In part 4 of my NHL Predictions series, we will be looking at the Pacific Division.
San Jose: 113 points
Wow this roster is good. Like… really good. They made a splash just last week by acquiring Erik Karlsson from Ottawa, and with that addition, this team went from elite to overpowered. He should pair up nicely with Brett Burns on the first line. The Sharks still have the pieces that got them second place in the Pacific last year in Couture, Thornton, Meier, Pavelski, and Kane. This team is stacked, and should cruise to a Pacific Division title.
Vegas: 105 points
Last season was dominated by headlines of the expansion Golden Knights doing what no-one thought they could. A roster full of nobodies and outcasts who were predicted to finish at the bottom of the standings turned around and nearly won the Stanley Cup, falling to the Washington Capitals in the Final. An already good roster got better with the additions of Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny, combine those two with the already potent Marchessault, Smith, and Karlsson trio and you’ve got a recipe for success. They still have Marc-Andre Fleury in net as well, so they are set for success. Unfortunately, for the second year franchise, almost their whole division improved, so another division title isn’t guaranteed. With that being said, they should still cruise into the playoffs.
Los Angeles: 96 points
A Kings roster with some talent on it didn’t really change much, other than the addition of Ilya Kovalchuk. They locked up their best defenseman Drew Doughty for 8 years as well too. The main guys from their playoff roster are still there: Kopitar, Doughty, Martinez, and Dustin Brown among others. The front office didn’t improve much, but they didn’t mess anything up, that’s enough to get the Kings back to the playoffs.
Calgary: 95* points
The Flames had a lot of promise going into last season. And with that promise, they turned in one of the most disappointing performances in the league a year ago. A season after looking like a dark horse to make the cup final, they didn’t even make the playoffs. Many felt that a roster with Johnny Gaudreau, Travis Hamonic, and Michael Stone should have been able to get to the playoffs. The front office took some initiative to act upon the disappointment, adding T.J Brodie and Noah Hanifin to the blue line, and James Neal to the wing. If the Flames could get some consistency in net from Mike Smith, they could be a playoff team. I count on their talented core getting them there.
Arizona: 94* points
The Arizona Coyotes will make the playoffs in the 2018-19 season. You may be calling me crazy, but hear me out. Last year’s Coyotes squad finally clicked when they caught fire in the last third of season. Clayton Keller proved that he belonged in the Calder Trophy discussion with Barzal and Boeser. The team that finally clicked last year got even better this offseason. Acquiring the likes of Michael Grabner and Alex Galchenyuk. Add these two to a core of Keller, newly named captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Nik Hjalmarsson, and you’ve got some talent on your top two lines. If Dylan Strome and Vinnie Hinostroza can develop into the players many thought they could be, they could add even more depth to this team. They’ve also got Antti Raanta in net, who has the potential to be the next elite netminder in the NHL. If they stay healthy, the Arizona Coyotes will return to the playoffs for the first time since they made the Western Conference Finals in 2012.
Anaheim: 87 points
The Ducks have a very slow start to their campaign last season. Most of that can be accredited to the injury bug. While Anaheim surged into the 3rd place position in the Pacific division, they got crushed by the San Jose Sharks in a clean sweep in the first round. That series showed the age of this once elite core. The only player on this team who’s under 30 that is showing signs of life is Adam Henrique, and he’s 28. Getzlaf and Perry are both 33 and on a steady decline, the same could be said for Ryan Miller. This team doesn’t have enough left in the tank to return to the postseason.
Vancouver: 81 points
The Canucks are quietly developing a nice core for their future. The likes of Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Elias Peterson, and Thatcher Demko should be the foundation to a bright future. Unfortunately, this roster lacks any sort of depth, and looks similar to the last few rosters they’ve built. While they should improve, they won’t even sniff the playoffs.
Edmonton: 79 points
Peter Chiarelli has done an absolutely terrible job of building around a generational talent in Connor McDavid. All his acquisitions seem to just make the roster worse. Milan Lucic and Mike Cammalleri are the two biggest examples. Now tell me, can you name an all-star caliber talent on this Oilers roster aside from McDavid? Adam Larsson is the one who comes the closest, and he’s a maybe. This is a poorly built team and their record will reflect that.