With the conclusion of the Expansion Draft, it’s time to focus in on the 2017 NHL Entry Draft – which occurs on Friday evening. We take a look at Pacific Division Team Needs in the NHL Draft.
It’s no surprise the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is a little different than what has been the norm for the last few years. Compared to years past, the lack of top-end talent available is significant. This will likely prompt teams to seek out organizational need at their selections rather than grab the best player available; unless the value is simply too good to pass on. In considering what each team needs to look for in this years draft; we will continue on with Pacific Division Team Needs.
2017 NHL Entry Draft – Pacific Division Team Needs
Draft position: 50th overall
The Ducks handed over their first round selection in exchange for Patrick Eaves at the trade deadline. Fortunately they will draft at 50th courtesy of a condition from last summer’s Frederik Andersen deal.
Anaheim hasn’t selected above 24th overall in any of the last four drafts, but has done a formidable job stockpiling youth. Losing Shea Theodore to Vegas could cause the Ducks to strengthen their depth on defence with their first pick.
Multi-dimensional defensemen Markus Phillips and Dylan Samberg are expected to go around when Anaheim announces its pick. If the Ducks are worried about John Gibson‘s inability to stay healthy, Quinnipiac-bound goaltender Keith Petruzzelli raised eyebrows this past season.
Draft position: 7th overall
Arizona parted with long time centre Martin Hanzal at the trade deadline and received a nice haul of draft picks from Minnesota. They’ll select at 7th as well as 23rd, supplementing the quality of the current system.
The Coyotes forward prospects are beginning to create a traffic jam at the NHL level, with too many inexperienced youth and not enough veteran presence. Arizona should look to shift a few prospects for a player such as Derek Stepan, who has drawn interest from the club.
General manager John Chayka knows his team is likely still a few years away, and isn’t in a rush to shake up the club’s culture. The ‘Yotes could hope either Cody Glass or Gabriel Vilardi fall to them at 7. With their second first round pick, they could also be suitors for goalie Jake Oettinger, who would improve a vulnerability in Arizona’s system.
Draft position: 16th overall
Sam Bennett should eventually be able to contribute at the same level as the aforementioned three studs. However, the young aggressor didn’t have as prolific a sophomore season as the organization and its fans would have liked.
Equipping Bennett with a wing for the future could make Calgary much more dangerous top to bottom. The Flames should look at Kristian Vesalainen, a sizeable winger that could be an effective set-up man on Bennett’s left side.
Draft position: 22nd overall
Now that the Oilers are out of the deep, dark woods that is the rebuild process, they can draft players with a clear vision of how they will fit into their team.
Jordan Eberle‘s departure leaves a void for an impact player on the right side. Edmonton is hoping that they will get exactly that from 2016 first rounder Jesse Puljujarvi who had difficulty adapting to the North American game.
Despite having the league’s MVP on their side, the Oilers can’t help but envy the Flames having an impact player like John Gaudreau. Why wouldn’t the Oilers go out and try to get their own in Kailer Yamamoto? A skilled speedster that improves the play of his counterparts is just what the doctor ordered.
Los Angeles Kings
Draft position: 11th overall
A culture change appears imminent in La La Land, after missing out on the postseason in two of the last three seasons. Darryl Sutter isn’t in charge anymore, meaning the Kings could stray from a possession-heavy approach to improve on scoring – where they ranked bottom five last year.
The Kings aren’t getting any younger, ranking among the leagues’ top five in average age. The window for success seems to be shrinking if anything, and Los Angeles needs to act quickly and start building for the future.
Having not selected earlier than 15th since 2009, the Kings could leave the draft with a premier prospect. Snipers Eeli Tolvanen and Owen Tippett could be of immense value to a team that’s been struggling to score like Los Angeles.
San Jose Sharks
Draft position: 19th overall
This is a big off-season for San Jose. Will they move on from long time veterans and unrestricted free agents Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau? A first round exit to the Oilers may have signaled the swan song for both generational players in the Sharks organization.
Former first rounders Mirco Mueller and Nikolay Goldobin were shipped out and the graduation of Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier leaves the Sharks prospect pool noticeably shallow. Now it’s up to general manager Doug Wilson to envision the future of his team.
Erik Brännström is a deft puck-moving defenseman, who would be a welcome addition to a prospect pool devoid of high-upside rearguards. Robert Thomas is the latest from the prospect factory in London, and is one of the more complete centres in this draft.
Draft position: 5th overall
General manager Jim Benning has finally focused in on what the Canucks should’ve done when the former Bruins scout was brought in to manage. Benning received assets for Alexandre Burrows and Jannik Hansen, an effort to right the ship before it’s primed for an additional decade below the water line.
Losing behemoth defenseman Nikita Tryamkin was strange and untimely, but the Canucks have a nice core of young defensemen. It makes sense to cash out on Chris Tanev while Vancouver remains a lottery team, but only if Benning can get considerable value for one of the league’s most underrated defensemen.
Cody Glass is a product of the Portland Winterhawks, where new head coach Travis Green used to coach. Glass was very productive at even strength in a year where he skyrocketed up the rankings, the Canucks need a number one centre and Glass fits the prototype.
Vegas Golden Knights
Draft position: 6th overall
Three picks in the top 15, five in the top 45 – the Golden Knights top priority is to build a prospect system from scratch. A tough task, especially given how rich some team’s youth corps are.
General manager George McPhee can afford to go best player available at his early picks, and even try and package a few picks together to trade up if the team has a good grade on Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick. If anything, Vegas went for higher quality forwards over defensemen at the expansion draft.
If the Knights stand pat, at least one of defensemen Cale Makar or Miro Heiskanen should available. A surplus of high upside talent such as Nick Suzuki, Martin Necas, or Timothy Liljegren could still be kicking at 13th or 15th.