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The 20 best names in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft

From Aho to Zeev, these are the top names available in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.
Tate Vader of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds has one of the best names in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

They say that a hockey player should play for the crest on the front of the jersey and not the name on the back.

Hockey fans know, however, that the name on the back of the jersey can be part of the fun of being a fan. If a name is enjoyable to hear from an announcer or fun to say to your friends, it can turn even the most humdrum player into a fan favourite. 

A memorable name becomes part of hockey lore, such as Hakan Loob, Bill Quackenbush, or Sprague Cleghorn. 

That’s why, at the NHL Entry Draft, when every other draft ranking is looking at things like speed, scoring, and hockey IQ, Pass it to Bulis instead focuses on what really matters: a great name.

This is the eighth year of the PITB draft name rankings and the Canucks have apparently used it as a resource in the past, drafting several delightful names from my list like Jack Rathbone, Jett Woo, Nils Höglander, and Hunter Brzustewicz. Will they do so again this year?

Last year’s list had some elite names ​​that are going to be tough to beat, like Ephram McNutt, Zigmund Zöld, Hugo Hell, and Matthew Mania. Can any of this year’s names measure up?

Honourable Mentions

Niklas Blessing, Brendan Boring, Thomas Desruisseaux, Jack Edwards, Tobias Faith, Price Grimes, Caleb Hadland, Melwin Last, Cole Longacre, Jett Luchanko, Henry Mews, Leon Muggli, Carson Pilgrim, Max Plante, Lucas Romeo, Zack Sharp, Petr Sikora, AJ Spellacy, Teddy Spitznagel, John Stout, Adam Titlbach, John Whipple, Jared Woolley

20 | Love Gath

I got me a draft pick, it's as big as a whale
And we're headin' on down to the Love Gath

Love Gath is a little old centre who plays for Rögle BK. Love Gath, baby.  

Okay, he’s not that little at 6’2” and he’s not that old at 18. He’s also not going to get drafted as a prospect with just 10 points in 41 games in Sweden’s J20 Nationell league.

“Love” is a lovely first name and “Gath” is such an unexpected last name. It apparently comes from the word for “winepress” in Hebrew, so this is apparently a name for a great lover of wine.

19 | Dean Döge

It’s an older meme, sir, but it checks out.  

The Doge meme was very silly and fun back in 2013. Since then, the meme sold out to crypto, becoming Dogecoin and became associated with Elon Musk, which is very unfortunate.

As for Dean Döge: Wow! Much German, very goaltender. The 6’1” Döge represented Germany at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup last year and got lit up, though not as much as his fellow German goaltenders at the tournament. 

Goaltenders are tough to project at this age. He was pretty solid in Germany’s junior league this season but it’s tough to know what that might mean for his future. His game will hopefully age better than the Doge meme.

18 | Ville Väärälä

“Just give me all the umlauts you have…Wait, wait. I'm worried what you just heard was, ‘Give me a lot of umlauts.’ What I said was, ‘Give me all the umlauts you have.’ Do you understand?”  

Ville Väärälä’s name approaches diacritical mass. He could cause an umlaut shortage wherever he ends up, so that’s something for NHL teams to keep in mind as they approach the draft.

We also get some nice alliteration between his first and last name and it really flows off the tongue nicely. 

He flows pretty well on the ice too, with an agile skating stride that propels him in hard on the forecheck. His strong defensive game got him opportunities with the Finnish U-18 team in international tournaments, including the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, but his limited offensive game puts a low ceiling on his potential. 

Still, fast-skating, hard-forechecking centres with strong defensive games often get more opportunities to prove themselves than you might expect.. 

17 | Jack Christ

Is Jack Christ related to the Bible’s Jesus Christ? Or Avenged Sevenfold’s Johnny Christ? Or Smosh’s Sarah Christ?  

Probably not. And he probably won’t be a Christ-figure in an NHL team’s prospect pool but he did have a very good season in Minnesota high school hockey this past year, with 25 goals and 58 points in 31 games to lead his school in scoring.

The 5’9” forward is heading to the NCAA in a couple of years but he’ll first spend a season in the USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Even if it looks like his potential has died he could resurrect it at any time. Don’t count out Christ.

16 | Filip Sitar

Look, sometimes a guy’s name is a neat noun. Sitars are neat. A guy with the name “Sitar” is also neat.

Filip Sitar is a centre with a high hockey IQ that allowed him to play 11 games against men in the SHL this season. He also put up 50 points in 40 games in the J20 Nationell league in Sweden and he was a force for Slovenia’s U-20 team at the World Junior Division I B Championship, helping Slovenia earn a promotion to Division I A.

This is Sitar’s second appearance in PITB’s best names ranking, partly because I like his name so much but also because he’s still just 18 years old in his second year of draft eligibility — he doesn’t turn 19 until the end of June. There’s a strong chance that this year he could wind up as a late-round draft pick. 

15 | Matyas Man

Matyas Man has alliteration on its side. Also, “Man” would be neat to have on the back of a jersey. Sure, some straight male hockey fans who are not comfortable with their sexuality might struggle with being labeled a “Man fan,” but that will be their own cross to bear.

Man is a 6’4” defenceman out of Czechia who is ranked 84th among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He’s primarily a defensive defenceman, as you might guess from his limited point totals in Czechia’s junior league, but he’s got the size, reach, and skating to be a play-killer in the defensive zone.

Also, you cannot deny that he is all Man.

14 | Jack Good

It’s a Good name, Brent.  

Is there an off-colour joke that can be made about this name? Of course, even if it's grammatically incorrect. But let’s focus on how neat it would be to have a jersey for your favourite team with just “Good” on the back. Maybe it’s just me, but I am downright tickled by the idea.

Jack Good is an undersized scoring winger who partnered with the 6’7” Dean Letourneau to dominate for St. Andrew’s College in AAA hockey. The two led the league in scoring by a wide margin and that production against lesser competition has the taller Letourneau ranked to go in the second round if not late in the first, while the smaller Good is mostly unranked by everyone.

Good is heading to the BCHL to play for the Brooks Bandits next season and then to Merrimack College in the NCAA after that. The question is whether he can have an impact apart from Letourneau and establish himself as a prospect on his own. 

Maybe he'd get drafted if he was Jack Better.

13 | Keets Fawcett

I’m in the mood for some poetry, so it’s time to turn the handle on the Keats faucet.  

Look, is that an incredibly dumb joke? Yes. As a name, Keets Fawcett is so much better than that joke. 

He’s also a decent prospect, with 45 points in 65 games for the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL and an excellent two-way game, with Elite Prospects describing him as “One of the best defensive forwards in the WHL.” He’s a scrappy, high-motor player who has a major impact on puck possession with his puck pursuit and transition game. 

That kind of high-energy game could see Fawcett get picked late in the draft and find a home on a third or fourth line in the NHL someday. 

12 | Joey Lies

You just can’t trust this guy. You’re telling me he plays for the Flin Flon Bombers? More like the Flim Flam Bombers, if you ask me. 

I’m guessing Joey Lies name is actually pronounced “LEES” rhyming with peace or niece, but that doesn’t change the fact that it looks like a complete sentence: “Joey Lies.” Also, “Lies” would be a pretty great name on the back of a hockey jersey. 

Lies isn’t likely to get drafted, unfortunately, and I swear I’m telling the truth. He was a third-line forward for the Bombers in the SJHL this year and will probably just be aiming for a scholarship offer from the NCAA next season.

11 | William Zellers

Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but I miss Zellers. The Canadian retail chain has made a comeback over the last year but it’s not the same without the restaurant and Zeddy the mascot.

Maybe William Zellers could be the new mascot, only he’s not Canadian. He’s a high-pace, agile forward who led the US Prep School circuit in scoring this past year with 57 goals and 111 points in 54 games for Shattuck St. Mary’s. He’s expected to be a mid-round pick at the draft.

A Canadian team has to pick him. It wouldn’t feel right for Zellers to land in the States instead of Canada.

10 | John Mustard

He’s not Dijon Mustard but he is The John Mustard.

These are the jokes you were looking for when you clicked on an article about the best names in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. Don’t deny it.

Mustard certainly cuts the mustard as a prospect. He had 56 points in 60 games in the USHL this season and has the top speed and accurate shot to develop into a dangerous scoring winger. He also has more runway to develop than most, as he doesn’t turn 18 until mid-August. He’s likely to get picked late in the second round.

9 | Leo Sahlin Wallenius

Leo Sahlin Wallenius is expected to be a second-round pick, though there’s a chance the smooth-skating defenceman goes late in the first round. His name also has a delightfully lyrical sound to it. It flows off the tongue in such a wonderful way. 

It’s also a nightmare for an NHL equipment manager because “Sahlin Wallenius” is his entire last name: 15 characters plus a space. Although that comes short of the NHL record for the most letters on the back of a jersey, held by Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson with 17 characters plus a space, that’s still a lot of letters to fit on a jersey.

The Boston Bruins’ equipment manager, Keith Robinson, had to shrink the size of the letters to fit “Forsbacka Karlsson” on a jersey and it seems likely that similar accommodations would need to be made to squeeze Sahlin Wallenius on a jersey too. 

And to me, that’s beautiful.

8 | Theo Kiss

This Kiss is unstoppable and unsinkable.  

Theo Kiss is a Slovakian winger who plays in the US, spending last season with the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL. He had just 12 points in 35 games but he’s got a lot of skill and creativity lurking behind those lacklustre point totals and he’ll be heading to the University of Massachusetts in the NCAA after another year in the USHL. 

Kiss has some international experience with Slovakia, including at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. But, most importantly, his name was made for loving you

7 | Éliot L’Italien

Which Éliot are we talking about? Oh, Éliot The Italian. That Éliot.

This is a tremendous name with all sorts of internal assonance and consonance that makes it a treat to say. I also can’t get over that his name just straight-up means “Éliot The Italian.”

L’Italien is a 6’1” power forward who could be a late-round pick at the draft despite mediocre point totals in the QMJHL. He’s got some great tools to go with his size, including a knack for playmaking that suggests he’s got some real potential to make it to the NHL. He could be a late-round pick.

6 | Zeev Buium

There has never been someone named “Zeev” in the NHL. Or “Buium,” for that matter. He kind of sounds like a Star Wars character. He's the pilot that Obi-Wan Kenobi didn't pick at the Cantina before going with Han Solo.

Sometimes spelled Ze’ev and pronounced Zee-ehv, Buium instead pronounces his first name as it looks, rhymed with Steve. The name has its origins in Hebrew and means “wolf,” which is pretty badass. 

The smart and creative defenceman was outstanding as an 18-year-old in the NCAA this past season, putting up 50 points in 42 games for the University of Denver. He’s not just a prospect but a top prospect, expected to go in the top 10 at this year’s draft. Whoever picks him will get a potential number-one defenceman and a guaranteed number-one name in their prospect pool.

Editor's note: A reader messaged me noting that "Zeev" is likely an alternate spelling of "Ziv" which is also of Hebrew origin but distinct from "Ze'ev." Instead of meaning "wolf," "Ziv" means "splendour." Also, "Buium" is of Yiddish origin and is equivalent to "baum," the German word for tree, which many would be familiar with from "O Tannenbaum" aka. "O Christmas Tree." In that case, Zeev Buium's name roughly translates to "Tree of Splendour," which is pretty cool.

5 | Michael Brandsegg-Nygård

Michael Brandsegg-Nygård is not just a top prospect expected to go in the first round of this year’s draft. Like Sahlin Wallenius, he also has the type of name that will wreak havoc on an NHL team’s equipment manager.

Like Sahlin Wallenius, Brandsegg-Nygård’s name is also 15 characters long, though he has a hyphen rather than a space. You can see in photos of Brandsegg-Nygård the trouble this causes, with his name invading the designs on the shoulders of his jersey instead of staying neatly confined on his back. 

To top it off, the equipment manager has to deal with the angstrom diacritic over the “A” if they want to be completely accurate.

Beyond all of that, “Brandsegg-Nygård” is a delight to say out loud. This is a marvelous name that kept jumping up my rankings the more I thought about it. 

4 | Eric Bürger

Eric Bürger ranks exceptionally high on the “fun name to have on the back of a jersey” factor. 

Bürger got into six SHL games as an 18-year-old defenceman, which is pretty impressive and makes him a likely pick at the draft, even if it’s in a later round. He’s a puck-moving defenceman with some great wheels, though he needs to develop his defensive game and work on his poise with the puck.

Hopefully, a team can pick up both Bürger and Mustard for an incredible culinary connection in their prospect pool.

3 | Tate Vader

Meet Darth Vader’s second cousin, twice removed: Tate Vader. No relation to Jeff Vader.  

Vader played a depth role on the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL this past season, so the centre is unlikely to get drafted. I just felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if thousands of fans of both Star Wars and hockey who were hoping to get a “Vader” jersey cried out in despair and were suddenly silenced.

Still. Sick name. 

2 | Lion Aho

I’m not lyin’, this is his real name: Lion Aho.

It immediately brings to mind the mighty lord of the Thundercats, Lion-O, which also means he has a ready-made theme song by Relient K.  

Here’s what elevates this name even more: his dad’s name is Christian Aho. Given the history of throwing Christians to lions, this guy is just asking for some irony to come his way. 

Alas, Lion Aho is pushing the boundaries of what qualifies as a prospect, as he spent last season in Sweden’s second-division junior league, so is very unlikely to get drafted. But you’ve got to admit, that’s a neat name.

1 | Miroslav Satan Jr.

One of the greatest hockey names of all time belongs to Miroslav Satan, who played over 1000 games in the NHL. Clearly, he knew his name was amazing because, when he had a son, he gave him the exact same name.

18 years later, Miroslav Satan Jr. is a 6’7” centre eligible for the NHL Entry Draft with some intriguing tools and excellent work habits to go with his massive frame. He’s very much a project but someone will surely take a chance on his size and pedigree.

Most importantly, he’s got an incredible name. He’s literally Satan Jr. That’s amazing.

And now the New Jersey Devils can make right one of the great injustices in hockey history: that Miroslav Satan never played for them. They need to pick Satan Jr. so that hockey fans around the world can buy a Devils jersey with “Satan” on the back. 

Whoever picks Satan Jr. really ought to pick up Jack Christ too to make sure they’re covered on both sides of the coming apocalypse.