Top draft-eligible prospects from NA/EUR for the 2024 draft revealed

Dean Chaudhry
April 16, 2024  (7:33 PM)

Macklin Celebrini keeps the play onside at the line
Photo credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/Globe Staff

Heading into the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, all eyes have been firmly set on Macklin Celebrini, however Anton Silayev has taken great strides this season - so much so that he might challenge Celebrini as the preferred option at number 1.

The 2023 NHL Entry Draft held a lot of intrigue and the first round was loaded with talent from start to finish. Connor Bedard was the unanimous and consensus number one pick, then you had Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, and Will Smith on top of the mystery of Matvei Michkov, given his contract status in the KHL, and which team was going to take a stab at drafting the young phenom.
It has been widely believed that the 2024 draft was always going to be less top-heavy than the 2023 draft from a talent perspective. Macklin Celebrini may not be Connor Bedard, but he's certainly worthy of 1st overall consideration. However, one name to really keep an eye on heading into June's festivities is Anton Silayev, especially if someone is looking for a bonafide number one defenseman.
Celebrini made easy work of the USHL in 2022-23 when he scored 46 goals and 86 points for the Chicago Steel. He then committed to Boston University and had himself a fantastic season as the youngest player in the NCAA circuit. He managed to score 32 goals and 64 points in 38 games, took home the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college, and took Boston University to the Frozen Four before they were eliminated by the eventual champions in the University of Denver.
The field for the Hobey Baker Award was stacked to the brim, not to mention that their rivals in Boston College had the likes of Cutter Gauthier, Will Smith, Ryan Leonard, and Gabriel Perreault; all of whom scored at least 60 points. Smith led the way with 71 points in 41 games while Gauthier had 38 goals in 41 games. Celebrini eventually bested Gauthier and North Dakota's Jackson Blake for the prestigious honour.
To go along with the Hobey Baker Award, Celebrini also won Hockey East Player of the Year and was named NCAA's top rookie. So it's not entirely surprising that he enters his draft year as the top ranked North American skater as he sits ahead of prospects like Artyom Levshunov, Cayden Lindstrom, and Zeev Buium.
Then, on the other side of the pond, we have the International skaters and leading the charge for them is the hulking defenseman, Anton Silayev. "Hulking" might not even do him justice as the 18-year-old stands in at 6'7 and 210 pounds with plenty of room to grow.
The native of Sarov, Russia, has played in 63 games for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the KHL where he has tallied 3 goals and 11 points to go along with 103 shots on goal, 74 blocked shots, and 98 hits. The 11 points might not stand out, especially compared to Celebrini's 64, however it was the most recorded by an under-18 player in KHL history, besting Vladimir Tarasenko's 10 points in 2008-09.
You'd also think that for someone standing in at 6'7 and already 210 pounds, they would be slow footed and awkward, but he is known for his smooth and active skating strides as well as being very alert in transition. He has a cannon of a shot, a great release, and while he isn't considered the best offensive defenseman in the draft, Silayev still has the potential and a very high ceiling.
Playing in the KHL at such a young age and being able to put up the numbers that he did, makes it all but certain that he is very close to being NHL-ready. Of course, when it comes to drafting KHL players, we all have to be wary about when they can actually start their NHL careers because they are usually under contract for a couple more of seasons. Silayev is no exception as his contract runs through the 2025-26 season.
While many will be talking about Celebrini heading into the draft, we shouldn't forget about Silayev for a second. It will also come down to team-need and whether or not they want to focus on an offensive superstar or a shutdown-two-way defenseman. As things stand today, the San Jose Sharks have the best odds for the number one overall pick, followed by Chicago, Anaheim, Columbus, and Montreal.
Things are subject to change with the lottery and their new rules but San Jose would love to add Celebrini to the mix of the aforementioned Will Smith, Collin Graf and Quentin Musty, but they currently lack a true number one defenseman in their pipeline.
Then you have Chicago, who could have the opportunity of pairing Celebrini with Bedard. They have a few good options on defense like Kevin Korchinski and Ethan Del Mastro but Silayev would blow them out of the water.
The opportunities are endless but it should boil down to team-need at the end of the day. Regardless of who goes first overall, the "consolation prize" this season is likely to be an absolute stud, and while Celebrini is likely to go with the top pick, it won't be long after when we hear Silayev's name called, perhaps as high as #2.
16 AVRIL   |   185 ANSWERS
Top draft-eligible prospects from NA/EUR for the 2024 draft revealed

Who would you draft first overall?

Macklin Celebrini12668.1 %
Anton Silayev3016.2 %
Other2915.7 %
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