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Five takeaways from the 2024 NHL Draft

With the 2024 NHL Draft in the books, it’s time to break down what we saw take place as teams now begin to focus on free agency.

We had another clear-cut first-overall pick with Macklin Celebrini going to the San Jose Sharks, but there was still plenty of excitement to follow and we have picked out our five biggest takeaways from the draft.

Surprises as early as the top three

As mentioned, it was all but a foregone conclusion that Celebrini would be the No. 1 overall pick by the San Jose Sharks, and that came to fruition. Outside of that expectation, there was much debate about who would be the second-overall pick.

That debate was almost exclusively between Artyom Levshunov from Michigan State or Ivan Demidov out of St. Petersburg. It was the Chicago Blackhawks with that pick, and they went with Levshunov, a defenceman, which came as little surprise.

However, it was not Demidov to go #3 to the Anaheim Ducks.

Instead, the Ducks, who recently revealed their new orange jerseys for the upcoming season, selected Beckett Sennecke from the OHL. Like Celebrini, he’s just 18-years-old, and he had 68 points through 63 games this past season.

He was certainly expected to be taken in the first round, but some mock drafts had him going as low as fourteenth.

Historic first rounds for Sweden and Norway

Like Canada, Sweden is regarded as a factory of professional hockey players, but this was quite a strange first round for them on Friday night.

Not a single Swedish player was selected within the first 32 picks after having six selected in the first round last season, including the second-overall pick.

On the flip side, Norway overshadowed their Scandinavian counterpart with two picks in the first round. In fact, when Michael Brandsegg-Nygard was selected by the Detroit Red Wings at No. 15, he was the first-ever pick out of Norway in the first round.

Defence valued early, but not goaltending

With the Blackhawks snagging Levshunov with the No. 2 overall pick, defensemen were off the board early and often. We saw six of them selected within the first 12 picks, including four straight from picks nine through 12.

However, there wasn’t a single goaltender taken in the entire first round. Admittedly, that was the expectation, but it’s still worth noting that we haven’t seen a netminder taken on the first night since 2021.

As for when we did finally see a goalie taken off the board, that was with the Colorado Avalanche at the 38th-overall pick in the second round, grabbing Ilya Nabokov.

Las Vegas Sphere was a hit

The Las Vegas Sphere hosted the 2024 NHL Draft, and it has been home to some of the most high-profile events since it officially opened at the end of September 2023. There’s no denying that in the States, the NHL Draft pales in comparison to the NFL Draft, but for the first time, it truly rivalled it.

With the ability to display teams, picks and so much more hanging overhead like a night sky, the league had a sell-out crowd for the event.

The NHL also fully embraced the drama by making a significant ordeal out of every trade, including a designated horn.

Don’t forget about Utah - the NHL’s new team

The 2024 NHL Draft held in Las Vegas, which has recently become something of a hockey hotbed since the Vegas Golden Knights entered the NHL in 2017.

However, we have a new team entering the mix this coming season with the Utah Hockey Club, formerly the Arizona Coyotes.

The new squad in Salt Lake City had the sixth-overall pick where they took Tij Ignila, who has hockey in his blood. He’s the son of Jarome Iginla, a Hall-of-Famer.

That wasn’t much of a surprise as he is a fantastic prospect, but what took the league and fans by storm was Utah making massive waves on day two.

They made two huge trades for established players in the NHL, the most notable of which was Mikhail Sergachev from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The defenceman has won multiple Stanley Cups and although he was only healthy for 34 games this past season, he recorded 64 points in 79 games two seasons ago.

Utah also traded for John Marino from the New Jersey Devils, demonstrating that the franchise fully understands that they need to bolster their defense.

It's worth watching to see how the new team does with a front office and ownership that seems to have more investment in their team than while they were in Arizona.

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