2022 NHL Draft: What is each team’s greatest need?

Today, we look at each NHL team’s greatest need to enter the 2022 NHL Draft.

Biggest need, in this context, does not mean the immediate need on the big club’s roster. This is not about filling the need for the NHL season 2022-23. The purpose of this from an NHL Draft perspective is to examine a club’s entire depth map at the NHL and prospect level and project their needs over the next few years.

Anaheim Ducks: Defender

The Ducks have some excellent young defenders in their system, with Jamie Drysdale on his way to becoming a top player and Olen Zellweger looking good as a junior. However, having traded Josh Manson and Hampus Lindholm, there is an urgent need for more top-four defensive talents on the team.

Arizona Coyotes: Center

Any look at the four centers the Coyotes started on a given night would probably lead you to the same conclusion: This organization needs more in the middle. I still like Barrett Hayton, but the Coyotes need a lot more around him. It helps that there will probably be a very good center available at the No. 3 election.

Boston Bruins: Defender

As for what the big club needs right now, I would lean towards a center, but the Bruins have at least John Beecher on the way, and I think you can get some games out of Brett Harrison as well. In defense, there is very little on the way. Maybe you can make Mason Lohrei an NHL player, but that’s not certain, and apart from him it’s not much.

Buffalo Sabers: Downtown

Sabers has a deep farm system, so there is no urgent, urgent need, but in a world after Jack Eichel, the center is the need I want to highlight – especially another high-ranking center. They have a bunch of good pieces between Peyton Krebs, Casey Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens that could possibly be the solutions, but it could not hurt to add more.

Calgary Flames: Defender

The Flames have used many of their high picks in recent years to add talented strikers such as Matt Coronato, Connor Zary and Jakob Pelletier. They have some decent defensive prospects, but there is an obvious need for more talent in that position, especially given that Juuso Valimaki has not yet taken the big step forward in development.

Carolina Hurricanes: Downtown

Carolina has had lots of draft choices in recent years, so there is no urgent need in their system. I highlighted centers because even though they have some good prospects, some of which are listed as centers, they realistically do not have many prospects who project as legitimate top-three-line NHL centers, and many of their centers may be pushed to the wing in NHL.

Chicago Blackhawks: Defender

I could have gone in several directions for Chicago’s greatest need, but chose defense. I did it because after replacing Adam Boqvist and Henri Jokiharju, and after several of their other high defense choices in recent years did not develop as planned, very little comes from that position in the pipeline.

Colorado Avalanche: Goalkeeper

I was tempted to defend here after Colorado replaced Justin Barron and Drew Helleson by the deadline, but they still have Bowen Byram who will be a great NHL player, and Sean Behrens had a strong year in college. Their top goalkeeper is Justus Annunen who is a good size, but who has been perfectly ok as a professional, and they can realistically use another alternative in case he does not strike out.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Defenseman

Columbus did a great job last year and contributed to an important need up front and especially in the middle by taking Kent Johnson and Cole Sillinger high in the draft. Now the focus is on the blue line. Columbus has only used one top-two round pick on a defender since Andrew Peeke in 2016, and it shows when you look through their reserve list

Dallas Stars: Defenseman

I do not want to call this need for Dallas pressure – obviously they have Miro Heiskanen in the big club who is still quite young, and I think Thomas Harley will be very good with the time as well. This is a position they can use more depth in, because after the two there is not much on the way other than maybe Artem Grushnikov.

Detroit Red Wings: Center

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, Wings fans. Wings has done a very good job of building up his blue line through the draft and adding a quality goalkeeper in Sebastian Cossa, but given the uneven development of former top center choice Michael Rasmussen, this has become a clear position of need for Vinger to address.

Edmonton Oilers: Goalkeeper

The Oilers have a clear need for a good quality starting goalkeeper, but this need will not be met by this draft, given how long you will wait for even the best online memory. That said, their system also lacks a clear keeper for the future. Stuart Skinner did well in a test run, but he is not sure, so adding more depth in this position seems like a priority for this organization.

Florida Panthers: Defenseman

Florida’s system is not that deep and they do not have many choices, but they have several good, young strikers and Spencer Knight in the net. They come very little on the blue line. I like Evan Nause, but they need a lot more than just him.

Los Angeles Kings: Goalkeeper

Kings has a deep organization of young talent in most positions, including first-class positions in the center and defense. The one they are missing is a clear keeper for the future. This may not be the draft class to tackle it, but it may be worth taking a turn on at least one goalkeeper.

Minnesota Wild: Center

Minnesota has done well in drawing first-class positions such as center, defense and goalkeeper in recent years. After seeing Jack McBain go and see Marat Khusnutdinov sign again with his KHL team, a little more depth in the middle would be nice to add to the organization.

Montreal Canadiens: Downtown

I think you can easily argue for the center or keeper of Montreal here. After the disappointing development of Jesperi Kotkaniemi No. 3 and Ryan Poehling became a solid but not great player, they could use more quality depth in the middle.

Nashville Predators: Defenseman

After being known as a defense factory for several years, Nashville has recently invested more of the draft capital on forward and in net. Their system has little that comes on the blue line, and you have to imagine this draft they see to solve it.

New Jersey Devils: Goaltender

The Devils have had plenty of choices in recent years and have addressed many critical needs in the draft, but the one position they still need to fill is a clear goalkeeper for the future if Mackenzie Blackwood can not be that guy. It’s possible Nico Daws or Akira Schmid may be, but they’m not sure.

New York Islanders: Defender

The islanders have many needs in their system, so I could have gone in a bunch of different directions here. Noah Dobson looks great on the blue line, but after him it’s gloomy. Maybe Robin Salo is playing, but he’s no guarantee.

New York Rangers: Center

Rangers have chosen often and highly in recent years, so their stable with young talents is in a good position with depth and quality. The only thing they can really use is more depth in the middle. The positive play-off from Filip Chytil is reassuring, but there is almost nothing outside the NHL.

Ottawa Senators: Defender

Ottawa has a very good farm system and young players in the NHL club, so I do not really see a clear need for any position. But if I had to pick one, it would be the blue line. The obvious caveat is that Jake Sanderson is an elite defense prospect, and they have several other good defense prospects on the way as well. If I were to compare the young depth between the Sens strikers and the blueliners, they could use one or two more quality prospects on the blue line to play alongside Sanderson and Thomas Chabot. Lassi Thomson or Jacob Bernard-Docker may be, but if they can’t, no more depth damage.

Philadelphia Flyers: Center

The pilots have several clear needs, but there is little answer in today’s organization as to who their centers of the future are. In a post-Claude Giroux era, it is a position that needs lots of help.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Defender

The Penguins have had few draft choices in recent years, and the choices they have made have not developed so well. I could easily have gone downtown here, but the lack of defensive prospects in their pipeline is striking.

St. Louis Blues: Defender

The Blues have not had or kept many high picks lately, but you have to like the progress of the top picks Zachary Bolduc and Jake Neighbors, and obviously Robert Thomas has flourished in the big club. At the back there is less quality depth, and it should therefore be an area they are looking to address.

San Jose Sharks: Goalkeeper

San Jose has some young players in defense, wing and center, especially if William Eklund can play in the middle. I like Benjamin Gaudreau, but he had a so-so season, so it’s not clear if he, or anyone else in the pipeline, is the Sharks’ future goalkeeper.

Seattle Kraken: Depth

After going through just one NHL Draft with just seven picks, Seattle’s farm system is pretty thin. Matty Beniers is great, and both Ryker Evans and Ryan Winterton look like solid NHL prospects, but they just need many more players.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Scoring going forward

Tampa has not picked much or high in recent seasons, so the farm is understandably thin with different needs. I could have chosen center here, but I like Jack Finley enough to believe he’s going to play. When we look through their pipeline, Tampa has a lot of hard-working forwards, but there are not a lot of skills, not even boys who can estimate to score a lot as professionals.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Center

Roni Hirvonen is a solid prospect who I think will play in the NHL. He has played in the middle before, but I do not think he is a lock to be an NHL pivot, and after him there is not much else that comes up for Toronto in the middle.

Vancouver Canucks: Center

The Canucks have not had many high picks in the last two years, so they have more needs, but if I had to pick one, it would be downtown. Yes, they have some very good centers on the NHL team, but there is no obvious second in the scenario that some of them need to be replaced.

Vegas Golden Knights: Center

Vegas has a couple of good wing and defense prospects, but they lack depth in goal and especially in the middle unless Ivan Morozov really hits. I do not rule out that Nolan Patrick turns it to some extent, but anyway they can use more quality depth in the middle of the pipeline.

Washington Capitals: Goalkeeper

Washington’s need for a goalkeeper was well documented after a team 0.899 save percentage on the season. It lacks a next clear guy coming from the system as well. However, it is always possible that Ilya Samsonov will return due to her age and talent.

Winnipeg Jets: Center

I chose the center as the needs position for the Jets – but if someone like a Chaz Lucius were to find a way to play midfield as a pro with David Gustafsson, it would to some extent ease their needs. Apart from that, it stands out to have more depth in the middle as their biggest need in the draft.

(Photo by Shane Wright: Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press via AP, file)