Sports

NHL Preview Day 4: Pacific Division

NHL West

Pacific Division

ducks

Anaheim Ducks (7):

The Ducks finished second in the Pacific last season, and they’re coming back with even more this year⚊make way for the ducklings. The young players are coming back with something to prove as full-time NHL players. The Ducks seem to be feeling the “out with the old, in with the new” vibe as they keep cutting down their roster (currently at 32 players). A few prospects include Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, Nick Sorenson and Devante Smith-Pelley. They’ve also taken on center Mathieu Perreault (a former member of the Capitals) in their fourth round pick, and he’s going to be the one to watch out for on the front lines.

flames

Calgary Flames (11):

Well let me put it this way, the Flames were hardly on fire last season, but they like to think of themselves in the “rebuilding” stage. Coach Brian Burke just picked up center Joe Colborne from the Maple Leafs (can’t get much more Canadian than that) in a fourth round pick to round out their 23-man roster. The Flames have a stacked list of centers and left-wingers, but what they need to focus on this season is getting power in their right wing. With some powerful defensemen and goalies between the posts, their focus needs to be up front.

 Oil

Edmonton Oilers (9):

As with most other teams, the Oilers have a lot of potential for the upcoming season, it’s just a matter of how well they capitalize on it. They showed some promise in the preseason with their new head coach Dallas Eakins, but they also face a challenge with their lineup. Top two centers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner are out with injuries, so they’re going to have to be creative for a little while. Taylor Hall has taken over the captain title, but David Perron — who joins the Oilers after six years with the Blues — has also made a statement in the preseason game. In my opinion, this whole “rebuilding” and “potential to thrive” talk can only work for so long. It’s time to put some Ws on the board.

 kings

Los Angeles Kings (6):

The major change the Kings are facing this year is the addition of three Canadian teams (Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks) in their division. They did take in a few more players, including forward Matt Frattin and goaltender Ben Scrivens. Frattin comes over from his 25-game, 13-point season with the Maple Leafs and a little playoff experience. Scrivens, who will back up Jonathan Quick, played 20 games in the past season with the Maple Leafs and posted up two shutouts. The Kings are not too fond of the past, as they haven’t won their division since the 1990-91 season, so this year they need to focus on putting power behind all six guys on the ice.

 yotes

Phoenix Coyotes (8):

The Coyotes are shifting their team around, sending numerous guys to the AHL, but the team is shaping up now, and the focus is on Captain Shane Doan. He’s been consistent, and that’s what they’re going to depend on for this season because they don’t have a whole lot of fire on their front line. Though he’s getting into the elderly stage of hockey, I feel like this guy has more to prove. Respect your elders. It was also announced that forward Paul Bissonnette’s suspension for leaving the bench during a preseason fight on the ice is reduced from 10 games to three. Bottom line: the Coyotes have to keep their defense strong, but work on getting some more scoring power up front.

sharks

San Jose Sharks (10):

The Sharks: hockey by the bay. Keep track of these oceanic puns, they’re just starting. Brent Burns used to guard the shores as a defenseman, but he attacked the role of forward last season, scoring nine goals and 20 points in 24 games. He’s going to keep riding that wave through this season and prove to be a powerhouse. Back in the net is Antti Niemi, who played 43 of 48 games last season. The only problem with that is that the backup goalies, Alex Stalock and Harri Sateri, hardly get in any ice time, so there’s going to be a lot of pressure on Niemi to constantly perform. A few of their players, including Raffi Torres and Adam Burish, are sitting out on the shorelines with injuries, which opened up roster spots for some youngsters. Tomas Hertl, 19, Matt Nieto, 20, and Freddie Hamilton, 21, passed up a few elders for spots on the ice, so keep an eye out for them. A shark’s eye.

nuks

Vancouver Canucks (5):

Things aren’t suuuuper promising for the good ol’ Canucks, but it’s not really their fault..right? They have young players who are out to prove themselves, but they’ve also gotten stuck with not getting many high draft picks. Once again, this team shows some good power in defense, with Alex Edler and Jason Garrison who are signed through 2019 and 2018, respectively. They also had a few last minute adjustments: trading Kellan Tochkin and a fourth-round pick in 2014 in exchange for Zac Delpe and Jeremy Welsh, plus a four-year, $10 million contract extension for Jannik Hansen. That doesn’t even begin to mention the draft-day shocker: Trading backup goalie Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils. We’ll just have to wait and see how well new coach John Tortorella keeps his ‘nucks in line.

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