Joe Sakic's Avalanche Hold the First Pick in the 2013 Draft
The NHL draft will allow some teams to add key pieces to their organization. Because the 2013 draft is exceptionally deep, there will be opportunities to draft players that could play in the 2013-14 season on a regular basis.
All teams will be balancing organizational needs with the best player available. In many instances, those two factors conflict.
Potential trades on draft day, impending buyouts and free agency also must be factored in by management groups.
The following list features what’s atop every NHL team’s wish list for the upcoming NHL draft. Teams appear in alphabetical order.
The Ducks' Teemu Selanne
The Anaheim Ducks had a great regular season.
Their roster is deep and features a lot of players with size. Their wish list would have a forward with offensive ability at the top. The Ducks could afford to take a chance on a high-risk prospect since this skater isn’t need in the next season or two.
Suggested Pick: J.T. Compher. Compher is heading to Michigan for at least a season or two but could help the Ducks down the road. He doesn't have a lot of size, but he's an agitator with some skill.
Boston's Patrice Bergeron
The Boston Bruins have built their team more through trades than the draft.
Regardless, they have some very good depth at the AHL level. There are no immediate needs, but the Bruins could use a depth defenceman in the next few seasons since some of their core on the point is aging.
Suggested Pick: Jordan Subban. It's difficult to say where Subban will go, but he is the kind of player the Bruins could afford to take a risk on in the second round. Subban could help a team if he continues to develop as well as he has in the past two seasons.
The 2013 draft is flush with top defensive prospects and centres.
The Buffalo Sabres had a disappointing 2013 campaign and struggled throughout. The Sabres have some good young players.
At the top of their wish list is a top-four defenceman, and they should be able to draft one with the eighth pick.
Suggested Pick: Darnell Nurse. If Nurse is still available, he would be a great pick for the Sabres. He has the potential to become an NHL All-Star in the future.
2013 Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames will be active in the offseason, as the organization has understandably grown tired of losing.
The Flames have some good young players, but there are several holes on their current NHL roster. The Flames’ wish list begins with a talented centre. With the sixth pick, the Flames should be able to draft such a player.
Suggested Pick: Elias Lindholm. The Flames need to add scoring and Lindholm could do this from the centre position. He is highly skilled and would fit in well with some of the Calgary's young forwards.
The Carolina Hurricanes had a disappointing 2013 season and missed the playoffs. Their wish list is extensive, but atop that list is a need to add a top-pairing defenceman.
The organization will be able to fill that need if they hold on to the fifth pick in this year’s draft.
Suggested Pick: Darnell Nurse. If the Hurricanes retain this pick, the talented Nurse would make a lot of sense. Nurse has improved so much over the past season that he could be an outside threat to crack their lineup next year.
He has all the tools.
The Chicago Blackhawks have developed several good forwards and have built well through the draft. The Blackhawks have a number of good NHL prospects, but they could use some depth at the forward position.
A player with the potential to be a solid third-liner is atop their draft wish list.
Suggested Pick: Morgan Klimchuk. If Klimchuk is available, he could be a great depth player in Chicago. The Regina Pat has put up good numbers in junior and could develop into a top-nine forward in a few years.
There is a lot of potential in his game.
The Colorado Avalanche will play an up-tempo game under new head coach Patrick Roy.
The club is not as far away from success as some might think. While they need defensive help, adding a dynamic forward who can score goals is likely atop their wish list. If they retain this pick, there are a number of candidates they can select at No. 1.
Suggested Pick: Nathan MacKinnon. The Avs seem focused on drafting a forward. Nathan MacKinnon should be that pick.
MacKinnon is adaptable, intelligent and the most complete forward in the draft.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been able to gather some good young talent over past drafts. Several needs remain. but atop their wish list is a forward with a nose for the net.
They could use more scoring from their top-six forwards. Look for them to take one of the talented forwards that will be available in the middle part of the first round.
Suggested Pick: Alexander Wennberg. Wennberg would make some sense for the Blue Jackets. He is an excellent skater who can score in tight quarters. He has a great pair of hands and would complement some of the skilled skaters the Jackets already have.
The Dallas Stars were in the race for a playoff spot until late in the 2013 shortened season. They have a number of very good young skaters and will be able to add another very good player with this pick.
Atop their wish list is a forward with a complete game.
Suggested Pick: Curtis Lazar. Lazar boasts a very mature game and is a natural leader. He wouldn't be pressured to play on the first two lines in Dallas. He is a great shooter and would bolster the Stars offence as well as being responsible defensively.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings have drafted very well for several seasons now, despite not having almost any early first-round picks.
The Red Wings' wish list would not be as extensive as many teams’ lists. Nevertheless, with the age of some of their top forwards, at the top of their list would be a forward with offensive upside.
The pick would have some time to develop in their second-to-none minor league system.
Suggested Pick: Adam Erne. Adam Erne is a heady player and could develop over time with the Red Wings. The Wings are deep at the NHL level and can afford to have a prospect take a few years to develop his game. Erne plays with an edge and offers a physical brand of hockey.
Oilers' Devan Dubnyk
The Edmonton Oilers have finally been successful in establishing some depth at the minor league level. The Oilers have some very promising prospects, but there are many pressing needs. Atop their wish list is a dynamic centre able to play a 200-foot game.
Their entire wish list is extensive, but at the top is an offensive-minded centreman.
Suggested Pick: Sean Monahan. If he's available, Sean Monahan would make a lot of sense for the Oilers. He could be a top-nine forward in the next year or two and has some size, which the organization currently lacks. The Oilers have several talented wingers. Monahan offers something at the centre position they don't have—youth and size.
The Florida Panthers have a number of needs. Their wish list begins with needing a dynamic forward who can put up great offensive numbers.
Much like the Avalanche, the Panthers should be able to fill this need with a very talented forward, as the 2013 draft boasts a number of offensive-minded forwards.
Suggested Pick: Jonathan Drouin. It is difficult to say what players will go where with the Avs potentially not selecting Seth Jones. The Panthers may even consider him. However, based on needing a talented winger, Drouin would make sense.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are set up to be a strong club for many years. There are no real holes on their NHL roster. With Jonathan Bernier likely to be traded, atop the Kings’ wish list is a goaltending prospect.
The Kings do have some organizational depth here, but this is a future need that needs to be met.
Suggested Pick: Eric Comrie. Eric Comrie is a talented goalie with great athleticism and an ability to make acrobatic saves. His fundamentals need work, but he seems like the type of athlete that will be willing to do the work. He'd be a great pick in the second round.
The Minnesota Wild traded their 2013 first-round pick, so it will be challenging to select a player that meets the top need. It should be emphasized that they have one of the best prospect pools in the entire NHL.
They are deep at every position; however, atop their wish list would be even more defensive depth. With the number of great prospects available, they may even get one in the later rounds.
Suggested Pick: Dillon Heatherington. If Heatherington slips out of the first round, he'd be a really good pick. He is a gifted skater and has a lot of offensive ability. He's mobile and can be a top-four defenceman if he continues on the same development path he is on.
Canadiens' P.K. Subban
The Montreal Canadiens exceeded most expectations in 2013.
They have a late pick in the first round and should be able to fill their top need. At the top of their wish list is a forward with size and grit. The Canadiens need to add some players with an edge to their roster in order to compete with long-time rivals like the Boston Bruins.
Suggested Pick: Anthony Mantha. Mantha has both size and a really soft pair of hands. He can hurt you in the corners or on the scoreboard. He could become a fan favourite in Montreal.
The Nashville Predators could use a forward committed to scoring.
The Predators have always been a hard-working group, so adding some skill will help improve their current roster. With the fourth pick, the organization will have a number of options and should have no problem crossing their most pressing need—adding some offense at forward—off their wish list.
Suggested Pick: Alexander Barkov. Barkov is just 17, but he plays a mature game. He is a powerful skater that will only get better as he develops his game further. He can be a top-line centre in the NHL, without question.
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils are not used to missing the playoffs, but they did just that in 2013.
The organization will likely see a lot of change in the next few seasons. Atop their wish list is a dynamic forward who can put the puck in the net. With the depth in this year’s draft, expect them to add that player on June 30.
Suggested Pick: Max Domi or Bo Horvat. The Devils have a few needs, but either of these two London Knights forwards would be a great pick for the Devils. Both can score and Domi, in particular, is an offensive dynamo.
These players could contribute at the NHL level in short order.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders had a successful season and pushed the Pittsburgh Penguins in this year’s playoff series. The team has a very good base of defensive prospects, so look for them to seek a forward.
Atop their wish list is a responsible forward, likely a winger, who plays well at both ends of the rink.
Suggested Pick: Hunter Shinkaruk. If Shinkaruk is available, he would fit in well with the Islanders. He's a great skater and is a pure sniper.
He'd fit in superbly with the talented Islander forwards.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have traded their first pick, but they may be a team looking to trade into this rich first round. The Rangers had a disappointing season in many ways, as they were many pundits’ choice as Stanley Cup favorites. Atop the Rangers’ wish list is a goaltending prospect.
They will not need him immediately, but at some point they will lose the incomparable Henrik Lundqvist.
Suggested Pick: Tristan Jarry. It is always challenging to predict where the goalies will be taken. If he lasts into the second round, the Rangers could select Jarry, although they would have to make a deal to gain a pick in that round. He is a battler in net and loves to play the puck up to his defencemen. He has a lot of talent and could be the Rangers' goalie of the future.
The Ottawa Senators are another organization with excellent depth. Their development system has been especially amazing in the past two or three seasons.
There are no glaring areas of concern, but topping their wish list would be a solid defenceman that could develop into a second-pairing blueliner.
Suggested Pick: Mirco Mueller. Mueller is a talented Swiss defenceman and has developed very well in the WHL. He is 6'4" and moves the puck very well. His skating needs work, but he has the talent to become a top-four defenceman.
The Philadelphia Flyers are a talented team, and the addition of Mark Streit will go a long way to bolstering their defensive core.The Flyers need goaltending help, but at the top of their wish list is another defenceman.
Most young defencemen need at least a season or two in a club’s minor league system; however, the Flyers may be able to draft a defenceman capable of making the jump to the NHL next season.
Suggested Pick: Rasmus Ristolainen. The talented Finnish defenceman is brimming with skill. He can lead the rush and should be a top-pairing NHL defenceman.
The Flyers would do well to select him if he's still available to them.
The Phoenix Coyotes are an organization in flux. They have a mix of young skaters and veteran talent led by Shane Doan. The Coyotes need to add more scoring to their roster.
While the Coyotes have several needs, an offensive-minded centre tops their wish list.
Suggested Pick: Max Domi. Domi may be available in the middle of the first round despite having top-10 talent. Domi is a magician with the puck. He's tireless in the offensive zone and has excellent vision. He'd be a great pick for the Coyotes.
The Penguins' Kris Letang
The Pittsburgh Penguins are built to win in the here and now. They don’t have a first-round pick, but they do have some organizational needs. The Penguins’ wish list should have a right wing at the top of it.
They don’t need a player immediately, so they could afford to gamble a little on a raw prospect.
Suggested Pick: Justin Bailey. The Kitchener Rangers forward is raw but talented. He's a great skater and will only improve with more time in the OHL. The Pens don't need him any time soon, so the big winger could develop at his own pace. He'd be a great late-round pick.
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks have done an enviable job of maintaining their core stars while integrating a new generation of stars, almost seamlessly.
The Sharks have some great young players. Their wish list begins with a top-four defenceman that can contribute at both ends of the rink.
This need is not immediate so they can look at a player that might be more of a project than the upper-tier defencemen available in the draft.
Suggested Pick: Josh Morrissey. Josh Morrissey is an exceptional skater. He may be one of the two or three fastest defencemen in the draft. He can close quickly on attacking players and get out of his own end with ease. He is a gambler and could bring an exciting element to the Sharks.
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues have done a great job of drafting and bringing in young players in the past three or four seasons.
The Blues have some very good prospects; however, their wish list would start with a mobile defenceman. The NHL game today requires defencemen who can move the puck quickly and efficiently.
Suggested Pick: Chris Bigras. The Blues first pick won't be until early in the second round. It may be a stretch to expect Bigras of the Owen Sound Attack to be available early in the that round. But if he is, he would be a good fit for the Blues. He has produced in junior and loves to enjoy the rush. He's clearly an above-average skater.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning were a disappointment in many ways this season.
GM Steve Yzerman has a long wish list, and topping that list is adding some size at either forward or defence. There are several top-ranked prospects that can fill this need, so Yzerman will have a decision to make with with this pick. Atop their wish list is a top-line forward with size.
Suggested Pick: Valeri Nichushkin or Alexander Barkov. The Lightning have some great choices with the third pick overall. Nichushkin or the young Barkov could be dynamite. Yzerman needs forwards with size and skill. Either of these skaters fit the bill.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs have slowly begun to turn around their minor league system and seem committed to developing players long term.
Losing Dallas Eakins will certainly not help with their player development, but they do have a good system in place. The Leafs have a few needs, but atop their wish list is a forward with size. They are not easy to find, but a power forward with at least some scoring ability would be ideal.
Suggested Pick: Frederik Gauthier or Adam Erne. Gauthier or Erne would make sense for the Leafs. They need some size and grit at the forward position. Either of these big men could fill that role. They may not last until this pick, but they make sense for the undersized Leafs.
The Vancouver Canucks need to add some depth to their minor league system. The Canucks have no glaring weaknesses, but their core is beginning to age.
Their wish list is headed by an offensive-minded forward. Ideally, this is a centreman with the ability to contribute 40 to 50 points at the NHL level.
Suggested Pick: Kerby Rychel. Rychel has been overshadowed by some more prolific scorers. He could be a great asset for the Canucks if he happens to be available this late. He likes to take the body and is an offensive force. He is a winger, so while not ideal for the Canucks, they may not be able to resist in order to fill a scoring need.
The Washington Capitals turned their season around after a dismal beginning and had a relatively good finish in 2013. Atop the Capitals’ wish list is a defensive defenceman.
Adam Oates has put some new defensive demands on his team. A defensive-minded prospect would make some sense to meet these new needs.
Suggested Pick: Steven Santini. American Steven Santini could be the answer for the Capitals. He is an excellent defender. He can shut down talented forwards with his combination of size and physicality.
The Winnipeg Jets gave their fans a lot to cheer about his season. The Jets have some passionate fans that help make Winnipeg a challenge to visit. The Jets could use help in a few areas (their defensive play has to improve), but atop their wish list is a forward who can score goals.
Too many nights last season, the Jets could not get that one goal that would have separated them from their Eastern Conference opponent.
Suggested Pick: Bo Horvat or Curtis Lazar. If these two players are still available when the Jets pick at 13, they could use either of them. Both players can contribute offensively, however, they are capable in their own end.
They both display leadership qualities and could become important pieces for the Jets.