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Regular Season Predictions: Pacific Division

With the regular season coming up, it is time to begin my pres-season predictions.  I am going to begin with the Pacific Division and fill in the other divisions over the next few days.

Here we go:

1. Los Angeles Kings.  The Kings are relatively rested after a first round loss in the playoffs last year and a playoff miss the year before.  This had been a team that had three deep playoff runs in the years before that.  Anze Kopitar is a first class forward and Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Marian Gaborik are solid depth.  Drew Doughty is arguably the best defenceman in hockey.  Jake Muzzin and Brayden McNabb are strong defencemen.  Jonathan Quick is a top level goaltender.  This is a team that is a solid contender and could make another Stanley Cup run.

2. San Jose Sharks.  San Jose is fresh off an appearance in the Stanley Cup finals.  This will reduce their downtime this summer and could cost the team.  Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are well into their 30s and should show signs of decline.  This is problematic in that Thornton led the team in scoring last year.  Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl are a strong group of forwards.  On defence, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are both capable all stars.  Martin Jones had a solid showing in goal last year, but it is unclear whether he can repeat his performance.  San Jose is still in the running as a top team.

3. Anaheim Ducks.  Anaheim will take a step back as they fired top coach Bruce Boudreau.  He was replaced by Randy Carlyle who may have won a Stanley Cup in his past but does not have the same longterm success record.  The Ducks top three forwards are all into their 30s in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler.  What happens if they show signs of decline?  On defence, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm are all solid, although none have shown all star level success.  In goal, John Gibson and Jonathan Bernier will split the load.  I expect both will be successful.

4. Calgary Flames.  Johnny Gaudreau is one of the best young players to come along in the NHL in a while.  Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund are strong forwards as well.  The defence built around Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie and Dougie Hamilton should be good.  Brian Elliott will be given the chance to be a clear number one goalie here and will be a big improvement from last season's goaltending problems.  Calgary looks to be on the right track.

5. Edmonton Oilers.  Connor MacDavid is one of the best young players to come to the NHL ever.  This team will turn things around merely on his ability.  It isn't clear that everything else is good here.  Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov were both traded for underwhelming returns.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisatl, Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle will be solid at forward.  They still have problems at defence where Adam Larsson will be expected to come in and be their number one man.  He isn't good enough.  In goal Cam Talbot has been solid with limited expectations.  Is he good enough when games start to matter?

6. Vancouver Canucks.  The Sedins are aging and their expected linemate Loui Eriksson is no spring chicken either but they look like a solid line.  Perhaps Bo Horvat will step up to help produce a strong second line.  There is no strong offensive defenceman here.  Perhaps Alex Edler is the best candidate for that role but he only scored 20 points last year.  Chris Tanev is solid defensively.  Ryan Miller is aging in goal and could be pushed by Jacob Markstrom.  Much of the talent here is aging and it is not clear who will be able to take their place.

7. Arizona Coyotes.  There are some players to like here.  Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a very good defenceman.  Max Domi and Anthony Duclair were good rookies last year and could take steps forward.  The problem is most of the rest of the team.  Shane Doan was their next highest scorer and he is 39 years old.  Alex Goligoski was brought in to help their depth on defence but he is no savior.  In goal, Mike Smith struggled last year and will be the likely number one goalie here.

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Comments

bigdee89's avatar

pres-season predictions.

What does this mean?

Marian Gaborik are solid depth

Gabby gone for months with injury.  When did you write this?

Jonathan Bernier will split the load.  I expect both will be successful.

Lol Bernier successful?  Based on what?

Edmonton Oilers
First you write McDavid will turn the Oilers around with his ability alone but then you go on to say the defence is suspect and Talbot is questionable?

Sorry to pick this apart but it feels rushed.

Posted by bigdee89 from The Great White North Eh? on 10/09/16 at 11:23 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

Tough division to call but I doubt the Kings win regular season. Still have as good a chance or better, than any, to have a playoff run, assuming Quick stays healthy. Like Az more than you, but you’re right in noting Smith as a very weak point.

Gaborik’s surprisingly improved play at the World Cup is going to seem like a mirage when he eventually gets backr, and our D really isn’t that good (bye bye Scuds; Greene, you’re still slower than molasses).

Should know in an hour or so if Gooch and / or Kempe makes the initial cut (i.e. until that vicious headhunter Tanner Pearson returns and kicks someone off the roster) but we need a bit more speed and skill on the third line.

Also. Dustin Brown. First line…that’ll go well.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 10/10/16 at 11:56 AM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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