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Download the 2024 NHL Draft: New Top 100, Rising Stars, Top Centers, Combine Invitations

On Monday morning, with the Stanley Cup Final now set—and starting in five days—we were blessed with a ton of 2024 NHL Draft content to dig into, analyze, and discuss. As I mentioned in my bullet points, I wanted to put this stuff in a separate post so we could dig a little deeper from the Blackhawks' perspective, so let's do this dance.

Wheeler's final ranking for the 2024 NHL Draft

Scott Wheeler at The athlete has released its final top-100 list of prospects for the 2024 NHL Draft. I love reading how different analysts break down their rankings this time of year (read: before the Combine), because the differences can be notable even within the same publication. Wheeler and Corey Pronman, for example, have very different views on Ivan Demidov. Pronman was never particularly fond of Demidov; in his last rankings, he ranked him 8th. Wheeler, on the other hand, continues to put him at 2nd (as have most other rankings since mid-March).

Here is part of what Wheeler said about Demidov in this update:

And while his straight skating doesn't always look smooth, he's still a fast skater and very agile side-to-side. He has elite handling (though he can get in trouble trying to beat two or three guys in a crowd, he also often beats multiple guys in a sequence) and has made more one-on-one skill plays this season (including, unabated, in the postseason) than almost any other young player I've scouted for any draft. He's also a pretty dedicated off-puck player, keeping his feet moving, chasing pucks on the forecheck, and can turn a steal into a game-winning play in the blink of an eye. Demidov is one of the purest young players Russia has produced in recent memory (his game also has more pro style, competitiveness, and well-roundedness than Matvei Michkov's did at the same age) and scouts really like him. He profiles as a point-scoring star winger and PP specialist.

Another big difference in the early stages of the two rankings of The athlete This is how Pronman and Wheeler see RHD Carter Yakemchuk. Pronman had him at number 3 overall, Wheeler has him at number 13.

One candidate that seems to be climbing up in everyone's latest rankings is LHD Stian Solbergwho moved up from a possible second-round finish to 12th place at Pronman and even 22nd place at Wheeler.

Biggest risers in the NHL draft

On Sunday, Steven Ellis took a look at the biggest up-and-comers in the 2024 NHL Draft on Daily Faceoff just before the Combine. Solberg is at the top of his list, and here's what Ellis wrote about him:

The scouts have rated Solberg really well – so much so that after starting outside the second round, he looks like a surefire first-round candidate. He's 6'2″ and 200 pounds, which has helped him play against men over the past three years. His best game, however, was at the IIHF World Championship, where he was by far Norway's best defenseman. He took a few stupid penalties, but Solberg isn't afraid to play at the limit, and I like that about him. I'm excited to see what he can do in the NHL in a few years.

Ellis also discusses Beckett Sennecke, Teddy Stiga, Harrison Brunicke, Sam O'Reilly and others. But one player I have always attributed to the Blackhawks in the second round is also mentioned: RHD Adam KleberHere's what Ellis wrote about him (which explains well why I like him as the Blackhawks' pick):

Kleber is a monster out there. He shows incredible athleticism and competitive spirit, which makes him really hard to stop. Kleber, who is headed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, is a big 6'5″, 200-pound defenseman who may not score a lot of points, but will punish you with his power and work ethic. Teams like right-shot defensemen with his profile, especially since he can also skate. Kleber fought his way into the second round on the back of an impressive second period against Lincoln, and while he's not great with the puck, he has enough traits to make him a real threat in the NHL.

Pronman's Center Tiers for the 2024 NHL Draft

Also on Monday morning The athlete has published Pronman's discussion of centers in the 2024 NHL Draft. What's fascinating about this article is that Pronman looks at guys who are projected as pure centers in the NHL and then provides a list of players who could be centers but could also be moved to the wing at the next level.

One of the guys Pronman has listed as a likely center is Cayden LindstromHere is part of what he wrote about Lindstrom:

Lindstrom has many appealing qualities that can make him an NHL center. He's huge, strong, physical, and a great skater. It's easy to imagine him as a matchup center in the league. Several scouting directors interviewed for this article felt that Lindstrom's mediocre hockey sense means he'll likely have to play as a winger in the NHL.

Pronman also has Konsta Helenius, Sacha Boisvert, Yegor Surin And Sam O’Reilly among the seven players on his top ten list of prospective centers who could also move to the wing for one reason or another.

His next level caught my attention for many reasons, especially considering the Blackhawks currently own picks No. 18 and 34 and that the forward area is an area Chicago has invested heavily in in the NHL Draft over the past few seasons. Here is that grouping:

Many people here and on social media have expressed their support for the Blackhawks' elimination from Michigan. Michael Hage at 18. Pronman wrote: “Hage is very talented, but his style of play and his sometimes strong perimeter protection make him more suitable for the professional wing.

I would also like to point out that the numbers of his CENTER ranking do not match Pronman's recent overall ranking. For example: He has Berkley Catton 6th overall, but 11th as a center. This is simply because Catton is projected as a wing at the next levels; he is still one of the top forward prospects in the draft.

Pronman concludes with his overall rankings of the centers – which again do not necessarily match his overall rankings – and even these do not match the ranking of 1-17 that he created in the article, but rather the overall ranking as forward Outlook.

Invitations to the NHL Draft Combine

Here is the list of players invited to the 2024 NHL Draft Combine: