The NHL Draft is just around the corner and will be done a little differently this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the entire 2020 year upside down. Because of this, the 2020 NHL Draft will be a virtual online draft. Today, we will take a look at the Pacific Division and their team needs entering the 2020 NHL Draft.
Click each player’s name to get a full scouting report from Last Word’s own Ben Kerr.
2020 NHL Draft: Pacific Division Team Needs
Draft Position: 6th and 27th Overall
Recent First Round Picks: Trevor Zegras, Brayden Tracey, Isac Lundestrom
The Anaheim Ducks used the last four NHL drafts to replenish the prospect pool up front. They drafted forward with their first two picks in each of the last four drafts. Now it’s time to focus on the defence. The Ducks’ top defenders are all starting to push 30. They do have Josh Mahura and Brendan Guhle who are on the cusp of making the team full time, as well as Jacob Larsson who just played in his first full season with the club. However, that leaves the pool empty. The Ducks need to address this in the near future. With two first-round picks in this year’s draft, it would be a good time to address the need.
Projected Pick: 6th – Jamie Drysdale, 27th – Brendan Brisson
With the sixth overall selection, the Ducks will fill their biggest need by grabbing the best defenceman in the entire draft, Jamie Drysdale. Drysdale is the complete package on the back end. He combines excellent skating with outstanding puck-moving abilities and hockey sense. While he may need to play another year in junior to build up his strength and make some slight improvements to his defensive game, Drysdale has all the makings of a top-pairing defenceman in the future.
Brisson is an exceptional playmaker. He has outstanding vision and passing skills which helps him make crisp tape-to-tape passes to his teammates. His hockey sense allows him to see plays that others do not. This ability makes him an outstanding presence on the power play. Brisson brings the versatility to play both centre and wing positions, however, Ben Kerr figures he is best suited on the wing at the NHL level. Brisson has some work to do on his skating and could stand to bulk up before making his transition to the NHL. Regardless, if Brisson reaches his potential, he could be a top-six forward for the Ducks in the future.
Draft Position: 111th Overall
The Arizona Coyotes do not hold their first three picks of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. They traded their first-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in the Taylor Hall trade and forfeited their second-round pick after violating the NHL Combine Testing Policy. They traded their third-round pick in a deal to bring Carl Soderberg to the desert.
Recent First Round Picks: Victor Soderstrom, Barrett Hayton, Pierre-Oliver Joseph
The Coyotes have spent the last few NHL drafts focusing mostly on defence. In the last four drafts, five of eight picks in the first two rounds were defenceman. They snagged an excellent centre in Barrett Hayton in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, however, they will need to find some more A level forward prospects to join him. The team ranked 21st in goals for this past season and their leading scorer Nick Schmaltz had a measly 45 points in 70 games. Conor Garland was the only player to hit the 20-goal plateau last season.
The Coyotes need to find some top offensive talent to groom. This will be difficult to do in this draft considering they do not hold a pick until the fourth round.
Projected Pick: Yevgeni Oksentyuk
Not having a pick until the fourth round will be tough for the Coyotes who are looking like they need to go into another rebuild. However, Oksentyuk could be a steal this late in the draft. He has some raw talent, being an excellent skater and having an outstanding set of mitts. He is able to make plays at top speed as good as almost anyone in the draft. However, his play on the defensive side of the puck is atrocious. Oksentyuk is a coach’s nightmare in his own zone. However, with proper coaching, he may be able to at least start filling the lanes correctly. If he can work on his defensive game and bulk up, he could be a steal for the Coyotes. He’s got top-six talent, he just needs to fine-tune his game.
Draft Position: 19th Overall
Recent First Round Picks: Jakob Pelletier, Juuso Valimaki
The Calgary Flames have major needs on the defensive end. Mark Giordano is soon to be 37 and currently, they only have three defencemen under contract. Four if we count Juuso Valimaki, who is the only blue-chip prospect the Flames currently have. However, the injury bug has hit him hard early in his career. The Flames need to add some more surefire defence prospects to the pool. The Flames also desperately need a goaltender for the future. As it stands, both Tyler Parsons and Jon Gillies who were thought to be the next Flames start have looked very underwhelming. Neither David Rittich nor Cam Talbot proved reliable enough to take on the job full time. The Flames need an insurance piece to groom between the pipes. They did sign last year’s seventh-round pick Dustin Wolf to an entry-level deal. He has been outstanding for the Everett Silvertips.
Projected Pick: Connor Zary
Despite the need for a defenceman, the Flames won’t be able to pass up the chance to select Zary. Zary is one of those players that you watch him once and you fall in love with his game. Zary brings a work ethic that’s hard to match. He is a 200-foot player, who uses his hockey sense to read and intercept plays to turn them back the other way in transition. So, even though the Flames may not get the defenceman they need, they get a forward who is extremely responsible defensively. Zary needs some work on his skating to be even more effective at the NHL level. However, with his skill set and how responsible he is defensively, he should be able to be a third-line shutdown centre at the NHL level regardless. If he can put it all together, Zary projects as a top-six centre.
Draft Position: 14th Overall
Recent First Round Picks: Philip Broberg, Evan Bouchard, Kailer Yamamoto
The Edmonton Oilers have been stocking up on top defence prospects as of late, drafting Philip Broberg and Evan Bouchard in the last two NHL Entry Drafts. They join an already young group lead by Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson. Now, the Oilers need to shift their focus to the forward position. Kailer Yamamoto looks to have graduated to a full-time player for the Oilers now and that leaves the forward pool pretty bare. They do have Raphael Lavoie who is promising, but there’s not much outside of him. They could also benefit from adding a quality netminder as they do not have any standout goaltending prospects in the system right now.
Projected Pick: Yaroslav Askarov
The Oilers will finally get the goaltender they’ve been needing for years by selecting top-ranked goaltender Yaroslav Askarov. Askarov possesses decent size standing at 6′-2″ and 176 pounds. Askaraov moved around the net well, coming out to cut down the angles on shooters so that they don’t see a lot of net when shooting. His rebound control is also top-notch and his cool, calm and collected approach is something every team wants from their goaltender. Askarov rarely gets caught out of position but even if he does, his quickness and athleticism allow him to get back to his crease and make the big desperation save. According to Ben Kerr, Askarov is still about two to three years from making an impact at the NHL level. Which is fine for the Oilers, as they have Mikko Koskinen locked up for another two years regardless.
Los Angeles Kings
Draft Position: 2nd Overall
Recent First Round Picks: Alex Turcotte, Tobias Bjornfot, Rasmus Kupari, Gabriel Vilardi
The Los Angeles Kings are in full rebuild mode. This means the team has a ton of needs. However, they had a very successful 2019 NHL draft grabbing three outstanding forwards in Samuel Fagemo, Arthur Kaliyev and most notably Alex Turcotte. Add that to Gabriel Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari and recently acquired Tyler Madden and they have a solid looking forward group. Now it’s time to focus on the defence and goaltending. The Kings drafted Tobias Bjornfot last year to start addressing this issue. They also have Kale Clague in the system. The Kings need to add a sure-fire top-end defenceman to the mix. In goal, Calvin Petersen looks decent but not guaranteed to be a quality starter in the NHL. The Kings need to find someone to be Jonathan Quick‘s successor. With four picks in the first two rounds, the King’s have a good shot at addressing these issues.
Projected Pick: Quinton Byfield
When you have the second overall pick in the draft, you can’t focus on needs. You need to pick the best player available. That player would be Quinton Byfield. Byfield already possesses NHL size at 6′-4″ 215 pounds. Every NHL general manager would be salivating at the opportunity to pick a big centre like Byfield. He is everything you want from a centre. He has the size and power to mix with outstanding skating abilities and a slick set of hands. Not only that but he is also excellent in his own end. Byfield is the 200-foot centre that every team wants out of their top centreman. The Kings were lucky enough to move up to the second position to get the privilege to add Byfield to their already talented group of forwards.
San Jose Sharks
Draft Position: 31st Overall
Recent First Round Picks: Ryan Merkley, Josh Norris
We may be soon looking at a full rebuild in San Jose. After a successful 2018-19 season, the San Jose Sharks were exposed in 2019-20. The team lost some key members of their Stanley Cup contending team due to cap constraints and did not have the prospects in the system ready to fill the holes in the roster. Their defence is ageing and was lacklustre last season. This exposed their weakness in goal. Both Martin Jones and Aaron Dell were mediocre at best and both are over 30.
The Sharks signed KHL goaltender Alexei Melchinuk as insurance, but the Sharks should look at adding another goaltender to their system through the draft. The downfall for the Sharks is they won’t benefit from their bad season with a high draft pick as they traded it to the Ottawa Senators in the Erik Karlsson deal. They did acquire Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Barclay Goodrow, however, that will be a late first. Having two second-round picks will helps lessen the sting.
Projected Pick: Jacob Perreault
Jacob Perrault is one of the best skaters in the entire draft. He skating is elite. His first few steps are lightning-fast and he has the ability to make plays at top speed given his slick set of hands. Perreault also has an excellent variety of shots in his repertoire. He’s an outstanding offensive talent. However, being the son of Yanic Perreault, you would think his defensive game would be strong as well. However, that is not the case. Jacob Perreault’s defensive game is a work in progress, to say the least. He has top-six talent written all over him. If he can put it together on the defensive end, he’s a steal at 31. Yanic was dynamite offensively in junior as well and became one of the best defensive faceoff specialists of his time in the NHL. Maybe Jacob will develop that defensive game as he transitions to the NHL level like his father did.
Draft Position: 82nd Overall
Recent First Round Picks: Vasili Podkolzin, Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson
The Vancouver Canucks fast-tracked their rebuild the last few seasons hitting home runs with their first-round picks in Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. Adding Vasili Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander in last year’s draft is another huge win for Jim Benning and the Canucks. With Jake Virtanen coming into his own and making trades to add J.T. Miller and Tyler Toffoli to the crew, the Canucks have built a solid group. As it stands, the Canucks will not pick until the third round, so whatever they choose to pick will be a project. With an ageing defence group, the Canucks best bet in this year’s NHL Entry Draft is to try to add some talent to their defence pool. Having Jett Woo and Olli Juolevi is a start. Adding some more quality names back there will be beneficial long term.
Projected Pick: Donovan Sebrango
Donovan Sebrango is a very intriguing prospect and someone who certainly fills the Canucks needs. The left-shot defender frequently plays on the right side, bringing versatility for the Canucks. He is an outstanding skater which helps him play a solid two-way game. Sebrango has excellent puck-moving skills and is capable of quarterbacking a power play. He likes to keep players to the outside with an active stick and if he catches his opponent with their head down he will not hesitate to jump up and land a big hit. His skillset projects him as a top-four defender in the future.
Vegas Golden Knights
Draft Position: 29th Overall
Recent First Round Picks: Peyton Krebs, Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Erik Brannstrom
Much like the Canucks, the Vegas Golden Knights biggest need is on the back end. Vegas has turned themselves into a solid Cup contender since entering the league, however, it has come at a cost. They’ve traded a lot of their top prospects including two of their better defence prospects Slava Demin and most notably Erik Brannstrom. Because of this, the Golden Knights need to replenish the defence pool. Kaedan Korczak looks like a solid addition and Nicolas Hague bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL last season. However, there is not enough quantity of solid defensive prospects in the system.
Projected Pick: Helge Grans
To address this need, the Golden Knights could benefit from selecting Helge Grans. Grans is an excellent defender using his large frame and outstanding skating to keep players to the outside. Grans also likes to make the big hit, however, he won’t go out of his way to make it and take himself out of the play. However, you need to keep your head up when he is on the ice. In the offensive zone, Grans isn’t going to dazzle you with his playmaking ability. However, he rarely makes a mistake. Grans elects to make the smart play over trying to create an opportunity and stands back to let his teammates take over. Grans will benefit from playing another few years in the SHL before coming to North America.
That does it for the Pacific Division team needs at the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to check out all the other divisions by clicking the links below.