Kraken debuts, but the Golden Knights
San Jose – Back are Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks. Gone are the Arizona Coyotes, and the expansion to the Seattle Kraken comes.
No, the Pacific Division isn’t exactly how the San Jose Sharks and their fans remember it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. But that doesn’t necessarily mean things will be easier for the Sharks after they played in West’s listed squad together with Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota, St. Louis and Vegas last season.
The Sharks finished seventh in that division, missing the playoffs for the second season in a row.
“Would you call it harder than last year?” Sharks coach Bob Bogner said of Pacific Ocean. “We haven’t seen some of these teams in a while and haven’t played against them, so there are a lot of unknowns.”
This season, the playoff format returns to what it was from 2013-14 to 2019-2020, when the top three teams in each division qualify automatically, and two more spots in each conference are filled by the next two top-rankers based on the Regular season record.
“It doesn’t matter who you play in or what division in this league, there is a lot of parity,” Bogner said. “Let’s face it, you have to get an extra 95 points to probably be a team, and that’s not easy.”
Here’s a look at the Pacific section, in the expected order of ending.
1. Vegas Golden Nights
2020-2021 record: 40-14-2 (second in the second division)
Fitness Trainer: Pete Debor Season 3
Leaders: F Mark Stone, F Max Pacerity, D. Alex Petrangelo, J. Robin Lehner
Top newcomers: F Evgeny Dadonov, F Nolan Patrick, J. Laurent Prosuit
Main departure times: J-Marc Andre Fleury, F Ryan Reeves, F Cody Glass
Analytics: Except for a string of injuries, the Golden Knights are the favorites to win the class. They took on Dadonov to help improve their strength performance and brought in Patrick to strengthen their position depth. Perhaps there is a question about the goal of the Golden Knights, as the Vezina Cup winner Florey was traded to Chicago for salary cap reasons. Lehner, with his 0.918 career savings percentage, takes over the undisputed No. 1 guard with Brossoit as reserve. Lehner hasn’t played more than 50 games in a season since 2017-18 for the Buffalo, and he will likely be asked to play the bulk of games this year, so it will be interesting to see how he handles overtime. Reeves’ departure can be felt too, especially in the locker room.
2. Edmonton Oilers
2020-2021 record: 35-19-2 (second in the North Division)
Fitness Trainer: Dave Tibbett Season 3
Leaders: P Conor MacDavid, F Leon Drysittel, D Darnell Nurse, J. Mike Smith
Top newcomers: Zack Heyman, F Derek Ryan, Duncan Keith
Main departure times: James Neal, D Adam Larson, D Ethan Burr
Analytics: The Oilers have only made it to the second round of the playoffs once since they drafted McDavid in 2015. They’ve tried to address some of their issues in depth with the signings of Hyman and Ryan, and are hoping Keith’s win percentages will outpace some. other players. However, there are still plenty of questions about depth at the back end, and whether 39-year-old Smith can have another solid year at the grid. Edmonton will conduct the playoffs but may not be ready to be considered among the NHL’s elite just yet.
3. Calgary Flames
2020-2021 record: 26-27-3 (5th in the northern section)
Fitness Trainer: Daryl Sutter season two
Leaders: Jonny Goudreau, Elias Lindholm, F Matthew Tkachuk, J Jacob Markstrom
Top newcomers: F Blake Coleman, Nikita Zadorov
Main departure times: Dr. Mark Giordano, Ph. Derek Ryan
Analytics: The Flames didn’t do much last season as they missed out on the playoffs for the second time in five years. Sutter took over in the middle of last season and as longtime Sharks fans are aware, he loves his team playing tough style. But do The Flames have the right people for that identity? Also, who will replace Giordano, their captain since 2013, as captain of the locker room? The Flames have the talent to make the playoffs, but it could also be a season of turmoil with Gaudreau awaiting the UFA.
4. Vancouver Canucks
2020-2021 record: 23-29-4 (8th in the North Division)
Fitness Trainer: Travis Green season 5
Leaders: F Brock Bowser, De Quinn Hughes, F Elias Peterson, J Thatcher Dimko
Top newcomers: Oliver Ekman-Larson, F Connor Garland, J. Jaroslav Halack
Main departure times: Nate Schmidt, Alexander Adler, F Antoine Roussel, J Braden Holtby
Analytics: The Canucks have an impressive young core, led by Boeser, Hughes, Pettersson and Nils Hoglander, and goalkeeper Demko, who, given the chance to finish first for an entire season, could be one of the best in the NHL. But huge questions remain about their defense corps, which are floating up pretty quickly after Hughes, Tyler Myers and Ekman Larson. However, Garland is an upgrade over Roussel, and Vancouver’s top nine will be one to reckon with.
5. Kings of Los Angeles
2020-2021 record: 7-28-21 (6th in the Western Division)
Fitness Trainer: Todd McClellan Season 3
Leaders: F Anze Kopitar, F Dustin Brown, F Alex Iafallo, D Drew Doughty,
Top newcomers: Philip Danault, P Victor Arvidson, Alexander Edler
Main departure times: Dr. Curtis McDermid
Analytics: The Kings signaled their intent to exit Reconstruction with the signing of Danault and Idler and the acquisition of Arvidsson from Nashville. Los Angeles has stable and impressive prospects, and players like Arthur Kaliev and Vladimir Tkachev can be ready to make an immediate impact. Cal Petersen is the new No. 1 goalkeeper. There is every reason to believe the Kings will be better this season, especially if players from the Stanley Cup years continue to produce. But they may be another year away from being serious playoff contenders.
6. San Jose Sharks
2020-2021 record: 7-28-21 (7th in the Western Division)
Fitness Trainer: Bob Bogner season 3
Leaders: Logan Couture, F Thomas Hertel, D. Eric Carlson, D. Brent Burns
Top newcomers: C Adin Hill, F Nick Bonino, F Jonathan Dahlin, F William Ecklund
Main departure times: J Martin Jones, F Ryan Donato, F Patrick Marlowe
Analytics: Could a new synonymous goal, better forward depth and improved culture make a comeback in the playoffs? That’s what Teal’s team is hoping for, but key questions still loom. Is Adin Hill ready to be the No. 1 goalkeeper in the NHL and play 45-55 games? Can players like Karlsson, Burns, and Couture continue to be as productive as they have in years past? What will happen with Evander Kane? If they stay healthy and all goes well, the shark should stay in the mix for a break point. More than likely, the Sharks are looking forward to their third consecutive year of not playing after the season is over.
7. Seattle Kraken
2020-2021 record: unavailable
Fitness Trainer: Dave Huxtall Season 1
Top newcomers: Jaden Schwartz, F Jordan Eberly, De Marc Giordano, J Philippe Grobauer
Main departure times: unavailable
Analytics: The Kraken expansion won’t be as good this season as it was in the Golden Knights in 2017-18. Not even close. But Seattle has enough high-quality pieces to make for a not-so-horrible year. Grubauer was excellent for the Colorado Avalanche last season and he could prove to be the best player on the Kraken team. Seattle has some flashbacks with April, but this will be a blue-collar team that needs to strive for success. It remains to be seen if Haxtool is the right coach for this group after an unexpected stint as the Philadelphia Flyers coach from 2015-2018. It won’t be easy to play against Seattle, especially at home, but it looks like the playoffs will be at least another year or two away.
8. Anaheim Ducks
2020-2021 record: 9-30-17 (the eighth in the western section)
Fitness Trainer: Dallas Aikins season 3
Leaders: J-John Gibson, F Max Comtoua, F Ricard Raquel, F Ryan Getslaw, D.Cam Fowler
Top newcomers: F Benoit Olivier Groulkes, F Mason McTavish
Main departure times: J. Ryan Miller, F. Danton Heinen
Analytics: Ducks general manager Bob Murray finally admitted last month that the ducks were in the process of rebuilding. It’s going to be another year of playoff-free hockey in Orange County, but there’s more hope for the future with top-tier prospects like Trevor Zegras, Jimmy Drysdale and McTavish eager to make their mark. Rakell, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson are waiting for unrestricted free agents, so Murray has to decide whether to extend any of them or sell one or more at the trade deadline for future assets. He must also decide if Eakins is the one leading the rebuilding process. Will it get worse before it gets better?