2024 NHL mock draft: Projecting the first 32 picks

The NHL season is coming to an end, with the playoffs kicking off later this month. With the postseason on the horizon, teams on the outside looking in will turn their attention to the NCAA tournament, CHL playoffs and the under-18 IIHF world championships in Finland. Rebuilding teams will focus on interviewing draft-eligible players, scrutinizing their play and building their list for the draft in June.

The trade deadline saw multiple first-round picks swapped, and makes for an intriguing mock draft exercise. Teams with more first-round picks are more likely to take swings on higher-risk players. That is, they are less risk-averse because they have more than one first-rounder; there is pressure to hit on your first-round pick when you only get one. Furthermore, teams are more likely to go off the board to get "their guy" when they have multiple selections. In recent drafts, Arizona did that with Maveric Lamoureux, New Jersey with Shakir Mukhamadullin, Ottawa with Jacob Bernard-Docker and Philadelphia with Jay O'Brien.

This is something that could be a trend in the 2024 draft. After Macklin Celebrini, there isn't a consensus. Some teams like Ivan Demidov and Anton Silayev, while others are not prepared to use a top-5 pick on a Russian, similar to how Matvei Michkov fell to No. 7 in 2023. Cole Eiserman and Cayden Lindstrom are polarizing for different reasons, and they could go anywhere from fourth to tenth.

Once you are outside of the top 10, things get very murky and lists are all over the place. One team may have a player 11th, while another may have the same player 25th. Depending on team value and if GMs allow need to supersede "best player available," there could be some eyebrow-raising selections made in June.

The mock draft is the opposite of the rankings. In this exercise, the model serves as a guideline, but the mock is based off what is more likely to happen, who teams are interested in and how the draft could shake out. Because of different team philosophies, never has a draft ranking been completely accurate. Mock drafts tend to be a better reflection of NHL lists because you're accounting for off-ice factors, interest level, fit with organization and timelines. Outside of the first pick, the options are vast, and no one seems to have a firm grasp on what will happen just yet.

Using the inverse of the standings by points percentage on March 29 (and without a lottery process), let's mock up the 2024 draft.

Read more: Top 32 prospects
Key prospects in the NCAA tournament