Columnists, Sports

5-Minute Major: Who needs to win the Macklin Celebrini lottery the most?

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

Boston University’s star 17-year-old forward Macklin Celebrini is unanimously predicted to go number one overall in the 2024 NHL Draft.

Eleven teams will be in the mix for that pick, but the date has yet to be announced. Nevertheless, the lottery is coming up.

Some of those teams need Celebrini more than others.

Ottawa Senators

The Senators have almost nothing going for them right now. They finished their season with 78 points, good for second-to-worst in the Atlantic Division and seventh-worst in the NHL.

Former Terrier Brady Tkachuk was the team’s top scorer with 74 points, and he was the team’s spark plug with the second-most penalty minutes in the NHL. But when your top scorer is 41st in the league in scoring, and the team’s offensive production drops off sharply after the four best point totals, the need for depth becomes pretty obvious.

They don’t even have that depth baking in their minor league system. The Athletic ranks their prospect pool at 31st in the league. They don’t have any skilled high draft picks knocking on the door, and no abundance of talent behind the door, either.

Celebrini’s offensive skill could help balance out Ottawa’s physicality, especially alongside rising offensive star Tim Stützle.

Their chance at getting that pick, however, is slim, having the seventh-best odds out of the 11 eligible teams.

Calgary Flames:

The Flames finished with only one more point than the Senators with 79, giving them the eighth-best odds to land Celebrini.

The current NHL team has no real standout. Nazem Kadri finished the season with a team-leading 75 points, and both Blake Coleman and Yegor Sharangovich finished with over 30 goals. Kadri wasn’t far behind them. 

However, the young talent on the team is lacking. Kadri is 33 years old, going into his age-34 season, and Coleman is 32. Sharangovich is not as seasoned as those two, but he’s not a young rising star at the age of 25, either. Connor Zary is the only bright, young spot currently on the team.

The players aren’t even fun to root for. Kadri is known for being dirty. Martin Pospisil has landed some dangerous hits that could have potentially contributed to serious injury, and he has been known to be unhinged. 

Their farm system has some potential depth pieces, but there is no standout to give fans the light at the end of the tunnel. Celebrini could bring that light.

Chicago Blackhawks:

I’m not sure anyone outside of Chicago wants the Blackhawks to receive a second-consecutive first overall pick, especially after they were able to draft and sign a generational talent in Connor Bedard just last year, who has become the clear-cut pick for the Calder Trophy.

However, a Bedard-Celebrini combination would be extremely fun to watch.

The Blackhawks had yet another abysmal season, earning just 51 points for a 13.5% chance to win the pick. 

Bedard has a bright future ahead of him, and so do the Blackhawks in their minor league system. However, it will take a while for their young players to develop on their professional teams and start to produce at the highest level. Celebrini would make that waiting period a bit more bearable.

The Team Formerly Known as the Arizona Coyotes:

The Coyotes have been officially relocated to Utah under the new ownership of Ryan and Ashley Smith, who also own the NBA’s Utah Jazz, leaving a wake of devastated fans back in Arizona.

On top of the move, former owner Alex Meruelo gets to keep the Coyotes franchise branding, including the name and logos, so the new Utah team has to start completely fresh.

The team has a lot of draft picks and a lot of young talent already on the team, but after the lackluster season they just had, they could use all of the talent they can get. They have the fifth-highest odds to get the first overall pick.

The Coyotes fans who have stuck it out this long deserve this pick, too. As a treat.

San Jose Sharks:

The Sharks were the worst team in the NHL this past season with 47 points, 19 wins, 8 wins on the road and a -150 goal differential.

On top of all that, the team’s head coach, David Quinn, was fired today

They traded their one All Star and 11-year veteran Tomas Hertl to their divisional opponent, the Vegas Golden Knights, for an unproven 19-year-old first rounder and a 2025 first-round pick.

They have loads of high draft picks in their system already because they’ve been terrible for years, allowing them to rack up high draft positions year after year.

One of these picks was the Boston College star forward Will Smith, who was chosen fourth overall in 2023. Smith helped lead BC to the NCAA Division I National Championship this year while leading the NCAA in points with 71 in 41 games.

The Sharks have a 25.5% chance of grabbing Celebrini. If they get Celebrini, it would make sense for Smith to leave BC to go pro in order to play alongside his former rival and to form a young core for the Sharks at the NHL level.

This pick could not only mean Celebrini in the immediate future, but Smith joining them, too.

BU fans could rejoice at this, too. BC would lose another star player on that championship-caliber team.

Celebrini would have an impact on any team in the league, but these five teams have the best cases as to why they need him the most.

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