Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. As we go through the 2023-24 season, our LWOS Prospects Writers will bring you 2024 draft class profiles and various other articles. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow Ben Kerr, Kyle Pereira and Frederik Frandson on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Today, we have the sixth and final part of our first 2024 NHL draft rankings!
To See All of our 2024 NHL Draft Rankings, follow the links. You can find Part One here, part two here, part three here, part four here and part five here.
2024 NHL Draft Rankings: Part six (27-32)
27.) Ej Emery, Defenceman, USNTDP (USHL)
Ej Emery is one of the more promising defensive defencemen in the 2024 NHL draft. With both great size and defensive awareness, he has been a source of stability for the USNTDP this season. While he hasn’t been putting up a lot of points this season, he has been able to eat minutes and shut down most players he has faced. Especially on the rush, where his great hockey sense and anticipation make him tough to beat. His skating is also above average, especially for a 6-foot-3 defenceman. His gap control is immense and he battles well in front of the net.
The downside to his defensive reliability is that he plays a very old-school style overall. He is a stay-at-home defenceman, who is very passive and doesn’t get up ice to join the attack. That’s despite his great skating. In the modern game, having defencemen who can join the rush and move the puck is vital, and Emery doesn’t fit that mould. It’s a throwback to the 2000s style of defenceman, and it is good enough to make him a very reliable NHL defenceman who can kill penalties. However, it does hurt his upside a lot. In other words, Emery is an extremely high-floor, but low-ceiling player.
28.) Dominik Badinka, Defenceman, Malmö Redhawks (SHL)
Another highly intelligent defenceman in this draft is Dominik Badinka. The Czech prospect made the move to Sweden this season. After a strong showing in the J20 Nationell, where he put up 12 points in 15 games, he was called up to the SHL. There, he has yet to register a point in 11 games, but has looked very strong defensively. Similar to Emery, Badinka is a big defenceman, at 6-foot-3, who has a great physical impact on the game. He is excellent around the boards, where he uses his body and an active stick to create turnovers. He also moves extremely well for his size, and can carry the puck up ice with great speed and stickhandling.
The reason Badinka isn’t higher on the list is that he can get caught being far too aggressive. He often attempts to engage in physical battles all over the ice, which can lead to odd-man rushes, or his man slipping by him defensively. For as smart a defenceman as he is, the consistency in his decision-making needs to improve. The same can be said about his ability to use his skating to create more offence on a professional level. If both areas see improvements Badinka could be an ideal top-four defenceman in the NHL.
29.) Maxim Massé, Right Winger, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
One of the more versatile forwards in the draft class is Maxim Massé, who combines great hockey sense and size with a strong work ethic. During the season in the QMJHL he has put up 32 points in 35 games. Add to this his ability and willingness to go to the dirty areas and play on the PK, and there is a really strong all-around winger to be found late in the first round. He is extremely deceptive and creative with the puck on his stick, and he has a fine shot, making him a duel-threat in the offensive zone.
Massé’s weakness is his below-average skating. Mechanically, it’s stiff and this does lead to a lack of power and speed. His explosiveness is extremely lacking, and this is something that needs major improvements if he is to have a true impact in the NHL. If it does, Maxim Massé has the potential to be a hidden gem in the 2024 NHL draft.
30.) Luke Misa, Center, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
The name Misa is going to be one to remember in the NHL. Primarily due to Michael Misa, who looks like a potential first-overall pick in 2025, but also because of the older of the two brothers, Luke Misa. This season Luke Misa has 47 points in just 31 games for the Mississauga Steelheads and has rocketed up many rankings. The reason for his success is the pure pace that Misa plays at. Everything he does happens at incredible speed, which he achieves due to his elite skating. When it comes to skating mechanics, not many are better than Luke Misa in 2024. He is rapid off the line, and his edges are magical to watch, as he attacks teams with speed and with a strong creative skill set.
Defensively, he is fairly strong in terms of his overall hockey IQ, and often is in a really good position to make the play. This also comes with a great work rate, and Misa uses a very tenacious backcheck to regain position. The primary worry is that he is an undersized center with a shot with a lot of room for improvement. He often gets in a good position, but lacks the finish to maximize it. While this might prevent him from being a superstar, there is a strong chance that the high ceiling of Misa could make him a valuable secondary playmaker in the top six of most NHL teams.
31.) Leo Sahlin Wallenius, Defenceman, Växjö Lakers HC J20, (J20 Nationell)
The first round of the 2024 NHL draft is more than likely going to be one with a limited amount of Swedish prospects. In 2023 six Swedes were selected. In 2022 it was four and in 2021 it was another six. During our 2024 NHL draft rankings, that number was reduced to two. The second of these is defenceman Leo Sahlin Wallenius from Växjö. A defenceman who is the prototype of a modern-day puck-moving defender, with brilliant skating, mobility and vision offensively. He reads the game incredibly well and makes quick and smart passes and movements to either enter the offensive zone or to keep the cycle going.
The biggest challenge for Wallenius is his size and lack of physicality. He needs to bulk up and get stronger, especially in front of the net. Far too often, he is beaten in those battles, which results in scoring chances. If he can fix that, the rest of his awareness and high hockey IQ are strong enough to make him a strong two-way defender in the NHL, and yet another great Swedish top-four defenceman.
32.) Andrew Basha, Left Winger, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
The last player to crack the first round in our 2024 NHL Draft Rankings is Andrew Basha. A forward from the WHL, who can fly out there with the top skaters in the world and loves to play from the back and move the puck up ice. He has a strong skill set and great speed, which has seen him register 45 points in just 32 games. Basha is a lot more intelligent on the puck this season, and his decision-making when entering the zone at speed is vastly improved. He also moves better without the puck and lets the puck come to him, rather than chasing it and over-relying on his skating.
The biggest downside is the lack of hands to make the most of his speed. He often gets to the right areas and tries to make the right play, but the shot or pass is slightly off-target. His overall skill and puckhandling are also slightly below average, which takes away from his dynamic speed at times. If he can get his hands to follow his feet and IQ, Basha could be a dangerous middle-six goalscorer in the NHL.
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