Previewing the Pacific Division
With October just around the corner, it means none other than hockey is beginning. The skates are being laced, beers are drunk and most importantly, the players bear their colors to begin the 2017-2018 season. In the west coast, the fans have successfully enjoyed their time on the Pacific Ocean but are now more ready than ever to watch another season of Pacific Division hockey.
Teams: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks
The Pacific Division in my mind is arguably the division that I could be the most wrong about. It seems there are only a handful of clear-cut, obvious teams but many of them also seem to be in this grey area of mutability in where these teams could really end up on either side of the spectrum. To start off, GM of the Arizona Coyotes, John Chayka put his name on the board with numerous off-season acquisitions for guys such as Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers, Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta leaving them as a potential team that could end up as a wild card team or also a team watching the playoffs from the TV. The San Jose Sharks also remain a mystery as well. Losing the longest-tenured player in Patrick Marleau could be a huge detriment to the team as he’s been a standard lock on the roster since as early as the 1997-1998 season. This team will require numerous young players such as Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier to take the next step into the NHL, while also needing underachievers such as Mikkel Boedker to play to their contracts.
The Anaheim Ducks are practically unchanged, only losing young defenseman Shea Theodore while adding Ryan Miller as a backup goaltender. On the other hand, the Vancouver Canucks made a cavalcade of changes adding players such as Thomas Vanek, Sam Gagner, and Anders Nilsson to the mix while simultaneously having a potential Calder candidate in Brock Boeser. However, they also lose a ton of players in Nikita Tryamkin, Ryan Miller, and Luca Sbisa. The Vegas Golden Knights as the NHL’s 31st team remain a complete mystery and nobody really knows how well they will do, however, just from a peek at their roster, it can be said they will not be making the postseason anytime soon.
The Edmonton Oilers are looking to improve on a very successful season after going to the second round and making the playoffs for the first time since they went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006. With minimal losses other than Jordan Eberle, the additions of Ryan Strome, Jussi Jokinen and possibly Kailer Yamamoto have made this team that much better and look to have another solid season of Connor McDavid. The Calgary Flames also went into this offseason making a lot of additions with as little losses as possible. The Flames completely revamped their goalies by swapping Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson for Mike Smith and Eddie Lack while also Travis Hamonic to the blue-line and look for jumps in progression with young winger Matthew Tkachuk. The disastrous season that was the Los Angeles Kings is bound to have a bounce-back year. Underperforming players Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli look to have better seasons and Jeff Carter looks to continue his dominance from last season. The addition of Mike Cammalleri to the left wing could be the spark that Kopitar needs to get going.
With that being said, this is my prediction of the Pacific Division.
Pacific Division Prediction
1st: Edmonton Oilers
2nd: Anaheim Ducks
3rd: Calgary Flames
4th: Los Angeles Kings (WC2)
5th: San Jose Sharks
6th: Arizona Coyotes
7th: Vancouver Canucks
8th: Vegas Golden Knights
Check back for predictions of the Central, Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions.