Today we’re looking at the biggest needs of every NHL team in the 2022 NHL Draft.
Greater need, in this context, does not imply an urgent need for the big club’s roster. This is not about filling the needs for the 2022-23 NHL season. The purpose of this from the perspective of the NHL Project is to examine the full depth chart of the club at the NHL level and level of prospects and present their needs over the next few years.
Anaheim Dax: defenseman
The Ducks have some excellent young defenders in their system, as Jimmy Drysdale is on his way to becoming a top-flight player and Olen Zellweger is making an impressive appearance in the junior class. After dealing with Josh Manson and Humbus Lindholm, there is an urgent need for more defensive talent in the top four on the team.
Arizona Coyotes: center
Any look at the four positions the wolves started on any given night would likely lead you to the same conclusion: this organization needs more in the middle. I still love Barrett Highton, but the Wolves need more of it around him. A very good center probably available in pick #3 will help.
Boston Bruins: defenseman
In terms of what the big club needs now, I’d like to lean toward a position, but the Bruins did at least bring John Beecher and I think you can get some matches from Brett Harrison as well. In defense, there is very little in the way. Maybe you could turn Mason Lohrei into an NHL player, but that’s not a sure thing, and there’s not much other than that.
Buffalo Saber: center
Sabers have a deep farm system so there’s no obvious urgency, but in a post-Jack Eichel world, the center is the need I would single out – especially another high-ranking one. They have a bunch of good bits between Peyton Krebs, Casey Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens who could be those solutions, but it couldn’t hurt to add more.
Calgary Flames: defenseman
The Flames team has used a lot of their high selection in recent years to add talented forwards like Matt Coronato, Connor Zary and Jakob Pelletier. They have some decent defensive opportunities but more talent is sorely needed in this position, especially considering that Juuso Valimaki has yet to take such a big step forward in his development.
Carolina Hurricanes: the center
Carolina has had a lot of draft picks over the past few years, so there’s no compelling need in her system. I’ve highlighted the position because while they have some good prospects forward, and some are listed as centers, they realistically don’t have many possibilities that project as legitimate three-line NHL centers and a lot of their listed positions may be pushed to the wing in the NHL.
Chicago Blackhawks: defenseman
I could have gone in several directions for Chicago’s larger needs but I chose to defend. I did so because after trading Adam Bokvist and Henri Jukiharjo, and after several of their other high defensive picks in recent years that haven’t developed as planned, there is very little of that position in the pipeline.
Colorado Avalanche: Goalkeeper
I was tempted to say defense here after Colorado traded Justin Barron and Drew Hilson on the deadline, but they still had Bowen Byram who would be a great NHL player, and Sean Burns had a solid year in college. The best goalkeeper is Justus Annunen who is of good size but was fine as a professional and they could realistically use another option in case it didn’t work out.
Columbus blue jackets: defenseman
Columbus did a great job last year adding a fundamental need up front and especially in the middle by taking Kent Johnson and Cole Selinger up front. Now, attention turns to the blue line. Columbus has used one of his best two-round picks on a quarterback since Andrew Peck in 2016, and it shows when you look at their reserve list
Dallas stars: defenseman
I wouldn’t call that need for Dallas pressure – they obviously have Miro Heskanen at the still-young big club, and I think Thomas Harley will be good in time as well. This is a situation they could use more depth in because after these two there isn’t much in the way other than maybe Artem Grushnikov.
Detroit Red Wings: center
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, wings lovers. The wingers have done a very good job of building their blue streak through the draft and adding a quality goalkeeper in Sebastian Koussa, but due to the significant development of former midfielder Michael Rasmussen, this has become a clear stand-off for the need for wings to tackle.
Edmonton Oilers: Goalkeeper
The Oilers have a clear present need for a quality goalkeeper, but that need will not be addressed by this draft, given how long they will wait for even the best goalkeeper. However, their system also lacks a clear goalkeeper for the future. Stuart Skinner has held up well in a test run, but he’s not so sure, so adding more depth to this post seems like a priority for this organization.
Florida Panthers: defenseman
The Florida system isn’t that deep and they don’t have a lot of options, but they have many good young forwards and Spencer Knight in the net. They have very little blue streak. I love Evan Noese but they need a lot more than just him.
Los Angeles Kings: Goalkeeper
The Kings have a deep organization of young talent in most positions including distinguished positions in the middle and defense. The one they lack is a clear future goalkeeper. This may not be the introductory class to tackle this, but it may be worth doing a swing on at least one goalkeeper.
Minnesota Wild: center
Minnesota has done a good job crafting outstanding positions in center, defense and goalkeeper in recent years. After watching Jack McBain walk and seeing Marat Khusnutdinov re-sign with the KHL team, it would be nice to add more depth in the middle to the organization.
Montreal Canadiens: center
I think you can easily discuss a position or goalkeeper for Montreal here. After a disappointing development to pick No. 3 seed Jespery Kotkanemi and Ryan Boehling into a strong but not great player, they could have used more quality depth in the middle.
Nashville Predators: Devinsman
Having been known as the Defense Factory for years, Nashville has recently invested more of its trial capital up front and into the network. Their system only comes up a bit on the blue line and you have to imagine this draft they are looking to address that.
New Jersey Devils: Goalkeeper
The Devils have had plenty of choices in recent years and have addressed a lot of critical needs in the draft, but the one position they still need to fill is a clear future goalkeeper if MacKenzie Blackwood isn’t that guy. It’s likely Nico Doss or Akira Schmid, but they’re not sure about things.
New York Islanders: defenseman
Islanders have a lot of needs in their system so I could go in a bunch of different directions here. Noah Dobson looks great on the blue streak, but beyond him it looks bleak. Robin Salo might play, but it’s not a guarantee.
New York Rangers: center
Rangers have been picked up a lot and in high regard in recent years, so their young talents are well positioned with depth and quality. The only thing they can really use is more depth in the middle. Positive playoffs from Filip Chytil are reassuring but almost nothing comes from outside the NHL.
Ottawa Senators: Defenseman
Ottawa has a very good farm system and young players in the NHL club, so I don’t really see a clear need in any position. But if I had to pick one, it would be the blue line. The obvious caveat is that Jake Sanderson is one of the top defense candidates, and they have many other good defensive opportunities coming as well. If I were to compare the young Depth between the Senses and the underdogs, they could use one or two high-quality Blue Line chances to play alongside Sanderson and Thomas Chabot. This could be Lassi Thomson or Jacob Bernard-Docker, but if they can’t, more depth wouldn’t hurt.
Philadelphia Flyers: center
Pilots have many clear needs, but there are few answers in the current organization as to who their positions are in the future. In a post-Claude Giroud era, this is a post that needs a lot of help.
Pittsburgh penguins: defenseman
The penguins have had quite a few recruiting choices in recent years and their picks haven’t developed well. I could have easily gone with the center here, but the lack of defensive prospects in their pipeline is astounding.
St. Louis Blues: defenseman
The Blues haven’t had or kept many high selections lately, but you have to love the progress of top forwards Zachary Boldock and Jake Nebors, and Robert Thomas has clearly thrived at the big club. On the back end, there’s less depth to quality coming in, and so it should be an area they’re looking to tackle.
San Jose Sharks: Goalkeeper
San Jose has some young players in defense, wing and midfield, especially if William Ecklund can play the center. I love Benjamin Goudreau, but he’s had a great season so it’s not clear if he or anyone else in the pipeline is the future Sharks goalkeeper.
Seattle Kraken: depth
After passing only one NHL draft with only seven picks, the Seattle farm system is pretty weak. Mattie Penners is great, and Ryker Evans and Ryan Winterton look like strong prospects in the NHL, but they just need more players.
Tampa Bay Lightning: register attackers
Tampa hasn’t picked up much or high in recent seasons, so the farm is understandably weak and has different needs. I could have picked a position here, but I love Jack Finley enough to think he would play. Looking at their pipeline, Tampa has a lot of hard-working strikers, but not a lot of skills to come, nor guys who can expect to score a lot of pros.
Toronto Maple Leafs: center
Ronnie Hirvonen is a strong prospect and I think he will play in the National Hockey League. He’s played in the middle before, but I don’t think he’s locking in to be the centerpiece of the NHL, and after that there wasn’t much to come for Toronto in the middle.
Vancouver Canucks: center
The Canucks haven’t had many high picks in the past couple of years, so they have many needs, but if I had to pick one, it would be center. Yes, they have some very good positions in the NHL team, but there is no clear next person in the scenario, which of them need to be replaced.
Vegas Golden Nights: center
Vegas has good potential on the wing and in defence, but they lack depth in goal and especially in the middle unless Ivan Morozov really hits it. I wouldn’t rule out Nolan Patrick turning it around somewhat, but regardless, they could use more quality depth to the center in the pipeline.
Washington Capitals: Goalkeeper
Washington’s need for a goalkeeper is well documented after the .899 team saved a percentage on the season. There is a shortage of the obvious man coming from the system, too. It is always possible that Ilya Samsonov will turn back because of his age and talent.
Winnipeg Jets: center
I chose center as a position that needed the Jets – however, if someone like Chaz Lucius found a way to play center like a pro to go with David Gustafsson, that would alleviate their needs somewhat. Barring that, having more depth in the middle stands out as their biggest need to delve into the draft.
(Shane Wright photo: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
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