With less than a month until the start of the 2018-2019 Regular Season, here is how I feel the Pacific Division stacks up.
1. Vegas Golden Knights:
Now I know a lot of people are expecting Vegas to not be able to do what they did last season, however I do feel they can win this Division again.
With the additions of Pacioretty, and Stastny, the Vegas Golden Knights are only deeper up front than they were last season.
Add to that Engelland, McNabb, Schmidt, and Theodore out back, Marc-Andre Fleury should have no problems getting the job done for Vegas.
By no means am I saying the Knights will be in the Stanley Cup Finals again, but especially in a weaker division like the Pacific, this should not be an unattainable task.
2. Los Angeles Kings:
The Kings will be back in the Playoffs once again next season.
In my opinion, the addition of Kovalchuk to the offense is huge.
Yes Kovalchuk is an older player, however with a solid line he will still be able to produce points.
With the Veteran leadership from Kopitar, Carter, and Brown, the Kings’ youngsters have a solid foundation for development.
Doughty will lead the way on Defense in what is hopefully another Norris Trophy Nominee season.
Most importantly, Jonathan Quick.
If Jonathan Quick is on his game, the Kings will always have the opportunity to be a Stanley Cup Contender.
3. San Jose Sharks:
There is only one reason I am putting the Sharks in third place.
With Erik Karlsson now a San Jose Shark, the argument can now be made that the Sharks are serious Stanley Cup contenders.
Erik Karlsson, and Burns should man the Sharks’ blue-line no problem, with additional help from Vlasic, Braun, Dillon, and Heed.
Up front San Jose has Evander Kane, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Hertl, and Couture.
The only area of concern I have with this team is that they do not necessarily appear to be deep after the top six or so.
However, with the talent in front of him, Martin Jones should be able to stop enough pucks for the Sharks to get the win.
This is an exciting time for the San Jose Sharks.
4. Calgary Flames:
This may seem like a bold prediction, but I see Calgary improving from last season.
James Neal will definitely help out in the leadership, and point departments.
Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Monahan, Backlund, Lindholm, Bennett, and Frolik; that is not a terrible offensive core.
Giordano, Hanifin, Brodie, Hamonic; also not a bad top four for a team that did not make the Playoffs last season.
Hopefully goaltending will not be an issue this season and Mike Smith can help the Flames have a bounce back season.
Am I predicting the Flames to go to the Playoffs?
No, not necessarily, but the potential is there for Calgary to sneak into the race with this group of guys.
5. Anaheim Ducks:
This placement may get some criticism.
But when comparing rosters with the teams listed above, I just do not see another playoff appearance this season.
Yes they have Getzlaf, Perry, Rackell, and Henrique, but their lack of depth up front and on Defense poses a serious problem in a highly skilled Western Conference.
On Defense the Ducks have Lindholm, Fowler, Manson, and Montour for their top four.
In my opinion, that top four will not be able to match up with other top four’s on other contenders within the Division such as Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Jose.
With Gibson in net, Anaheim will have solid at best goaltending.
Not this year Anaheim.
6. Edmonton Oilers:
If it were not for Connor McDavid, Edmonton would not even be this high, sadly.
After McDavid, the Oilers have Nugent-Hopkins, Lucic, Draisaitl, and Puljujarvi.
It confuses me what GM Peter Chiarelli expects this team to do.
Even on Defense there is nothing special, Klefbom, Sekera, Nurse, and Larsson.
Throw in an average Goalie of Cam Talbot, this team will not make the playoffs again, calling for yet another edition of the Edmonton Oilers rebuild.
Such a shame for what a powerhouse Edmonton once was.
7. Arizona Coyotes:
Not yet Arizona.
The additions of Galchenyuk, and Grabner will definitely help the Coyotes’ offense; depth will still be a problem for Arizona when matching up against contenders.
Ekman-Larsson, Chychrun, Goligoski, and Demers will lead the way on Defense, but will be outmatched in harder games.
Hopefully Raanta can stay healthy this season, as his stats for when he did play were by no means terrible.
With young stars like Keller, the Coyotes do have a future that could be successful.
However I do not see that future starting this season.
8. Vancouver Canucks:
This is a complete rebuild season for the Canucks.
That is just the effect of the Sedin twins retiring.
Brock Boeser is the future of the Canucks, the success of Vancouver in the future depends on how management can surround him with other talented players.
Edler, Tanev, and Del Zotto will lead the Defense for the Canucks, and Horvat, Baertschi, and Boeser will lead the way up front.
Jacob Markstrom, and Anders Nilsson will have the task of stopping the puck in net for Vancouver.
All I can say right now Canucks’ fans is, pray that management makes excellent decisions moving forward.
Burns and Karlsson: http://www.bleacherreport.com
San Jose: http://www.bleacherreport.com
Los Angeles: http://www.NHL.com
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