There's Never Been a Better Time to be Bad in the NHL
By Kyle Graden
Just 11 more days until Connor Bedard knows where he'll suit up and live next season. While one franchise will clearly feel like it hit the jackpot this draft, it really isn't just about Bedard. There is also Adam Fantilli, the likely 2nd overall pick, that looks like a franchise changing player this draft.
Focusing in on the present is fun and what we are all thinking about, but looking ahead I have to admit has me just as excited. The next 3 drafts after this one also have some of the best young talents I've seen in quite some time.
I'm currently watching dynamic Canadian center Macklin Celebrini poke holes in the Swiss (see what I did there) defense. He has 2 goals and 2 assits heading into the 3rd at the time of this writing. He is likely the #1 pick in the 2024 draft with fellow Canadian Berkly Catton not far behind. Cole Eiserman of the US, Aron Kiviharju, and one of the more impressive groups of defenseman I've seen in awhile should headline the strong draft class.
Even further into the future, the picture looks clear to me as 2025 should have Michael Misa as the #1 pick. This is my guy when it comes to whom I'm excited about in the near future. The exceptional status OHL star is already carving up defenses for Saginaw (56 points in 45 games) and he just turned 16. Apart from Misa there is also American James Hagens that looks to continue the high scoring efforts of the Hughes and Smith's of the past in the USDP. On top of those 2 standouts is also the fact that we may have a lottery selected goalie in (6-4 209 already) Gabriel D'Aigle. This is one of the more heralded young goalies I've ever covered and it's easy to see why. Getting his feet wet young within the Q and now the WJC-18 can only help his development down the road.
2026 may be a long ways away, but there is already a young player that has been turning heads for years in Gavin McKenna. Yes, he is putting up ridiculous numbers in juniors but his play and growth at 15 years old is what already makes him a prime candidate for #1 in the 2026 draft. Add in Ryan Roobroeck and it already looks like a draft teams may be eyeing.
So if your team projects to not be the best over the next 3 (4 counting this draft) seasons, then not all is lost as the talent at the top of the next 4 drafts is truly something to marvel at. We may be entering a new golden era of the NHL with generational talents entering the league almost every draft.