Anaheim Ducks – Right wing
The age of this team is starting to catch up to them after getting swept in the first round by the San Jose Sharks, and while they have some youth starting to work their way into the lineup, they’ve still got some work to do to keep the future of the franchise secure.
Over the last few years, the Ducks have struck out on some draft picks and haven’t had a pick record a point in their lineup since 2014. That doesn’t necessarily mean they were bad picks, but they’re just projects that need more development than usual. Regardless, the Ducks have neglected right wings in the draft and haven’t had scored on a pick since Ondrej Kase in the seventh round in 2014.
The Anaheim Ducks will select 23rd overall in the first round of the 2018 entry draft, and that lines up perfectly with being able to take Martin Kaut, who’s projected at around 24th overall on most draft boards. Vitali Kravtsov is also projected just a few spots ahead, and could realistically drop a spot or two right into the Ducks hands.
Arizona Coyotes – Right wing
It’s that time of year again for the Arizona Coyotes, time to discuss how this team can finally break out of the basement with more young talent in the draft. Arizona had no chance from the get-go this season and didn’t win a game until November. They were able to turn it around towards the end of the season, but it was already too late. If they can carry that momentum into next season with another good draft, they could finally break through.
After so many years of high draft picks, there really isn’t much more that Arizona needs in terms of prospects, so their needs really comes from process of elimination. At center they’re set for years, left wing still has some decent prospects in the pipeline and defense was the focal point of the last few years of drafting. Right wing still has some youth behind it, but it’s the spot in need of the most help.
Arizona will pick fifth overall in this years draft after missing out on the draft lottery luck once again, and their options at that spot are numerous. Their spot actually could line up with exactly what they need. With picking fifth, Arizona will miss out on Dahlin, Svechnikov, Zadina and Tkachuk, but most mock drafts have the next best right winger Oliver Wahlstrom going fifth overall to Arizona. There is no unnecessary risks that they have to take with this one, and Wahlstrom is the easy choice.
Calgary Flames – Draft capital/Right wing
The Calgary Flames are in a very bad spot right now. At last years draft, Calgary sent away their first round and second round pick in this year’s draft to the New York Islanders in exchange for Travis Hamonic. At the time, the trade helped strengthen them on defense, but now it has all but handicapped them heading into this years draft.
The Flames have zero picks in the first three rounds of the draft, and just four picks in total. They have two fourth round picks, one sixth and a seventh. Before worrying about what position they need to fill at the draft, they need worry about how their gonna get any other the young talent in this stacked draft.
Calgary could make a deal to get a first-round pick, especially with a team that has a surplus of picks like the Rangers, and find a way into the first round. If Calgary is able to do so, their biggest need will be at right wing.
If Calgary is able to make a move for a pick — for example, one of the Rangers’ late first-round picks — they’ll have access to some of the late right wing talents like Dominick Bokk or Martin Kaut. If they can get only get a second round pick, there’s players like Jesse Ylonen or Nando Eggenberger they could take depending on where they land. Before they can make those moves, Calgary has to decide on what they are willing to give up from a team that just missed the playoffs to make up for their errors in trading.
Edmonton Oilers – Left wing
Talk about a disappointing season for the Edmonton Oilers. With expectations so high and optimism at it’s peak, the Oilers came up remarkably short by not even making the playoffs by a large margin. They need a good draft to restore faith from their fans and replace the depth that they’ve lost.
Edmonton still has quite a few needs in the draft despite years of having top overall picks, but their most dire need comes on the left wing. The argument could be made for more right wingers and more defense, but both of those spots have talented prospects that are almost ready to make the jump to the NHL, while left wing does not. The left wing doesn’t have any talent on the roster too hold over in the meantime either, not since Taylor Hall was traded for scraps.
The Oilers own the 10th overall pick in the draft, if they elect not to trade it like they’ve been rumored to, and should have plenty of options at that spot. Left winger Joel Farabee could be a viable option at 10th overall once the rush for defensemen is over, as well as Grigori Denisenko should they commit to picking up a left winger.
Los Angeles Kings – Right wing
It looks to almost be about the time that Kings fans have been dreading for years now. This teams core is getting old, regressing fast, and time is running out before their production falls off a cliff. The Kings need a good draft badly to slow down this aging process.
The Kings’ drafts haven’t been great, but they’ve been good enough to land a couple of decent prospects at positions like center and defense. But the right wing depth is pretty much bare after not drafting a right winger in the first three rounds since 2007. The right wing only prospect in the system is undrafted free agent Matt Luff.
Los Angeles owns the 20th overall pick in this years draft, and there’s actually some pretty great right wingers projected to go late in the first round that they could pick up. Martin Kaut and Serron Noel are some of the top right wingers in this year’s draft class but they’ve been buried under the massive amount of elite defenseman and centers, and the Kings have a chance to definitely steal at least one of them, likely Noel, at 20th overall.
San Jose Sharks – Center
The Cup window is closing rapidly for San Jose as their core ages another season, and they’ve struggled at the draft in recent years. This is an incredibly important draft for them, and they need to hit it out of the park this time.
The Sharks have only three contracts that go beyond the next two seasons, and that means some massive changes are coming to the team. The problem is that they’ve missed the mark several times in recent drafts, and there is a limited number of potential NHL prospects that they have in the system that could replace them when they leave. If they need one position more than anything, its at center with Joe Thornton and his supporting centers on the way out sooner than later.
San Jose owns the 21st overall pick in the draft, and there will be plenty of projected late round centers to choose from. This draft is light on top tier projected centers, and most of them fall into the late round steal territory that the Sharks can capitalize on with players like Akil Thomas, Ryan McLeod and Ty Dellandrea. The Sharks need to choose carefully however, because this draft could determine if they can stay in playoff contention in the near future.
Vancouver Canucks – Defense
Another year of the Vancouver rebuilding process is upon the Canucks once again, but things are slowly looking better and better as time goes on. Each year another draft sees them getting more and more young talent, and they can another this year with another high pick.
Vancouver has been tanking for the last few seasons now, so they’ve been able to acquire some good talent through the draft. Players like Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, Elias Petterson and Thatcher Demko have hopes high for the future, but the future on the back end is still looking grim with only Olli Juolevi in the pipeline. For the rebuild to be a success, they’re gonna need at least one more top tier defensive prospect.
Vancouver will pick seventh overall after missing out on the draft lottery once again, but they can still get exactly what they need at that spot. Worst case scenario is that only one of Hughes, Bouchard, Boqvist or Dobson will still be available at seventh overall, all of whom are projected to be future first paring defenders. Choosing to go for defense should be an easy choice, it’s just choosing which one to get that will be a challenge.
Vegas Golden Knights – Left wing
After the season the Golden Knights just had by getting all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season as a team, it’s rather hard to believe they need anything in the draft, but they’ve still got work to do.
Vegas had 12 picks in its first-ever draft last year, so it has already checked off the two important positions by filling out out their center and defense prospect depth. However, the Golden Knights only took one winger in the draft, so they’re obviously lacking on both sides. The lack of prospects is pretty equal, so determining what they need more comes down to the roster, where the left wing has more expiring contracts and generally less talent than the right wing.
Vegas traded its first round pick to Detroit in exchange for Tomas Tatar, so its first pick in the draft comes at 61st overall in the second round. Vegas could trade back into the first round with the surplus of picks they have this year and later years, but it’s not really necessary. Wingers like Nando Eggenberger or Damien Giroux could still be available for them, and they’ll have plenty of picks later to back them up rather than taking a gamble at a higher pick.