The NHL Pre-Season begins September 15th with a Pacific Division matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Arizona Coyotes at 4:30 PM ET.
Let’s take a look at how the Pacific Division will stack up this coming season.
1. Vegas Golden Knights:
Finishing third in the Pacific last season, the Golden Knights will be looking to reclaim the division after winning it in Vegas’ inaugural season as a team.
Within this Division, Vegas appears to be one of the deepest, and most complete teams.
With a front six consisting of Marchessault, Pacioretty, Stone, Reilly Smith, William Karlsson, and Paul Stastny, along with Cody Eakin, Alex Tuch, and Ryan Reaves for depth players this is a deadly offensive group to say the least.
Throw in Marc-Andre Fleury in net, the Golden Knights certainly have the roster for another deep playoff run.
2. San Jose Sharks:
Finishing second in the Pacific Division last season, the Sharks will be battling with Vegas for their first Division title since 2011.
The loss of Joe Pavelski certainly will be felt; however the re-signing of Erik Karlsson out back solidifies San Jose to have the best Defensive group in the NHL.
In addition to Karlsson, the Sharks also have Brett Burns, Vlasic, Brendan Dillon, and Tim Heed as their top six Defensemen.
Evander Kane, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Timo Meier will be heavily relied on to produce offensively for this team.
San Jose will be right with Vegas at the top of the NHL come April.
3. Calgary Flames:
After winning the Pacific Division last season finishing with 107 points, the Flames were definitely disappointed to be eliminated in the First Round of the Playoffs in just five games.
Adding Milan Lucic to the Flames this offseason gives them additional size, and physicality, while at the same time finding a way to escape their five year deal with James Neal who had a dismal season.
Led by Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary will be strong again this season, however there are some serious concerns for the Flames with Cam Talbot in net.
If the Flames can find a way to get consistent, and solid goaltending this year, Calgary will make another playoff appearance with the possibility of making a deep run for the first time since their 2004 Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
4. Vancouver Canucks:
The Canucks have not qualified for the Playoffs since the 2014-2015 season, and finished fifth in the Pacific Division with 83 points last season.
Vancouver did make some key additions to their roster this offseason, and in all reality could very well finish in the top three spots of this division; however at the same time they could finish fifth or even sixth if their plan does not work.
Up front the Canucks show an extreme amount of potential with Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Tanner Pearson, Brock Boeser, and Michae Ferland.
Even on Defense the Canucks got stronger by adding Tyler Myers.
All that’s left for this team to be successful this season is for either Jacob Markstrom, or Thatcher Demko to get hot in net and be the back bone of Vancouver.
Canucks’ fans certainly have to be excited heading into this season, as a playoff appearance should not be an out of reach goal.
5. Arizona Coyotes:
No one really knows what to expect from this Coyotes team.
The addition of Phil Kessel to the offense will help scoring wise, however how much of an impact can Kessel have an entire team?
Stepan, Soderberg, Keller, Schmaltz, and Grabner fill in the remaining top six up front, while Oliver Ekman Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Jakob Chychrun and Niklas Hjalmarsson make up the top four Defensemen.
Arizona does have Antti Raanta in net, who has proven to have tremendous ability which could carry this team a long way if they can get the rest of their team in sync and rolling.
6. Edmonton Oilers:
Yet another season is about to begin, and yet another season where Connor McDavid will be on his own besides for Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Who knows what James Neal will bring to the team as he is coming off a career low 19 point season in 63 games played with the Flames.
With Mike Smith in net, even more pressure is on McDavid and their top few scorers to produce more offense if Edmonton wants any hope at stealing a Wild Card Spot this season.
7. Anaheim Ducks:
From 2013-2017 the Pacific Division belonged to the Ducks as Anaheim won the division five seasons in a row.
Since then the Ducks have made one playoff appearance in 2018 however were swept in the First Round to Division foe San Jose.
The Ducks really have nothing going for them this season with Getzlaf, and Henrique leading the offense, and Cam Fowler, and Hampus Lindholm on Defense.
Not to mention the departure of Corey Perry who recorded 776 points for Anaheim in his 14 seasons with the team.
With an average at best John Gibson at net, not much can be expected of this once so dominant Western Conference power house.
8. Los Angeles Kings:
Like the Anaheim Ducks, the Kings were once the “Kings” of the Western Conference.
Despite still having the key pieces on their roster of their two Stanley Cup wins, Los Angeles is proving that a team of aging veterans simply does not work in today’s NHL.
With the offense still being led by Kopitar, Carter, and Dustin Brown, even bringing in Ilya Kovalchuk from Russia proved to be unsuccessful last season.
It’s sad to see how a team with such talented players can no longer be a force in the NHL.
Photo Source: http://www.bleacherreport.com
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