the stage with a forward of Catton's potential still on the board.

A season-ending injury sustained at the world juniors prevented Jiricek from building positive momentum down the stretch. The Wild take the 6-foot-2, right-shot defender, hoping he can break through with exciting two-way potential despite a significant injury and early-season struggles.

Note: Pick acquired by Sharks from Pittsburgh Penguins in the Erik Karlsson trade.

Once viewed as the top challenger to Celebrini, Eiserman still falls to the team that selected first overall.

Concern over Eiserman's game outside of his goal-scoring resulted in him dropping down boards all season. A former teammate of Celebrini's at Shattuck St. Mary's, the Sharks take a chance on the U.S. NTDP's all-time top goal-scorer and reunite the two talents.

Norway has never produced a first-round pick, but that changes after this summer's draft when Brandsegg-Nygard goes inside the top 20. A fierce forechecker, Brandsegg-Nygard played against men all year, and his role increased as the season went along. He'll suit up for Norway at the Worlds this month.

Connelly is a top-10 prospect on talent, but he gave teams reasons to pass on him. Whether it's concern over past off-ice issues or poor decision-making, like the major penalty that cost the U.S. gold at the under-18s, teams will need to do their due diligence before spending a premium pick on Connelly.

Sennecke has taken his game to another level in the OHL playoffs with 22 points in 16 postseason contests entering the league finals with Oshawa. With a 6-foot-2 frame and immense skill, the winger boasts a lot of upside.

The Islanders desperately need to add high-end potential to their system, and they do exactly that with this pick. Hage was surprisingly left off Canada's roster at the under-18s despite tallying 12 goals and 31 points in his final 16 games in the USHL.

Boisvert can play down the middle or on the wing, and he rifled 36 goals in the USHL this year. At 6-foot-2, 176 pounds, he'll look to add to his frame as he heads to the University of North Dakota in the fall.

Note: Pick acquired by Blackhawks from Tampa Bay Lightning in the Brandon Hagel trade.

Greentree was one of the only bright spots on a poor Windsor team this season. He captained the Spitfires and led the team with 36 goals and 90 points. An underwhelming under-18s sees him fall to the end of the top 20.

The Kings end the run of forwards by taking Sahlin Wallenius. He played huge minutes for Sweden at the under-18s after tallying 42 points in 43 games in the Swedish junior league.

Barry Trotz and the Predators offer a slight surprise by pouncing on the tantalizing 6-foot-6 Letourneau. The Boston College commit offers an exciting blend of size, speed, and skill. He's an incredibly raw project having only played two games above prep-level competition.

Elick is 6-foot-3 and a right-shot defender. That alone is enough to put him on NHL radars. Factor in his excellent skating and mean streak, and the Calgary native fits perfectly with Brad Treliving's revamped vision for the Maple Leafs' blue-line.

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