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Getting to know the 2024 NHL Draft class: The players likely out of the Canucks’ reach

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Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
1 month ago
In a remarkable turn of events, the Vancouver Canucks have become the unexpected frontrunners in the NHL, crafting one of the most captivating Cinderella stories of the 2023-24 campaign.
According to Moneypuck.com, their current rank places them at the league’s summit with a staggering 99.9% likelihood of making the playoffs and an 8.7% chance of hoisting the Stanley Cup.
While the second half of the season remains unpredictable, the team’s extraordinary success has essentially ruled out the possibility of securing a top-16 pick, barring significant trades or a dramatic downturn to change the narrative.
Luckily, the 2024 Entry Draft promises dramatics, with top-tier players showcasing unpredictable fluctuations already.
You may feel that you hear this every year, but this draft class feels wide open.
While Vancouver’s own Macklin Celebrini is practically locked in as the number one pick, the remaining names in the top half are all over the map, depending on which publication you are accustomed to.
Last week, Central Scouting released its updated midterm list, revealing some intriguing jumps and plummets that certainly differ from other popular publications, such as TSN’s Craig Button’s or Elite Prospects.
With this in mind, we begin our journey to the 2024 Entry Draft here at CanucksArmy.
We focus our attention on North American skaters, exploring the top-tier talents (top-10 ranked) that have caught our attention, so far.
It’s important to note that the odds of the Canucks landing anyone on today’s list are slim–barring any major transactions–but we felt it was appropriate to start with creme of the crop to get familiar with some of the names you can expect at the podium.
Artyom Levshunov, Michigan State University (NCAA)
Shoots: Right
Position: Defence
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 208 pounds
NA Central Scouting rank: 2
Few defenders offer a more intriguing package than Artyom Levshunov, thanks to his unique blend of size, skill, and mobility. Despite standing at 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, he surprises with exceptional four-way footwork and creativity on the ice.
His journey has been unique, transitioning from the Belarusian circuit just a year and a half ago to a successful stint in the USHL with the Green Bay Gamblers. There, he finished fifth among defenders, tallying 13 goals and 42 points over 62 games, resulting in a USHL All-Rookie team honour.
Now a freshman at Michigan State, Levshunov continues to shine on the scoresheet, ranking fifth in NCAA defensive scoring with 24 points in 23 games. Transitioning to the North American game comes baked in with its challenges, but the Belarusian has embraced it with ease and flair.
He possesses natural offensive instincts, showcasing a booming shot and impressive vision. He’s strong on breakouts, quarterbacks the power play and penalty-killing units, and is known for getting creative with the puck.

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Despite lingering questions about decision-making and defensive prowess, both aspects of Levshunov’s game have shown progress throughout the year. All-in-all, his undeniable raw talents scream “modern defenceman,” and being a right-handed option, he likely won’t linger long at the draft podium.
Cayden Lindstrom, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Shoots: Left
Position: Centre
Height/weight: 6-foot-4, 210 pounds
NA Central Scouting rank: 3
Cayden Lindstrom, a towering 6-foot-4, 210-pound centre playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers, is making waves across various draft boards, and rightfully so, as skilled power forwards are a rare find.
Physically imposing, he disrupts plays along the boards, competes relentlessly, and showcases nuanced details that one could argue are NHL-ready.
At first glance, you might be taken aback, as you don’t expect a kid with his frame to generate such speed and exhibit shifty edgework. However, his polished skating allows him to navigate the entire rink seamlessly and overpower opponents, both off of the rush and in tight.
Whether it’s dominating down low, cutting into the middle, or a few razzle-dazzles past you with his tremendous reach, Lindstrom is an all-around threat.

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He creates offensive opportunities through both a blistering shot and playmaking ability, but it’s his nasty release that truly demands respect. His lethal shot, combined with his size advantage in corners and around the net is primed to make him a threat at any level.
Lindstrom recently suffered an “upper body” injury and will be sidelined for roughly four-six weeks, but that should not affect his stock. He has a tremendous blend of skills and could go as early as the top three.
Zeev Buium, Denver University (NCAA)
Shoots: Left
Position: Defence
Height/weight: 6-foot, 183 pounds
NA Central Scouting rank: 4
Zeev Buium was a prospect that we had our eyes on as a potential pick for the Canucks in the 16-32 range.
However, with his strong World Junior stint, notching three goals, six points, a tournament-leading plus-11, and a Gold Medal, he likely played his way into the top-15 conversation, if not top-10.
As a freshman, his impressive 28 points in 21 games trails Michigan standout Seamus Casey by just two points for the lead in defensive scoring across the entire nation.
Buium is credited as a high-IQ defenceman, with a strong grasp of the game. He plays a relatively responsible game but is not afraid to make the quick and dangerous one-touch pass to transition the breakout. While his skating is not considered “elite”, he plays the game with pace and is extremely involved in all ends of the ice.

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Standing at 183 pounds, he has room to gain some muscle, but he doesn’t hesitate to get involved physically, and showcases strong gaps and shutdown ability at the NCAA level.
While ranked fourth among Central Scouting ranks, Buium will be an interesting prospect to keep tabs on over the next few months. His stock is all over the map and could even be available for playoff-bound teams, depending on how the next few months shake out.
Carter Yakemchuk, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
Shoots: Right
Position: Defence
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 190 pounds
NA Central Scouting rank: 6
Carter Yakemchuk, who carries an intriguing 6-foot-3 profile, is an offensively-minded defenceman known for his strong skating abilities and knack for contributing to the scoresheet.
Currently in his third season with the Calgary Hitmen, he is on the verge of achieving career highs operating at an impressive 70-point pace, placing him fourth in defenceman scoring with 42 points.
Yakemchuk plays a key role in the team’s special teams units and is considered a proficient quarterback for the power play.
He possesses good speed, solid edgework, and excels in transition play. However, his work in the defensive end appears to offer a few drawbacks, mainly in his gap control and overall decision-making

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With that said, right-shot defenders who can skate and bring pro-level size don’t seem to grow on trees. The gamble of developing better habits may be worth the upside.
Sam Dickinson, London Knights (OHL)
Shoots: Left
Position: Defence
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 204 pounds
NA Central Scouting rank: 7
He may be ranked seventh on the Central Scouting’s NA list, but some in the industry have Sam Dickinson sliding in within the top five of this draft.
By all accounts, the Toronto native brings the entire package with few flaws in his game.
Standing at 6-foot-2, Dickinson not only brings size but combines it with exceptional skating and advanced defensive skills, making him a player with primed projectable traits.
His work on the defensive side of the puck is particularly impressive, as he excels at disrupting plays, especially in transition, making it difficult for opponents to enter the offensive zone.
His combination of reach, active stick work and strong footwork all play their part in his effectiveness in thwarting plays.

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Firing at a point-per-game, he currently sits fifth in OHL defensive scoring with 41 points. His profile may not cater toward a 70-point NHL defender, but with a good shot, strong vision and solid skating, he feels like a safe bet to transition nicely as a top-four two-way defender.
Cole Eiserman, U-18 NTDP (USA)
Shoots: Left
Position: Left wing
Height/weight: 6-foot, 197 pounds
NA Central Scouting rank: 8
Heading into the season, Cole Eiserman was widely considered one of the top forwards in the draft, while some argued the best in the class.
Eiserman stands out in this draft with a reputation for possessing the best shot—a potent, accurate force that almost guarantees a goal when given time and space.
We are talking about an Auston Matthews-esque release, folks.

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As expected, this is particularly effective on the power-play, where he excels at capitalizing on the extra ice, punishing any penalty kill unit that underestimates him. Assuming he can put everything else together, he carries the uncanny potential to become a trigger-man on an NHL team’s first power-play unit.
Last year, as a 16-year-old, he came just three goals shy of breaking Cole Caufield’s (17 at the time) record of 72 goals in a single NTDP season.
With that said, Eiserman faces notable challenges in other aspects of his game, which has led to a significant drop in his overall rank for CS and in many other draft ranking boards.
Primarily, most of the concerns stem from his lacklustre skating ability and concerning defensive metrics. He lacks any type of explosiveness, and his edgework and speed are in desperate need of refinement.
While this may keep his name from the top few picks (maybe), a world where it drops his stock so significantly that the Canucks sneak in to grab him feels extremely unrealistic.
This kid could put up many 40-plus goal seasons at any level.
Berkley Catton, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Shoots: Left
Position: Centre
Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 170 pounds
NA Central Scouting rank: 9
The first word that comes to mind when watching Berkley Catton’s tape is “fun”.
If you enjoy high-flying offence, then the Spokane pivot is one of your best bets in the class.
He’s a former first-overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft and has truly taken his draft year and ran with it, sitting sixth in WHL scoring with 65 points across 40 games.
Using his speed and strong footwork, he carries the strong ability to produce off the rush and capitalize at high speeds.
He carries the know-how to scan the ice and find holes to pounce on defenders and is considered one of, if not the top playmakers in the class.
He’s also got a strong shot, and overall, plays with a nose for creative offensive plays.

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As is typical for the somewhat undersized, speedy playmakers, his defensive game is a work in progress. However, his stock has taken flight over the last few months and is likely to land somewhere in the top 10.
Zayne Parekh, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Shoots: Right
Position: Defence
Height/weight: 6-foot, 178 pounds
NA Central Scouting rank: 10
Zayne Parekh stands out as this year’s most dynamic offensive defenceman, showcasing a never-quit motor and a high-octane toolkit.
He’s thinking offence at all times and seems to have one speed: Go
Last year, he enjoyed a record-setting 21 goals, making him the highest goalscoring 16-year-old OHL blueliner of all time.

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He manipulates his opposition with shifty pivots and maneuvers, before capitalizing from a snappy shot or utilizing a creative pass as a playmaker.
Of course, his aggressive and risk-taking approach does come with its downsides, resulting in dangerous turnovers and costly errors. As he transitions, some of that run-and-gun may have to be tamed.
However, as a prolific right-shot threat, he certainly brings an intriguing skillset to the draft table.
In our most recent viewing, thanks to Josh Bloom joining the Spirit, Zayne grabbed three goals and two assists.
He stands as the only OHL defenceman who has kept up with Hunter Brzustewicz’s incredible OHL point totals, collecting 61 himself.
Over the next few months, we will be covering tons of names as we gear up for the 2024 Entry Draft. Make sure to stay tuned for International skaters, as well as deeper prospects as we get closer.

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