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, TVA Sports 2, SN).
Here is what Pacific Division teams could be looking to do when they arrive in Buffalo (teams listed in alphabetical order):
Top priority: Forward
The situation: Anaheim has five picks, including one first-round selection. The Ducks have some solid prospects working their way up the depth chart in defensemen Shea Theodore (2013, No. 26), Jacob Larsson (2015, No. 27), Brandon Montour (2014, No. 55) and Marcus Pettersson (2014, No. 38). Theodore had three goals and eight points in 19 games with the Ducks this season. The top prospect at forward is left wing Nick Ritchie (2014, No. 10), who had two goals and four points in 33 games with Anaheim. Ritchie had 16 goals and 30 points in 38 games with San Diego of the American Hockey League. The Ducks have a five-year window to load up at forward since centers Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf, and right wing Corey Perry, are signed through 2019-20.
Possible fits: Kieffer Bellows, LW, USA-U-18 (USHL); Max Jones, LW, London (OHL); Riley Tufte, LW, Blaine (HIGH-Minn.)
Top priority: Defense
The situation: The Coyotes aren't short on talent at left wing with rookies Max Domi (18 goals, 52 points), Anthony Duclair (20 goals, 44 points) and Jordan Martinook (nine goals, 24 points) all playing significant roles in 2015-16. Goaltender Louie Domingue also proved to be a pretty significant piece with a 2.75 goals-against average and .912 save percentage in 39 appearances. Arizona has a couple strong centers in the system in Dylan Strome (No. 3, 2015 draft) and Christian Dvorak (No. 58, 2014). The Coyotes, who have two of their seven picks in the first round at No. 7 and No. 20, should be looking to upgrade along the blue line, and there are plenty of players in this draft class capable of filling that void in the future. General manager John Chayka said he would like to place an emphasis on fortifying his defense.
Possible fits: Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL); Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL); Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor (OHL)
Top priority: Wing
The situation: The Flames have 10 picks in the draft. In addition to their first-round pick (No. 6), they have three second-round picks. They have a nice mix of prospects making their way through the ranks, including goalie Jon Gillies (2012, No. 75), right wing Emile Poirier (2013, No. 22), center Mark Jankowski (2012, No. 21), and defensemen Rasmus Andersson (2015, No. 53) and Oliver Kylington (2015, No. 60). They added significant pieces, including defenseman Dougie Hamilton in a trade at the 2015 NHL Draft, but started the season 2-8-1 and never recovered on the way to a 26th-place finish. The Flames could afford to bolster their prospect pool on wing to benefit Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett, but Windsor center Logan Brown might be too attractive an option to pass at No. 6.
Possible fits: Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL); Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW, Cape Breton (OHL); Alexander Nylander, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
Top priority: Defense
The situation: The Oilers have selected No. 1 in four of the past six drafts, choosing Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), Nail Yakupov (2012) and Connor McDavid (2016). They also have first-round selections Jordan Eberle (No. 22, 2008), Leon Draisaitl (No. 3, 2014), Oscar Klefbom (No. 19, 2011) and Darnell Nurse (No. 7, 2013) in the fold. Despite this all-star lineup of high draft picks, Edmonton has never finished higher than 24th in the NHL standings over the past seven seasons. General manager Peter Chiarelli is expected to make a major overhaul this offseason with the Oilers moving into Rogers Place in 2016-17. The Oilers have nine selections in the draft so now is as good a time as any to reload the prospect cupboard along the blue line. Though obtaining a physically intimidating wing now would benefit McDavid in the future, the Oilers could trade down from the No. 4 choice and select a more desirable need on defense.
Possible fits: Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL); Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL); Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL)
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Top priority: Defense
The situation: The Kings need to continue to develop their prospects since they may not have an ability to make any big free-agent moves with little cap space of which to work. The opportunities are there in this draft to upgrade along the blue line, but they have one pick (No. 51) in the opening three rounds. Defenseman Derek Forbort (2010, No. 15) has shown great promise. He has good size (6-foot-4, 218 pounds), and had 10 points in 40 games for Ontario of the American Hockey League. Forbort also played 14 games with the Kings and scored one goal and two points. Defenseman Erik Cernak (2015, No. 43) is an imposing 6-3, 203-pound right-hander who showed promise in his first season in North America with Erie in the Ontario Hockey League. The Kings do have some high-end forwards in their system with Adrian Kempe (2014, No. 29) and Michael Mersch (2011, No. 110). The versatile Kempe had 11 goals, 28 points in 55 games with Ontario. The Kings have four picks in the draft so general manager Dean Lombardi might also consider a goalie in the later rounds.
Possible fits: Cam Dineen, D, North Bay (OHL), Filip Gustavsson, G, Lulea Jr. (SWE), Evan Fitzpatrick, G, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Top priority: Forward
The situation: The Sharks were able to get a glimpse of what the future holds when defenseman Mirco Mueller (2013, No. 18) and left wing Nikolay Goldobin (2014, No. 27) were each given time in the NHL during the season. Mueller spent 11 games with the Sharks and Goldobin played nine. Mueller had 11 points in 50 games for the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League, and Goldobin had 21 goals and 44 points in 60 games in the AHL. Right wing Timo Meier (2015, No. 9), the first top-15 pick for the Sharks since Logan Couture (2007, No. 9), played a big role in leading Rouyn-Noranda to the QMJHL championship. In 179 career games in the QMJHL with Halifax and Rouyn-Noranda, Meier has 95 goals and 211 points. Defenseman Jeremy Roy (2015, No. 31) had six goals and 34 points in 45 games for Sherbrooke (QMJHL) last season, but the Sharks may look to load up on a few shutdown defensemen and depth on left wing. The Sharks have six picks in the draft, none in the first or third round, but two in the fourth.
Possible fits: Markus Niemelainen, D, Saginaw (OHL), Adam Fox, D, USA U-18 (USHL), Cliff Pu, RW, London (OHL)
Top priority: Offensive defenseman
The situation: The Canucks have selected a defenseman in the first round once in the past 17 drafts, the late Luc Bourdon (2005, No. 10). They opted for right wing Brock Boeser (No. 23) with their first-round pick in the 2015 draft. There may be some solid choices along the back end by the time the Canucks get to choose in the first round (No. 5), and the managerial team needs to take a serious look at those options. The two defense prospects gaining traction of late are Jordan Subban (2013, No. 115), the brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, and Guillaume Brisebois (2015, No. 66). The top goalie prospect is Thatcher Demko (2014, No. 36), who signed an entry-level contract April 20. Demko led the NCAA with 10 shutouts as a junior at Boston College in Hockey East. The Canucks have several solid options with the fifth pick and there should be a future top-six forward or top-two defenseman available at that slot.
Possible fits: Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL), Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW, Cape Breton (OHL), Alexander Nylander, RW, Mississauga (OHL)