atlantic draft needs TUNE IN TONIGHT

The 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be held June 28-29 at Sphere in Las Vegas. The first round will be June 28 (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) and Rounds 2-7 are June 29 (11:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+, NHLN, SN, SN1). is counting down to the draft with in-depth profiles on top prospects, podcasts and other features. Today, a look at needs for teams in the Atlantic Division.'s full draft coverage can be found here.

The 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft provides an opportunity for teams to strengthen positions of need with young talent.

Here is what Atlantic Division teams could be looking to do at the draft (listed in alphabetical order):


Top priority: Depth at forward

First pick: No. 25

The situation: Boston moved back into the first round when they traded goalie Linus Ullmark to the Ottawa Senators on Monday. They'll be looking to supplement a prospect group topped by forward Fabian Lysell (2021, No. 21), defenseman Mason Lohrei (2020, No. 58) and goalie Brendon Bussi (free agent, June 2023). After losing to the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Second Round, the Bruins will have some decisions to make in free agency with forwards Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen, and defensemen Matt Grzelcyk, Derek Forbort and Kevin Shattenkirk each a pending unrestricted free agent, and goalie Jeremy Swayman a pending restricted free agent. He'll be due a raise after he had a 2.15 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in starting 12 of 13 playoff games.

Possible fits: Cole Beaudoin, C, Barrie (OHL); Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon (USHL); Andrew Basha, LW, Medicine Hat (WHL)


Top priority: Best player available

First pick: No. 11

The situation: The Sabres missed the playoffs for an NHL-record 13th consecutive season after finishing sixth in the Atlantic Division, seven points behind the Washington Capitals for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Lindy Ruff is back as coach after being hired April 22, six days after Don Granato was fired. Ruff previously coached the Sabres from 1997-98 to 2012-13, guiding them to eight playoff appearances, including reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 1999, and consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Final in 2006 and 2007. The 64-year-old coach has some work do to as the Sabres finished 23rd in the League in goals per game (2.98), 29th on the power play (16.6 percent) and last in face-off efficiency (45.0 percent). The good news is there's plenty to work with and an impressive pool of prospects led by forwards Jiri Kulich (2022, No. 28), Matt Savoie (2022, No. 9), Noah Ostlund (2022, No. 16) and Isak Rosen (2021, No. 14), defensemen Ryan Johnson (2019, No. 31) and goalies Devon Levi (trade, Florida Panthers) and Topias Leinonen (2022, No. 41). They'll need to continue to gain assets for a possible push to qualify for the postseason in 2024-25.

Possible fits: Konsta Helenius, C, Jukurit (FIN); Cole Eiserman, LW, USA U-18 (USHL); Beckett Sennecke, RW, Oshawa (OHL)


Top Priority: Forward and defenseman depth

First pick: No. 15

The situation: Detroit's rebuilding effort is showing promise: defenseman Simon Edvinsson (2021, No. 6) had 30 points (eight goals, 22 assists) in 54 games in his second season with Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. The 21-year-old also had two points (one goal, one assist) in 16 games with the Red Wings, playing a top-four role during Detroit's late-season push for a playoff spot. Forward Marco Kasper (2022, No. 8) had 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 71 games with Grand Rapids and goalie Sebastian Cossa (2021, No. 15) was 22-9-9 with a 2.41 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and two shutouts in 40 games with Grand Rapids. Axel Sandin Pellikka (2023, No. 17) signed an entry-level contract May 6 after the 19-year-old had 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in 39 games with Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League and won the 2024 Borje Salming Trophy as the best Sweden-born defenseman in the SHL.

Possible fits: Michael Hage, C, Chicago (USHL); Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, RW, Mora (SWE-2); Emil Hemming, RW, TPS (FIN)


Top Priority: Defenseman depth

First pick: No. 97

The situation: The Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final to win the first championship in their history, one season after losing in five games to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Final. Florida's first of four selections in this draft will come at the end of the third round after trading their first- and second-round picks. The Panthers didn't receive any major contributions from rookies in 2023-24, primarily because of the strong roster that's been built. There could be a need for younger players soon, with a large group of pending free agents, including forwards Sam Reinhart, Vladimir Tarasenko and Nick Cousins, and defensemen Brandon Montour, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Dmitry Kulikov. Adding to their prospect depth at defense could be a priority; Evan Nause (2021, No. 56), Marek Alscher (2022, No. 93) and Michael Benning (2020, No. 95) might be the top defensemen in the pipeline.

Possible fits: Ondrej Becher, C, Prince George (WHL); Anthony Romani, RW, North Bay (OHL); Matyas Melovsky, C, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)


Top priority: Depth at all positions

First-round picks: No. 5, No. 26

The situation: After losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, the Canadiens have not made the playoffs the past three seasons. Montreal has 12 picks in the draft, including two in the first round. It has at least 11 picks entering the draft for a third straight year, including the No. 5 choice for a second straight year. The top defenseman prospect is David Reinbacher (2023, No. 5), with Lane Hutson (2022, No. 62) ready to move into full-time NHL duty. Among the top forward prospects are Filip Mesar (2022, No. 26) and Owen Beck (2022, No. 33). They also have goalie prospect Jacob Fowler (2023, No. 69), who had an exceptional freshman season at Boston College. The Canadiens needs to strengthen their prospect base up front and on defense, and they should be able to fill that need with the fifth pick.

Possible fits: Cayden Lindstrom, C, Medicine Hat (WHL); Ivan Demidov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg Jr. (RUS-JR); Zeev Buium, D, Denver (NCAA)


Top priority: Best available player

First pick: No. 7

The situation: Ottawa failed to qualify for the playoffs a seventh straight season, the longest drought in their history. Travis Green was hired as coach May 7, replacing Jacques Martin. Ottawa will be selecting in the first round for the first time since selecting forward Tyler Boucher at No. 10 in 2021; they had the No. 25 pick but traded it to the Bruins for Ullmark to solidify their goaltending. Ottawa had one rookie make an impact this season, forward Ridly Greig, who had 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in 72 games. The top prospects are defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker (2018, No. 26), goalie Mads Sogaard (2019, No. 37), and forwards Boucher and Zack Ostapchuk (2021, No. 39) and Tyler Boucher (No. 10, 2021). Ottawa has six picks and likely will look to create depth at every position.

Possible fits: Zeev Buium, D, Denver (NCAA); Zayne Parekh, D, Saginaw (OHL); Sam Dickinson, D, London (OHL)


Top Priority: Best player available

First pick: No. 128

The situation: Tampa Bay lost in six games to the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference First Round, marking their second straight first round exit. The Lightning have five picks in the draft, but their first won't come until the fourth round. Tampa Bay will focus on whoever the top player on their draft board is when their turn comes as they need to address an aging core group led by defensemen Victor Hedman (33 years old), goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (29), and forward Steven Stamkos (34), who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. History has shown it doesn't matter how many or where the Lightning pick in the draft since they have a knack for uncovering diamonds in the rough. The top prospects in the pipeline might be forwards Isaac Howard (2022, No. 31), who had 36 points (eight goals, 28 assists) in 36 games with Michigan State University this season, and Ethan Gauthier (2023, No. 37), who had 71 points (36 goals, 35 assists) in 64 games with Drummondville of the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League.

Possible fits: Joe Connor, LW, Muskegon (USHL); Aatos Koivu, C, TPS Jr. (FIN-JR); Lukas Matecha, G, Tri-City (WHL)


Top priority: Forward and defenseman depth

First pick: No. 23

The situation: The Maple Leafs lost a seven-game series to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round. Coach Sheldon Keefe was fired May 9; he was replaced by Craig Berube on May 17. Toronto has qualified for the playoffs eight consecutive seasons, but lost in the opening round seven times. Forwards Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi can become unrestricted free agents July 1 and forwards Mitch Marner and John Tavares will be entering the final seasons of their contracts. The Maple Leafs have a few good prospects in the pipeline, among them defenseman Topi Niemela (2020, No. 64) and forwards Nicholas Robertson (2019, No. 53) and Easton Cowan (2023, No. 28), who won the Red Tilson Trophy as the most outstanding player in the Ontario Hockey League. He had 96 points (34 goals, 62 assists) in 54 regular-season games, and 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 18 playoff games for the OHL-champion London Knights. Of Toronto's seven selections, they have none in the second and third rounds.

Possible fits: Sacha Boisvert, C, Muskegon (USHL); Linus Eriksson, C, Djurgarden (SWE-2); Liam Greentree, RW, Windsor (OHL)

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