2024 NHL Draft Coverage: Forwards of Note

Notes on 13 forwards ranked in rounds two through four, and much more!

2024 NHL Draft Coverage: Forwards of Note
Photo by Dmitry Ant / Unsplash

After showcasing defenders who might be available in the top-100 for the Ottawa Senators, we turn our attention to forwards today.

Remember: we'll write-up a detailed post-draft profile on the players eventually selected by the Senators; for now, here's something to get excited about and/or something to be wary of.


With the previously-profiled Konsta Helenius the likely crown jewel out of Finland, there are a few other forwards that caught my eye. We'll key in on two, TPS' Emil Hemming and Jukurit's Topias Hynninen, with Tuomas Suoniemi as an honourable mention.

Emil Hemming, RW - TPS, Liiga

  • Why draft him? One of just three draft-eligible forwards to play a majority of the season in Liiga, Hemming is a responsible, two-way winger with a hard, fantastic shot. Hemming produced at all three major international tournaments, showing up at Finland's best player at the Hlinka (5GP, 9P), a lethal powerplay producer at the U18s (5GP, 6P), and even making the U20 squad as a draft-eligible (7GP, 2P). Hemming's habits are projectable: he's got the skating chops to be F1 or F2 on the forecheck, is comfortable parking his 6-foot-1 frame in front of the net, has the off-puck game to complement skilled players on the powerplay, can be a weapon off the faceoff, and can cover defensively as a winger, despite being a June-born 17-year-old in this class.
  • Why worry? Hemming's minutes were up and down with TPS, which isn't unusual for young players, but important to note given that he played more at the start of the season and less as the year went on and the games got more important. He rebounded nicely against his peers, heading back down to Finland's U20 league for TPS' playoff run and recorded 10 points in 11 games. Moreover, Hemming's not projected to be a dual-threat winger – he'd rather make simple passes to extend possession (e.g., passing to the closest teammate; rimming along the perimeter) as opposed to cross-seam plays or hook passes that manipulate the opposition – giving him one less tool.

Topias Hynninen, LW - Jukurit, Liiga

  • Why draft him? Topias Hynninen featured in 18 games against men last season after recording 38 points in 39 games in Finland's U20 league. This season, he joined Helenius and Hemming as the draft-eligibles who spent the majority of the year in Liiga, putting up 9 points in 43 games and another 3 in 5 at the Hlinka. As a puck-carrier, Hynninen possesses a quick-twitch and is able to accelerate quickly to burst past opposing defenders and create space for himself. Against his peers, he's able to manipulate opponents with his feet or his handling, loves to pass the puck to the middle, and is unafraid to head to the net despite his 5-foot-11 frame.
  • Why worry? Hynninen can find himself over-relying on rush offence, and can let lost in maintaining the cycle or offensive zone pressure once he's on the boards. He's signed a two-year deal with Jukurit, so the hope is that with more regular time against men, he'll add strength to his frame and feel more confident with his puck protection ability to be a consistent, in-zone threat to add projectability to his strong transition toolkit.


Between the Swedish Hockey League, second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan, or junior J20 Nationell, you can always count on Sweden – Ottawa's favourite place to draft out of in Europe – to produce a number of fascinating forwards. Here's some more information on Örebro's Melvin Fernström, MoDo's Lucas Pettersson, and Djurgårdens' Linus Eriksson. Some honourable mentions include Simon Zether, Jack Berglund, Oskar Vuollet, Herman Traff, Jamiro Reber, Liam Danielsson, and Valter Lindberg.

Melvin Fernström, RW - Örebro, SHL

  • Why draft him? The Oskar Pettersson of the 2024 class, Fernström was the only 30-goal scorer in the J20 Nationell this season. He finished with the third most points in the league (not just among draft-eligibles) and was rewarded with a six game stint with Örebro at the SHL level. The way Fernström scores is projectable: instead of relying on the power of his shot, he consistently finds ways to park himself in dangerous positions on the ice, anticipate where his teammates and opponents are, and makes his move with just the right timing to surprise goaltenders. He claims space when it's there, shrinking the zone where appropriate, and displays good off-puck movement on rush chances, too, driving the middle of the ice to make space for his teammates. Fernström has dual-threat potential, showcasing the ability to make difficult seam passes that helped him finished 10th in the league in assists, and works hard to cause turnovers on the backcheck. Like Pettersson, I'd like to see him in North America sooner rather than later to see how his style of play translates against CHL or AHL competition.
  • Why worry? Usually, but not always, forwards who develop a strong off-puck game at this age had to in order to compensate for other weaknesses. For Fernström, that's his skating: he doesn't feature strong acceleration to burst past defenders nor the top speed to beat players in straight lines.

Lucas Pettersson, C - MoDo Hockey, J20 Nationell

Linus Eriksson, C - Djurgårdens IF, HockeyAllsvenskan

United States Hockey League & National Team Development Program

Since 2015, the Senators have only had one year (2016) where they didn't draft at least one player from the USHL or the NTDP. Who's available this year? With the assumptions that Sacha Boisvert and Michael Hage will be off the board, we highlight Muskegon's Matvei Gridin and NTDP's Teddy Stiga as second-round options. Honourable mentions to potential mid-round picks Ilya Protas, Mac Swanson, John Mustard, Kamil Bednarik, and Brodie Ziemer.

Matvei Gridin, RW - Muskegon, USHL

Teddy Stiga, LW - USNTDP

  • Why draft him? If Stiga was two inches taller, we're likely talking about him as a no-brainer first-round pick. But, his 5-foot-10 frame might scare some teams away, which could result in a second-round steal for a team who's willing to take a chance, like I am, on his hockey sense and motor. Stiga anticipates plays at the highest level, showcasing high-end passing as the NTDP's top playmaker and the puck protection ability to make the best decision instead of the first decision. Stiga's forechecking ability eases my concerns about his size – he uses his hockey sense to cut off passing lanes with his stick or body position, and has a solid skating foundation to get to where he wants to go on a consistent basis.

Ontario Hockey League

Who might the Senators select from Don Boyd and Steve Staios' old stomping ground? Here's a spotlight on Niagara's Kevin He, alongside your picks from our reader poll: Barrie's Cole Beaudoin, Mississauga's Luke Misa and Kingston's Jacob Battaglia.

Kevin He, LW – Niagara IceDogs

  • Why draft him? He did it all for the lowly Niagara IceDogs this season, scoring 31 goals while playing tough minutes in all situations. His 6-foot frame doesn't inhibit He from playing a high-end physical game: pestering opponents on the forecheck, laying open ice hits, and using his body position to separate player from puck in the defensive zone. He projects as a high-end penalty killer, thanks to his quick acceleration, active stick, and competitive puck pursuit. Scouts will love the improvement in his overall game, reflected in not just his point totals (34 points in 66 games to 53 in 64 this year) but the added dimensions to his play defensively.
  • Why worry? The hope is that as Niagara improves, so will layers to He's offensive game. Currently, he plays straight-line hockey and can be rubbed out by the types of defenders we see in the NHL: large, mobile players with good reach. If He's able to add some playmaking ability, he'll be able to pass around those players before utilizing his speed to get in-behind – a more projectable off-puck game at the pro level.

Cole Beaudoin, C - Barrie Colts

  • Why draft him? The local boy from Kanata, the most common refrain I read about his game was that he's the type of player you win in the playoffs with. Beaudoin's 28 goals and 62 points in 67 OHL games were respectable, but it's his play at the Hlinka (5GP, 6P) and U18s (7GP, 4P) that gets scouts excited. Beaudoin is one of the strongest players in this draft class, utilizing both a pro-ready 6-foot-2, 201-pound frame and a win-everything mentality to outwork opponents, cause chaos, and create space for his teammates. He played over 20 minutes in the U18 Gold Medal game, with Team Canada double-shifting Beaudoin – counting not only on his responsible two-way play, but also his energy to drive to the net. He has a fair amount of weaknesses – see below – but he tries enough plays with the puck that many are comfortable seeing more than a third-line player if his tools further develop. His versatility and decision-making gives me confidence to suggest that he can be a high-end penalty killer – even if it's as a winger instead of a centre.
  • Why worry? Beaudoin's skating needs a lot of work – his stride is wide, it takes him a few steps to change direction, and there isn't the mechanical base to allow for weight transfers and thus, further deception on the rush. The hope is that his stride can get more powerful, allowing him to still separate from the opposition on zone exits and close down on opponents on retrievals, even if he likely won't be the primary neutral zone carrier.

Luke Misa, C – Mississauga Steelheads

  • Why draft him? A versatile forward with high-end speed and a detailed passing game, Misa came into the OHL with high expectations as the 9th overall selection. While he produced this year – 55 assists and 81 points in 66 games is nothing to scoff at – his calling card at the NHL level is likely that of a valued, third-line energy forward who can support your penalty kill. He flourishes in transition, responsibly supporting his team on exits and entries, and generating a lot of offence through his passing ability off the rush.
  • Why worry? As one of the older players in this draft class, Misa's puck-handling nor shot allow him the layers of offensive tools as some of the others ranked around where he is in the second-round. When you add that onto a slight physical frame (5-foot-10, 165 pounds), teams worry about whether he'll be a scorer at the NHL level.

Jacob Battaglia, RW – Kingston Frontenacs

  • Why draft him? An elite passer, Battaglia's vision allows him to play much faster than his foot speed would suggest – executing one-touch passing, deceptive puck touches, and a willingness to draw in pressure to create space for himself and his teammates. Battaglia's physical game is full of intensity and helps him possess an in-zone offensive game off the cycle, and to be a defensively responsible winger on zone exits. With his intelligence and small-area skill, Battaglia is well-suited to be a complementary piece on a skilled line or be a defensively responsible checking forward.
  • Why worry? Battaglia's acceleration isn't good enough to get to where he'll want to go on pro ice, so he'll have to add some mobility or in-tight pivots to create more space for himself against stronger competition and/or to deceive opponents further.

Western Hockey League

You've already heard from the Silver Seven team on the WHL's top-end forward talent this year, with detailed profiles on Tij Iginla, Berkly Catton, and Cayden Lindstrom. There are a few other names that'll likely be off the board before Ottawa's second pick in Andrew Basha and Ryder Ritchie, so we'll focus on mid-round options today: Medicine Hat's Tomas Mrsic and your pick from the reader poll, Edmonton's Adam Jecho.

Tomas Mrsic, C/LW – Medicine Hat Tigers

  • Why draft him? A high-end shot and skating combination gives teams a lot to work with as a development profile. Mrsic's 23 goals betray the potential of his shot, which he can utilize from difficult angles, in stride, and off one-timers. He's a deceptive player who likes to get lost in the cycle before surprising goaltenders.
  • Why worry? Mrsic can currently complement a high-end playmaker, but can't generate a lot of offence by himself. He possesses the skating base, but doesn't create advantages with his feet – opting for north-south hockey instead of east-west – nor his passing. While his puck skills can create plays like this occasionally, it's not consistent enough at the moment. Potential is the name of the game with Mrsic.

Adam Jecho, RW – Edmonton Oil Kings

  • Why draft him? Adam Jecho has been known to scouts since he was 15, where he made the Czech roster at the Hlinka as a triple underager. There aren't many 6-foot-5 players who possess Jecho's powerful skating stride and in-tight puck-handling ability. At centre or wing, he can be a puck carrier on zone entries; fluidly manipulate defenders through deft puck control or slip passing; and a quick, accurate wrist shot that scored 23 goals in 54 WHL games.
  • Why worry? Scouts will always look for 6-foot-5 players who can engage physically, and that's not Jecho's game – instead preferring to use his frame to protect the puck rather than bulldoze players on the boards. As is the case with players who are used to playing "up a level", he has some automatic habits that are worrisome, such as sticking to perimeter passing or weak shots from the boards, instead of maintaining control of the puck to patiently wait for teammates.

Québec Major Junior Hockey League

It's been a weak draft class overall for the Q, and in all my research, it was hard to find clips to demonstrate a clear NHL path for most players. For now, here are quick notes on two forwards:

  • Maxim Massé, Chicoutimi's 6-foot-2 right-winger, is likely the first player off the board. He scored 36 goals in 67 games and added five points in seven U18 contests, winning pucks on retrievals and hanging around the net to pot loose pucks. Scouts will like his growth from 29 to 36 goals, and likely plays as a complementary winger unless his passing skills develop.
  • Alexandre Blais, a left-winger from Rimouski, led draft-eligibles in scoring with 84 points in 68 games – 21 more than his next closest teammate. The name of his game is speed, pushing play with his feet, hands, and creativity. Blais did it all for Rimouski this season, leading the powerplay from the half-wall, being the primary puck carrier on transition to generate controlled zone entries, and was responsible on exits. What's there to worry about? His 5-foot-10 frame and lack of an elite physical tool minimizes the chances of him playing his style at the next level, where separation ability becomes paramount.

And the short king award goes to...

As a throwback to my dear colleague, Colin Cudmore, I'll personally be watching to see who takes a chance on 5-foot-8 Alexander Zetterberg and Justin Poirier.

Of these players, anyone excite you? With one second-round pick and three fourth-round picks, the Senators have some cards to play with; if they dangle seventh overall or Jakob Chychrun, there might be even more...

Not everyone can afford to pay for sports coverage right now, and that is why we will keep as much of the site's content free for as long as we can.

But if you are able to, please consider subscribing to help keep our articles free (and get a few extra perks).

Erik Condra
  • Ability to comment and participate in our community
  • Twice monthly newsletter available only to subscribers
  • Ad-free reading
  • Our undying love and appreciation
Brady Tkachuk
  • Everything from the Erik Condra tier
  • 10% discount on all merch
  • Access to any future paywalled content
  • A personal thank-you from the Silver Seven staff
Daniel Alfredsson
  • Everything from the Brady Tkachuk tier
  • Inner peace knowing you are supporting quality, independent coverage of your favourite sports team