Levshunov Buium NHL draft top 10 dmen

The 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be held June 28-29 at Sphere in Las Vegas. The first round will be June 28 (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) and Rounds 2-7 are June 29 (11:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+, NHLN, SN, SN1). NHL.com is counting down to the draft with in-depth profiles on top prospects, podcasts and other features. Today, a look at the top eligible defensemen. NHL.com's full draft coverage can be found here.

There's a good chance as many as five defensemen could be selected among the top 10 in the NHL Draft for the first time in 12 years.

The position is loaded with high-caliber offensive-defensemen who have shown effectiveness within their own end, giving NHL scouts and general managers much to think about when on the clock.

At the top of the list are Artyom Levshunov of Michigan State University, Anton Silayev of Torpedo in the Kontinental Hockey League, Zeev Buium of the University of Denver, Zayne Parekh of Saginaw in the Ontario Hockey League, and Sam Dickinson of London (OHL).

"You can talk yourself in circles when it comes to Levshunov, Buium and Parekh," NHL Central Scouting's John Williams said. "Our group ended up ranking them with the approach who has the highest ceiling. From an NHL team's perspective, I think every team is going to have them in a different order, but they all are very good players who bring something to their team."

Silayev gained traction as a key contributor at age 18 in the KHL.

"Silayev pops out at 6-foot-7, 211 pounds, but the way he moves for his size is truly impressive with a fluid stride and a very effective and efficient transition game with his skating," NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr said. "He can take the puck in the defensive end and transition to offense with that good first pass. The smarts and skills part of it is he's composed to play at the pace of the game, and he can compete with his skills and attributes at that pace. For a player his age to do that in the KHL is truly impressive."

The last time as many as five defensemen were chosen among the top 10 picks was in the 2012 NHL Draft, when eight were selected: Ryan Murray (No. 2, Columbus Blue Jackets), Griffin Reinhart (No. 4, New York Islanders), Morgan Rielly (No. 5, Toronto Maple Leafs), Hampus Lindholm (No. 6, Anaheim Ducks), Matt Dumba (No. 7, Minnesota Wild), Derrick Pouliot (No. 8, Pittsburgh Penguins), Jacob Trouba (No. 9, Winnipeg Jets) and Slater Koekkoek (No. 10, Tampa Bay Lightning).

The 2024 NHL Draft is headed to Sphere in Las Vegas

Here are NHL.com's top 10 defensemen available for the 2024 NHL Draft:

1. Artyom Levshunov, Michigan State (NCAA)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 2 (North American skaters)

The right-handed shot (6-2, 205) was named Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year and earned spots on the All-Big 10 First Team and All-Freshman Team. The 18-year-old, the third-youngest player in men's college hockey, ranked second nationally among freshmen at his position and tied for 10th among all defensemen with 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists) in 38 games. Levshunov led the Big 10 at plus-27 while playing on the top defense pair all season. He looks to become the third player and first defenseman from Michigan State to be selected among the top three after forward Joe Murphy was selected by the Detroit Red Wings with the No. 1 pick of the 1986 NHL Draft, and forward Craig Simpson, who was chosen by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the No. 2 pick of the 1985 NHL Draft.

2. Zeev Buium, Denver (NCAA)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 (North American skaters)

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference Rookie of the Year and Offensive Defenseman of the Year ranked first among NCAA defensemen and fifth among all freshmen with 50 points (11 goals, 39 assists) in 42 games for the NCAA champions. Buium (6-foot, 186) was named to the NCAA Frozen Four All-Tournament Team. The 18-year-old, the second-youngest player in men's college hockey after Boston University center Macklin Celebrini, will look to become the highest-drafted player from Denver; defenseman Craig Redmond went No. 6 to the Los Angeles Kings in the 1984 NHL Draft. Buium had five points (three goals, two assists) and a tournament-best plus-11 rating in seven games to help the United States win the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Zeev Buium answers questions on the NHL Draft Class Podcast

3. Anton Silayev, Torpedo (KHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 1 (International skaters)

Silayev had 11 points (three goals, eight assists), 103 shots on goal, 74 blocked shots and led Torpedo with 98 hits in 63 regular-season games. The 18-year-old, who was No. 2 on Central Scouting's midterm list in January, had the most points by an under-18 player in KHL history; Vladimir Tarasenko is second (10 points for Novosibirsk in 2008-09).

"He seems to always be alert and able to quickly get pucks to his forwards in transition," NHL director of European Scouting Jukka-Pekka Vuorinen said. "He can carry the puck and has a great release. His personal skills are still a bit raw, but his ceiling is high."

4. Zayne Parekh, Saginaw (OHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 5 (North American skaters)

Parekh (6-0, 178), who moved to No. 5 from No. 10 in the midterm rankings, is a transitional defenseman who can quarterback the power play. The right-handed shot set Saginaw records for goals (33) and points (96) by a defenseman in 66 regular-season games and led the OHL at his position in each category. The 18-year-old had 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 13 playoff games for the Memorial Cup champions, and 34 power-play points (10 goals, 24 assists), six game-winning goals, and two short-handed goals. Parekh scored 21 goals as a rookie last season, the most by a 16-year-old defenseman in OHL history.

"His upside is huge," Nick Smith of Central Scouting said. "He never gets rattled, is full of poise and confidence, and has the skills and the brain ... just a smart, smart player. He can score, he's got a good touch, he's got good vision, and he competes. A real high-end prospect."

5. Sam Dickinson, London (OHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 7 (North American skaters)

The left-handed shot (6-3, 203) finished fourth among OHL defensemen with 70 points (18 goals, 52 assists) and third with 11 power-play goals in 68 regular-season games. His 70 points ranked third among draft-eligible defensemen for London behind Evan Bouchard (87 points, 2017-18) and Rob Ramage (73, 1976-77). Dickinson logged a ton of ice time for a team stocked with NHL drafted players. He had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 18 playoff games for the league champions. He was the quarterback on the power play and had 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) with the man-advantage. Dickinson finished second in the on-ice testing at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 23, placing first in 30-meter forward skate with puck and 30-meter backwards skate with puck, and second in transition ability.

"One of the things I noticed with him this year is that he's really improved his defensive zone exits," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "He likes to skate it out, but when that passing opportunity is there, he finds it and he can do it on the backhand as good as anyone I've seen."

6. Carter Yakemchuk, Calgary (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 11 (North American skaters)

The right-handed shot (6-3, 202) led Western Hockey League defensemen with 30 goals and was fifth with 71 points in 66 regular-season games. Yakemchuk set a Calgary record for most goals in a season by a defenseman and he's one of three in the WHL at his position in the past 10 years to reach 30 goals, along with Olen Zellweger (32, 2022-23) and Connor Hobbs (31, 2016-17). Yakemchuk also had 31 power-play points (10 goals, 21 assists) and three game-winning goals. He had the first 30-goal season by a WHL defenseman in his first NHL draft-eligible season since Ian White scored 32 for Swift Current in 2001-02.

7. Stian Solberg, Vålerenga (NOR)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 20 (International skaters)

A competitive two-way left-handed shot capable of playing a physical game, Solberg (6-1, 205) had 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 42 games. He had the fourth-most points by an under-19 defenseman in the history of the top Norwegian league. He also had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 17 playoff games. Solberg, compared by some to Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ivan Provorov, will join Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League in 2024-25.

8. Adam Jiricek, Plzen (CZREP)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 (International skaters)

The right-handed shot (6-2, 167) injured his right knee while playing for Czechia at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship on Dec. 26, had surgery and missed the remainder of the season. He expects to be ready for the start of the 2024-25 season. The 17-year-old brother of Blue Jackets defenseman David Jiricek, he had one assist in 19 games in top professional men's league in the Czech Republic this season.

9. Leo Sahlin Wallenius, Vaxjo Jr. (SWE-JR)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 7 (International skaters)

Sahlin Wallenius (6-foot, 180) moved to No. 7 from No. 11 at the midterm after the 18-year-old had 42 points (11 goals, 31 assists) in 43 games in Sweden's junior league. Vuorinen believes the left-handed shot is the best Sweden-born player of the 2024 draft class. Sahlin Wallenius is a good skater, has a high hockey IQ, and is regarded as a reliable player at both ends of the ice who needs to improve his shot and physical play in the tough areas of the ice.

10. Eric Emery, USA U-18 (USHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 39 (North American skaters)

Emery (6-3, 183), committed to the University of North Dakota in 2024-25, had 16 assists in 61 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team this season. He helped the United States win the silver medal at the 2024 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with six assists and a plus-15 rating that tied for the tournament lead in seven games. He's a model of consistency among stay-at-home defensemen of this draft class, can transition well and knows how to close and defend while covering a lot of space with his length and speed.

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