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Scouts, Craig Button on Where Celebrini Would Go in 2023 Draft

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Credit: Boston University/Rich Gagnon

We know where Macklin Celebrini is going in the 2024 Draft…but where would he go in last year’s Draft?

It wouldn’t be No. 1.

Connor Bedard, the most hyped prospect this side of Connor McDavid in 2015, is still the clear-cut first-overall, according to two NHL scouts and TSN draft guru Craig Button.

But would the future San Jose Sharks’ first-overall pick go ahead of No. 2 Leo Carlsson, who went to the Anaheim Ducks, or No. 3 Adam Fantilli, who went to the Columbus Blue Jackets?

“He goes No. 2,” Scout #1 said.

“I’d take Celebrini behind Bedard,” Scout #2 said.

“Second,” Button told the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, in an episode that will debut next week. “There’s no question.”

That’s high praise, considering Carlsson and Fantilli’s quality as prospects, and their solid rookie campaigns.

6-foot-3 center Carlsson potted 12 goals and 17 assists in just 55 games, as the Ducks brought him along slowly, sitting him out for load management reasons from time to time.

6-foot-2 center Fantilli scored 12 goals and 15 assists in just 49 games for the Blue Jackets, his season cut short by a calf laceration.

The 6-foot-0 Celebrini is a little smaller center, but he’s solidly built, and just as importantly, is both highly skilled and very mature defensively.

Scout #2 spoke to that: “Think he brings a little better all-around game than Fantilli and a little more wow factor than Carlsson.”

“They’re good players,” Button said of Carlsson and Fantilli. “They’re not Macklin Celebrini. I don’t see any basis for comparing them except they [all] play the center ice position.”

Whoa!

Okay, next question: Where does Celebrini rank among first-overall picks over the last decade?

The Athletic posed this question about a month ago, polling six NHL scouts and executives, who were “asked to rank the players from the perspective of what they thought of the prospects in their draft years.”

The soon-to-be San Jose Sharks’ first-ever No. 1 pick showed well:

  1. Connor McDavid (2015)
  2. Connor Bedard (2023)
  3. Auston Matthews (2016)
  4. Jack Hughes (2019)
  5. Macklin Celebrini (2024)
  6. Rasmus Dahlin (2018)
  7. Owen Power (2021)
  8. Nico Hischier (2017)
  9. Alexis Lafreniere (2020)
  10. Juraj Slafkovsky (2022)

Scout #2 noted, “Celebrini versus Hughes will be a good debate.”

Funny enough, the Athletic mentioned, “Six voters were chosen instead of an odd number of five because Celebrini was tied with Jack Hughes after the initial five-voter survey.”

However, Scout #2 would vault one defenseman over both Hughes and Celebrini.

“I’d take Dahlin ahead of both Hughes and Celebrini, but that’s probably it,” he said, hearkening back to 2018. “A true No. 1 D that puts up 60-plus points and 25 minutes a game has so much value.”

For this scout, it is Hughes or Celebrini easily over Power and the rest of the pack.

“That’s nothing against Celebrini or Hughes, that’s just how good Dahlin was his draft year,” he said. “The allure of the elusive, definitive No. 1 two-way D.”

But however you slice it? The San Jose Sharks are landing a potential franchise superstar in Celebrini.

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