NHL Future Watch: Macklin Celebrini and Zayne ParekhNHL Future Watch: New Draft Class Ushered in by Celebrini – Macklin Celebrini was the first overall pick by the San Jose Sharks in the 2024 NHL Draft. The draft was held at the “Sphere,” a futuristic venue, in Las Vegas. There was a lot of hype for the Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey’s best player in his true Freshman year. He lit up Boston University’s scoreboard with 32 goals and 32 assists in 64 games. He’s a franchise player and 3,000 Sharks fans showed up for his first 3-on-3 scrimmage. As a Canadian, he has admirers on both sides of the border. Expect him to be almost as popular as Connor Bedard.

NHL Future Watch: Tij Iginla and Berkly CattonThe next most popular player will be Tij Iginla. He was selected sixth overall by the Utah Hockey Club formerly known as the Arizona Coyotes. With a new name, new rink, newfans and a new city, Iginla, the son of Hall of Famer, Jarome, is an instant star. This season, he potted 47 goals and 37 assists in 64 games for the Kelowna Rockets. Most likely, he’ll go back there, but he may get a few NHL games to wet his whistle. He gained some notoriety for winning a gold medal in the World Juniors. Canada loves him. America now knows him. He has first line talent so collectors are hoping he gets a few games so a card will come out.

A player who may have a faster path to the AHL than the NHL is Konsta Helenius. He could go back overseas or play in one of the professional leagues at the age of 18. The Buffalo Sabres selected him 14th overall, and they have options where he might play next season. Collectors will keep a close eye on the talented center. The Finn is poised to have a great year. If he were to make the NHL out of training camp, it would be a year of learning for him. It’s too early to see what the team has in store for him but either way, his path to getting his first NHL card will be faster than most.

If I had to guess who else has a fast path to the AHL or NHL, I would say Russian defenseman, Artyom Levshunov (Blackhawks), Center Cayden Lindstrom (Blue Jackets), Winger Ivan Demidov (Canadiens), Winger Michael Brandsegg-Nygard (Red Wings), and defenseman Stian Solberg (Ducks).

This class has some special players. Collectors should be patient, but there will likely be some early returns after Celebrini in the next few seasons.

 

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Russ Cohen

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