Pacific Division Preview

A few sentences on our (other) friends out West.

Welcome back to another division preview. This time, it’s the Pacific. Here we go, in alphabetical order:

Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks are not favorites here in Nashville, and even though they have an incredible netminder in John Gibson, the rebuild is fully in effect with Ryan Getzlaf’s retirement. The Ducks added John Klingberg on a one-year deal, and fan favorite Rocco Grimaldi was brought in, too. They added some additional pieces like Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano, and they’ve got a lot of exciting kids in their lineup. They’ll be fun, but I don’t know that they’ll be competitive.

Calgary Flames

Wow, Calgary had a turbulent offseason. It’s pretty clear that GM Brad Treliving made the best of a terrible situation by receiving Jonathan Huberdeau via trade, and Nazem Kadri landed in Calgary too. Elias Lindholm is still excellent, and Jacob Markstrom is truly their backbone in net. Calgary will either blow teams out of the water or barely tread water, but I’m not sure which.

Edmonton Oilers

Is it time for Jesse Puljujarvi to have a massive season? Lots of us would like to see that. When you’re on a team with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, it can be hard to remember who else suits up for the Oilers. Perhaps the best part of Edmonton’s offseason was locking up Jack Campbell. If he can work a little less hard than he had to for Toronto, I’d think Campbell can regain his form. Edmonton will make the playoffs, but I don’t see them going past the second or third round.

Los Angeles Kings

Many Preds fans wondered how Kevin Fiala would fare on the same team as Viktor Arvidsson again - I doubt this is an issue, but some folks have a penchant for drama. The Kings are better than we give them credit for here in Nashville, I think. This season should see LA neck-and-neck with Calgary and Edmonton once more. You can’t help but love the young talent like Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev, and Alex Turcotte. The Kings are the Pacific’s “fun” team.

San Jose Sharks

Nashville’s Prague opponents are in the middle of a weird period for their organization. They have a new GM, some new guys on the roster, and a desire to get back to the playoffs after several seasons of absolute dominance in the Western Conference. Luke Kunin is already scoring goals for the Sharks, and there’s plenty of potential goal scorers, but the Sharks are a defensive hole and I’m not entirely certain about their goaltending duo, either. Patience might be the name of the game for the Sharks.

Seattle Kraken

Many NHL news outlets have pointed out that the Kraken can’t be much worse than they were last season. They can only improve, I guess? It’ll be fun to watch Shane Wright and Matty Beniers, but the Kraken better hope that Philip Grubbauer and Martin Jones, both veteran netminders, can stop some pucks. Could Seattle make a little bit of noise? Perhaps. They will be a prime candidate for a mid-season trade if things go well in Washington state. And...their jerseys are excellent and their new mascot is adorable.

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks are a sneaky Pacific favorite, and under Bruce Boudreau, they’ll be in the playoffs almost certainly. I predict they’ll win the Pacific because of guys like Ilya Mikheyev, Elias Pettersson, and Brock Boeser. Boeser is due for a monster season after personal struggles in 2021-2022. Quinn Hughes might even be a Norris dark-horse candidate...he’s been trending upward since he entered the League. They’ll go at least two rounds in the playoffs, but I’m not sure they’re championship-caliber just yet.

Vegas Golden Knights

After a monster of a first season and some solid follow-up success, the Knights have come crashing back down to Earth. Is Phil Kessel enough to put them over the top? No. But...a healthy season from Jack Eichel and Mark Stone might be a difference-maker. Even then, their goaltending is flimsy at best while Robin Lehner is sidelined. You can’t forget that Vegas sent Max Pacioretty to Carolina for literally no return. There’s a lot of passionate hockey fans in Vegas, but there’s a lot of cluster on their bench.

Rachel’s Picks

Wild Card - Anaheim Ducks

Division Winner - Vancouver Canucks

Biggest Surprise - San Jose Sharks