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3 things to watch for during the 2024 NHL draft at The Sphere

The Sphere will make the 2024 NHL draft a visual spectacle when the first round takes place Friday.

It’ll be all business when the clock starts ticking, however.

The San Jose Sharks have been on deck since the draft lottery May 7 after finishing with a league-worst 47 points. The Sharks selecting first overall in the Golden Knights’ home city should draw some ire from the host fans. San Jose just hopes it’s a pick that gets its rebuild on track.

Here are three things to know as draft week gets underway in Las Vegas:

1. Return of the Mack

The question isn’t who the Sharks will take No. 1. It’s how long they’ll let the clock run before announcing the selection.

Boston University center Macklin Celebrini has been the presumed top pick most of the season. The 18-year-old led a stacked Terriers team with 64 points in 38 games and was the youngest player to ever win the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey.

Celebrini’s stellar campaign means the first pick isn’t shaping up to be a surprise for the second straight season. Center Connor Bedard’s spot was secure as soon as the Chicago Blackhawks won the draft lottery next year.

2. What comes next

Who goes after Celebrini is anyone’s guess.

Chicago sits at No. 2 and could add a wing to play with Bedard. Someone like right wing Ivan Demidov from Russia’s SKA St. Petersburg would fit the mold.

The Blackhawks could also look to add a defenseman in what’s projected to be a stacked class on the blue line. Michigan State defenseman Artyom Levshunov is considered to be the best option in a deep group of defenders.

Russian defenseman Anton Silayev, listed at 6-foot-7, is another possibility.

The Anaheim Ducks are also in an interesting position at No. 3 after taking center Leo Carlsson second overall last year.

One player entering the draft with intrigue is center Cayden Lindstrom, who plays for the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers. The 18-year-old scored 27 goals in 32 games before a back injury kept him out from Dec. 16 until the playoffs in late March.

3. Draft-day activity

This year’s event is set to be the last one that’s centralized, with all teams gathered on the draft floor.

Teams are expected to send in their picks remotely moving forward, like the Raiders do for the NFL draft from their Henderson headquarters.

The upside of the packed building is it’s easy for agents and general managers to catch up before the opening of NHL free agency July 1. Trades and other moves often take place with teams trying to reset their salary-cap picture before the market opens.

The Knights were busy last season, trading left wing Reilly Smith on Day 1 of the draft while also re-signing left wing Ivan Barbashev to a five-year, $25 million extension. They could be active again since they have six pending unrestricted free agents in right wings Jonathan Marchessault, Anthony Mantha and Michael Amadio, center Chandler Stephenson, left wing William Carrier and defenseman Alec Martinez.

Mantha is one player that is not expected to return. The trade-deadline acquisition said to the French-language news outlet RDS on Thursday the Knights told him he would not be re-signed.

There should be several other teams trying to get things done as well. There were 12 trades during Day 2 of the draft last year. History indicates there will be a lot of wheeling and dealing.

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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