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Friday, May 24, 2024

The NHL Draft Will Have a Whole New Look. Plus: Sharks Are on the Clock

  • Boston University prospect Macklin Celebrini is the likely top pick by San Jose.
  • The draft will mark the first live sporting event at the Sphere in Las Vegas.
NHL

The 2024 NHL draft is shaping up to be a monumental event for the league and at least one team in particular.

After finishing with the worst record in the NHL, the Sharks won Tuesday night’s lottery, earning the No. 1 selection in next month’s draft and the right to choose consensus top pick Macklin Celebrini, a 17-year-old center from Boston University. “I would think so,” San Jose general manager Mike Grier said when asked whether his mind is already made up about choosing Celebrini. “When you put it all together, we think he’s in a good spot [to be NHL-ready].” This is the first No. 1 pick in franchise history, and the Sharks also have the No. 14 pick in the first round.

San Jose was 30th out of the NHL’s 32 teams in total attendance during the regular season, so the franchise will no doubt be hoping for a Connor Bedard–like impact that the Blackhawks saw with last year’s No. 1 pick. After winning the 2023 draft lottery and the right to select what many dubbed the best prospect in years, Chicago sold $5.2 million worth of season tickets in less than 24 hours. And despite finishing the season with the NHL’s second-worst record (and eventually the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft), the Blackhawks drew the fifth-most fans in the league, up from a ranking of 20th during the ’22–23 season.

Sports Meet the Sphere

Celebrini’s eventual selection by the Sharks will make history as it begins the draft, which will be the first sporting event at the Sphere in Las Vegas on June 28–29. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman officially confirmed the draft’s location Tuesday night on ESPN, although the move had been seen as a done deal for months. “Not a very well-kept secret,” Bettman admitted.

The draft will also mark the first event televised live from the $2.8 billion venue that seats 18,600 people. After the NHL’s festivities, sports will return to the Sphere in September, when the UFC will host a fight.

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