2019 NHL Draft Team Needs: Central Division

NHL Draft Team NEeds
DALLAS, TEXAS - DECEMBER 20: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars controls the puck against Brandon Saad #20 of the Chicago Blackhawks at American Airlines Center on December 20, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The NHL Draft is just around the corner and teams are gearing up for what promises to be a very busy weekend in Vancouver on June 21st and 22nd. The combine is now complete and teams have interviewed potential draftees for their team. We will examine the Central Division and what their NHL Draft team needs.

Click each players name to get a full scouting report provided by Last Word’s own Ben Kerr.

2019 NHL Draft Team Needs: Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks

Draft Position: Third Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Henri Jokiharju

NHL Draft Team Needs:

After selecting a defenceman with their three recent first-round picks it is time to select a forward. It’s the biggest long-term need for the Blackhawks and this is certainly the draft to pick one. The cupboards are bare in terms of impact forwards for the Hawks, especially at centre (though the Dylan Strome trade helped a lot). Players like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Artem Anisimov are all on the wrong side of 30 and will start to decline soon. They will certainly use this pick to address that need.

Projected Pick: Alex Turcotte

You really can’t go wrong picking any of the top centres ranked in Ben Kerr’s top 10 for the 2019 NHL draft. However, Turcotte is the Blackhawks guy. A speedy two-way forward, Turcotte is a gifted offensive talent who is relentless on the puck. Turcotte can be the setup man, the sniper, the agitator, you name it. Turcotte can be used on both special teams and be trusted to provide the offence at the end of the game or defend the lead. He’s basically a swiss army knife, he can do it all. A native of Island Lake, Illinois, Turcotte compares his game to Jonathon Toews and actually idolized him growing up watching the Blackhawks. Who better to fill the skates of Toews than someone who is thought to be the next Toews?

Colorado Avalanche

Draft Position: Fourth and 16th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Martin Kaut, Cale Makar, Tyson Jost

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The Avalanche have been considered a one-line team and with good reason. They have been exactly that. With a good young group of defenceman already assembled with Cale Makar ready to have his first full pro season next season and Connor Timmons on the way up, the Avalanche can shift their focus to the offence. They have Martin Kaut and Shane Bowers who will soon be ready to make the jump, however, they could still use some more blue chips prospect in the system.

Projected Picks: Dylan Cozens at 4, Matthew Boldy at 16

Cozens

To fill these needs, the Avalanche could start by picking Dylan Cozens. Much like Turcotte, Cozens is a solid two-way player. He can play in all situations and is an excellent skater, especially considering his size. Cozens also possesses outstanding vision and patience with the puck. However, as Ben Kerr describes in his scouting report, the best part of his game is his scoring ability. Cozens has an excellent wrist shot which he is able to get off quickly. He also has an excellent set of hands and a soft touch around the net. He has all the tools to become a top line centre in the NHL.

Boldy

With this group of players being so close in calibre, it’s hard to determine will each player will be picked. Also, we see a player drop the ranks every single year. This year, it could be Matthew Boldy. However, this is not because he is not an excellent player. It’s strictly due to the level of talent in the first half of the first round. In Boldy, Colorado would receive an extremely gifted goal scorer who works hard in all three zones. As Ben Kerr mentions, Boldy has put in the work to develop his defensive game which was once considered a liability. Now, Boldy has become a more complete player. A duo of Boldy and Cozens to play behind Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen for Colorado in the near future would cause a real problem for opposing teams down the road.

Dallas Stars

Draft Position: 18th

Recent First Round Picks: Ty Dellandrea, Miro Heiskanen, Jake Oettinger, Riley Tufte

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The Stars have put together an excellent defence group, however, there is are some questions about their forwards. Outside of the top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov the offence fell off. The Stars need to add some more offensive talent through the draft to add to the likes of Ty Dellandrea, Jason Robertson and Denis Gurianov.

Projected Pick: Phillip Tomasino

Insert Phillip Tomasino. Tomasino is a very gifted offensive talent. Which seems to be the theme of this draft. He is an elite skater with an exceptional set of hands and puck skills. Tomasino’s stick handling and vision make him an excellent playmaker, however, he has the ability to be a goal scorer as well. As Ben Kerr states, the one aspect he could work on is his defensive instincts and getting strong. In doing this he will develop a stronger two-way game as well as get more power behind his shot, which he will certainly need to beat NHL goaltenders.

Minnesota Wild

Draft Position: 12th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Filip Johansson, Luke Kunin

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The Wild’s biggest need is a skilled impact forward. This season the Wild had two players hot registered more than 50 points, Eric Staal and Zach Parise. Both these players are set to turn 35 this year. The Wild need to start filling the pool with high-end offensive talent to step in once Parise and Staal are ready to step out.

Projected Pick: Alex Newhook

One of the most gifted offensive talents in the draft, Newhook is a game breaker. Combining speed with an excellent set of hands, vision and an outstanding shot. Newhook is the total package. He’s also not afraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice and mix it up with the opposing team’s defence. While the calibre Newhook played against may have been questionable, Newhook’s talent certainly is not.

Nashville Predators

Draft Position: 24th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Eeli Tolvanen, Dante Fabbro

Team Needs:

With the team finishing in the bottom half of the league in terms of offence, and not having any blue-chip offensive prospects outside of Eeli Tolvanen, the Predators are going to want to focus on offence in the NHL draft.

Projected Pick: Samuel Poulin

When you get deeper into the first round, you start to get some players who need some work. This is the case for Poulin. While his offensive instincts are great, he needs to work on his skating ability. As Ben Kerr states, if he works on this, he could be an impact player at the NHL level. Poulin is a power forward with outstanding playmaking abilities and vision. He also possesses an excellent one-timer and soft hands around the net. If he can put it all together, he could end up being a steal.

St. Louis Blues

Draft Position: 62nd Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Dominik Bokk, Robert Thomas, Klim Kostin, Tage Thompson

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The Blues have gone heavy drafting forwards with their first round picks in the recent years. Now it’s time to switch to defence. Alex Pietrangelo is entering the final year of his contract and Jay Bouwmeester‘s career is winding down. With no high-end defence prospects in the pool, the Blues certainly need to try to stock up.

Projected Pick: Billy Constantinou

With the last pick in the second round, the Blues could still get a very good player. Constantinou is certainly that. While he will obviously need some work, as all prospects do, Constantinou has the tools to make him a very intriguing pick late in the second round. He is an outstanding skater with excellent puck moving abilities. However, he tends to do too much at times causing turnovers. He will need to learn to tighten up that part of his game. However, the fact he’s willing to try it and be creative is also something that teams would certainly love. He is a high risk/high reward player.

Winnipeg Jets

Draft Position: 20th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Kristian Vesalainen, Patrik Laine, Logan Stanley

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The Jets are in desperate need of defence. At both the NHL level and in their prospect pool. With the uncertainty of Tyler Myers, trading Jacob Trouba, and Dustin Byfuglien not getting any younger, the Jets right side needs some work.  As of now, Sami Niku and recently acquired Neal Pionk will fill out the right side. The Jets need to start stacking up on some high calibre defence prospects to step in in the near future.

Projected Pick: Victor Soderstrom

While last year’s NHL draft was filled with high-end defenceman, this draft is all about the forwards. This works out well for the Jets as they can most likely get a shot at drafting there biggest need with the 20th pick, defenceman Victor Soderstrom. Soderstrom may be a bit undersized, however, his skating, puck skills and vision can compensate for that. His skating ability makes him effective in both offensive and defensive zones. He can use it to beat you on the rush but also backcheck quickly to defend in his own end. Soderstrom has the ability to quarterback the powerplay, although he could use a little work on his shot to make him even more effective. Given the tools he has in his repertoire, he could end up being a quality first round pick.

 

 

 

Main Photo: DALLAS, TEXAS – DECEMBER 20: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars controls the puck against Brandon Saad #20 of the Chicago Blackhawks at American Airlines Center on December 20, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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