2021 NHL Draft Team Needs: Pacific Division

2021 NHL Draft
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The 2021 NHL Draft is just around the corner and will once again be an online draft before things get back to normal in 2022. Today, we will look at the Pacific Divisions team needs and potential pick in the upcoming draft.

Click on each player’s name to see a full scouting report by Last Word’s own Ben Kerr. 

2021 NHL Draft: Pacific Division Team Needs

Anaheim Ducks

Draft Position: 3rd Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Jamie Drysdale, Jacob Perreault, Trevor Zegras, Brayden Tracey, Isac Lundestrom

Team Needs:

Despite loading up on forwards with their early picks in recent years, it’s hard to tell what their potential really is. Trevor Zegras has number one centre written all over him, but it’s hard to place players like Sam Steel, Troy Terry and Max Comtois. The Ducks best bet would be to use the third overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft on one of the talented forwards in the upcoming draft.

Projected Pick: William Eklund

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Eklund has spent most of his time in the SHL at left wing, however played centre at junior levels and for the Swedish National Junior teams. Given his skating, playmaking ability, and defensive game, he likely will be a centre at the NHL level. With a year of professional hockey, against men, under his belt, Eklund is one of the more NHL-ready prospects in this year’s draft. However, it is not a sure thing, and he would have to perform in training camp. Another year in the SHL and a World Junior experience would not hurt his development either. However, I would not expect him to be more than a year away at most. Eklund’s game is reminiscent of Henrik Zetterberg but this is a style comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

Calgary Flames

Draft Position: 12th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Connor Zary, Jakob Pelletier

Team Needs:

The Calgary Flames didn’t draft a single defenceman in either of the 2018 or 2019 NHL Drafts and despite selecting four in the 2020 NHL Draft, there’s no guarantee either of them will become a top-pair defender. Marc Giordano’s career is winding down and Chris Tanev isn’t getting any younger. They do have some young defenders in Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson and Juuso Valimaki who are fine defencemen, however, it’s time for the Flames to add another blue-chip prospect to the group.

Projected Pick: Carson Lambos

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Lambos has the potential to be a top-pairing defender in the NHL. He is very strong defensively for his age and if this development continues he could play against top lines at the next level. With the limited games he played due to the pandemic and injuries he will need more time in junior and is likely to be in the WHL for the next two seasons. If he can improve his offensive game and become a true power-play quarterback, he could be a franchise defenceman. As it stands though, he is more likely to become a team’s second or third best defender. Lambos game is reminiscent of Alex Pietrangelo, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or potential.”

Edmonton Oilers

Draft Position: 19th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Dylan Holloway, Philip Broberg, Evan Bouchard

Team Needs:

The biggest need for the Oilers is easy. Goaltending. They don’t have a blue-chip prospect in the system and with Mikko Koskinen failing to become a legitimate start and Mike Smith‘s career winding down, the Oilers need to find a goaltender sooner rather than later. Despite missing out on Jesper Wallstedt, the Oilers can still lock up their goalie of the future with the 19th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

Projected Pick: Sebastian Cossa

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Cossa has everything needed to be a top goaltender at the next level but will need some time. Expect to see him back with the Oil Kings next season. He should also challenge for the starting spot on Team Canada at the World Juniors. Like many young goalies continued improvements on his rebound control and facing better shooters will be needed. He is a long-term project but one who could become a franchise goalie for his team. Expect Cossa to need at least a couple of years of AHL action after his junior career is done. Cossa’s game is reminiscent of Ben Bishop, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

Los Angeles Kings

Draft Position: 8th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, Tobias Bjornfot, Rasmus Kupari

Team Needs:

The Kings have managed to put together arguably the best group of forward prospects featuring Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte and Arthur Kaliyev in recent years. Now it’s time to set the focus on defence. They have recently selected Tobias Bjornfot in 2019, however, they need some more insurance on the backend moving forward.

Projected Pick: Brandt Clarke

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Brandt Clarke has the potential to become a dynamic offensive defenceman going forward. He could become a franchise-changing player, as well as compete for the Norris Trophy while in his prime if he reaches his ceiling. Of course, this is no guarantee. Clarke needs to continue his development, especially in the defensive end of the ice. However, his outstanding skating ability, ability to produce offence and hockey intelligence are all high-end. Clarke has some experience playing against men, so he could challenge for a spot in camp next year, but it is more likely that a little more time in junior is needed. His game is reminiscent of Erik Karlsson, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or potential.”

San Jose Sharks

Draft Position: 7th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Ozzy Wiesblatt, Ryan Merkley

Team Needs:

The Sharks addressed one of their biggest needs by acquiring Adin Hill from the Arizona Coyotes. Now it’s time to simply add talent to the prospect pool. The Sharks have one of the worst prospect pools in the entire league. However, that’s because they were a very competitive team in recent years and either dealt their picks to make a run for the Cup or picked late in the draft. With the 7th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, the Sharks will add a significant player to their prospect pool.

Projected Pick: Kent Johnson

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“Johnson has the potential to be an effective two-way centre at the NHL level. He mostly played left wing as a freshman, but will likely transition back to centre at some point. Johnson will need to work on his strength and do a little more in the dirty areas of the ice going forward, but his skill level is high and he is willing to go to the tough areas. His results against bigger defenders should improve as he grows into his frame. Another year or two at the NCAA level, with weekend games and plenty of time in the weight room would really help him. His game is reminiscent of Mikael Granlund, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.”

Seattle Kraken

Draft Position: 2nd Overall

Recent First Round Picks: N/A

Team Needs:

Considering this is the first draft for the Kraken and they only have one player signed to their roster, the Seattle Kraken need essentially everything. They’ll simply pick the best player available with the number two selection in the 2021 NHL Draft.

Projected Pick: Matthew Beniers

“Beniers can become a franchise centre. While he’s played some wing at times, his future appears to be up the middle. He is probably never going to challenge for scoring titles, but he can become a top line offensive player who also plays against the other team’s top line. His two-way game is everything a coach would want. Given the short college season this year, Beniers may not be NHL ready this fall. He could use another year with the Wolverines and another appearance at the World Juniors.  A mature player, he can eventually become a leader on his team. In terms of a style comparison, he plays the game similarly to Patrice Bergeron, if he were a winger. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on talent or ability.”

Vancouver Canucks

Draft Position: 9th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Vasili Podkolzin, Quinn Hughes

Team Needs:

The Vancouver Canucks have put together a decent group of defence prospects. Jack Rathbone and Olli Juolevi will challenge for a roster spot this season and youngster Quinn Hughes is already shining at the NHL level. They also have Jett Woo in the system as well. The Canucks would benefit from drafting one of the talented forwards in the draft with their 9th overall pick. Especially with the top defenders likely to be already off the board.

Projected Pick: Mason McTavish

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“McTavish has the ability to play both centre and wing. With his strong defensive game, and his ability to win faceoffs, he could be a very good two-way centre at the next level. However, he will need continued work on his skating to stay in the middle. However, he should still be an NHLer, even if he has to transition to the wing. McTavish should be back in the OHL next season as he needs a bit more development before he is ready to go to the NHL. It could even be a couple years and some time in the AHL. However, once he makes the league, he should be a reliable forward who can be used in all situations. McTavish’s game is reminiscent of Jeff Carter. However this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

Vegas Golden Knights

Draft Position: 29th Overall

Recent First Round Picks: Brendan Brisson, Peyton Krebs

Team Needs:

Being in the league for only a short time doesn’t allow you to build much of a prospect pool. Even more so when your team has been competitive since year one making the Stanley Cup Final in their first season. The Golden Knights traded away two of their top prospects in Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom to try to make a run at the Stanley Cup while also trading prospect Cody Glass for Nolan Patrick recently as well. Because of this, the Golden Knights are just looking to stock up on talent at any position.

Projected Pick: Anton Olsson

Notes from LWOH’s Ben Kerr:

“If Olsson reaches his ceiling he can be an effective two-way defenceman playing in the top-four for an NHL team. His defensive game is likely to be better than his offensive game. He is unlikely to be used on a first power-play unit, or even the second if his team is using four forwards, but can provide a bit of offence at even-strength. If he develops, his value will be in being able to play big minutes in tough matchups. Olsson will need at least another year or two playing in the SHL or AHL before he is ready to move up to the pro game. His game is reminiscent of Markus Nutivaara but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

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