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NHL Draft

Pacific Division team draft needs looks at which players would best fit into specific styles, dynamics

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

The Pacific Division will have an eighth team next season when the Vegas Golden Knights begin their inaugural season.

The 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas will be held at United Center, with the first round Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN), and rounds 2-7 on Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

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


[RELATED: Atlantic Division team NHL Draft needs]



Top priority: Goaltender

The situation: The Ducks have five picks, starting with two in the second. They have a multitude of skilled young defensemen in the fold with Shea Theodore, chosen in the first round (No. 26) of the 2013 draft, Jacob Larsson (2015, No. 27), Brandon Montour (2014, No. 55) and Marcus Pettersson (2014, No. 38) all developing nicely. They have selected 25 defensemen in the past nine drafts. Theodore had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 34 regular-season games with the Ducks, and eight points (two goals, six assists) in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games. The top prospects at forward are 2016 first-round picks left wing Max Jones (No. 24) and center Sam Steel (No. 30). Jones had 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 33 Ontario Hockey League games with London, and 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 14 OHL playoff games. Steel led the Westen Hockey League with 131 points (50 goals, 81 assists) in 68 games and was named the league's player of the year. The Ducks have a sizeable window to load up at forward because center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry are signed through 2020-21, center Ryan Kesler through 2021-22. Look for the Ducks to stock up on forwards and a goalie, beginning with their first pick in the second round (No. 50). There isn't much in the pipeline after starting goaltender John Gibson and veteran backups Jonathan Bernier and Jhonas Enroth. Bernier and Enroth can become unrestricted free agents July 1 and were not protected in the NHL Expansion Draft.

Possible fits: Keith Petruzzelli, G, Muskegon (USHL); Michael DiPietro, G, Windsor (OHL); Morgan Geekie, C, Tri-City (WHL)



Top priority: Offensive defenseman

The situation: The Coyotes have seven picks, including five in the first three rounds, so general manager John Chayka will be busy. They have plenty of young talent at forward, including Dylan Strome (2015, No. 3), Clayton Keller (2016, No. 7) and Christian Fischer (2015, No. 32). The Coyotes drafted defenseman Jakob Chychrun No. 16 in the 2016 first round; he was the fifth defenseman chosen but the only one from the 2016 draft class to spend an entire season with in the NHL. He averaged 16:40 of ice time and had 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 68 games. The Coyotes probably will look to continue the upgrade at defense. Additionally, Chayka acquired defenseman Brandon Hickey, goaltender Chad Johnson and a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 Draft from the Calgary Flames in a trade for veteran goaltender Mike Smith. Louis Domingue, Adin Hill, Marek Langhamer, Hunter Miska and Merrick Madsen, whom the Coyotes acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday, are the only goalies in the system.

Possible fits: Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL); Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (FIN); Jake Oettinger, G, Boston University (H-EAST)



Top priority: Playmaker on the wing

The situation: The Flames have done a phenomenal job of not only stocking the development pipeline but selecting players who have required little time to make an impact, such as forwards Matthew Tkachuk (2016, No. 6), Sam Bennett (2014, No. 4), Sean Monahan (2013, No. 6) and Johnny Gaudreau (2011, No. 104). They have five picks, including No. 16 in the first round. The Flames have promising prospects in goalie Tyler Parsons (2016, No. 54) and Jon Gillies (2012, No. 75), and defensemen Rasmus Andersson (2015, No. 53), Adam Fox (2016, No. 66) and Oliver Kylington (2015, No. 60). The Flames could afford to bolster their prospect pool on wing to benefit what they have down the middle.

Possible fits: Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL); Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL); Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW, Frolunda (SWE)



Top priority: Goaltender

The situation: The Oilers need to restock their prospect pool at every position since many of their young players already are in the NHL, but the shallowest area might be in goal. The Oilers have established themselves as a legitimate contender, not only in the division but in the Western Conference, in large part because of the play of captain Connor McDavid (2015, No. 1) and forward Leon Draisaitl (2014, No. 3). The Oilers have eight selections in the draft, including the 22nd pick in the first round. Acquiring defenseman Adam Larsson in a trade with the New Jersey Devils for left wing Taylor Hall on June 29 proved vital in bolstering their corps of defensemen. The Oilers will take the best available player in the first round; if that isn't a goalie, expect general manager Peter Chiarelli to use one of his two picks in the third round on that position.

Possible fits: Jake Oettinger, G, Boston University (H-EAST); Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane (WHL); Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga (OHL)

Video: The top ranked goalie discusses his time in Buffalo



Top priority: Speed up front

The situation: The Kings missed the Stanle Cup Playoffs for the second time in three seasons and felt it was time for a new direction. General manager Dean Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter were fired April 10. Assistant GM Rob Blake replaced Lombardi, and assistant John Stevens was promoted to coach. The Kings have the 11th pick in the first round, their highest selection since 2009, when they chose forward Brayden Schenn with the fifth pick. The Kings ranked 25th in the League with 201 goals, and perhaps it's time to get quicker up front. The organization has left wing Adrian Kempe (2014, No. 29), left wing Michael Mersch (2011, No. 110) and right wing Jonny Brodzinski (2013, No. 148) within its prospect pool. They have eight picks in the draft, including five in the first four rounds. They also could consider drafting and developing a goaltender since Jonathan Quick, 31, isn't getting any younger.

Possible fits: Lias Andersson, C, HV 71 (SWE); Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL); Kole Lind, RW, Kelowna (WHL)



Top priority: Playmakers

The situation: The Sharks need to get younger and faster, up front and on defense. Defenseman Mirco Mueller, a first-round pick (No. 18) in 2013, and a fifth-round pick in the 2017 Draft were traded to the Devils on Saturday for two 2017 picks. They have eight picks in the draft, including Nos. 19 and 49. The Sharks selected a potential steal in center Danny O'Regan in the fifth round (No. 138) of the 2012 Draft; the former Boston University standout had 58 points (23 goals, 35 assists) in 63 games for San Jose of the American Hockey League this season. Look for the Sharks to go the best-available route in the first round before drafting for need in the later rounds. The Sharks also likely will target a goalie at some point.

Possible fits: Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL); Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane (WHL); Erik Brannstrom, D, HV 71 (SWE)



Top priority: Center

The situation: The Canucks have seven selections in the draft, three in the first two rounds. They hold the fifth pick in the first round and it's understandable that general manager Jim Benning would consider trading down to gain a few more assets. But it makes sense for the Canucks to stand firm and get the player they want. They have three excellent prospects waiting their turn in defenseman Olli Juolevi (2016, No. 5), forward Brock Boeser (2015, No. 23) and goaltender Thatcher Demko (2014, No. 36). There's a good chance the Canucks will set their sights on one of several quality centers in this class, as that's one area they need to fortify in their prospect pipeline. They also could grab a top defenseman and be set at that position for many years with Juolevi and their choice this year.

Possible fits: Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie (HIGH-MN); Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL); Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)



Top priority: Depth at all positions

The situation: General manager George McPhee has said he's open to acquiring players or draft picks as compensation to address the Golden Knights' short- and long-term needs, but history shows that McPhee will look to hit it big in the draft in order to help stockpile Vegas' prospect pipeline. McPhee reportedly has reached agreements with the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders that would give Vegas two more first-round picks for not taking certain players in the NHL Expansion Draft. That would give Vegas nine picks, including No. 6, No. 15 from the Islanders and No. 24 from the Blue Jackets in the first round. Director of amateur scouting Scott Luce has a history of loading up at center, as he did with the Florida Panthers when he selected Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Vincent Trochek. Luce also could focus on quality defensemen in the early rounds similar to how he helped the Panthers find Aaron Ekblad, Michael Matheson and Ian McCoshen.

Possible fits: Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL); Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL); Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (FIN)

Video: Importance of the NHL Draft for the Golden Knights

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