Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2016 NHL Preview: Pacific Division

            It's time to wrap up my NHL preview with a look at the Pacific Division. This division features a few teams that are young and budding and a couple others whose window(s) of contention are closing. Will the California teams reign supreme once again in the Pacific?

  1. San Jose Sharks: The defending Western Conference champions basically return their entire team from last season. The only difference is they get Mikkel Boedker, a left wing who had 17 goals and 34 assists last season. The Sharks have a great shot of repeating as Western Conference champions this season.
  2. Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks's window of opportunity for a Stanley Cup is quickly shutting. Randy Carlyle is back with Anaheim, but he'll have some things to work on. One issue to fix is the penalty minutes, where the Ducks amassed the second-most in the NHL last season.
  3. Los Angeles Kings: Los Angeles possessed the top two plus/minus leaders last season (Tyler Toffoli with +35 and Anze Kopitar with +34), which is nice. But like the Ducks, LA's time for winning a cup (another one, that is) is winding down. Still, Darryl Sutter is an underrated coach and will probably get this team back to the playoffs (So will Kopitar, Toffoli, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick).
  4. Calgary Flames: Calgary made plenty of moves in the offseason, nabbing Brian Elliott to shore up anemic goaltending and signing Johnny Gaudreau long-term. Could the Flames make a return trip to the playoff the same way that they did a couple seasons ago? A lot of experts are penning Calgary as a playoff team.
  5. Arizona Coyotes: Formerly the Phoenix Coyotes, this team is flowing with young talent and prospects. Granted, players like Max Domi still have at least a year left before takeoff. But if the Yotes manage to contend, they should go for a goalie. Maybe Ben Bishop? Also, you've got to like the pickup of defenseman Alex Goligoski.
  6. Edmonton Oilers: Edmonton acquired Milan Lucic for a long period, giving phenom Connor McDavid some company on the offensive front. They also have Jesse Puljujarvi, a young right wing from Finland who'll help the Oilers with even more scoring in the future. Edmonton just might make it back to the playoffs with just McDavid and Lucic alone. 
  7. Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks inked Loui Eriksson for five years, which is nice. He should provide some scoring with the Sedin brothers. However, there isn't much else to look forward to as a Canuck fan.

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