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NHL Draft

Central Division team draft needs takes a look at which players would fit best into specific styles, dynamics

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

The 2016 NHL Draft, to be held at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, provides an opportunity for teams to shore up positions of need with an injection of young talent.

The first round is June 24 (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports); Rounds 2-7 are Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

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


Top priority: Defense

The situation: The Blackhawks have eight picks but their first isn't until the second round; their first-round pick went to the Winnipeg Jets in the Andrew Ladd trade. The Blackhawks' core is signed to expensive, long-term contracts, making it important for them to find inexpensive young talent to fill in. With Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook each older than 30 and Niklas Hjalmarsson 29, it could be time to start investing in young defensive talent.

Possible fits: Adam Fox, D, USA U-18 (USHL); Filip Hronek, D, HR Kralove (CZREP); Ryan Lindgren, D, USA U-18 (USHL)


Top priority: Defense

The situation: Since Patrick Roy was hired as coach for the 2013-14 season, the Avalanche have allowed an average of 32.7 shots per game, fourth-most in the League. The number of high-end defense prospects in the 2016 draft should allow them to find a good one with the 10th pick of the first round.

Possible fits: Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor (OHL); Charles McAvoy, D, Boston University (H-EAST); Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL)


Top priority: Playmaking forwards

The situation: Jamie Benn, 26, and Tyler Sequin, 24, are the cornerstones of the Stars, but they need some pieces around them. Patrick Sharp (34) and Jason Spezza (33) are solid complementary pieces now, but likely have more games behind them than ahead of them. Radek Faksa and Valeri Nichushkin haven't established themselves as full-time, top-six forwards. There's hope that Denis Gurianov, the 12th pick of the 2015 draft, and Jason Dickinson, the 29th pick in 2013, can compete for roster spots. But having another talented player in the pipeline could be the path the Stars take with the 25th pick in the first round. Adding a goaltender likely will also be a priority later in the draft.

Possible fits: Brett Howden, C, Moose Jaw (WHL); Rasmus Asplund, C, Farjestad (SWE); Vitaly Abramov, RW, Gatineau (QMJHL)


Top priority: Power forward

The situation: The Wild have a number of talented forwards but more size and physicality up front would help open space for them to display some of that skill.

Possible fits: Max Jones, LW, London (OHL); Julien Gauthier, RW, Val-d'Or (QMJHL); Kieffer Bellows, LW, USA U-18 (USHL)


Top priority: Defensive depth

The situation: The Predators have done a nice job adding young talent at forward; now is the time to focus on defense. Seth Jones was traded this season to acquire the No. 1 center they were missing (Ryan Johansen), and Shea Weber is 30. They have enough NHL-ready depth to allow whomever they draft, starting with No. 17 in the first round, quality time to develop.

Possible fits: Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL); Dennis Cholowski, D, Chilliwack (BCHL); Jake Bean, D, Calgary (WHL)


Top priority: Center depth

The situation: David Backes will be an unrestricted free agent July 1 and Paul Stastny is 30. Finding some young talent to play in the middle should be the focus with their first pick, No. 28 in the first round.

Possible fits: Brett Howden, C, Moose Jaw (WHL); Tage Thompson, C, Connecticut (H-EAST); Pascal Laberge, C, Victoriaville (QMJHL)


Top priority: Defense

The situation: Two of the Jets' best defensemen, Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom, are 31, and their best young defenseman, Jacob Trouba, can be a restricted free agent July 1. With the No. 2 pick in the first round Patrik Laine likely will be the power forward needed to play in the top six. With the No. 22 pick, the focus should be building defensive depth.

Possible fits: Dennis Cholowski, D, Chilliwack (BCHL); Logan Stanley, D, Windsor (OHL); Lucas Johansen, D, Kelowna (WHL)

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