What are the prospect weak points for the eight Pacific Division teams? Tony Ferrari takes a look:
Anaheim Ducks: Center
First Draft Choice: Round 1, 10th Overall
Trevor Zegras recently graduated and they have Mason McTavish on the precipice of making the leap. But beyond those two players, the Ducks really lack prospect depth down the middle in an otherwise solid prospect pool. They're good on the wings with players like Jacob Perreault, Sasha Pastujov and Brayden Tracey coming along with depth on the blueline that includes Olen Zellweger and Drew Helleson. Lukas Dostal is a very solid prospect in the net, so the hole down the middle after McTavish is really the biggest need. Would a Matthew Savoie or Cutter Gauthier intrigue them if they are available?
Calgary Flames: Right Shot Defense
First Draft Choice: Round 2, 59th Overall
The Calgary Flames have good-but-not-great players in most positions at just about every position in their prospect pool. Connor Zary, Matthew Coronato, Matthew Phillips, and Jakob Pelletier are all solid prospects upfront, and Yan Kuznetsov and Jeremie Poirier are off of a Memorial Cup run. Jake Boltmann is a solid NCAA prospect but he’s hardly a sure thing. The 2022 NHL draft has quite a few high-upside right-shot blueliners and Calgary should try to figure out a way to get one.
Edmonton Oilers: Defense
First Draft Choice: Round 1, 29th Overall
The Oilers have a young puck mover on the back end in Evan Bouchard on the right side and an emerging presence in Phillip Broberg on the left, but beyond those two defenders, they really lack an impact player at the position. They have a pick at the end of round one which will allow them to take advantage of a player such as Lane Hutson or Seamus Casey falling or possibly taking a chance on a player such as Calle Odelius or Elias Salomonsson if they think they can help develop the tools. They lack a number of picks as well so could they trade back and try to snag two fallers?
Los Angeles Kings: Goalie
First Draft Choice: Round 2, 51st Overall
The Kings have an absolutely loaded prospect pool. Players such as Quinton Byfield and Arthur Kaliyev just graduated to NHLers but they still have Alex Turcotte, Kasper Simontaival, and Samuel Helenius among a deep and skilled forward group. The backend is much the same with graduates like Sean Durzi and Tobias Bjornfot already in the NHL and Brandt Clarke, Helge Grans, and Kim Nousiainen on the way. They're in a prime position to fill their prospect pools hole in net –could this be the landing spot for Topias Leinonen or Tyler Brennan?
San Jose Sharks: Defense
First Draft Choice: Round 1, 11th Overall
The San Jose Sharks have done a good job of building out their prospect pool in the last few years with the additions of Thomas Bordeleau and William Eklund, among others. They have a solid goalie prospect in Ben Gaudreau, who seems to improve every time he steps on the ice. Their defensive system is a bit lacking, though, with Ryan Merkley still figuring his game out and Artemi Knyazev still being a bit of a hope and a dream. At 11th overall, the Sharks could get a very good defender with names such as Kevin Korchinski, Denton Mateychuk, or Pavel Mintyukov fitting what they seem to value on the backend.
Seattle Kraken: Everywhere
First Draft Choice: Round 1, 4th Overall
The Kraken are a brand new team with a prospect pool that is almost as empty as their win column last season. They have a promising young center in Matty Beniers to build around and everyone assumes they will look to find their pillar on the back end but what if a Logan Cooley falls to them? Do they look to build that one-two punch that can take care of the middle of the ice for a decade or more? What if Juraj Slafkosvky falls into their lap? Do they look to give Beniers a running mate? They could easily take their preference of Simon Nemec or David Jiricek as well. Who’s to say they don’t go off the board and grab someone they value higher than the public consensus? The opportunities are endless.
Vancouver Canucks: Center/Right Defense
First Draft Choice: Round 1, 15th Overall
For a team that has seemingly been in the mushy middle for so long, the Canucks really seem to lack depth and star power all over their prospect pool. The need at center and on the blueline, particularly on the right side, are a bit glaring though. That being said, how enthralled can they be with the options on the wing? Daniil Klimovich and Lucas Forsell are nice prospects, but they aren’t prospect pool studs by any means. The Canucks should take a ‘best player available approach here at 15th overall. Whether that’s a Kevin Korchinski, Denton Mateychuk, Brad Lambert or one of the Djurgarden trio, the Canucks need to add quality to their prospect pool
Vegas Golden Knights: Right Wing
First Draft Choice: Round 2, 48th Overall
They are still fairly new and with their desire to be competitive from Day 1, they have traded many of their top prospects. They lack a true stud which is to be expected having sent out just about every first-round pick they’ve ever made - if they didn’t trade it beforehand. They have done a decent job though of filling out every position with at least a few players with some upside and NHL possibility. The right wing seems to be the weak point though if they ignore what they have going on in the crease. There is a possibility they start a run on goalies with a pick of Leinonen or Brennan, but they could easily look to grab whichever forward falls out of round one as well. A swing for Gleb Trikozov could make a lot of sense here.