Ranking the top prospects for the 2024 NHL draft

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NHL draft week is officially upon us. The Stanley Cup was awarded Monday night after one of the greatest Finals in decades. The attention turns away from the game's brightest stars, away from the silver trophy and toward players who teams hope can be part of their Stanley Cup success in the future.

For the San Jose Sharks, a franchise cornerstone awaits. For the other 31 teams, a plethora of talented forwards and impactful defensemen. What the draft may lack in generational star power, it makes up for in depth. Many of the players selected this weekend will go on to have brilliant NHL careers, win Stanley Cups and blow expectations out of the water.

The final ranking accounts for model projections, model confidence, viewings, combine results and industry intel. Moreso than previous iterations, players will rise and fall in this ranking based on viewings and industry expertise. Be it belief in a player's ability to make things happen, defensive play that isn't weighed as heavily in the model or industry hesitancy surrounding the player, there are many reasons players move up and down a list. I prefer to weigh upside and potential more than those within the industry but have gained an appreciation for players with lower ceilings and more projectable development curves.

No one wins or loses the Stanley Cup on draft day, but you can't win one without nailing a few draft picks along the way. The first step to glory starts Friday.

Here is my final Big Board, with coverage beginning Friday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN+) and Saturday, June 29 (11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN+).

1. Macklin Celebrini
F, Boston University

Previous ranking: 1

A franchise cornerstone center who will have an immediate impact, Celebrini is the top prize of the class for good reason. There is no area of the game where legitimate concerns exist. Simply put, he does not have a weak point. He excels as a 200-foot player, making significant contributions on both ends of the ice. A talent so rare, he became one of the few true freshmen to win the Hobey Baker as the top player in college hockey.

Offensively, he navigates the middle of the ice, disrupts defensive schemes and finds passing lanes that others cannot. His puck protection skills, willingness to play through contact, spin off defenders and maintain play are qualities that will translate well to the NHL. Even without the puck, he remains a scoring threat due to his ability to find open spaces, keep his stick away from defenders and release the puck quickly.

His exceptional toolbox suggests that he will be an elite play driver and two-way center at the NHL level. He's a player whom coaches will be comfortable using in all situations against other team's best players. While not generational, he is transformative for a franchise and someone a team can build a Stanley Cup contender around.