2021 NHL Draft: Pacific Division needs

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The 2021 NHL Draft will be held July 23-24. The first round will be July 23 (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, SN NOW, TVAS) and rounds 2-7 are July 24 (11 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, SN NOW). NHL.com is counting down to the draft with in-depth profiles on top prospects and other features. Today, a look at needs for teams in the Pacific Division. NHL.com’s full draft coverage can be found here.

The 2021 NHL Draft provides an opportunity for teams to strengthen positions of need with young talent.

The first round is scheduled for July 23 (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, SN NOW). Rounds 2-7 are scheduled July 24 (11 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, SN NOW).

Here are what Pacific Division teams could be looking to do at the draft (listed in alphabetical order):

ANAHEIM DUCKS

Top priority: Scoring

First pick: No. 3

The situation: The Ducks have been in the bottom three in average goals per game for three straight seasons, including last this season (2.21), and their 8.9 percent power-play percentage was the lowest since the NHL began tracking the stat in 1977-78. General manager Bob Murray has said it’s imperative for Anaheim to add offensive-minded top-six forwards, and the 2021 draft could be the best place to find that player.

Possible fits: Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (WHL); Matthew Beniers, C, Michigan (NCAA); William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden (SWE)

CALGARY FLAMES

Top priority: Defenseman

First pick: No. 13

The situation: The Flames have built a strong foundation of forward prospects led by Connor Zary (2020, No. 24), Jakob Pelletier (2019, No. 26) and Glenn Gawdin (free agent, Nov. 11, 2017). Top defenseman prospect Juuso Valimaki (2017, No. 16) scored 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 49 games after not playing last season because of a knee injury. Adding more young players at the position to the prospect pipeline could be a priority considering Calgary’s ice time leaders this season were 37-year-old defenseman Mark Giordano (22:57) and 31-year-old defenseman Christopher Tanev (21:44).

Possible fits: Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL); Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks (AJHL); Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago (USHL)

EDMONTON OILERS

Top priority: Goalie

First pick: No. 20

The situation: Mike Smith had a strong season, going 21-6-2 with a 2.31 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and three shutouts in 32 games (30 starts) to help the Oilers finish second in the seven-team Scotia North Division. He’s also 39 years old and can become an unrestricted free agent July 28. Edmonton has selected two goalies in the past three drafts, Olivier Rodrigue (2018, No. 62) and Ilya Konovalov(2019, No. 85), but there are goalies available with first-round potential in 2021. The Oilers have built a solid group of prospects, among them defensemen Evan Bouchard (2018, No. 10) and Philip Broberg (2019, No. 8), and forwards Dylan Holloway (2020, No. 14), Raphael Lavoie (2019, No. 38) and Carter Savoie (2020, No. 100), some of whom could be ready for a full-time role in the NHL next season. Rounding out that group with a top-end goalie could be a direction in the first round. 

Possible fits: Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL); Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski (WHL); Fabian Lysell, RW, Lulea (SWE)

LOS ANGELES KINGS

Top priority: Defenseman

First pick: No. 8

The situation: The Kings have done well stockpiling young forwards at the draft the past few years, including Quinton Byfield (2020, No. 2), Alex Turcotte (2019, No. 5) and Arthur Kaliyev (2019, No. 33). The focus now could turn to defensemen who can get those forwards the puck in situations that will allow them to best take advantage of their offensive gifts. 

Possible fits: Luke Hughes, D, USA U-18 (NTDP); Simon Edvinsson, D, Frolunda Jr. (SWE-JR); Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL)

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Top priority: Offense

First pick: No. 7

The situation: The Sharks haven’t had a player score at least 50 points since 2018-19, and forward Evander Kane led them with 49 (22 goals, 27 assists) this season. So there’s a need to get more dynamic offensively as they look to return to playoff contention. Their first two picks in the 2020 draft, forwards Ozzy Wiesblatt (No. 31) and Thomas Bordeleau (No. 38), each had strong seasons. Wiesblatt scored three points (two goals, one assist) in six games for San Jose in the American Hockey League and 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) in 23 games for Prince Albert in the Western Hockey League. Bordeleau scored 30 points (eight goals, 22 assists) in 24 games as a freshman at the University of Michigan. But more top-end young skill is needed, at forward and defenseman.

Possible fits: Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL); William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden (SWE); Kent Johnson, C, Michigan (NCAA)

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Top priority: Forward

First pick: No. 9

The situation: The Canucks’ core includes a solid corps of forwards in their prime, led by captain Bo Horvat, 26, Brock Boeser, 24, Elias Pettersson, 22, and Nils Hoglander, 20. Top forward prospect Vasily Podkolzin(2019, No. 10) signed a three-year, entry-level contract May 30 and is expected to provide scoring depth next season. But with a flat salary cap, having young talent on a fast development track is vital, so expect the Canucks to select the best offensive player available in the first round.

Possible fits: Kent Johnson, C, Michigan (NCAA); William Eklund, LW, Djurgarden (SWE); Chaz Lucius, C, USA U-18 (NTDP)

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Top priority: Defenseman

First pick: No. 30

The situation: The Golden Knights have done well developing young forwards, including Cody Glass (2017, No. 6) and Peyton Krebs (2019, No. 17), who could be ready for NHL roles next season. Now they need to find some young defensemen who could eventually support Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore.

Possible fits: Sean Behrens, D, USA U-18 (NTDP); Mackie Samoskevich, RW, Chicago (USHL); Logan Mailloux, D, London (GOJHL)

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