Primary needs of Canada's six NHL teams in the NHL draft tonight:
The Canucks need to strengthen the defence, but seven or eight defencemen could go before they select 22nd. They could move up the board with a trade to get Ryan Ellis of the OHL's Windsor Spitfires, or John Moore of the U.S. Hockey League's Chicago Steel. Prospects ranked between 20 and 30 include David Rundblad and Tim Erixon, both of Sweden, Minnesota high-schooler Nick Leddy, and offensive-minded defenceman Calvin de Haan of the Oshawa Generals. Saskatoon Blades defenceman Stefan Elliott of North Vancouver, the WHL's scholastic player of the year this season, may attract a team that values intelligence.
New head coach Pat Quinn wants the Oilers to return to their hard-skating, up-tempo ways. While they could use more depth on defence, the most pressing need is up front, where the Oilers are shy on size and toughness. Picking 10th overall, Edmonton may have a choice between Scott Glennie, a 6-foot-2, 182-pound centre with Brandon, or Zach Kassian, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound physical force with Peterborough.
With a soft spot for players from Western Canada, one option for the Flames with the 20th pick overall is Dylan Olsen, an AJHL defenceman who has been called Robyn Regehr-like. The other is Landon Ferraro, the son of former NHLer Ray Ferraro. Landon scored 36 goals last season playing for Red Deer, the WHL team owned by the Flames' new head coach, Brent Sutter.
Seeking help up front, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has identified John Tavares as his target, but would settle for moving up to get Brayden Schenn.
The Senators want to add front-line firepower. In the ninth slot (they could move up by packaging disgruntled sniper Dany Heatley), they'll likely have a shot at a player like speedy but diminutive University of Minnesota centre Jordan Schroeder or free-scoring centre Nazem Kadri of the OHL's London Knights. But given Ottawa's recent proclivity for picking Swedes in the first round, it's just as likely they'll pick stylish two-way centre Jacob Josefson of Djurgarden in the Swedish Elite League or lanky defenceman Oliver Exman-Larsson of Leksand.
Scouting director Trevor Timmins has been getting a lot of grief from Montreal's francophone media for picking obscure U.S. high-schoolers in the first round of the draft, and the pressure is on to select a homegrown player. The Canadiens pick 18th and are likely to target a centre, although they could opt for blueline help depending on who is still available. Most of the talk has surrounded USHL star Louis Leblanc, who could give Montreal a skilled, two-way centre-ice presence. Leblanc, who is slated to attend Harvard in the fall, scored 59 points in 60 games for the Omaha Lancers last season.
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