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NHL Draft

Metropolitan Division draft needs

Devils, Rangers can add NHL-ready forwards; Islanders, Flyers might look for defensemen

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

The 2019 NHL Draft provides an opportunity for teams to shore up positions of need with an injection of young talent.

The first round of the draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver is Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Rounds 2-7 are June 22 (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

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



Top priority: Goalie

First pick: No. 28

The situation: The Hurricanes reached the Eastern Conference Final behind the play of a stout defense and goalies Petr Mrazek, 27, and Curtis McElhinney, 36, who each can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Alex Nedeljkovic, 23, is their top goalie prospect but can be a restricted free agent. The Hurricanes have four of their 10 selections in the first two rounds, and now would seem like the right time to draft and develop a goalie of their own before the well runs dry.

Possible fits: Spencer Knight, G, USA U-18 (USHL); Mads Sogaard, G, Medicine Hat (WHL); Pyotr Kochetkov, G, Ryazan (RUS-2)

Video: Highlights of USA Hockey NTDP goalie Spencer Knight



Top priority: Top-nine forwards

First pick: No. 81 (third round)

The situation: The Blue Jackets have two picks in the draft, one in the third round and one in the seventh. Their first-round pick was traded to the Ottawa Senators, along with a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, for forward Matt Duchene, and their fourth- and seventh-round picks were traded to the New York Rangers for defenseman Adam McQuaid. Duchene, McQuaid and Columbus' other acquisitions before the NHL Trade Deadline, forward Ryan Dzingel and goalie Keith Kinkaid, can each become an unrestricted free agent July 1, as can forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

Possible fits: Nathan Legare, RW, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL); Patrick Moynihan, RW, USA U-18 (USHL); Ethan Phillips, C, Sioux Falls (USHL)



Top priority: Impact players

First pick: No. 1

The situation: The Devils continue to stockpile prospects at every position, and two players at the top of their list could be in the NHL lineup to start next season: defenseman Ty Smith (2018, No. 17) and center Jesper Boqvist (2017, No. 36). Defenseman prospect Jeremy Davies (2016, No. 192), who led Northeastern University with 36 points (eight goals, 28 assists) this season, will start his professional career next season, likely with Binghamton of the American Hockey League. The expectation is the Devils will look to acquire more veterans during free agency to give their prospects more time to develop. New Jersey has the No. 1 pick for the second time in three years and likely will select center Jack Hughes of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team. The Devils also have three second-round picks.

Possible fits: Jack Hughes, C, USA U-18 (USHL); Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (FIN); Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver (WHL)

Video: Jack Hughes on comparing his game to NHL stars



Top priority: Puck-moving defenseman

First pick: No. 23

The situation: The Islanders have several key forwards that can each become an unrestricted free agent July 1, topped by Anders Lee, who scored 28 goals in his first season as captain. It might be imperative for the Islanders to select a few quality forwards among their five picks in the draft. Defenseman prospects Noah Dobson (No. 12) and Bode Wilde (No. 41), each chosen in the 2018 NHL Draft, are developing nicely, but if a quality defenseman is available in the first round, expect New York to go in that direction.

Possible fits: Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (GER); Ville Heinola, D, Lukko (FIN); Tobias Bjornfot, D, Djurgarden Jr. (SWE-JR)



Top priority: Top-six forwards

First pick: No. 2

The situation: The Rangers have their first top-three pick since the NHL expanded to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season. They also had the No. 20 pick, acquired from the Winnipeg Jets in the Kevin Hayes trade, but sent it back to the Jets along with defenseman Neal Pionk in the trade for defenseman Jacob Trouba on Monday. New York selected centers Lias Andersson (No. 7) and Filip Chytil (No. 21) in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft, and right wing Vitali Kravtsov (No. 9), and defensemen K'Andre Miller (No. 22) and Nils Lundkvist (No. 28) in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft. They'll have an opportunity to add an NHL-ready player at No. 2 who can develop alongside Andersson, Chytil and Kravtsov, who signed an entry-level contract May 3 after two seasons with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the Kontinental Hockey League. The Rangers have eight picks in all, including four of the first 68 selections.

Possible fits: Jack Hughes, C, USA U-18 (USHL); Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (FIN); Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL)

Video: Kakko impresses in World Junior Championship



Top priority: Top-four defenseman

First pick: No. 11

The situation: It's the first draft in Philadelphia for general manager Chuck Fletcher, who was hired Dec. 3, and the Flyers have eight picks. They selected forwards Joel Farabee (No. 14) and Jay O'Brien (No. 19) in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft; Farabee signed an entry-level contract March 25 and will compete for a roster spot next season. Forward Oskar Lindblom (22), defensemen Travis Sanheim (23) and Philippe Myers (22) and goalie Carter Hart (20) are players 23 years old or younger expected to play bigger roles next season.

Possible fits: Cameron York, D, USA U-18 (NTDP); Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (SWE); Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (GER)



Top priority: Top-nine forwards

First pick: No. 21

The situation: For the first time since 2014, Pittsburgh will have a first-round selection, and that's a good thing after the Penguins were swept by the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round. Pittsburgh has two goalies (Matt Murray, Casey DeSmith), seven defensemen and nine forwards signed for next season. They're expected to re-sign 24-year-old forwards Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger, who each can become a restricted free agent July 1. After making four picks at the 2018 NHL Draft and having six picks this year, it's expected they'll be looking for forwards who eventually could play in their top nine.

Possible fits: Raphael Lavoie, C, Halifax (QMJHL); Brayden Tracey, LW, Moose Jaw (WHL); Nicholas Robertson, LW, Peterborough (OHL)



Top priority: Young, skilled forwards

First pick: No. 25

The situation: After winning the Stanley Cup last season, the Capitals were eliminated by the Hurricanes in seven games in the first round. Washington hasn't selected a forward with its first pick in the draft since Jakub Vrana at No. 14 in the 2014 NHL Draft. The Capitals have five picks this year, and filling the prospect pipeline with forwards would seem to be a good idea now that forwards Alex Ovechkin (33 years old), T.J. Oshie (32), and Nicklas Backstrom (31) each is older than 30.

Possible fits: Samuel Poulin, RW, Sherbrooke (QMJHL); Brett Leason, RW, Prince Albert (WHL); Nils Hoglander, LW, Rogle (SWE)



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