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Atlantic Division team needs entering 2015 NHL Draft

by Mike G. Morreale

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.

While 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 Atlantic 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, TVA Sports).

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


Top priority: Depth on the wings

The situation: The Bruins have benefitted from good drafting over the years. There are goaltenders Malcolm Subban (2012, No. 24) and Zane McIntyre (2010, No. 165); defensemen Joe Morrow (trade with Dallas, 2013) and Matt Grzelcyk (2012, No. 85); centers Ryan Spooner (2010, No. 45) and Alexander Khokhlachev (2011, No. 40); left wings Peter Cehlarik (2013, No. 90) and Anthony Camara (2011, No. 81); and right wings David Pastrnak (2014, No. 25) and Brian Ferlin (2011, No. 121). Spooner and Pastrnak made significant impacts with the Bruins in 2014-15.

Possible fits: Kyle Connor, LW, Youngstown (USHL); Nicholas Merkley, RW, Kelowna (WHL); Travis Konecny, C, Ottawa (OHL).


Top priority: An elite center

The situation: General manager Tim Murray played a big role in the selections of Corey Perry (2003, No. 28), Ryan Getzlaf (2003, No. 19) and Erik Karlsson (2008, No. 15) during his time at the draft tables with the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators, so he's privy to the type of talent best suited to succeed in the NHL. Many expect center Sam Reinhart (2014, No. 2) to be on the team and contributing in a big way in 2015-16. The Sabres didn't win the NHL Draft Lottery but still have an opportunity to draft one of the most heralded American-born prospects since Patrick Kane in Boston University freshman Jack Eichel. After adding Eichel, Murray will have several options with his second choice in the first round.

Possible fits: Connor McDavid, C, Erie Otters (OHL); Jack Eichel, C, Boston University (H-East); Dylan Strome, C, Erie (OHL).


Top priority: Depth at wing

The situation: The Red Wings have been dipping into their prospect bank regularly of late, and it has paid off in spades as many young players have had major impacts. It's never a bad idea to bolster the system with offensive talent, which is something the Red Wings scouting staff always has taken great pride in. That said, right wing Anthony Mantha (2013, No. 20) had a bit of a setback earlier this season after sustaining a fractured right tibia. It shouldn't be long before he makes it to Detroit. Right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (2010, No. 111), centers Andreas Athanasiou (2012, No. 110) and Dylan Larkin (2014, No. 15) and defensemen Xavier Ouellet (2011, No. 48) and Ryan Sproul (2011, No. 55) are also players close to earning bigger roles with the organization. Goaltender Petr Mrazek (2010, No. 141) has already taken the next step in his career, and Jake Paterson (2012, No. 80) awaits his opportunity.

Possible fits: Mikko Rantanen, RW, TPS (Finland); Evgeny Svechnikov, LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL); Jake DeBrusk, LW, Swift Current (WHL).


Top priority: Depth at all forward positions

The situation: The Panthers have a bookend pair of defensemen waiting in the wings in Boston College teammates Mike Matheson (2012, No. 23) and Ian McCoshen (2013, No. 31). The future also looks bright at center with Jayce Hawryluk (2014, No. 32) and Rocco Grimaldi (2011, No. 33). Florida re-signed right wing Jaromir Jagr, 43, so highly touted prospect and fellow Czech Republic native Pavel Zacha is an intriguing option if still on the board in the first round.

Possible fits: Pavel Zacha, C, Sarnia (OHL); Timo Meier, RW, Halifax (QMJHL); Mathew Barzal, C, Seattle (WHL).


Top priority: Depth and size at forward

The situation: The Canadiens addressed a glaring need for size along the forward line at the 2014 draft when they selected right wing Nikita Scherbak, 6-foot-1, in the first round (No. 26). Scherbak had 27 goals and 82 points in 65 games with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League in 2014-15. Swedish left wing Jacob De la Rose (2013, No. 34) appears to have found a spot with the big club. Goalie Zachary Fucale (2013, No. 36) and defenseman Jarred Tinordi (2010, No. 22) continue to make progress. Tinordi, a 6-foot-6, 227-pound left-shot defenseman, played 13 games with the Canadiens in 2014-15. Fucale went 5-0 with a 1.20 goals-against average, .939 save percentage and two shutouts to help Canada to a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in January. The Canadiens haven't had a 40-goal scorer on their roster since Vincent Damphousse in 1993-94.

Possible fits: Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Farjestad (SWE); Paul Bittner, LW, Portland (WHL); Colin White, C, USA U-18 (USHL).


Top priority: Depth on defense and center

The situation: Has the time has come for the Senators to stock up on skilled defenders to follow in the footsteps of All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson? The team has defensemen Mikael Wikstrand (2012, No. 196), Ben Harper (2013, No. 108) and Andreas Englund (2014, No. 40) in the prospect pool. Two rookies, left wing Mike Hoffman (2009, No. 130) and right wing Mark Stone (2010, No. 178), were splendid in their initial run in the NHL but that doesn't mean the Senators won't also look at fortifying the front lines. Left wings Nick Paul (trade with Dallas, 2014), Matt Puempel (2011, No. 24) and Alexander Guptill (trade with Dallas, 2014) are in the team's future, but depth is also needed down the middle. The Senators have drafted quite well over the years and they now have a good, young coach in Dave Cameron to lead the way.

Possible fits: Travis Konecny, C, Ottawa (OHL); Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke (QMJHL); Jakub Zboril, D, Saint John (QMJHL).


Top priority: Depth on defense

The situation: An organization can never have enough depth along the blue line. Defense prospects Anthony DeAngelo (2014, No. 19), Slater Koekkoek (2012, No. 10) and Dominik Masin (2014, No. 35) are developing nicely, but the organization lacks a physical presence after trading Radko Gudas prior to the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline. The Lightning ranked first in the League with a 3.16 goals-per game average and have plenty of promise down the middle with Vladislav Namestnikov (2011, No. 27), who had 16 points in 43 regular season games in 2014-15, and Brayden Point (2014, No. 79). Goalie prospect Andrey Vasilevskiy (2012, No. 19) played 16 regular-season games for the Lightning and finished 7-5-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Possible fits: Gabriel Carlsson, D, Linkoping Jr. (SWE); Jacob Larsson, D, Frolunda Jr. (SWE); Denis Gurianov, RW, Togliatti 2 (RUS).


Top priority: Depth at forward

The situation: The Maple Leafs were near the bottom of the NHL in goals per game (2.51), goals-against per game (3.13) and shots-against per game (33.5) during the regular season, so figure team president Brendan Shanahan will ask his scouting department for the best available player on the board. Toronto holds two picks in the first round, including the No. 4 choice. It's possible the Maple Leafs y will take the best available player with the early pick and fill a positional need with the later one. A few of the top prospects within the organization are center William Nylander (2014, No. 8), defenseman Stuart Percy (2011, No. 25) and goaltender Antoine Bibeau (2013, No. 172).

Possible fits: Dylan Strome, C, Erie (OHL); Noah Hanifin, D, Boston College (H-East); Mitchell Marner, C, London (OHL).


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