Calgary Flames pick Tij Iginla at No. 9 in FlamesNation post-lottery mock draft

Photo credit:Jeremy Champagne/Kelowna Rockets
Mike Gould
1 month ago
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We’re still more than a month away from the 2024 NHL Draft, but make no mistake: FlamesNation‘s draft content season has begun.
After all, the Calgary Flames missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season, the Wranglers were eliminated just last week, and the Stampeders don’t start up again until the beginning of June. What else is there to talk about?
The Flames currently have two picks in the first round of this year’s draft. While we don’t yet know exactly where the Vancouver Canucks’ pick will end up in the draft order, we do know that the Flames’ first pick will be at No. 9 overall (barring any additional moves). They’re practically guaranteed to get a top prospect at that spot.
With all that in mind, here’s a very early look at how the Top 20 picks in this year’s draft could shake out.

1. San Jose Sharks: C Macklin Celebrini (Boston University, NCAA)

You’re looking at the only true no-doubter of a pick on this list. Celebrini will be a Shark and everyone knows it. He’s the clear-cut best available player in this year’s draft, the Sharks have a glaring need for a star forward like the one he projects to be, and his dad works for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. Celebrini might not be as much of a slam-dunk prospect as Connor Bedard was at No. 1 last year, but that doesn’t mean he’s not the obvious choice for San Jose. He’ll be the crown jewel of an impressive young forward group that also includes Will Smith, William Eklund, Filip Bystedt, Quentin Musty, David Edstrom, Thomas Bordeleau, and Collin Graf. Sharks GM Mike Grier won’t have to lose a moment of sleep over this pick.

2. Chicago Blackhawks: RD Artyom Levshunov (Michigan State University, NCAA)

This is where things get tricky. Since the draft lottery, much of the speculation about the No. 2 pick has centred around which Russian player Chicago will take. Although we don’t know for sure which players the Blackhawks might covet, the general consensus around hockey circles is that the two most likely candidates are NCAA defenceman Artyom Levshunov and MHL forward Ivan Demidov. Levshunov is a 6’2″ righty who just scored 35 points in 38 games as a freshman at Michigan State, and with the two teams slotted immediately after Chicago seemingly inclined toward picking a defenceman, it figures that Demidov could slide a little if the Hawks don’t take him here. For a Chicago team with very little organizational depth on the back-end, Levshunov could be exactly the piece they need to support the likes of Kevin Korchinski and Alex Vlasic into the future. Assuming they don’t make any short-sighted moves to accelerate their rebuild, the Blackhawks will have plenty of chances to add to their forward group in the coming years.

3. Anaheim Ducks: LD Zeev Buium (University of Denver, NCAA)

Defencemen like Zeev Buium don’t come along all that often. The 6′ lefty just scored 50 points in 42 games as a freshman at the University of Denver, emerging as the No. 1 defender on a Pioneers team that went on to win the NCAA National Championship. Buium also racked up three goals and five points in seven games with Team USA at the 2024 World Juniors. He’s a little divisive as a prospect, but the people who like him, love him. The Ducks could really use another defenceman after trading Jamie Drysdale for Cutter Gauthier this past season, and Buium would check off a lot of boxes for them. Having Buium and Pavel Mintyukov anchoring separate pairings would be an enviable luxury for this Ducks team. Also, it’s very much worth mentioning that Buium is from San Diego and grew up playing for the L.A. Jr. Kings. He’d be a picture-perfect fit in Anaheim.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets: LD Anton Silayev (Torpedo, KHL)

Silayev is just as divisive as Buium, albeit for very different reasons. He’s a 6’7″ monster who is coming off a highly unusual draft year in the KHL. After a whirlwind start in which he scored six points in his first six games of the regular season, Silayev managed just five points in 57 games to close out the year. Even so, that torrid start put the hockey world on notice and opened the door for teams to follow him pretty closely all season long. Those who favour Silayev point to his mature defensive game and potential translatability as his top attributes; his skeptics typically cite his lack of production and relative unknown status prior to his draft year. Silayev ranked No. 3 on Bob McKenzie’s most recent draft list and would make a fascinating partner for David Jiricek in Columbus. He’ll be a project for whichever team ends up taking him.

5. Montreal Canadiens: C/RW Ivan Demidov (St. Petersburg, MHL)

Less than a year ago, Matvei Michkov fell past the Canadiens to the Philadelphia Flyers at No. 7. The top Russian forward available this time around is Ivan Demidov, but he’s likely not getting past Montreal at No. 5. Unlike Michkov, Demidov didn’t spend much of his draft year in the KHL, but he did put up remarkable numbers in the MHL (Russia’s top junior league) and is seen by many as the clear-cut second-best prospect available in the 2024 NHL Draft. But how easy will it be to get him over to North America? Demidov’s rights belong to SKA, one of Russia’s most powerful organizations — the same one where Michkov developed — and he has another year on his deal. It’s also worth noting that Demidov played in just four KHL games in his draft year; Michkov skated in 27 (and scored 20 points). For those reasons, it isn’t all that difficult to envision Demidov sliding to the Canadiens, who desperately need to add an elite offensive talent to their organization after prioritizing defence for years.

6. Utah HC: C Cayden Lindstrom (Medicine Hat, WHL)

If Demidov is gone by the time the Canadiens make their pick, Lindstrom might just be their fallback. In this case, Utah would be more than happy to have him. When healthy, Lindstrom was practically unstoppable with the Tigers in the regular season, racking up 27 goals in 32 games. Despite suffering a back injury that hampered his effectiveness in the playoffs and kept him out of the U18s, Lindstrom is still widely regarded as the third-best forward available in this year’s draft class. He’s a 6’4″ centre who flat-out dominated his opponents with his size and skill at various points last year. It’s certainly concerning that Lindstrom missed 36 of his team’s 68 games in 2023–24, but it won’t be enough to turn a team like Utah off his undeniable potential. Although the newly-relocated franchise has a glaring need on defence, Lindstrom is the best player available here and would be an excellent foil to Logan Cooley down the middle. Besides, you won’t find another GM in this league who values size quite like Bill Armstrong does.

7. Ottawa Senators: RD Zayne Parekh (Saginaw, OHL)

The Senators really just need to get someone good here after essentially punting on their last three drafts. After going off the board to take Tyler Boucher with the No. 10 pick in 2021, the Sens traded out of the first round entirely in both 2022 and 2023 and will forfeit yet another future first-round pick as punishment for their role in the botched Evgenii Dadonov trade between Vegas and Anaheim. After firing the GM responsible for that mess, the Sens are in the process of turning the page under the leadership of Steve Staios, who has extensive ties to the OHL through his past tenure with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Ottawa could really use a top right-handed defender to pair with Jake Sanderson going forward, and Parekh fits the bill as a supremely creative and productive rearguard who managed an eye-popping 33 goals in 66 games with Saginaw this past season.

8. Seattle Kraken: LD Sam Dickinson (London, OHL)

As the NHL’s newest franchise, the Kraken haven’t had a whole lot of time to build out a strong prospect pool. They’ve done a decent job accumulating young talent — Matty Beniers, Shane Wright, and Ryker Evans are all solid players — but they still have a few holes to fill in their system. One of the biggest ones is one defence, where the Kraken still don’t have a bona fide blue-chip prospect. Seattle has used each of its first three first-round picks on forwards: Beniers, Wright, and Eduard Sale. It figures that in a defence-heavy draft like this one, they’ll be more inclined toward grabbing the best defender they can find. Dickinson fits the bill as a superb two-way rearguard who is ranked as high as No. 2 on some lists. Born in June, he’s one of the youngest players available in this year’s draft.

9. Calgary Flames: LW Tij Iginla (Kelowna, WHL)

The Flames will have an extremely difficult choice to make here at No. 9, especially if Iginla doesn’t fall to them. There are strong cases to be made for players like Konsta Helenius, Carter Yakemchuk, and Berkly Catton at this spot, and each of them could be The Guy for the Flames once they settle on their list. For now, Iginla is a cut above. Jarome’s middle child scored at every opportunity during his draft year, racking up 47 goals in 64 games during the regular season, nine in 11 games during the WHL playoffs, and six in seven games at the U18s. He’s an unbelievably mature player despite being one of the youngest available in this year’s draft. There’s even a chance he could develop into a centre at the next level. Aside from Silayev, nobody else in this draft has risen in the ranks to the extent Iginla has over the last year. He’d instantly become the Flames’ top prospect and, with a bit of luck, would be the perfect figure to usher in a new era of hockey in this city.

10. New Jersey Devils: C Konsta Helenius (Jukurit, Liiga)

Some folks out there believe Helenius is good enough to play in the NHL as soon as next season. After all, he’s coming off a strong year in Finland’s top league, where he put up 14 goals and 36 points in 51 games with Jukurit in 2023–24. Helenius isn’t the biggest or strongest prospect in this year’s draft class, but he’s got an outstanding international track record and has been playing against men since he was 16. He’s also pretty young, having only just turned 18 on Saturday. Helenius’ upside is maybe a little less certain than some of the players ranked near him, but he’s a strong bet to be a capable pro in North America for a long, long time. For a team like New Jersey that needs players to step in as soon as possible to support the Jack Hughes/Nico Hischier core, Helenius would be a great fit.
And now, here’s a brief look at our projections for the rest of the Top 20:
11. Buffalo Sabres: RD Carter Yakemchuk (Calgary, WHL) — Yakemchuk is as much of a rover as anyone in this draft class. Buffalo is light on right-handed defence prospects and Yakemchuk would be excellent value for them at No. 11.
12. Philadelphia Flyers: C Berkly Catton (Spokane, WHL— Catton could very easily go inside the Top 10. He’s coming off a ridiculously productive WHL season and would be found money for the Flyers at this spot, even though some aren’t sure whether he’ll be a centre in the NHL.
13. Minnesota Wild: LW Trevor Connelly (Tri-City, USHL) — Despite being a supremely talented power forward, Connelly will likely end up on multiple teams’ “do not draft” lists because of well-documented off-ice concerns.
14. San Jose Sharks (via PIT): RD Adam Jiricek (HC Plzen, Czechia) — After taking Celebrini with the No. 1 pick, it tracks that San Jose will look to add a defenceman here. Beyond Shakir Mukhamadullin, their pool of defensive prospects is pretty thin. Jiricek is the best of the rest.
15. Detroit Red Wings: LW Cole Eiserman (USNTDP) — Eiserman is an exciting prospect and one of the youngest players in this draft, but his perceived flaws away from the puck could cause him to slide. Detroit is well-positioned here to take a swing on his talent.
16. St. Louis Blues: RW Beckett Sennecke (Oshawa, OHL) — It’s entirely possible that Sennecke sneaks into the Top 10 after a meteoric rise up the ranks throughout the year. He opened a lot of eyes with his outstanding performance in this year’s OHL playoffs.
17. Washington Capitals: C Michael Hage (Chicago, USHL) — That Chicago Steel program churns out quality NHLers like nobody’s business. Hage was their best player this year, scoring 33 goals and 75 points in 54 games as a 17-year-old. He looks legit.
18. New York Islanders: RW Michael Brandsegg-Nygard (Mora IK, Allsvenskan) — Brandsegg-Nygard is a big Norwegian winger who has spent the last two years playing in Sweden. He’s a bit of a throwback and the exact type of project the Islanders have favoured in the past. (By the way, the Isles haven’t made a first-round pick since 2019!)
19. Vegas Golden Knights: LW Andrew Basha (Medicine Hat, WHL) — Vegas loves its WHL kids, and Basha is a really good one. Sure, he played alongside the likes of Lindstrom and Gavin McKenna on a strong Medicine Hat team, but not just anyone can hang with elite centres.
20. Chicago Blackhawks (via TB): RW Nikita Artamonov (Torpedo, KHL) — Under GM Kyle Davidson, the Blackhawks have gone all-in on smaller forwards with tons of skill (hence why Demidov may end up going to them at No. 2). Artamonov is coming off an excellent KHL season for a player his age and fits the mould of what Chicago is trying to accomplish.

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