Saturday, September 27, 2014

2014-15 Outlook: Pacific Division

Its a look at California, Western Canada, and that team in the desert. Enjoy!

7. Calgary Flames: Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau. Those are some very high profile prospects the Flames have either on their team this year or in their system. Sadly, the Flames NHL team this year will not offer much besides the aspect of the aforementioned trio helping them reach the playoffs down the road. Sure the Flames did sign Jonas Hiller to play goaltender, but has been highly inconsistent for a much better team. They added veterans Brandon Bollig and Mason Raymond, but they won't provide the big impact Calgary needs. While the Flames might be fun to watch because of their young stars, they will be destined for a last place finish in the Pacific Division this season.

6. Vancouver Canucks: What happened to you Vancouver? Three short years ago, you were an incredible hockey team that was just one win away from the Stanley Cup. Now, your team has more holes than you can care for. Up front the team still has the Sedins, but long gone is Ryan Kesler, who apparently had had enough of the trainwreck. Defensively you still have Alex Edler, but you traded Jason Garrison to Tampa for a second round pick! You used to have the best goaltending tandem in the league until you decided that neither Cory Schneider or Roberto Luongo worked for you. Now you brought in Ryan Miller, and well, he is alright but nothing like you used to have. In a span of a year, your coach went from Alain Vigneault to John Tortorella to Willie Desjardins (who?). Its going to be a long season up in the Pacific Northwest.

5. Phoenix Arizona Coyotes: If the Coyotes front office could take two minutes from changing their team name or arena name and see that this team can't score goals, they might have improved this summer. But instead, they let their top scorer (Radim Vrbata) leave for Vancouver and...well...they really did nothing to replace him. Their top line is projected to be Mikkel Boedker, Antoine Vermette, and Shane Doan. Let me repeat, their top line is projected to be Mikkel Boedker, Antoine Vermette, and Shane Doan. Woof. Defensively and between the pipes, the Coyotes are as strong as any team in the league. But they have a severe lack of talent up front and their success in 2014-15 will suffer from it. Oliver Ekman-Larsson can score 30 goals this season, right?

4. Edmonton Oilers: For once, it was a far from an embarrassing offseason in the Alberta capital. They finally got rid of some dead weight (Ryan Smyth, Ryan Smyth, and Ryan Smyth), and added some solid pieces (Benoit Pouliot, Mark Fayne) to go with the young core they have built up. While the Oilers maybe able to put up goals, their defense is still far from admirable, but an improvement from previous seasons. Now in goal they have Ben Scrivens, who had a five on five save percentage last year that didn't make Edmonton fans want to run for the Pepto Bismol. The Oilers finally take that step from the laughing stock of the league to respectable in 2014-15. They won't make the playoffs, but they take a significant step in the right direction. Maybe Craig MacTavish actually knows what he is doing.

3. San Jose Sharks: Hey Sharks, weren't you going to rebuild? Oh that was just a rebuild of character? So of all the people you bring in as a fresh face for this team, your answer is John Scott?! You took away the 'C' from Joe Thornton and you bring in John Scott. Ok, sounds like a great plan (sarcasm). Well, the Sharks are still the same up front (minus Marty Havlat, but he was always hurt so you will hardly notice he is gone anyways). They will score some goals, but they will need Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto to be big players in that offense. The blue line lost Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart and will hardly notice they are gone too. Antti Niemi still resides in net for San Jose and is in the final year of his contract. Alex Stalock is hot on his tail for the starting gig, so this could be the swan song for Niemi in the Bay Area. This team is past their peak, but they still make the playoffs this year.

2. Los Angeles Kings: The Kings have not won a division title since 1991, and yet, they have won two out of the last three Stanley Cup Championships. They are so good at just laying in the weeds during the year, before tearing you to shreds in the playoffs. For an example of how quickly they can turn it around, just ask the Sharks (IT WAS 3-0!). The Kings trade for Marian Gaborik at the deadline last year gave them that little bit of extra offense needed to get that second ring. Now LA has Gabby locked in for the next five years, so here's to hoping he can play over 200 games given his injury history. This team can score, the defense is good, and Jonathan Quick is a decent goaltender. So expect the Kings to put up a good fight to defend their Cup title, but they still do not win the division (its another unbreakable Gretzky record!).

1. Anaheim Ducks: Bruce Boudreau is quite consistent at winning division championships. But the knock on him has been his teams lack of getting past the second round of the postseason. In the seven season BB has coached in the NHL, he has won a division championship in six of those seasons (he also coached for Washington in that weak Southeast Division), but none of those teams ever got past the conference semi-finals. So who do the Ducks call to get them over this hump? Dany Heatley, of course! Ok, not really. They actually went out and traded for Ryan Kesler, signed Clayton Stoner, and the aforementioned Heatley. The only concern for Anaheim going into the year is can the tandem of Frederik Andersen and John Gibson sustain the success they had in 2013-14? If yes, the Ducks will be a Cup contender this year.

No comments:

Post a Comment