NHL Pacific Division Preview
The Pacific division is going to be extremely interesting to watch unfold this season as many teams can compete for a playoff spot.
The division features excellent teams such as the Vegas Golden Knights and Edmonton Oilers while also having some bottom feeders of the league including the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.
Let's take a look at how the Pacific division could play out this year.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights had the most wins last season with 40 while reaching the third round of the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.
Vegas signed Evgenii Dadonov who has the potential to score 25 goals despite coming off a down season with Ottawa.
The Golden Knights did have to part ways with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner due to salary cap reasons. Luckily for Vegas, Robin Lehner is more than capable of manning the crease.
Expect Vegas to once again be competing for a Stanley Cup this season.
The Oilers have arguably the two top players in the league in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisital however, they have yet to find success in the playoffs.
This year could prove to be different as Edmonton were big players in free agency bringing in forward Zach Hyman who will be a great complimentary piece to McDavid.
They also brought in Derek Ryan as the third line center and veteran defender Duncan Keith for stability on the backend.
The one question that remains for Edmonton is in net as 39-year old Mike Smith is the team’s starting goalie.
The Cunucks struggled mightily last season finishing seventh in the North Division however the team faces lofty expectations heading into the year.
Vancouver made a blockbuster trade in the offseason to acquire forward Conor Garland and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larrson from Arizona.
Both players fill big needs as Garland will provide the team with another goal scorer and Ekman-Larrson as a puck-moving defenseman.
Despite acquiring Ekman-Larrson, the Canucks still need defense as many question marks are surrounding the defensive unit.
Most fans and analysts do not know what to expect from the newest team in the league.
Seattle has scoring threats in Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde who will look to carry the load on offense.
The blue line has size, experience and puck-moving ability, while goalies Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger make for an intriguing tandem.
The last time an expansion came into the league they made the Stanley Cup, many Kraken fans are wondering if history can repeat itself.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings seemed destined to be a more competitive team this year as they had a very strong offseason.
Los Angeles brought in center Phillip Danault who looks to form a dynamic duo with center Anze Kopitar.
They also acquired Viktor Arvidsson who gets a much-needed fresh start as he was once one of the league's most underrated goal scorers.
The Flames are at a crossroads with their future as they are not good enough to be Stanley Cup contenders however, they are not bad enough to get a top pick in the upcoming draft.
The future of forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk will be a major storyline to watch all season long for this team.
Calgary has the talent to make the playoffs however their superstars can't underperform like last season.
San Jose Sharks
While it has been a tough couple of years for the Sharks, there's still hope for this roster.
With players such as Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Logan Couture, San Jose might be a surprise team to potentially sneak into the playoffs.
If the Sharks struggle they have many pieces to trade at the trade deadline and help aid their rebuild.
It can only get better from here for Anaheim as they have had a lack of success in recent years.
If there is one bright spot on the Ducks it is the play of Trevor Zegras who is showing signs of stardom at age 20.
It will be another rebuilding year for Anaheim, however, watching their young talent development will be exciting for fans.
Alex Rocco is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com