Team-by-Team Draft Needs: Pacific Division
PHILADELPHIA -- The 2014 NHL Draft will be a great opportunity for teams to shore up positions of need with an injection of energetic, young talent.
As the first round of the draft draws near, there's no better time to take a glimpse at the possible draft needs of all 30 NHL teams.
While there still may be trades and surprises in the works leading up to the draft, which will be held June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the priorities likely will remain the same. Here's a breakdown of what Pacific Division teams could be looking to do when they arrive in Philadelphia, starting with the soon-to-be-named Arizona Coyotes.
Top priority: Scoring on the wings
The situation: Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett already has said that he would be surprised if young defensemen Connor Murphy (2011, No. 20) and Brandon Gormley (2010, No. 13) don't make the team in training camp. In addition to announcing its first-round pick June 27, the team will officially become the Arizona Coyotes that evening, according to president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc. The Coyotes could use some depth at wing and might even seek a goalie in the later rounds; Mike Smith is on board through 2018-19, when he'll turn 37 years old. Center Max Domi (2013, No. 12) was one of the final cuts at training camp last September and will challenge for a spot in 2014-15.
Possible fits: Right wing Jake Virtanen (Calgary, WHL); left wing Nicholas Ritchie (Peterborough, OHL); right wing Kasperi Kapanen (KalPa, FIN).
Top priority: Defensive depth
The situation: The last time the Ducks selected a forward in the first round was 2011 when center Rickard Rakell was chosen No. 30. The club looks to be in good shape in goal with Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, but after prospects Sami Vatanen (2009, No. 106) and Shea Theodore (2013, No. 26) there appears to be a drop-off along the blue line. Rakell and Emerson Etem likely will play bigger roles with the retirement of Teemu Selanne and the departure of Saku Koivu as an unrestricted free agent, but offensive help always is in high demand. The Ducks have an opportunity to pluck two potential future replacements, one on offense and another on defense, with two first-round picks.
Possible fits: Left wing Nicholas Ritchie (Peterborough, OHL); defenseman Julius Honka (Swift Current, WHL); defenseman Haydn Fleury (Red Deer, WHL).
Top priority: A future first-line forward
The situation: Since coming to Calgary in 1980, the Flames have never drafted higher than sixth, a slot they've picked at on four occasions. They drafted center Sean Monahan at No. 6 in the 2013 draft and hope to select another future star at No. 4 this year. New general manager Brad Treliving and director of amateur scouting Tod Button likely will take the best available player on their draft board, which should be one of several talented forwards at the top of this draft class. That is unless Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad drops to them the same way Seth Jones did for the Nashville Predators in the identical slot last June.
Possible fits: Center Samuel Bennett (Kingston, OHL); center Sam Reinhart (Kootenay, WHL); center Leon Draisaitl (Prince Albert, WHL).
Top priority: Power forward
The situation: Oilers head amateur scout Stu MacGregor might look to add a power forward capable of playing center with the team's first pick. The Oilers have done fairly well building a nice foundation of defensive prospects with Darnell Nurse (2013, No. 7), Oscar Klefbom (2011, No. 19), Martin Gernat (2011, No. 122) and David Musil (2011, No. 31) in the fold. Goalie Laurent Brossoit (2013, trade) is coming off an impressive season with the Bakersfield Condors in the ECHL. The Oilers would like to add an offensive workhorse to complement the other forwards they've recently drafted in the first round in Taylor Hall (2010, No. 1), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011, No. 1) and Nail Yakupov (2012, No. 1). Finnish right wing Iiro Pakarinen (2014, free agent) signed a two-year deal with the Oilers on June 15.
Possible fits: Center Samuel Bennett (Kingston, OHL); center Leon Draisaitl (Prince Albert, WHL); center/right wing William Nylander (Sodertalje, SWE).
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Top priority: Depth on defense
The situation: The 2014 Stanley Cup champions have two pending unrestricted free-agent defensemen on the roster in Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell, and with Robyn Regehr and Alec Martinez's contracts up in the summer of 2015, filling out the prospect pool along the blue line might be important. Right now Derek Forbort (2010, No. 15) is the team's top defensive prospect, but the former University of North Dakota star is still adjusting to the pro game. Additionally, the Kings are getting a bit older down the middle with Jeff Carter, 29, Jarret Stoll, 31, and Mike Richards, 29. Linden Vey (2009, No. 96), who plays center and right wing, might be the top center in the prospect pipeline but needs time to develop.
Possible fits: Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia, OHL); center Brayden Point (Moose Jaw, WHL); left wing Ivan Barbashev (Moncton, QMJHL).
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Top priority: Depth at left wing
The situation: The Sharks have two dynamite prospects on defense in Mirco Mueller (2013, No. 18) and Taylor Doherty (2009, No. 57); both could be in the running for NHL jobs next season, especially with the departure of veteran defenseman Dan Boyle. With those players potentially graduating from prospect to full-time player, now could be the time to continue adding defensive depth. There also is a lack of depth at left wing; Gabryel Boudreau (2013, No. 49) is the top prospect right now but needs more seasoning.
Possible fits: Defenseman Haydn Fleury (Red Deer, WHL); left wing Nikolaj Ehlers (Halifax, QMJHL); left wing Kevin Fiala (HV71 Jr., SWE).
Top priority: A future top-six forward
The situation: The Canucks have selected a defenseman in the first round once in the past 15 drafts, the late Luc Bourdon (2005, No. 10). The odds that the Canucks go against the grain in the first round this year remain slim since Ekblad, considered the top defenseman in the 2014 draft, likely will be off the board by the time their pick rolls around at No. 6. The team needs to consider grooming a few goalie prospects but likely won't use a high pick for that position, which means the best available forward could be in the organizational crosshairs. Forwards Bo Horvat (2013, No. 9), Brendan Gaunce (2012, No. 26) and Hunter Shinkaruk (2013, No. 24) are progressing nicely, so adding to that mix will benefit the team down the road.
Possible fits: Center Sam Reinhart (Kootenay, WHL); center/right wing William Nylander (Sodertalje, SWE); right wing Jake Virtanen (Calgary, WHL).