2024 NHL Draft: 1st-round highlights include Las Vegas glitz, Celine Dion, Macklin Celebrini

NHL: NHL Draft
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night, the hockey world gathered in Las Vegas for the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft at Sphere. In true Vegas fashion, the event was an over the top entertainment production complete with extravagant presentation of graphics, video introductions, an elaborate stage show, plus special guest appearances from several celebrities. 

If this indeed is the last in-person NHL Draft, the League is closing on a high note. It’d be tough to replicate the flash that was on display inside this incredible venue, one that is owned by James Dolan, who’s coincidentally also the owner of the New York Rangers.

Related: ‘F— yeah!’ Panthers’ on-ice Stanley Cup celebration one to remember

Highlights from first round of 2024 NHL Draft

NHL: NHL Draft
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s break down what stood out from the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday.

San Jose Sharks select Macklin Celebrini No. 1 overall  

With the No. 1 overall pick, the San Jose Sharks made the easy decision by selecting Macklin Celebrini from Boston University, the consensus top pick. The Sharks get a two-way center who is strong, skilled, and shows speed, easily the best player in the draft. He should form a solid tandem down the middle with Will Smith for years to come, similar to how the Pittsburgh Penguins were built down the middle with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.  

Beckett Sennecke surprised reaction 

The first big surprise of the draft came with the No. 3 overall selection, when the Anaheim Ducks selected a player earlier than expected in Beckett Sennecke from Oshawa in the OHL. While the forward was a projected first-round pick, many experts had him going much later, perhaps as low as top 15 or middle of Day One.  

His shocked reaction when his name was called was priceless.

Celine Dion announces pick For Montreal Canadiens 

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes invited his team’s No. 1 fan Celine Dion up to the stage to announce the No. 5 overall pick, Ivan Demidov. 

This is Las Vegas after all, so why not incorporate Dion, who has a residency nearby to Sphere. It was a smash highlight of Day One.

Demidov dominated Russia’s junior league, and many experts consider him to be the second best player in the draft behind Macklin Celebrini. After completing a trade earlier in the day with the Los Angeles Kings, Montreal selected Michael Hage at 21st overall to add another center to their prospect pool. 

Utah Hockey Club makes first ever selection 

The newest NHL franchise, the Utah Hockey Club, made history on Friday night when they selected forward Tij Iginla with their first ever draft pick, after relocating from Arizona. The son of Hall of Famer Jerome Iginla, Tij climbed the draft rankings all year, capping off his season by winning a gold medal with Canada at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship. 

Trade Horn is heard four times in first round

The first Trade Horn at Sphere blared ahead of the No. 12 overall pick. The Minnesota Wild traded up from No. 13, dealing their 2025 third-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers to select defenseman Zeev Buium from the NCAA Champion Denver Pioneers. The Trade Horn was heard four more times later in the night. The Anaheim Ducks acquired the No. 23 pick (Stian Solberg) from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the No. 31 overall pick (Ben Danford) and a 2024 second-round selection (No. 58). Utah Hockey Club acquired the No. 24 overall pick (Cole Beaudoin) from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for the 38th and 71st overall picks in 2024, and the New York Rangers’ second-round pick in 2025. The Chicago Blackhawks made their third selection in the first round at 27th overall (Marek Vanacker) after sending the Carolina Hurricanes a pair of second-round picks Nos. 34 and 50). The Edmonton Oilers moved back into the first round and selected Sam O’Reilly at No. 32 overall to end the night after agreeing to trade a conditional 2025 first-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers receive a conditional 2025 first-round pick. 

Philadelphia-born Michael Buffer ready to rumble for Flyers

Speaking of the Flyers, their biggest moment of the night came when “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble” ring announcer Michael Buffer announced Jett Luchanko as their first-round pick. Though Buffer has career ties to Vegas, he’s Philadelphia born and bred. So, it was a cool moment and added the flash of this NHL Draft production.

Michael Brandsegg-Nygard becomes first player from Norway drafted in first round 

More history was made on Friday night, when Michael Brandsegg-Nygard became the first player from Norway ever selected in the first round of the NHL Draft when the Detroit Red Wings selected the forward No. 15 overall. 

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