The 2024 NHL Draft has come and gone and what a show it was.

By the way, have I mentioned before that all sports should have their marquee events in Vegas? Just a thought.

The NHL got the drop on all of the major sports leagues by having its draft at The Sphere. Just look at some of the pictures of the event. The graphics alone were worth the admission price.

You won’t get any draft grades from me here. Giving a draft grade two days after the draft is completely useless, unless your team passes on a McDavid, Matthews, or Bedard type of player. Drafts need three to five years to be evaluated fairly. Come back in 2029 and we’ll redraft the 2024 Draft and see who won and who lost.

The draft is for teams to stock the cupboards with prospects and build the foundation for future success. Teams address their needs – defensive depth, stockpiling goaltenders or centers – so they have assets for the future.

We all knew that Macklin Celebrini was going first to San Jose. Chicago picked Arytom Levshunov, who is probably the only other player that is immediately ready to play. However, don’t be surprised if both of these players go back to college for 2024-2025. There is no pressure to win in San Jose or Chicago this year, so there is no need to put these players in an environment where there will be plenty of losing and frustration.

The surprises of the draft for me were:

  • Anaheim drafting Beckett Sennecke with the third pick. Sennecke was 13th in Central Scouting’s ranking of North American skaters. Even he was shocked by going third overall. He does have some size (6’3” tall), but he will need to grow into that frame to be an effective center.
  • Utah drafting Tij Iginla. They needed center depth in a bad way, but it was difficult for Bill Armstrong to pass on a player who, according to TSN’s Craig Button, “has the best pure shot in the draft.” It’s a gamble for sure, but a player with the name Iginla is a good risk.

The draft set the stage for the Free Agent Frenzy, which starts today. Tampa Bay cleared cap space on Saturday and Sunday, and acquired exclusive negotiating rights to Jake Guentzel. They also have a decision to make with Steven Stamkos; they supposedly offered him a $3M AAV deal over 8 years – an insult to the captain, even with his injury history. However, Tampa needs to get younger if they want to continue to compete.

Toronto acquired the exclusive negotiating rights to defensemen Chris Tanev. Tanev was brilliant in the playoffs for Dallas as a shutdown defender. If the Leafs can get a contract done with Tanev, he would be a tremendous addition to their blueline.

This has been an exciting week for hockey as we roll into the heat of the summer – I can’t wait to see what camps look like in September!

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You may have heard TJ on Out Of Bounds, The Prison Chronicles, MixTapes Podcast, or Break It Down Show, he lost a bet and is now stuck with us. TJ currently hails from Mira Loma, CA with his wife and their 6-year-old aspiring princess, along with two dogs.