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Draft needs: Metropolitan Division

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Jarmo Kekalainen is pretty clear in saying that he will select the best player available at No. 16 overall.

The Blue Jackets have some organizational needs that they'd like to address, for sure, but Kekalainen firmly believes in drafting the best player on the board when Columbus' number is called. Whether it's a forward or defenseman doesn't necessarily matter in the first round, he says, because teams can use the later rounds to fill positions of need.

NHL.com's Mike Morreale - their resident draft expert - took a closer look at what teams in the Metropolitan Division may be looking at as the 2014 NHL Draft approaches. Here's a snippet of what he expects the Blue Jackets to do:

The situation: The Blue Jackets selected centers Alexander Wennberg (2013, No. 14) and Marko Dano (2013, No. 27) and left wing Kerby Rychel (2013, No. 19) with their three 2013 first-round picks, so the forward position appears to be in good standing. That doesn't mean general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will forego an opportunity to draft a forward in the first round this year, but it certainly opens up opportunities to target help on defense and in net.

Goalie prospect Oscar Dansk (2012, No. 31) likely will spend the 2014-15 season with the Blue Jackets' American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Falcons, to acclimate himself to professional hockey. Top defensive prospect Tim Erixon (2012, trade) likely will spend much of next season in Springfield.

To read Morreale's thoughts on the Jackets' top area of need and view potential targets with the 16th pick, click HERE.

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