The 2024 draft is shaping up to be very interesting – to me at least. The top of the draft may not be as stacked as it was last year, but there looks to be a very large tier of guys who could go anywhere from the middle of the first round into late in the second round. On the other hand, that is honestly true every year. I think maybe the difference this year is that no one was touting this draft as being that great, so everything is coming as a pleasant surprise. But I just like a lot more prospects this year.

What hasn't always been the case since I started getting into the draft and prospects, is just how many players I really like. There really seems to be a lot of them this year who have a chance to be available in the later first round. And since Toronto will very likely not be picking in that top of the first round range, these are the players that I am most interested in.

If you want a rough idea of who will be available in Toronto's range, you can check various lists that aggregate the public rankings. Note: these are not necessarily the most accurate to what NHL teams are thinking, usually Bob McKenzie's rankings are the best for that – and more on that below. But it gives you an overall idea for how people with different biases collectively think.

What's interesting to me about this is you can see, with very clear jumps, what the tiers are. Celebrini is in a tier on his own at number one. Then there's a mix between 2nd and 9th. The there's a mini-tier of four others from 10th to 13th. Then there's a big group for the rest of the first round from 14th to 30th, and then there's a larger group after that which gets cut off.

If the playoffs started right now, and Toronto did not make the final four or win the Cup, they would pick 22nd if I'm counting right. If you go by the above list, that would be Nikita Artamonov or Sacha Boisvert – two layers I would be quite happy to get. But it could also be Mazim Massé, Michael Hage, or Andrew Basha who are also quite good. Not even on that list are guys like Luke Misa, Lucas Pettersson, Alfons Freij, John Mustard, Raoul Boilard, Sam O'Reilly, and Miguel Marques, all of whom who I think either could or should wind up being first rounders by the end of this season. Those are 11 players that – as of right now – I'd be happy if Toronto took any of them, though things can change down the stretch.

And if things fall right, someone like Tij Iginla, Liam Greentree, or Nikita Artamonov could fall and be available, and I love all three of those quite a lot. And hell, as a big pipedream I'm looking at Adam Jiricek whose stock was falling a bit before he had a season ending injury at the World Juniors. Does he fall into the late first round because he didn't impress relative to his expectations...?

We got a bit of an answer on Monday, when Bob McKenzie released his mid-season 2024 rankings. After opening the season ranked 8th on Bob's early rankings, Jiricek fell to 14th. My hopes and dreams of him somehow falling to Toronto are still alive!

Macklin Celebrini the unanimous No. 1 prospect in Bob McKenzie’s mid-season draft ranking | TSN
Ten out of 10 NHL team scouts surveyed by TSN have the 17-year-old Boston University freshman centre at No. 1. Almost all of them can’t see anyone other than Celebrini going first overall on June 28.

Looking at McKenzie's rankings some more, I'm seeing a lot of players who I really like that will be available when Toronto picks – or into the second round if we do a trade down, or wind up acquiring a second round pick or two at the deadline somehow.

I will list out all of the names who I have on my watch list at the bottom. These are, basically, the players who I've watched at least a bit, read scouting reports, and like them enough to commit to watching in more detail. You can consider them as the most likely players that I will write full draft profiles about by the end of the season.

For now, I want to write some mini-profiles on some of my favourites:

Sacha Boisvert — A 6'2" center playing in the USHL but from Quebec, he is committed to North Dakota in the NCAA – a path that more and more Canadian prospects of note are taking. He has 19 goals and 35 points in 34 games, good for 4th in the league among U18 players. Ranked 22nd on Bob McKenzie's mid-season rankings, he gets strong reviews for his physical two-way play as a center which has helped him earn 1C status on his team in spite of his age. He is characterized as a smart, cerebral player who gets the most out of his abilities. Skating will be what limits him from being a truly elite prospect, but he seems very much like a Minten-type of player though I think Boisvert may have more skill.

Andrew Basha — A 6'0" winger who has more of a speed and skill game, Bob McKenzie ranked him 24th. Basha has 19 goals and 59 points in 40 games for Medicine Hat in the WHL. That would put him 3rd in the league for U18 players, and 2nd by points per game only behind Berkly Catton – who will be a top 10 pick this year. Basha is not a pure two-way player, but he is not a defensive liability. He is more of a playmaker and transition guru thanks to his speed and agility as a skater, including while carrying the puck. If you want Toronto to become a faster team, a player like Basha will help than in a few years' time when he's ready to break into the NHL.

From Mitch Brown's CHL tracking data:

Lucas Pettersson — I've talked about Pettersson a lot. He is another two-way center, though at 5'11" he doesn't have as much size as you may want for that. Bob McKenzie ranked him 31st, and what he does have is arguably more skill. He plays in all situations, he is very smart in how he reads and anticipates play, and has a good sense for positioning so he is either involved in the play or ready to be in the right spots of the ice. His lack of size and strength are a bit of a concern, and that will likely be what limits his ceiling unless he has a bit of a late growth spurt and/or turns into a Nylander-level fitness god.

Nikita Artamonov — A 5'11" winger from Russia, Bob McKenzie ranked Artamonov 34th. He is a left shooting winger who has spent the entire season in the KHL and leads the league in points for U18 players – and by a large margin. He has 18 points in 41 games, the next closest is his teammate and defenseman Anton Silayev who has 11 points in 52 games, and after that there are none who have more than 10. Artamonov is a bit of a swiss-army knife kind of player, someone who doesn't really have a single skill that stands out from the others. He's simply solid in every way. He works hard, he is a good passer/playmaker, has a good shot and finisher around the net, is tenacious despite not having a size advantage, can be a pest... honestly he reminds me a bit of Easton Cowan.

Michael Hage — A 6'1" Mississauga boy who, like Boisvert, chose to go the USHL>NCAA route, Michael Hage plays for the Chicago Steel which will immediately make some Leafs fans perk up. He is committed to Michigan in the NCAA, and will reunite with former Steel teammate Nick Moldenhauer in the next year or two. Hage is Chicago's 1C and leading scorer, with 34 points in 30 games. That's good for 15th in the entire USHL, and 5th for U18 scorers. Chicago hasn't been a powerhouse like they were in recent years, but Hage has been one of the few bright spots. McKenzie ranked him 36th but he has really come on strong after a slower start, so I think he could certainly wind up as a first rounder if he finishes the rest of the year strong. He plays in all situations for Chicago, and is another guy who gets strong reviews for his two-way play, smarts, tenacious play, and skill.

Henry Mews — The first defenseman I've mentioned, Mews is a 6'0" right shot defenseman playing for the Ottawa 67's in the OHL. He's had a good showing internationally for Canada, from last year's U17 World Championship (8 points in 6 games), to this summer's Hlinka Gretzky (7 points in 5 games), and has kept up solid production for a draft year defenseman with 35 points in 38 games in the OHL. That is good for third among draft eligible defensemen, only behind two top 10 ranked guys in Zayne Parekh and Sam Dickinson. What Mews also has, however, is a reputation for being a solid all-around player who can defend well, get the puck out with control, and contribute offensively without being a parasite on the team's effective offense. He is a play facilitator more than a dynamic offensive defenseman. McKenzie had him ranked 37th, and if only to satisfy our Kitten Overlords here at PPP I feel like he'd be a solid pick.

From Mitch Brown's CHL tracking data:

EJ Emery — Emery is a 6'3", 185 lb right shot defenseman who is originally from British Columbia, but has been playing hockey in junior and internationally as an American in recent years. He is part of the USA's National Development Program, where he has 14 points in 51 games. He's another North Dakota commit to the NCAA. His point production does indicate that offensive production is not his biggest strength, but he gets strong reviews as the US NTDP's best defensive defenseman. He has size and reach but is a very mobile defenseman, he plays tough, physical hockey but isn't just a goon chasing hits, and while he doesn't have a lot of points he is not a liability with the puck. I've read that he has made some big improvements making passes, seeing the ice when he has the puck, and using his mobility to present an option on rushes. He may not be the flashiest, sexiest option but I like him quite a bit. McKenzie ranked him 39th, which for his profile of strengths and weaknesses makes sense to me.

Sam O'Reilly — I've probably seen O'Reilly more than any other prospect in this year's draft, because he is a teammate – and more recently linemate – of Easton Cowan. I noticed him early in the year as a "glitter player", someone I noticed while trying to focus on Cowan. He is a 6'1" center who is following a similar path as Cowan, only breaking into a regular spot in London's OHL lineup this year. Last season he was a top forward at the GOJHL league (basically the minors for the OHL), where he had 63 points in 35 games, which was the highest point per game pace for U17 players and 4th among all ages. O'Reilly is another guy who is a smart, two-way center who gets the most out of his abilities. He is not the most skilled, but has enough to make him a very effective player. He doesn't get top PP time, and has worked hard and earned a top 6 role at even strength and secondary PP time. He has 42 points in 43 games, and is among the league leaders in even strength points for his age. He's a good skater, has a good shot, makes good (if simple) plays with the puck to create chances, is solid defensively, plays physical, can be a pest, and I basically see him as a bigger but less skilled Easton Cowan.

Alfons Freij — Freij is a 6'1", 192 lb left-shot Swedish defenseman who has been arguably their most effective defender at the international level this year. He is an explosive skater with a high level of mobility, and he uses that to his advantage on both sides of the puck. Defensively, he is an aggressive gap defender through the neutral zone and can keep up with most forwards in his own zone. He could stand to be more physical in shutting plays down, but it's not something he'll completely shy away from. With the puck, he is a quick decision maker and uses his mobility to evade forecheckers so he can get the puck out with control. In the offensive zone, he is an adept passer and uses his skating to create better passing lanes and buy more time for his teammates to get open. His tracking data for Sweden's U20 junior level is superlative, but I'd like to see him get some games in the SHL level to see how he deals with the greater challenge and tougher pace. McKenzie has him ranked 50th and to me that seems like something that can change a lot by the end of this year, especially if he does get an SHL stint and looks good doing it.

From Lassi Alanen's European prospect tracker:

John Mustard — Yes, that is his real name. Mustard is a 6'0" winger from the GTA who also took the USHL>NCAA route with a commitment to Providence College – Leafs' prospect Hudson Malinoski's team. He's one of the younger prospects in this draft with an August 16th birthday, and as far as his profile he's more of an Andrew Basha type with more overt skill and speed. He leads his team in total goals, and in points per game. He sits just behind Michael Hage with 32 points in 31 games. McKenzie ranked him 64th, and of all the players on his list Mustard may be the one that came out of nowhere the most. Just last season he was playing in an U16 AAA league, not even in any top US high school or Canadian junior program and now is one of the top draft eligible prospects in the league. Like Basha, speed and skill is the focal point for Mustard's game, but he's less skewed to passing and playmaking and is more of a dual-threat. I like him a lot, and I'm guessing his obscurity before this season is the main reason why he's not ranked higher. I think he could wind up a borderline first rounder on McKenzie's final rankings, which is what I consider him as right now.

Luke Misa — Misa is a 5'10" center/winger prospect playing on a very young and rebuilding Mississauga team in the OHL. He leads his team and is one of the league leaders in point production for U18 forwards with 57 points in just 43 games. He is another speedy, skilled forward who thrives off the rush and loves having the puck on his stick to make plays. Honestly, I'm guessing the size discrepancy between him and Basha is the main explanation for why there is a difference of 43 spots in their rankings – Basha ranked 24th, Misa ranked 67th. Misa is a very good skater, but he plays smart. He uses give and go's instead of trying to just burn past defenders in a straight line. He isn't purely a perimeter player either, and despite being smaller he is very strong on his feet and tough to push off the puck by bigger defenders. He is a smart off-puck player with his positioning, and while his size likely will limit his defensive effectiveness, he has a strong foundation to work on. I can see why teams may not like Misa as a first round guy, even as a borderline one, but I'm surprised to see him all the way down in the third round.

Daniil Ustinkov — A 6'0" left shot defenseman from Switzerland, Ustinkov is someone I would characterize as smooth. He doesn't look like a burner speed-wise, but his skating is agile and fluid in a way that is deceptive. In fact, I've seen scouts rate him as one of the best skaters among defensemen that I've seen this year. He's the same with the puck as well, making simple plays to evade defenders and put himself in a better position to pass it up the ice for a clean breakout. He's playing this season in the Swiss leagues for one of the league's perennial top teams. He isn't getting a ton of minutes for now, but I've seen some scouts say he already shines on transitions when it comes to moving the puck up the ice, but gets limited offensive opportunities. Defensively he's more smart than physical, but his "smarts" don't come across as elite. Ustinkov is also one of the youngest players in this draft with an August 26th birthday, so don't be surprised if he shows more growth down the stretch or even into next season. He's just an honourable mention by McKenzie, so outside of his top 80, but he's someone I'd be more than happy to nab with a third round pick.

Outside of the above 12 players who are my favourites in this draft (that aren't in a tier of prospects above where Toronto would be expected to pick), here is my full 'watch list' that includes players who are in those higher tiers in the various public lists, including McKenzie's. These are not in any particular order or ranking.


  1. Liam Greentree
  2. Trevor Connelly
  3. Tij Iginla
  4. Luke Misa
  5. Nikita Artamonov
  6. Lucas Pettersson
  7. Michael Hage
  8. Sacha Boisvert
  9. John Mustard
  10. Emil Hemming
  11. Igor Chernyshov
  12. Andrew Basha
  13. Sam O'Reilly
  14. Teddy Stiga
  15. Raoul Boilard
  16. Miguel Marques
  17. Maxim Masse
  18. Jett Luchanko
  19. Julius Miettinen
  20. Alexandre Blais
  21. Christian Humphreys
  22. Kamil Bednarik
  23. Simon Zether
  24. Melvin Fernström
  25. Eriks Mateiko
  26. Felix Lacerte
  27. Heikki Ruohonen
  28. Kenta Isogai (D+2)
  29. Joe Connor (D+1)
  30. Tanner Adams (D+1)
  31. Isac Hedqvist (D+1)
  32. Logan Sawyer
  33. Jonathan Morello


  1. Adam Jiricek
  2. Henry Mews
  3. Alfons Freij
  4. Charlie Elick
  5. EJ Emery
  6. Matvei Shuravin
  7. Daniil Ustinkov
  8. Spencer Gill
  9. Leo Sahlin Wallenius
  10. Veeti Väisänen
  11. Tomas Galvas
  12. John Whipple
  13. Noel Fransen
  14. Jesse Pulkkinen
  15. Leon Muggli
  16. Marcus Kearsey
  17. Luke Osburn
  18. Tomas Lavoie
  19. Tory Pitner
  20. Jakub Fibigr
  21. Darels Uljanskis
  22. Harrison Brunicke
  23. Tarin Smith
  24. Stian Solberg
  25. Nate Misskey (D+1)


  1. Ryerson Leenders
  2. Evan Gardner
  3. Pavel Moysevich (D+1)
  4. Damian Slavik (D+1)