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Live from the Sphere at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft

Las Vegas Sphere NHL Draft
Photo credit:Tyler Yaremchuk
Tyler Yaremchuk
20 days ago
Remember when we used to be excited about the NHL Draft around these parts?
That’s not the vibe anymore. The Oilers are firmly in their Stanley Cup window, and that means the first day of the NHL Draft is largely irrelevant.
As fans sat back with their feet kicked up, it turned out their front office was doing the exact opposite. As things started to wind down and various sports writers started closing off their laptops, we got the announcement that one more trade was going down. It turns out that it was the Oilers who got the itch to jump up into the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft.
They sacrificed a first-round pick in either 2025 or 2026, and in return, they got to jump up on stage at the Sphere and select Sam Reilly from the London Knights. It’s a surprising move, considering at this point in their championship window, first-round picks are basically just currency to add pieces at the trade deadline.
The trade honestly confused me quite a bit but Reilly sounds like an intriguing prospect. Here’s what Daily Faceoff Prospect Analyst Steven Ellis had to say:
“O’Reilly has been one of the biggest movers in the draft rankings due to his play as a smart, two-way center. He had a solid playoff run, too, playing a great secondary role. O’Reilly was playing Jr. B with the London Nationals last year, but it didn’t take him long to get acquainted to the speed and tenacity of the OHL. He put up better numbers than Easton Cowan did last year and just below Denver Barkey, so that’s a good sign. O’Reilly is toolsy, which is important for a player his age.”
While the Oilers didn’t get into the mix until right at the end of things, a few of their Pacific Division rivals were right in the thick of the action all night.
The San Jose Sharks held the first overall pick tonight as the NHL Draft took place at the jaw-dropping Sphere in Las Vegas. There was hardly any drama around the first selection this year, as we’ve known for basically a whole year that this was Macklin Celebrini’s year but that doesn’t mean that myself and the others in attendance weren’t entertained.
The location of this year’s NHL Draft was, without a doubt, the coolest we’ve ever seen. The Sphere was stunning, and not only is it hard to put into words, but even the pictures and videos I took don’t do it justice. It was a wildly immersive experience.
I’ve been to a bunch of NHL events now, and not that any have been poorly planned or executed, but tonight’s event was exceptional. It is, without a doubt, the coolest non-game-related experience I’ve had since starting to cover the league.
Anyways, back to the NHL Draft.
I spoke with a member of the San Jose media before things got rolling, and they said that nights like tonight make all the losing worth it.
Of course, as Oilers fans, we can relate to that a little bit. The Sharks had an absolutely miserable season, and their reward was Boston College forward Macklin Celebrini.
He’s a wonderful talent, and from the draft experts I’ve spoken to, like our friend Steven Ellis from Daily Faceoff, he’s a more well-rounded player than even Connor Bedard. Bedard is obviously a generational scorer, but Celebrini touches every area of the game in an elite way.
He really is the perfect cornerstone piece for the Sharks to build around.
The Anaheim Ducks were the second of three Pacific Division teams with a top-ten pick. They were up at third overall and gave everyone a bit of a stunner, selecting Beckett Sennecke out of the OHL.
There were rumblings during the day that the Ducks were considering Sennecke, even though much of the discussion in the weeks leading up to the draft focused on them potentially adding a defenseman to their prospect pool.
This Sennecke selection also had people in the media workroom whispering about Trevor Zegras’ future. The Ducks already have a strong group of young forwards with Leo Carlsson, Mason MacTavish, and Cutter Gauthier. Could adding Sennecke to that group signal that they’re ready to move on from Zegras?
He’s been on Frank Seravalli’s trade targets list since the trade deadline in March, so this isn’t exactly a hot rumour or an out-of-the-blue idea, but I would personally be surprised if Zegras is a Duck when the 2024-25 season begins.
I don’t think the Ducks or Sharks will be good next year. I think Anaheim is getting close, and they should have a better season, but I don’t believe they are much of a threat to make the playoffs.
The Pacific Division has been labeled weak for a few years now, and honestly, I don’t think it’s going to shed that label next season.
Part of that is because I’m not sure if the Calgary Flames even want to be competitive. They were the third Pacific Division team with a top-ten pick at The Sphere, but before they could even get up onto the stage, their fan base had their hearts broken.
Tij Iginla, son of Flames legend Jarome, was a highly ranked prospect in this year’s draft, and of course, Flames fans fantasized about the idea of him being drafted to the same team that his dad led for so many seasons.
That dream was squashed when Utah Hockey Club owner Ryan Smith stepped up to the stage at sixth overall and selected Tij.
As he took to the podium, Smith made a joke to the crowd that was hurling boos at him “Why are you booing? We haven’t even done anything yet”.
Well, Smith certainly gave Flames fans a reason to dislike them. He ruined what could have been a fairytale moment at this 2024 NHL Draft.
When the ninth overall pick did come up, GM Craig Conroy stepped up and selected Zayn Parekh from the Saginaw Spirit. The reigning CHL Defenseman of the Year gives the Flames a legit blue-chip prospect on the blue line and is a guy that could very easily develop into a top-tier defender.
Still, it’s going to be a while before the Flames are popping up on the Oilers’ radar. Their great sell-off continued this week when they traded Andrew Mangiapane to the Washington Capitals for a second-round pick.
I’ll be honest, I love the deal, but it shows that the Flames will continue stripping down this roster, and their goal is to restart things with a relatively fresh core. It’ll be a while until they have legitimate playoff aspirations.
The Oilers are fresh off winning the Western Conference, and that means draft weekend just doesn’t mean the same as it used to, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Still, some notable names were added to the Pacific Division at this year’s draft, and while the Sharks and Ducks are still probably a few years away from competing, they’re certainly worth keeping an eye on.
As for the Flames? Well, if you know a Flames fan, you should throw them some advice on how to get through seasons where the draft is the most exciting part of things.

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