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Central Division team needs entering 2015 NHL Draft

by Adam Kimelman / Chicago Blackhawks

The 2015 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.

Though there still may be trades and surprises in the works leading up to the draft, which will be held June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., the priorities likely will remain the same. Here's a breakdown of what Central Division teams could be looking to do when they arrive in Florida.

The first round of the draft is June 26 (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports); rounds 2-7 will be held Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN-US, TVA Sports).

Keep in mind the possible fits for each team are based on draft position. Teams are listed in alphabetical order.


Top priority: Goaltending depth

The situation: The Blackhawks traded their first-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes as part of the package to acquire forward Antoine Vermette; their first pick won't be until No. 54 in the second round. The Blackhawks have a few quality prospects at other positions but goaltender is a weak spot. Since taking Corey Crawford in the second round of the 2003 NHL Draft (No. 52), the Blackhawks have picked a goaltender in the top three rounds twice, and neither is in the organization. There are some strong goaltending prospects this year who could be available when their turn comes; a left wing who could develop into a top-six forward is another potential area they could examine.

Possible fits: Ilya Samsonov, G, Magnitogorsk 2 (RUS-JR); Callum Booth, G, Quebec (QMJHL); Erik Foley, LW, Cedar Rapids (USHL).


Top priority: Top-six forward

The situation: Offensive firepower is a priority for the Avalanche, who scored 40 fewer non-shootout goals in 2014-15 than they did the previous season. With Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon the center position is in good shape; now they need some assets to play on the wings. With the 10th pick of a draft deep in forward talent, the Avalanche should be able to find a player who could step onto one of the top two lines in the next two seasons.

Possible fits: Timo Meier, RW, Halifax (QMJHL); Kyle Connor, LW, Youngstown (USHL); Pavel Zacha, C, Sarnia (OHL).


Top priority: Offensive depth

The situation: Scoring wasn't an issue for the Stars this season; they were second to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the regular season with an average of 3.13 goals per game. But after Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, they had one player with more than 50 points and none with more than 20 goals. Finding someone who can develop into a dependable secondary scoring option in the next 2-3 seasons should be the goal with the 12th pick in the first round.

Possible fits: Mathew Barzal, C, Seattle (WHL); Timo Meier, RW, Halifax (QMJHL); Kyle Connor, LW, Youngstown (USHL).


Top priority: Restocking prospect cupboard

The situation: The Wild have moved a number of their prospects to the NHL during the past few seasons (Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Christian Folin) and need to start restocking the pipeline. Picking No. 20 in the first round they should find someone able to develop into a contributing player. Defense could get the edge if equal players are on the board, but the Wild almost certainly will take the best player available.

Possible fits: Daniel Sprong, RW, Charlottetown (QMJHL); Noah Juulsen, D, Everett (WHL), Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke (QMJHL).


Top priority: Top-two center

The situation: The Predators' top two centers as far as ice time during the regular season were Mike Ribeiro, who's 35, and Mike Fisher, 34. And Matt Cullen, 38, centered the second line in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when Fisher was injured. Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and Craig Smith are listed as centers but have developed into strong wings. Finding a playmaking center should be the focus when their turn comes at No. 55 in the second round; their first-round pick was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of acquiring defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli.

Possible fits: Blake Speers, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL); Cooper Marody, C, Sioux Falls (USHL); Adam Musil, C, Red Deer (WHL).


Top priority: Replenishing prospect depth

The situation: The Blues have an enviable list of young talent ready to move into full-time NHL jobs, among them forwards Dmitrij Jaskin, Ty Rattie and Robby Fabbri, their top pick in 2014 (No. 21). Restocking that prospect depth by taking the best player available likely will be the Blues' plan. Their first pick won't be until No. 56 in the second round; their first-round pick was sent to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the Ryan Miller trade last season.

Possible fits: Brendan Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL); Adam Musil, C, Red Deer (WHL); Glen Gawdin, C, Swift Current (WHL).


Top priority: Defensive depth

The situation: Between smart drafting and trades the Jets are set for the future at forward, led by 2014 first-round pick (No. 9) Nikolaj Ehlers, who could play for them next season. Next comes adding some quality young defensemen to go along with Joshua Morrissey, their first pick in 2013 (No. 13). With No. 17 and No. 25 in the first round they could opt to take the best defenseman available with the first pick and the best player regardless of position with the second, the Blues' selection acquired from the Buffalo Sabres as part of the Evander Kane trade.

Possible fits: Noah Juulsen, D, Everett (WHL); Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke (QMJHL); Colin White, C, USA U-18 (USHL)


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