NHL Season Preview: Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks lost a tough series to the Blackhawks last season, look for them to avenge that loss in the upcoming year.

Key Additions
F Carl Hagelin,
G Anton Khudobin
D Kevin Bieksa

Key Departures
D Francois Beauchemin
LW Matt Beleskey
RW Kyle Palmieri
LW Emerson Etem

Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are still here so that immediately makes the Ducks a playoff threat. They finished first in the pacific division last season and there isn’t any reason they can’t repeat this year. The only thing I would be concerned about is secondary scoring and defense stability when it comes time for the playoffs. The Ducks should see this as a make or break year after making noise recently in the last couple of postseasons.

Prediction: 1st in the Pacific, Western Conf Finals

Vancouver Canucks

Key Additions
LW Brandon Sutter
D Matt Bartowski
LW Brandon Prust

Key Departures
G Eddie Lack
RW Zack Kassian
D Kevin Bieksa
C Nick Bonino
RW Brad Richardson
C Shawn Matthias

I did not expect the Canucks to have the season they did last year. Nonetheless Vancouver returned to the postseason only to be bounced by the young gun Calgary Flames in the first round. That speaks volumes about the state of defense in Vancouver, they will certainly have to play better. While the Sedins looked good last year I expect them to slow down a bit and the prospects on the Canucks still have some growing to do.

Prediction: Third in division, second round exit playoffs.

Calgary Flames

Key Additions
D Dougie Hamilton
RW Michael Frolik
D Jakub Nakladal

Key Departures
D Raphael Diax
D David Schlemko

It was a joy to see the upstart Flames in the postseason last year. They certainly played with a youthful fire (see what I did there). The Flames are a good squad, but not great at least not yet. Yeah the addition of Dougie Hamilton adds some stability to the average defense. The Flames are growing and much like the Bolts will be a force in the coming years. Guys like Johnny hockey, Sam Bennett, and Monohan will all be household names soon enough and they provide a solid core to the Flames.

Prediction: The Flames have a good year and sneak into the postseason as a wild-card.

LA Kings

Key Additions
LW Milan Lucic
D Christian Ehrhoff
G Jhonas Enroth

Key Departures
RW Justin Williams
C Jarret Stoll
C Mike Richards
D Robyn Regehr
D Slava Voynov
G Martin Jones

The Kings reign ended abruptly last season when they missed the playoffs. It’s their own fault, they played abysmal down the stretch. In their final 10 games they went 5 and 5 eventually losing control of their own destiny. LA looks to rebound this year with a well rested squad. I expect the rest to help out G Jonatan Quick the most. He seemed normal last season posting a .918 save percentage in the regular season. Quick has played in 227 regular season games and 64 playoff games from 2011 to now. I expect the Kings to come out swinging and squeeze into the postseason, but I think they just lost too much this offseason to make a deep run.

Prediction: Wild Card, first round exit.

San Jose Sharks

Key Additions
Coach Pete DeBoer
D Paul Martin
G Martin Jones

Key Departures
G Antti Niemi

The Sharks have been the biggest choke artists over the last five years. Since 2010 they have lost in the Stanley Cup Western Conf Finals twice, exited the playoffs in the second round and of course famously collapsed to the Kings after being up 3-0 in 2014. I expect that we will see a different Sharks team this season. To start they should be more defensively sound. They have two solid top pairs on D and head coach Pete DeBoer previously coached the Devils who are always known for a stout D. I think the Sharks will surprise a lot of people this year, that’s not saying they’re going to win the cup, but the talent is there to make a solid run.

Prediction: I expect the Sharks to finish 2nd in the division and be bounced in the second round of the playoffs.

Edmonton Oilers

Key Additions
C Connor McDavid
D Andrej Sekera
G Cam Talbot

Key Departures
C Boyd Gordon
C Derek Roy

Connor McDavid. Enough said. Really though the Oilers once again have the Wayne Gretzky of hockey on their team. McDavid is the REAL deal. Is he enough to propel them into the playoffs this year? Probably not. Despite having a plethora of top pick in recent drafts the Oilers haven’t seemed to gel. Combine that with the absence of Jordan Eberle at the start of the season and I think we will see an improved but not playoff worthy Oilers team. I expect them to hang around for a good chunk of the season, but they just aren’t there yet.

Prediction: No playoffs.

Arizona Coyotes

Key Additions
F Max Domi
F Anthony Duclair
C Boyd Gordon
C Brad Richardson
G Anders Lindback

Key Departures
F Martin Erat
F Sam Gagner
D Brandon Gormley
D Keith Yandle

It’s still weird writing Arizona Coyotes. Anyway I feel bad for the Yotes. They were awful last year but the NHL LOVES to give the first pick to the Oilers so Arizona lost out on McDavid. They still have Oliver Ekman-Larsson who should be a top Norris Candidate this year. They have a lot of young talent, and a LOT of cap room. The Yotes will be improved but I don’t see anything more than 82 games for them this season.

Prediction: No Playoffs.

photo credit: Ryan Getzlaf During a Stop in Play via photopin (license)

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