The 2024 NHL draft is complete. After Macklin Celebrini went first overall to the San Jose Sharks, there were many twists and turns throughout the event.

From certain prospects dropping to others going well above their pre-draft ranking to the Utah Hockey Club making major trades on Day 2, it was a wild weekend.

Now that all 225 selections have been made, what stands out the most? ESPN reporters Ryan S. Clark, Kristen Shilton and Greg Wyshynski identify the picks, trades and moments we’ll remember most — for better or worse.


Holding the draft at Sphere

Hockey fans should take a moment to thank UFC for helping to create the most aesthetically impressive NHL draft ever held.

The NHL knew it had one weekend on which to schedule the draft, because of the late end of the Stanley Cup Final and the beginning of free agency on July 1. The NHL knew it wanted to hold the event in Las Vegas, as both a popular destination for team personnel and a banger of a farewell party if this is the last in-person draft. One problem: T-Mobile Arena, home of the Vegas Golden Knights and the logical place for the draft, was booked for UFC 303.

So Steve Mayer, NHL chief content officer, and his group pursued a more ambitious alternative: Sphere in Las Vegas, the James Dolan-owned entertainment orb previously best known to hockey fans as the place where the Nashville Predators didn’t get to watch U2 perform. The result was an NHL draft like no other and a landmark moment for the facility, which hosted its first (of many) sporting events.

The league used the height of Sphere to create incredible imagery, from a draft board that cascaded into the sky to moving images of hundreds of draft picks in a giant collage. Every pick felt epic, both inside Sphere and outside, where they were broadcasted to the rest of The Strip on the exterior of the building.

But the most memorable use of the building was, of course, the trade horn. Fans like the NHL draft for the deals as much as as prospects. Leaning into that, the NHL had an ostentatious goal horn sound and graphics take over Sphere when a trade was announced. From the blockbusters to the pick swaps, every deal caught the fans’ attention with the loudest arena gimmick since the Columbus Blue Jackets goal cannon. From sights to sounds, Sphere was a singular experience. — Wyshynski