NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (2024)

  • NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (1)

    Rachel Doerrie, ESPNJun 30, 2024, 04:15 PM ET

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      Rachel Doerrie is a professional data consultant specializing in data communication and modelling. She's worked in the NHL and consulted for professional teams across North American and Europe. She hosts the Staff & Graph Podcast and discusses sports from a data-driven perspective.

The 2024 NHL draft was a spectacle in every sense of the word. Count me among those who wouldn't mind seeing the event held at Sphere going forward. I understand wanting to spread league events around, but when you hit a grand slam like the NHL did here, don't mess with what works.

In terms of the selection process itself, some teams had fantastic drafts, extracting value with each selection, while other teams left value on the table with the talent available.

When considering a grade for each team, the totality of their work was considered: quality of players drafted, selection value and value derived from trades. Here's our grade for every front office, with insights on particular high-value picks and trades (as well as questionable ones).

Jump to a team:
ANA | BOS | BUF | CGY
CAR | CHI | COL | CBJ
DAL | DET | EDM | FLA
LA | MIN | MTL | NSH
NJ | NYI | NYR | OTT
PHI | PIT | SJ | SEA
STL | TB | TOR | UTA
VAN | VGK | WSH | WPG

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (2)

ATLANTIC DIVISION

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (3)

Boston Bruins
Grade: C

When you have only four draft selections and three are in the 100s, it is difficult to come away with much.

Dean Letourneau was a quintessential Boston pick, even if it was a bit of a reach. The potential for Tage Thompson 2.0 has to be enticing for a franchise that needs help down the middle. He's going to take a few years, but there is a real chance Letourneau is a unicorn, and Boston took that swing.

Elliott Groenewold, Jonathan Morello and Loke Johansson don't have NHL projections, but you don't expect that from midround picks. It's a long shot for those three to make it, but they are fine bets.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (4)

Buffalo Sabres
Grade: B

The Sabres managed to have another quality forward fall into their laps. Buffalo likely should've traded the No. 14 pick for immediate help, but Konsta Helenius should play sooner than many people expect. The two-way driver will be a key piece of the Sabres' future.

Adam Kleber and Brodie Ziemer were good bets and should play NHL games in depth roles. Buffalo got good value with Ryerson Leenders in the seventh round; I expected him to be one of the first goaltenders off the board. It is fair to be disappointed in the Sabres for not acquiring immediate help, but Helenius is a player to be very excited about for the future.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (5)

Detroit Red Wings
Grade: B

The Red Wings need a high-end scorer, which many believed would be Jake Guentzel in free agency. It now seems like it may be Steven Stamkos.

In terms of picks, they left value on the board with Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, but got good value in the Ondrej Becher selection, and I liked the Max Plante selection. Brandsegg-Nygard should be a middle-six NHL player and an effective one at that. There's nothing to write home about, but nothing to be too disappointed in, either. A perfectly fine draft.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (6)

Florida Panthers
Grade: C

The Panthers had the best week in the NHL, as they won the Stanley Cup on Monday just four days before the draft. (And had quite a celebration on Sunday.)

Linus Eriksson and Matvei Shuravin are fun projects with NHL upside. Simon Zether has an intriguing package of skill and physicality combined with a two-way game. The path for each of these players is long, and none have confident NHL projections, but they are intriguing in their own rights. When you've won the Stanley Cup, you aren't expected to have the best draft, but Florida made some nice selections.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (7)

Montreal Canadiens
Grade: A

The Canadiens were big winners on Friday night, getting both Ivan Demidov and Michael Hage. They are excellent value, and will be key pieces in the Canadiens' top six. Getting the second-best player in the draft at No. 5, and a top-15 player in the 20s is tidy business.

The sentimentality of the Aatos Koivu pick (he's Saku's son) plays well with the fans, and he has a real shot to be an NHLer. Other selections with value and NHL attributes include Logan Sawyer, Owen Protz and Tyler Thorpe. It wouldn't surprise me if this draft class yielded four regular NHLers, including two difference-makers. Demidov has a chance to be a superstar, and that alone should be very exciting to Habs fans.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (8)play

Celine Dion announces Canadiens' No. 5 pick in NHL draft

Celine Dion announces the Montreal Canadiens' fifth overall pick, Ivan Demidov.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (9)

Ottawa Senators
Grade: C

One thing was made perfectly clear this weekend: The current Senators regime has adopted the modus operandi of building a team that's hard to play against, compared to their predecessors. Unfortunately, that includes drafting players who fit that mold ahead of other highly skilled players.

Carter Yakemchuk over Zeev Buium, Zayne Parekh and Anton Silayev was head-scratching, but he should be a top-four defender in the NHL. They reached on other selections too, and there isn't a ton of upside through the rest of the class.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (10)

Tampa Bay Lightning
Grade: B-

Tampa Bay didn't have a selection until the fourth round, which means they started behind the eight ball. However, they could've drafted the likes of Luke Misa or Aron Kiviharju with their selections; both players went less than five picks later and were considered excellent value. Hagen Burrows and Jan Golicic have the best chance to be NHLers if their skating can develop to NHL level.

Though the Lightning draft picks left something to be desired, their trade execution was much better. The real story was the deck-clearing and subsequent acquisition of Jake Guentzel's negotiating rights. Adding Conor Geekie to the fold in the Mikhail Sergachev swap gives Tampa Bay a blue-chip prospect who will be ready sooner than anyone they would've drafted this weekend. J.J. Moser is a nice player who will fit in a fourth or fifth defenseman role at a team-friendly price.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (11)

Toronto Maple Leafs
Grade: C

The Leafs identified that a few of their first-round targets would be available in a trade-back scenario and were able to acquire a second-round pick by sliding back.

Had the Leafs nabbed EJ Emery, we're looking at a B- grade. They are banking on upside and that Ben Danford develops more offensive attributes to build on his excellent defensive game. Regardless, the Leafs needed a solid right-handed defender, and that's exactly what Danford is.

Trading for the rights to Chris Tanev solves the immediate issue and buys them time with Danford. There is little data on the rest of the class, but it is clear the MO was to get some big bodies into the pipeline, with six of eight selections coming in at 6-foot-2 or taller.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (12)

METROPOLITAN DIVISION

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (13)

Carolina Hurricanes
Grade: A-

Stop me if you've heard this before: The Carolina Hurricanes had a great draft.

Dominik Badkina, Nikita Artamonov and Justin Poirier were fantastic value selections. Using the 27th pick to acquire the selections to draft Badinka and Artamonov was A+ maneuvering. Artamonov was expected to be a late-first-round pick, and Badinka's stock was on the rise as well. Nabbing both along with Noel Fransen and Justin Poirier was quality work for new GM Eric Tulsky and his staff.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (14)

Columbus Blue Jackets
Grade: B

The Jackets couldn't pull off the Martin Necas trade at the draft, but Cayden Lindstrom is going to be a rock-solid second-line center for years to come. A one-two punch of Adam Fantilli-Cayden Lindstrom brings size, speed, physicality and skill.

Getting Charlie Elick in the second round was good value as well. The Blue Jackets had a solid prospect pool entering this weekend and added two pieces that will be quality NHLers.

Perhaps the Blue Jackets will use their plethora of prospects to acquire more immediate help. Luca Marrelli has a fair NHL projection as a bottom-pair defender, with the potential to be a solid transition player. The first two picks are the ones to be very excited about.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (15)

New Jersey Devils
Grade: B-

The Devils had a busy week, and had a fine draft, though they are likely disappointed that their 10th overall pick was unable to net them a player who could help them immediately.

Anton Silayev is fair value at No. 10 and fits the style that the Devils like on the back end. They want players who are difficult to play against to complement their skilled players, and Silayev is exactly that.

Herman Traff and Matyas Melovsky are good swings who provided value in the draft class. The trade for Paul Cotter that included Alexander Holtz was one they felt needed to be made, and the John Marino trade makes sense if they intend to sign Brett Pesce in free agency.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (16)

New York Islanders
Grade: A-

For what they had to work with, the Islanders had an excellent draft.

Cole Eiserman at No. 20 was the best value selection of the first round outside of Demidov. The Isles have needed scoring help for a while, and Eiserman is going to score goals in the NHL. After years without a first-round selection, Eiserman is someone Isles fans should be thrilled to have in the fold.

Jesse Pulkkinen and Kamil Bednarik are solid selections who drew positive reviews in the industry. Overall, a great weekend for the Isles.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (17)

New York Rangers
Grade: C

Walking away with EJ Emery must feel really good. Emery was a defenseman other teams were eyeing, hoping his lack of offensive production would see him slide to the mid-30s. Getting one of the best transition and shutdown defenders in the draft at No. 30 is great for New York.

Outside of that, it was largely disappointing for the Rangers, who left value on the board in favor of players lacking NHL projections. With four picks, three in the later rounds, you want to swing on skill; the Rangers did not.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (18)

Philadelphia Flyers
Grade: C

The Flyers left a lot of value on the table by passing on Buium and Helenius in favor of trading back and ultimately selecting Jett Luchanko. He's likely to be a middle-of-the-lineup player who plays in all situations. He's worth getting excited about because of the development progression in his draft year.

Jack Berglund and Spencer Gill are most likely to make the NHL out of the rest of the draft class, with both topping out as depth players. This was an opportunity for Philly to draft higher-ceiling players, and they opted for safety instead. It wasn't great, but not horrible.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (19)play

Legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer calls 13th pick for Flyers

Philadelphia native Michael Buffer announces that Jett Luchanko is headed to the Flyers.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (20)

Pittsburgh Penguins
Grade: B

Harrison Brunicke and Tanner Howe were solid value, and should be good middle-of-the-lineup players at their respective positions. Mac Swanson in the seventh was the most valuable selection outside of the first two rounds. He's small, but he's got a lot of markers that lead me to believe he can become an NHLer.

Lots of value extracted by the Pens in this year's draft. The acquisition of Kevin Hayes raised eyebrows, but they got a second-rounder for their trouble, and perhaps playing with two Hall of Famers can help produce offensive contributions from the big veteran. An interesting weekend, but the Penguins should be happy with their additions.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (21)

Washington Capitals
Grade: B+

Their draft picks get a C+, their trades get an A, for a combined grade of a B+.

Terik Parascak is an intriguing selection as a raw player, and if he continues his development curve, he'll be a solid contributor for Washington. Cole Hutson and Leon Muggli have NHL projections and Washington got decent value with both selections.

Acquiring Andrew Mangiapane for what amounted to Beck Malenstyn is tidy business. Solidifying the goaltending tandem by acquiring Logan Thompson completed a good week for the on-the-fly rebuild in the nation's capital.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (22)

CENTRAL DIVISION

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (23)

Chicago Blackhawks
Grade: A-

The only reason this isn't an A+ is because Chicago left value on the board with all of their first-round selections. Getting either Ivan Demidov or Cole Eiserman (or both) would've boosted the haul.

Artyom Levshunov will undoubtedly be an impactful defenseman in the NHL, and fans should be excited about him. Sacha Boisvert and Marek Vanacker have fair chances to be middle-six contributors for Chicago, with Boisvert's ceiling being the highest. There was good value in the John Mustard, AJ Spellacy and Jack Pridham selections.

Chicago is clearly trying to build the fastest team in the NHL and will likely have at least three NHL players from this class, with an outside shot at five or six. Pretty tough not to be happy with that, even with the value left on the board.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (24)

Colorado Avalanche
Grade: C

The Avalanche were on the prowl for goalies in this draft, and Ilya Nabokov was one of the best options available. Goalies are volatile and hard to project, so taking a few if you believe your pipeline lacks a solid goalie prospect isn't the worst idea.

Their positional selections, however, left value on the board. William Zellers has a long runway and a decent ceiling, but the lack of play at a top level is concerning. Nothing to write home about for the Avs, who will likely need to wait four or five years to find out whether one of their goalies pans out.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (25)

Dallas Stars
Grade: C+

In three years, when we're discussing Dallas hitting on players in the late first or middle rounds, Emil Hemming at No. 29 in 2024 is going to be a player we mention. The Stars continue to extract value out of their selections in that area.

Outside of that, the Stars had two picks in the late rounds that are unlikely to be NHL players. Trading the negotiating rights to Chris Tanev when it became clear he'd priced himself out of Dallas was shrewd, too. It wasn't a busy weekend for the Stars, but Hemming is a quality player for the pipeline.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (26)

Minnesota Wild
Grade: A

The Wild would be getting an A if they'd done nothing but draft Zeev Buium, Ryder Ritchie and Aron Kiviharju. The value extracted, particularly with Buium and Kiviharju, cannot be ignored. There is a real chance that Minnesota drafted two top-four defensem*n and a flashy middle-six forward.

Getting Buium at No. 12 was a top-five steal in this draft, as there is a real chance he is Brock Faber's partner for the foreseeable future. Trading Vinni Lettieri for Jakub Lauko and a fourth-round pick swap helps the Wild get younger and swing on a player with a higher offensive ceiling. Overall, the Wild have to be happy with their trip to Las Vegas.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (27)

Nashville Predators
Grade: B

The Predators got good value with a few of their selections and took swings on players with higher ceilings.

Egor Surin was a bit of a reach for me, but he's likely to become an exciting NHL player, so it should be fine. Teddy Stiga and Miguel Marques were high-value picks, and both have serious NHL potential.

It is clear Nashville values skills and opts for high ceiling over safe players, contributing to their value selections. There's not as much confidence in the players they selected making the NHL, but they have the potential to be impact players if they hit their ceilings.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (28)

St. Louis Blues
Grade: B+

I really liked the Blues' draft. They needed defensem*n and spent their first three picks on the position. Adam Jiricek has a chance to be a heist at No. 16 when the dust settles. There's a real path for him to become a steady top-four defender with top-pairing upside.

Lukas Fischer was fair value at No. 56 and could be a bottom-pairing defender with some development. The real value came with Adam Jecho and Tomas Mrsic, who should've been second-round selections. Both players have legitimate chances to be NHL players; the Blues may have quite a few players from this class in their lineup down the road.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (29)

Utah Hockey Club
Grade: A+

There is no other grade you can give Utah here. On the totality of their work, it was a brilliant weekend for the NHL's newest club.

Using their plethora of picks over the next few years to trade up and acquire a second first-rounder was good business. Both Tij Iginla and Cole Beaudoin were good selections that will be key pieces of Utah's forward core.

Losing Conor Geekie hurts but was palatable given the prospect pool depth. Acquiring Mikhail Sergachev and John Marino is tidy business, as both will be key players on Utah's blue line. They're going to surprise opponents next season.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (30)play

Utah Hockey Club selects Tij Iginla with first-ever pick

Tij Iginla becomes the first player to be drafted by the Utah Hockey Club expansion franchise.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (31)

Winnipeg Jets
Grade: C

Without a first-round pick, and with 2022 first-rounder Rutger McGroarty potentially on the way out via trade, it wasn't a great weekend for the Jets. They were unable to trade McGroarty at the draft, which is something they wanted to accomplish.

Alfons Freij is a solid selection at No. 37 and should be a good middle-pairing defender in the NHL. Kevin He is intriguing and could develop into a depth player. Otherwise, nothing to write home about for Winnipeg.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (32)

PACIFIC DIVISION

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (33)

Anaheim Ducks
Grade: B+

The Ducks had two first-rounders and shocked the hockey world (and the player) when they selected Beckett Sennecke with the third overall pick. Sennecke will be a solid NHL player, but that was a bit of a reach.

Stian Solberg will be a solid NHL defender and was a big riser in the draft. Someone was going to take him ahead of defenders with better projections, but if anyone should be trusted to develop a defender to his full potential, it is the Ducks.

The Maxim Masse and Tarin Smith selections provided solid value, and both have decent NHL projections.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (34)play

Beckett Sennecke has amazing reaction to being drafted No. 3 by the Ducks

Beckett Sennecke is chosen by the Anaheim Ducks with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NHL draft.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (35)

Calgary Flames
Grade: A

In terms of value and quality of players selected, Calgary may have had the best draft. Zayne Parekh, Matvei Gridin, Andrew Basha, Henry Mews, Luke Misa and Jacob Battaglia were fantastic selections and have legitimate shots to be NHL players in varying roles.

Parekh is their future power-play quarterback who is better defensively than many credit him. Basha, Mews and Misa were high-value selections who all have NHL projections with varying confidence. Flames fans should be very happy with how their team did in Vegas.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (36)

Edmonton Oilers
Grade: B-

The Oilers had a mixed-bag draft. Taking a swing on Sam O'Reilly with the last pick of the first round may prove to be a good one given his performance in the playoffs for the London Knights. His development has been fun to watch, and London is a good spot for him to develop into a player who will be a middle-six contributor in the NHL.

Eemil Vinni was a solid value pick and one of the best goaltenders in the draft class. Dalyn Wakely had an excellent season as an overage player and is worth the late-round shot. He's physical, wins puck battles and saw his production more than double season over season. If he's a victim of COVID development delay, the Oilers may have gotten a sneaky steal here.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (37)

Los Angeles Kings
Grade: B

After trading Pierre-Luc Dubois to Washington, the Kings were able to extract decent value for their selections. Liam Greentree, Carter George and Jared Woolley are all intriguing prospects who provided value.

Greentree brings a lot to the table as a modern power forward who should fit well with L.A.'s roster going forward. George is someone the industry was high on, with many pointing out that he has the tools to be a solid NHL goalie. Woolley is another player who flew under the radar because he played Junior B until midway through the season. He's expected to play a much bigger role for the London Knights next season. The Kings should feel pretty good with their selections.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (38)

San Jose Sharks
Grade: A+

Anytime you're adding two cornerstones to your lineup, you've had a great weekend. Add in the value of Igor Chernyshov and Leo Sahlin Wallenius -- who should be good middle-of-the-lineup players -- and the Sharks added quality pieces to their organization.

The Sharks' pipeline needed defense, and they were able to grab at least two players that should be reliable NHLers; in Sam Dickinson's case, they added a potential difference-maker. When you're coming home with a future top-line center and top-four defenseman, you've had a great weekend.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (39)play

Macklin Celebrini on being taken No. 1: 'A dream come true'

Macklin Celebrini reflects on being selected with the No. 1 pick by the Sharks in the 2024 NHL draft.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (40)

Seattle Kraken
Grade: B+

Seattle would've been better served taking one of the quality defensem*n available to them at No. 8, but Berkly Catton's offensive tools and ceiling were too tantalizing. He's going to create and score in a top-six role at the NHL level; the Kraken should be confident in that. They have a lot of young, two-way players, and Catton brings dynamic offensive skill.

Julius Miettinen is a good selection with third-line potential. Jakub Fibigr should've been long gone by the time the Kraken selected him at No. 202, and while he doesn't have a strong NHL chance, he has a better chance than a lot of players who went before him. A good weekend for the Kraken.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (41)

Vancouver Canucks
Grade: B-

The Canucks got good value considering they didn't have a selection to make until the third round.

They strayed from their typical MO of functional toughness in favor of soft skill. Melvin Fernstrom's production in Sweden this season indicates he's got a fair shot to play in the NHL if his skating improves. Riley Patterson was a good bet in the fourth round, with good speed and flashes of offensive upside. Anthony Romani was great value in the sixth, even as an overage player. The offensive tools are there, and the underlying numbers suggest potential to become a late-round steal.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (42)

Vegas Golden Knights
Grade: B

The hosts certainly got down to business at the draft.

Trevor Connelly is one of the best prospects in the draft on skill, but that's just half the story. This pick will be closely monitored and scrutinized given accusations that Connelly made racist comments on and off the ice.

Their trades netted them swapping out Logan Thompson for Akira Schmid as well as Alexander Holtz for Paul Cotter, while netting an extra third-round pick. That's good asset management. Vegas gets younger in both positions and hopes that Bruce Cassidy can unlock the potential of 2020 No. 7 pick Holtz.

Combine the draft and the trades together, and it's a net positive weekend for the Golden Knights.

NHL draft grades: Why the Sharks, Utah Hockey Club each get an A+ (2024)

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