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The Leafs Nation’s 2024 NHL Mock Draft: Picks 11-21

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Photo credit:(Photo from Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff)
Alex Hobson
24 days ago
Welcome back to the second edition of The Leafs Nation’s first round mock draft. Last week, we kicked things off with projected first overall pick Macklin Celebrini going first overall to the San Jose Sharks (surprise!) and ended it with the New Jersey Devils’ selection of U.S. National Team forward Cole Eiserman.
We’re going to continue the draft today, starting with the Buffalo Sabres taking the imaginary podium at 11th overall.

11. Buffalo Sabres – Konsta Helenius (C, Jukurit, SM-Liiga, 5-foot-11, 196 pounds)

The Sabres can’t really miss here, regardless of who they pick. Well, they can, but it wouldn’t hurt them all that much because they’ve got the deepest prospect pool in hockey. Granted, seeing as they’re headed into 2024-25 looking to avoid missing the playoffs for the 14th straight season, you would hope they’ve got a good prospect pool. At any rate, they’re probably going to pursue the best player on the board if they don’t trade this pick, and I see them taking Konsta Helenius in this situation.
The Finn can play both centre and right wing and displays an advanced two-way game for his age. He also shined offensively in 2023-24, scoring 14 goals and putting up 36 points in 51 games in his second season playing against grown men in Finland’s top league. He’s excellent in puck battles despite his lack of size, and despite the Sabres having more forward prospects than defensive ones, their young defensive corps of Rasmus Dahlin, Bowen Byram, Mattias Samuelsson, and Owen Power will give them the option of adding another blue-chip forward prospect up front.

12. Philadelphia Flyers – Zeev Buium (D, University of Denver, NCAA, 6-foot-0, 185 pounds)

The Flyers put together a tidy bit of business at last year’s draft, selecting arguably the most talented player in the class not named Connor Bedard in Matvei Michkov, and padded their defensive corps with the addition of Oliver Bonk of the London Knights at 23rd overall. After trading one of their top forward prospects in Cutter Gauthier for Anaheim Ducks defenceman Jamie Drysdale this past season, I have the Flyers further boosting their back end with the addition of Zeev Buium.
Born in San Diego and the brother of Detroit Red Wings prospect Shai Buium, Zeev has a higher ceiling as a prospect and displayed as such this past season with the University of Denver. He was the highest-scoring defenceman in the league, notching 50 points in 42 games while maintaining a steady presence in his own zone. His defensive game will need some work, but he has all the tools to be a future power play quarterback in the NHL and would slide in nicely alongside either right-handed option in Drysdale or Bonk.

13. Minnesota Wild – Carter Yakemchuk (D, Calgary Hitmen, WHL, 6-foot-3, 203 pounds)

I’m normally of the belief that teams shouldn’t draft specifically for need, especially when there are significantly better player at other positions available, but the Wild might be without a choice here. Outside of Brock Faber, who is a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie this season, the Wild don’t have much coming up in the system, whereas they’ve got a deep pool of forward prospects including Liam Ohgren, Danila Yurov, and Riley Heidt in the system.
Luckily for them, Carter Yakemchuk wouldn’t be much of a reach at all. He’s a big, right-handed offensive-minded defenceman who developed a nasty edge to his game this season, racking up a whopping 120 PIMs this season, up from only 31 last season. He can be frustrating at times, but his positive qualities outweigh the negative ones, and he could be a real player for a team willing to exercise some patience with him.

14. San Jose Sharks – Beckett Sennecke (RW, Oshawa Generals, OHL, 6-foot-2, 181 pounds)

When a team has two draft picks in the first round, usually it makes sense to go for a different direction position-wise for the next pick. When it’s a player as talented as Macklin Celebrini, however, it doesn’t matter as much. That’s why I believe the Sharks will go in the direction of a running mate for Celebrini, and a potentially perfect one in Beckett Sennecke.
He wasn’t originally projected to go in the top 15, but a late-season surge sent his stock skyrocketing, similar to the way Toronto Maple Leafs first round pick Easton Cowan’s did last season. He’s an excellent playmaker with a bit of a goal-scoring edge himself, and with such a sure bet up front in Celebrini along with the NCAA’s leading scorer in Will Smith in the Sharks’ system, they can afford to bet on a player like Sennecke and assume they’re getting the second-half version of him.

15. Detroit Red Wings – Michael Brandsegg-Nygard (LW, Mora IK, Allsvenskan, 6-foot-1, 207 pounds)

The country of Norway hasn’t produced all that many NHL players, but Brandsegg-Nygard could be the next great thing out of Norway. Aside from Mats Zuccarello, no Norwegian-born player has played more than 200 games in the league since Espen Knutsen. The Red Wings are definitely closer to pushing for a playoff spot than they are to tanking for another high pick, seeing as they missed the playoffs by a hair this year, and “MBN” would give an already strong prospect pool a big boost.
The Oslo native spent his entire youth career playing in his home country until 2022-23 when he moved to Sweden. He recorded 18 points in 41 games for Mora IK of the Allsvenskan league, which is second-tier to the SHL, and as of now, he’s committed to play for Skelleftea AIK in the upper league for the 2024-25 season. He’s strong from an offensive, defensive, and physical standpoint and will not waste time becoming a fan favourite.

16. St. Louis Blues – Liam Greentree (RW, Windsor Spitfires, OHL, 6-foot-2, 214 pounds)

Like Minnesota, St. Louis is better-stocked up front in terms of prospects rather than on the back end, but if the draft shakes out the way I’ve had it so far, they might be forced to take one of the many forwards that will be available. If they end up with the opportunity to select Greentree at 16th overall, they’ll hardly be complaining. He’s been ranked as high as fifth overall and as low as 17th on the draft boards of experts, so getting him at 16th overall would be some solid value.
He’s big, he scores goals, and he’s got some early leadership qualities, representing the Spitfires as their team captain this year. What’s not to like? He didn’t have a great performance at the U18 World Championships, but my bet is the Blues will focus more on the 64-game sample size where he recorded 90 points over the seven-game sample when he only had four.

17. Washington Capitals – Adam Jiricek (D, HC Plzen, Czechia, 6-foot-2, 168 pounds)

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Adam is the younger brother of David Jiricek, a top prospect from the 2022 NHL Draft who was selected sixth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’s a little bit of a project pick, but with a relatively young defensive corps including the likes of Rasmus Sandin, Alexander Alexeyev, and Martin Fehervary, there won’t be a ton of pressure on him to fast-track his development.
He’s a strong two-way defender who will undoubtedly need to put on some muscle before he gets to the NHL, but has experience playing against grown men already and will likely be an instrumental part of Czechia’s team at the World Juniors this winter. Don’t be fooled by his one point in 19 games with HC Plzen, he’s got good offensive instincts that will continue to blossom as he grows as a player.

18. Chicago Blackhawks – Igor Chernyshov (LW, Dynamo Moskva, KHL, 6-foot-2, 196 pounds)

What the Blackhawks do with this pick will likely come down to what they do at second overall. If they ignore the need for a blue-chip defensive prospect and opt to go with the highest ceiling in Ivan Demidov, they likely go with a safer defenceman pick here. If they do what I have them doing and take somebody like Levshunov second overall, the selection of somebody like Chernyshov here makes sense.
Chernyshov is an excellent skater which pairs nicely with his size, and has clearly outgrown Russia’s junior league with 28 points in 22 games for MHK Dynamo Moskva. He only had four points in 34 games with the KHL team, but it’s always worth a reminder around this time of year that European pro teams are not concerned about developing their prospects for NHL teams. They want to ice the best possible roster every night, and Chernyshov likely gets some more minutes next season.

19. Vegas Golden Knights – Michael Hage (C, Chicago Steel, USHL, 6-foot-1, 194 pounds)

The Vegas Golden Knights are in some unprecedented territory this season, drafting in the top 20 for the first time since 2019 when they selected Peyton Krebs (and eventually traded him to Buffalo in a package for Jack Eichel). The Golden Knights have one of the weaker prospect pools in the league and would be best off drafting the best player available. Based on the players who have already come and gone in this mock, Michael Hage fits the bill nicely.
Hage is a speedy centre who has a well-balanced offensive game and is a safe pick for any organization not really after one specific need, because he addresses a bunch at once. He had 75 points in 54 games for the USHL’s Chicago Steel this season and is currently committed to play for the University of Michigan next season. The Golden Knights have prided themselves on forking over prospects to lock up already-established players long-term in their short existence, so Hage may eventually end up on a different team regardless. Either way, he’ll be of value to Vegas when they’re on the clock.

20. New York Islanders – Aron Kiviharju (D, HIFK, SM-Liiga, 5-foot-10, 185 pounds)

Like the Vegas Golden Knights, the New York Islanders have a terrible prospect system. The only difference is that Vegas has a recent Cup to back up their bare cupboards. The Islanders? Well…
The Isles are going to have to take a big swing in this draft, and for a team that lacks youth both up front and on the back end, there isn’t really a position they couldn’t use. So, I have them going with a risky option with extremely high potential in Aron Kiviharju.
He was originally supposed to be a top pick in this draft class, but an ACL injury at the start of this past season plummeted his stock. Still, he has the potential to be one of the best power play quarterbacks in this draft class, and a hopefully-full 2024-25 season will show fans what he’s really capable of.

21. Los Angeles Kings – Stian Solberg (D, Valerenga, Norway, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds)

Woah, a second Norwegian prospect? In the first round? In this economy?
Norway is starting to produce some intriguing prospects, and it’s very possible that we see not only the first Norwegian drafted in the first round this year, but the first two. Solberg is a completely different player than Brandsegg-Nygard, bringing a punishing physical game that players dread to go up against. His Elite Prospects profile says he likes to “inflict pain every chance he gets, immobilize opponents, and knock them away from the front of the net.” Seems like the type of guy you want on your team in the playoffs.
Brandt Clarke is the sexy name among their defensive prospects, but Solberg has middle-pair potential and would be an excellent complimentary piece for the Kings.

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