2019 NHL Draft Team Needs: Pacific Division

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NHL Draft Team Needs Pacific
VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 16: Goalie Mikko Koskinen #19 of the Edmonton Oilers stops Antoine Roussel #26 of the Vancouver Canucks during the shootout in NHL action on January, 16, 2019 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/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 Pacific Division and 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: Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks

Draft Position: 9th and 29th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Isac Lundestrom, Max Jones, Sam Steel

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The Ducks top two centres Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler are both 34 years old. Kesler’s career is in jeopardy and he may not play at all next season after having surgery. With their careers winding down, the Ducks could stand to draft one of the surefire centres with the ninth pick. With their second first round pick, they should look for defence. Anaheim once had a ton of defence prospects, however, the Ducks used that depth to make trades to upgrade the forward position. They also lost Shea Theodore in the expansion draft. It would not hurt for the Ducks to replenish the pool.

Projected Pick: Kirby Dach at 9, Lassi Thomson at 29

Dach

With Ryan Getzlaf career starting to wind down, Kirby Dach is the perfect player to replace him. Much like Getzlaf, Dach is a big powerful playmaking centre. He has outstanding vision and passing skills and is excellent on the draw. He is also effective on both special teams. Ben Kerr states that Dach’s game is much like Ryan Getzlaf’s in his scouting report. So who better to come in to replace Getzlaf in the future?

Thomson

Thomson is a gifted skater who makes a good first pass to break out of the zone. However, he’s best known for his shot. Thomson is a powerplay specialist as he is able to find the back of the net due to his powerful slapshot and one-timer. Thomson is excellent at getting the puck to the net creating rebounds as well. On the defensive end, he likes to throw the big hit, however, as Ben Kerr explains this sometimes leaves him out of position. While he could stand to develop his defensive game, he is not a liability back there by any means.

Arizona Coyotes

Draft Position: 14th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Barrett Hayton, Pierre-Oliver Joseph, Jakob Chychrun, Clayton Keller

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The Coyotes need to look for some goal scoring in this year’s draft. Not one player on the Coyotes roster hit the 20 goal plateau. The club selected Barrett Hayton at last year’s draft to address this issue however, the club could use another bonafide sniper to add to the mix.

Projected Pick: Arthur Kaliyev

Arthur Kaliyev certainly fits that description. Kaliyev is one of the best goal scorers in the draft class and would certainly look good next to Hayton in the future. While he could stand to work on his skating and defensive play, it’s not going to define his game. Kaliyev has all the tools to be an elite goal scorer at the NHL level. With the right development, he should slot in as a top-six forward.

Calgary Flames

Draft Position: 26th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Juuso Valimaki, Matthew Tkachuk

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The biggest question mark on the Flames roster is their goaltending. None of their prospects really showed any signs of promise last season and they still don’t know what they have in David Rittich. However, outside of Spencer Knight who is projected to be selected by the time the Flames get to pick, there are no goaltenders worth using the pick on. The Flames will select the best player available at this point, as there it is pretty even with their forward and defence prospects.

Projected Pick: Brett Leason

Not very often does a player get passed over in one draft and then be projected to be a first-round pick. Brett Leason has actually been passed over twice. Leason put in the work and put together quite the season for the Prince Albert Raiders. He was also named to Canada’s World Junior Team where he put up five points in five games. The determination that Leason showed to get to this level has been outstanding. His willingness to throw the body around and play an effective two-way game will certainly earn the love of his coaches. Leason could go straight to the AHL next season which should benefit his development further and potentially fast track him to the NHL.

Edmonton Oilers

Draft Position: 8th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Evan Bouchard, Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi

Team Needs:

As bad as it sounds, what don’t the Oilers need? They need some offensive help to support Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They need more solid defence prospects. Especially a powerplay specialist who can shoot the puck. They also need goaltending. The list is long for the Oilers, but they will certainly address one of these needs with the eighth overall pick.

Projected Pick: Cole Caufield

Caufield is one of the best goal scorers in the draft. As Ben Kerr describes, Caulfield has an excellent arsenal of shots. He can beat goaltenders in a variety of ways and is extremely creative with the puck on his stick. Although undersized, at only 5’7” Caulfield still works hard in all three zones and is not afraid to mix it up. However, he can sometimes get out muscled due to his lack of size. Regardless, with the right development, Caulfield could turn into one of the leagues prolific scorers.

Los Angeles Kings

Draft Position: 5th and 22nd Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Rasmus Kupari, Gabriel Vilardi

NHL Draft Team Needs:

All the Kings top prospects are at the forward position, so now it’s time to set their focuses on defence. The Kings have Sean Durzi who they acquired in the Jake Muzzin deal as well as Kale Clague, however, neither are what you would call a blue-chip prospect. With the fifth overall selection, the Kings could possibly get the best defender in the draft.

Projected Pick: Bowen Byram at 5, Ryan Suzuki at 22

Byram

In terms of defenceman in the draft, it’s Byram and then all the rest. Byram is in a league of his own. He is an elite level defenceman who has all the tools to become a number one defenceman at the NHL level. Byram has excellent skating abilities which he compliments with exceptional vision and hockey IQ, as well as an excellent shot and playmaking abilities. Ben Kerr compares Byram’s game to Drew Doughty‘s. They would make an incredible duo for the Kings in the future.

Suzuki

With their second pick, the Kings could benefit from selecting the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki, Ryan Suzuki. Suzuki possesses a lot of the same skills as his brother Nick. He’s an extremely smart player who excels and as a playmaker but also has a scoring touch as well. Suzuki’s vision is outstanding and seems to always make the smart play. The one knock on Suzuki, however, is his play in his own end. This is mostly due to his lack of strength and should get better as he matures.

Vegas Golden Knights

Draft Position: 17th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Erik Brannstrom

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The biggest long-term need for Vegas is goaltending. Marc-Andre Fleury has been outstanding for the Knights, however, he is set to turn 35 this year. Vegas doesn’t have much in terms of goalie prospects coming up in the system, so the best plan of attack may be to use the 17th overall pick to draft the best in the draft if available.

Projected Pick: Spencer Knight

That goaltender would be Spencer Knight. Knight is expected to be one of the next great goaltenders to enter the league as he is already getting compared to likes of Carey Price. His calm, cool and collected demeanour is something rare to find in a goaltender. He has great size at 6’3” and compliments that with quick and crisp movements as he works his way around his crease. Knight is also an outstanding puck handler, acting as a third defenceman on the back end. There has not been a goalie this promising since Carey Price was drafted in 2005.

San Jose Sharks

Draft Position: 41st Overall

The Sharks will not pick until the second round this year as they traded their first-round pick to Buffalo in the Evander Kane deal.

Recent First Round Picks: Ryan Merkley, Josh Norris

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The Sharks don’t have much in the prospect pool given their success over the past few years. With the careers of some of their long-time players such as Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski start winding down, the Sharks are going to have to start drafting some to replace quality forwards to replace them. The Sharks have only selected five forwards in the first round in the past 11 drafts and have traded away three of them. Without a first round pick this year, the Sharks will need to get creative and look for a high skill type of player in the second round.

Projected Pick: Egor Afanasyev

With the pick, the Sharks should look at Afanasyev. A gifted goal scorer, Afanasyev possesses the size to be a power forward at the NHL level. He uses this size to crash the net and bang away at the rebound. He has a soft touch in close but can also beat goaltenders from afar with his variety of shots. Afanasyev has a strong and accurate wrist shot and also a lethal one-timer. His defensive game needs work, however, this could develop as he grows with the team.

Vancouver Canucks

Draft Position: 10th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Olli Juolevi

NHL Draft Team Needs:

The Canucks could stand to add some more offence through the draft this year. After their top young players Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat, only one other forward scored over 30 points, Antoine Roussel. The Canucks should look to draft and develop another forward to help out this group to allow for some more secondary scoring.

Projected Pick: Trevor Zegras

Zegras would certainly fit that need for the Canucks. With outstanding skating and an incredible set of hands to go along with his solid playmaking ability, Zegras could end up being a top-six forward in the NHL. Not only is he great offensively but he plays a solid two-way game as well. His speed allows him to get back and defend in his own zone and he has a very active stick which he uses to cut down passing lanes. Zegras is also an effective penalty killer. He uses his instincts and hockey IQ to read plays and intercept them to turn it into offence for his team. While his skating and playmaking abilities are outstanding, the best part about his game may be his hockey IQ. He always seems to be on the right side of the puck.

 

VANCOUVER, BC – JANUARY 16: Goalie Mikko Koskinen #19 of the Edmonton Oilers stops Antoine Roussel #26 of the Vancouver Canucks during the shootout in NHL action on January, 16, 2019 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

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