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NHL Draft

Metropolitan Division team draft needs

NHL.com looks at which players would best fit into specific styles, dynamics

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas provides an opportunity for teams to shore up positions of need with an injection of young talent.

The draft will be held at United Center in Chicago. The first round is Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN). Rounds 2-7 are Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

Here is what Metropolitan Division teams could be looking to do when they arrive in Chicago (teams listed in alphabetical order):

 

CAROLINA HURRICANES

Top priority: Top-six forward 

The situation: The Hurricanes have put some good pieces in place on defense, led by Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin, Justin Faulk and Brett Pesce, along with top prospects Haydn Fleury (2014, No. 7) and Jake Bean (2013, No. 13). Now they need to do the same with their forward group. They have a solid core at the NHL level, led by Jeff Skinner, Teuvo Teravainen, Victor Rask, Sebastian Aho and Elias Lindholm. Julien Gauthier (2016, No. 21) had 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists) in 43 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Warren Foegele (2014, No. 67) had 63 points (27 goals, 36 assists) in 61 Ontario Hockey League games, and helped Erie reach the Memorial Cup championship game. With the No. 12 selection in the first round, six picks in the first three rounds and 10 selections in all, the Hurricanes should be able to find a few more high-end forwards to add to their group. 

Possible fits: Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL); Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (SWE-2); Klim Kostin, C/LW, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

 

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Top priority: Clutch goal-scorer 

The situation: That comes directly from Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, who told Sportsnet last month his team's biggest need is, "A sniper in the key moments." The Blue Jackets were sixth in the NHL this season with 247 goals, but forward Cam Atkinson was their only player with more than 30 goals and 60 points. The team effort approach to scoring helped them finish with the fourth-most points in the League, but not having a go-to scorer hurt them during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Vitaly Abramov (2016, No. 65) was third in the QMJHL this season with 46 goals, and Pierre-Luc Dubois (2016, No. 3) had a strong postseason in the QMJHL with nine goals in 19 games. The Blue Jackets likely will look to find more high-end scoring options with their six picks, starting with No. 24 in the first round. 

Possible fits: Jason Robertson, LW, Kingston (OHL); Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane (WHL); Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville (QMJHL)

 

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Top priority: Top-line center 

The situation: The Devils had 180 goals this season, third-fewest in the League. It also marked the third straight season they finished in the bottom-three in goals. They focused on offense at the 2016 draft, selecting forwards with their first five picks, including center Michael McLeod in the first round (No. 12) and right wing Nathan Bastian in the second round (No. 41), and they combined for 43 goals with Mississauga of the OHL. And forward John Quenneville, the 30th pick of the 2014 Draft, made his NHL debut this season and had four points (one goal, three assists) in 12 games after he had 46 points (14 goals, 32 assists) with Albany of the American Hockey League. With the No. 1 pick in the draft, five selections in the first four rounds and 11 in all, they should be able to find some top-end offensive talent. 

Possible fits: Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon; Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL); Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Top priority: Skilled defenseman 

The situation: The Islanders have a solid group of defensemen but lack NHL-ready puck-movers after Nick Leddy. Ryan Pulock, 22, the 15th pick of the 2015 Draft, could get a chance to be that player on a full-time basis next season after playing 16 games the past two seasons. They'll have options with their five draft picks, starting at No. 15 in the first round. Though they have a number of solid young forward prospects, among them Mathew Barzal (2015, No. 16), Michael Dal Colle (2014, No. 5) and Kieffer Bellows (2016, No. 19), this year's draft is stocked with solid players up front. 

Possible fits: Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle (SWE); Henri Jokiharju, D, Portland; Klim Kostin, C/LW, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

Top priority: Young skaters

The situation: The Rangers have a first-round pick (No. 21) for the first time since 2012 and four picks in all, and need to add to the prospect pipeline at forward and defense. All things being equal, they could look for a forward. Left wing Ryan Gropp, a second-round pick (No. 41) in 2015, led Seattle of the Western Hockey League with 84 points (35 goals, 49 assists) in 66 games but will need more time until he's NHL-ready. With a young forward core in the NHL of Derek Stepan (27), Chris Kreider (26), Kevin Hayes (25) and J.T. Miller (24), they have time to develop a few more forwards. They added a defenseman to the development system when they signed Neal Pionk on May 1 after he had 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in 42 games as a sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. They also liked the season Sean Day, a third-round pick in 2016 (No. 82), had in helping Windsor win the Memorial Cup. 

Possible fits: Lias Andersson, HV 71 (SWE); Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane, WHL; Eeli Tolvanen, LW, Sioux City (USHL)

 

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Top priority: Young forwards 

The situation: The Flyers have built a strong prospect pipeline in the past three drafts and are ready to begin reaping the rewards. Defenseman Ivan Provorov (No. 7) and forward Travis Konecny (No. 24), their first-round picks in 2015, were the first to arrive, and defensemen Samuel Morin (2013, No. 11) and Robert Hagg (2013, No. 41) made their NHL debuts late in the season. They'll compete for full-time NHL spots in 2017-18, along with forward Oskar Lindblom (2014, No. 138) and defenseman Travis Sanheim (2014, No. 17). Close to being ready are forwards German Rubtsov (2016, No. 22) and Pascal Laberge (2016, No. 36), and defenseman Phillipe Myers (free agent, Sept. 21, 2015). With those young players on track to progress to the NHL, Philadelphia will have to start replenishing its prospect base, and will have ample opportunity at the 2017 Draft with 11 picks, starting with No. 2 in the first round. 

Possible fits: Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL); Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL); Cale Makar, Brandon (AJHL)

 

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Top priority: Top-six forwards 

The situation: The Penguins have been carried offensively by forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, who have enough talent to make the players around them better. Though they have received good contributions from forwards Jake Guentzel, Scott Wilson, Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary, they need to develop more high-skill forwards. They also could look at building a better prospect group on defense. Olli Maatta (22) and Brian Dumoulin (25) were the only defenseman younger than 26 to see significant ice time this season, and when their depth was tested because of injuries, they went outside the organization with trades for Ron Hainsey and Mark Streit. They have the 31st pick in the first round and six picks in all. 

Possible fits: Aleksei Heponiemi, C, Swift Current (WHL); Nick Henry, RW, Regina (WHL); Nikita Popugaev, LW, Prince George (WHL)

 

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Top priority: Skilled forwards 

The situation: The Capitals won't pick until the fourth round, but there should be talented players for them to choose from. They've done well with recent late-round picks, including defenseman Connor Hobbs in the fifth round in 2015 (No. 143), and right wing Riley Barber in the sixth round (No. 167) and defenseman Christian Djoos in the seventh round (No. 195) in 2012; each could push for NHL spots next season. The Capitals are strongest among defense prospects. Hobbs led Western Hockey League defensemen with 31 goals and 85 points, Lucas Johansen (2016, No. 28) had 41 points (six goals, 35 assists) and a plus-23 rating in 68 games with Kelowna in the WHL, Djoos led defensemen at Hershey of the AHL with 13 goals and 58 points, and Madison Bowey (2013, No. 53) showed flashes of promise with Hershey but injuries limited him to 34 games. Whoever the Capitals take will need time to develop, but they are well-situated to allow their prospects to take whatever time they need to reach the next level. 

Possible fits: Lukas Elvenes, C/RW, Rogle Jr. (SWE-JR); Cayden Primeau, G, Lincoln (USHL); Morgan Barron, C, St. Andrews College (HIGH-ON)

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