The chance to get Macklin Celebrini would be a dream scenario for the Calgary Flames

Photo credit:Rich Gagnon/BU Athletics)
Shane Stevenson
1 month ago
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The no doubt consensus number one draft choice in the 2024 NHL Draft is Boston University product, Canadian, Macklin Celebrini.
Sometimes it’s worthy of a debate between players at the top of the board – but in this draft, there is one clear prize. In order for this option to become a reality the Calgary Flames need something to happen that has never occurred in the history of the franchise – they have to win today’s draft lottery held at 4:30 p.m. MT.
There’s a 95% chance it won’t happen which means a 5% chance it will. Hold out some hope folks.

Scouting report

The Vancouver, BC native tore up the Hockey East conference in the NCAA as a 17-year-old. So much so that nobody stands with him in the same tier. He currently stands at 6’0″ tall at 190 lbs – certainly with more room to fill out as he gets older.
He cut his teeth in an unusual manner for a Canadian as his dad worked for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors in California. He started with the San Jose Jr. Sharks before going to Sidney Crosby’s alma matter in Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school.
He unquestionably produced large amounts of offence at all of those levels.
At 16 he decided to play for the Chicago Steel of the USHL, one of the best programs in the league. 46 goals and 40 assists in 50 games later the domination was scooped up by one of the best centre-producing programs in the NCAA.
To tie everything in a perfect bow, the 17-year-old had 4-4-8 at the World Junior championships against men two to almost three years his senior. He’s spent the last year playing against top competition all three to four years his senior… and he was the best of them all.
No seriously, he just won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top player in the NCAA. He’s going to be able to a plug-in option on an NHL middle six immediately with top line duties within a couple years.
Don’t take my word for it – here is his coach Jay Pandolfo talking to Frank Seravalli on a recent episode of Frankly Speaking:
“There’s no doubt in my mind he could play in the National Hockey League tonight,” Pandolfo said on the latest episode of Frankly Speaking. “Just the way he plays the game. You could put him in a playoff game tonight and I think he’d do well. That’s just my opinion. He doesn’t turn 18 until June. He played his whole freshman year as a 17-year-old. That means he’d play his whole sophomore season as an 18-year-old. That’s very impressive. In saying all of that, I think he’s very capable of playing in the National Hockey League today.”
I searched for another scouting report but I can’t find one that talks about the details of his game and what truly makes him a standout talent. Most sites just list him as number one and move on. (Our colleagues at Daily Faceoff have mentioned how strong his season has been throughout the past year, though.)
It is truly a disservice to not have everyone rave about this young man’s skill level, so I will give you my scouting report based on what I’ve watched him do this year.
Number one: I love Celebrini’s ability to process the play without the puck. His anticipation and jump when the puck is turned over is like a shark searching for blood in the water. Quick, precise, and lethal. He reads the play at a high cognitive rate and has both the athleticism and ability to put himself in a position to counter strike effectively. When attacking he reads holes in coverage at a rate quicker than his peers – he can do it if given space or while in motion. He has a tremendous motor, almost never gets himself caught in a bad spot on the wrong side of the puck, and has above average shooting talent.

The numbers

There are some references to these littered all over, but his official Boston University stat line ended at 38 games played with 32 goals and 32 assists for 64 points. He does not turn 18 until June and out-produced – at a per game pace – top end draft picks like the Ducks’ Cutter Gauthier, the Capitals’ Ryan Leonard, and the Jets’ Rutger McGroarty.
He had 8 points in 5 games at the World Juniors, 15 points in 7 games at the U18’s, and is set to play for team Canada at the world championships this month.
Points follow him around like a lost puppy dog.

Availability and fit

The Calgary Flames have a few glaring holes and all of them are to find top-end talent. They need a true number one defenceman and some top play driving talent up front. Ideally that talent is up the middle – Celebrini would be an instant fit.
Calgary would not need to force Connor Zary to be an instant pivot and could run Celebrini-Kadri-Backlund up the middle to remain competitive. Celebrini would add to every offensive aspect of the team and give Calgary the elite talent they need to jump back into a serious playoff conversation.
They have never won, and after the year they had I don’t believe any other team is as deserving. I’m also biased as heck on that front.
Cross your fingers, Flames fans. This would change things drastically.

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