PACIFIC HEIGHTS 2014-15

Lowetide
August 14 2014 10:46PM

bullit3

After weeks of ciphering, I have figured out the Pacific Division for 2014-15. Now, if you click-through it will ruin the surprise of the actual season, so consider this a spoiler alert on winter. Up next: where do they finish?

CALGARY FLAMES

  • Pacific Division: No. 7
  • Western Conference: No. 14
  • Overall: No. 28

The Flames added a veteran goalie in Jonas Hiller and Mason Raymond to somewhat make up for Mike Cammalleri flying the coop. The club has a nice rookie in Johnny Gaudreau and could keep Sam Bennett in the NHL, too. Rumors swirl about Kevin Hayes signing in Calgary to form a Boston College line, but this is a lottery team in 2014-15.

ARIZONA COYOTES

  • Pacific Division: No. 6
  • Western Conference: No. 13
  • Overall: No. 24

Arizona has a goal-scoring problem and didn't improve it over the summer. Adding Sam Gagner and losing Mike Ribeiro is a wash at best, and Radim Vrbata was a big part of this team's success. The Coyotes often surprise with late-summer additions, but from here I think they fall back significantly in 2014-15.

EDMONTON OILERS

  • Pacific Division: No. 5
  • Western Conference: No. 10
  • Overall: No. 21

The Oilers made improvements in goal during the season, and added quality and depth on the blue line over the summer. I think they could be playoff contenders with a veteran 2C, but he hasn't arrived yet and management is burning daylight. As it stands, they are improved but shy of the postseason in 2014-15. Taylor Hall may kick out the jams and push through anyway. 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS 

  • Pacific Division: No. 4
  • Western Conference: No. 8
  • Overall: No. 16

The Canucks traded Ryan Kesler but received pretty good value. And they added Radim Vrbata and for my money that was their best move all summer. Ryan Miller was signed to stop pucks and he should do the job. I think they squeak into the playoffs.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

  • Pacific Division: No. 3
  • Western Conference: No. 6
  • Overall: No. 10

The Ducks traded for Ryan Kesler, but lost underrated Mathieu Perreault. Defensively, I've never been convinced of the quality of their blue, and Anaheim is less proven in goal than they've been in quite some time. I think they make the playoffs, but do not have the same season as one year ago.

SAN JOSE SHARKS

  • Pacific Division: No. 2
  • Western Conference: No. 4
  • Overall: No. 6

San Jose's offseason was beyond weird. Having said that, they remain a stunning team in terms of talent and absolutely capable of winning Stanley. The biggest hurdle for this team might be ownership and management getting out of their own damn way. Weird. Real weird.

LOS ANGELES KINGS

  • Pacific Division: No. 1
  • Western Conference: No. 1
  • Overall: No. 1

I think the Kings have a good chance to win two Stanley's in a row. Reason? That Gaborik trade was exactly what they needed: Another impact offensive player who could also play the game. Jacques Lemaire should be getting Christmas cards from Dean Lombardi.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#51 Spydyr
August 15 2014, 10:13AM
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What happens when not if a Oiler centre gets injured?Yeah, thought so.I think they improve but not by much

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#52 Spurzey
August 15 2014, 10:16AM
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Congrats to Fernando!

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#53 TDM
August 15 2014, 10:23AM
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MrBent wrote:

Man. Do I freakin love the Oilers. CAN NOT WAIT for the season to start.

Masochist

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#54 Harry
August 15 2014, 10:28AM
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Lemming wrote:

Yes, out of both our comments, I was clearly the most out of line and was a much bigger jerk.

I withdraw my light-hearted comments about hoping my team does well but expecting them not to. In the future I will request your permission to act upon anything. I am clearly the most embarrassing one from BC between the both of us.

Ok then great. Glad to see you know your roll. Now try not to burn anything down today.

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#55 Evilas
August 15 2014, 10:29AM
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1. Anaheim - Kessler addition puts them over the top, will be one of the top 3 teams in the league

2. San Jose - Tough team to beat, but they will be worn down come play-offs and once again be a non-factor

3. LA - Built for play-offs, Gaborik is injury-prone and will miss 20-40 games, impacting their place in the standings, Quick also seems to have recurring injuries and this will also have an impact. Come play-offs (if they are healthy, they will get another Stanley)

4. Vancourver - Still a play-off team, but borderline, more likely to finish 9th than 8th. I was impressed by their moves this summer, but Rookie NHL coach and too much reliance on Sedins for offense will be limiting. Have the biggest potential to drop in this division.

5. Edmonton - knocking on the play-off door, but not quite there yet. Addition of 2 C, without losing a key piece would put them in #3 and about 7th or 8th in conference.

6. Arizona - Lost a couple of key pieces and will have a lot more youth on the team this season. Not a recipe for success.

7. Calgary - not enough experienced skill on this team and not enough depth at every position. They have a great shot at McDavid or Eichel (damn!).

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#56 freelancer
August 15 2014, 10:31AM
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That is probably a fairly accurate depiction of this team. It's been beaten to death 9000 times this off season but the lack of centre depth will be the downfall of this team. We have to hope that Arco and Drasaitl can both handle top 9 line duties and that none of our centres get injured. Instead of focusing on acquiring a 2nd line centre, as of right now I would be satisfied bringing in a 3rd line guy who can take some pressure off Gordon.

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#57 DCR
August 15 2014, 10:32AM
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Without making too many predictions, I expect the Canucks to do better this year than last.

Too many players had career worst years; take Alex Burrows and Daniel Sedin for example: Burrows scored 5 goals last year, 21 fewer than his lowest total of the previous 4 full seasons.

Daniel Sedin scored 16 goals last year, 13 fewer than the lowest total his previous 4 full seasons.

Even if we split the difference between their 2013-2014 totals and the lowest of their last 4 full seasons that would still give the team 18 more goals with both players playing well under their previous expectations.

Last year was far too much of an outlier to make any sort of serious predictions based on those results.

Kesler's loss hurts, but probably not enough to offset the natural bounce-back of the rest of the team.

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#58 LOIL99
August 15 2014, 10:35AM
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I think the Flames will not do that poorly. They have a no skill but crazy hard working team. They finish 22-24 I think. But this is a good thing. If they keep grinding their way out of the lottery then we get to watch them flounder out of the playoffs for years to come.

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#59 LOIL99
August 15 2014, 10:39AM
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Evilas wrote:

1. Anaheim - Kessler addition puts them over the top, will be one of the top 3 teams in the league

2. San Jose - Tough team to beat, but they will be worn down come play-offs and once again be a non-factor

3. LA - Built for play-offs, Gaborik is injury-prone and will miss 20-40 games, impacting their place in the standings, Quick also seems to have recurring injuries and this will also have an impact. Come play-offs (if they are healthy, they will get another Stanley)

4. Vancourver - Still a play-off team, but borderline, more likely to finish 9th than 8th. I was impressed by their moves this summer, but Rookie NHL coach and too much reliance on Sedins for offense will be limiting. Have the biggest potential to drop in this division.

5. Edmonton - knocking on the play-off door, but not quite there yet. Addition of 2 C, without losing a key piece would put them in #3 and about 7th or 8th in conference.

6. Arizona - Lost a couple of key pieces and will have a lot more youth on the team this season. Not a recipe for success.

7. Calgary - not enough experienced skill on this team and not enough depth at every position. They have a great shot at McDavid or Eichel (damn!).

"5. Edmonton - knocking on the play-off door, but not quite there yet. Addition of 2 C, without losing a key piece would put them in #3 and about 7th or 8th in conference."

With a 2C Oilers finish in #3 ahead of either LA, SJ or ANA?

WOW...just WOW. I love the Oilers, but not as much as you do apparently!

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#60 Serious Gord
August 15 2014, 10:40AM
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Harry wrote:

Im struggling real hard to find out at what position Edms depth is worse.

Wings? No. Defence? No. Goal? .....please! Center position is the only logical area. However last season if you recal our #1 center was out and when he cam back he was clearly laboring from offseaspn surgery. Ditto for Gagner. So I think its not to far to say that with a healthy RNH, Gordon, Draisaitl and a motivated Arco our center depth is better than ladt season. Still in need of help but much better.

Edm should finish above ARZ CAL WPG and NSH and hopefully VAN with the depth chart they have as of today

Defense : no smid, Ference is older, Shultz is now a question mark and certainly less promising at the start of this season than he was last year. Ditto Petry.

Centre THIS time last year was much better RNH wasn't injured.

Dubnyk THIS time last year had 171 games played - 60 more than the current two goalies have combined. To many - not me - he looked like a solid #1 goalie.

You can't use the results of last season to make a rebuttal to my points because THIS time last year you did not know what those results would be. Just as right now we don't know who will disappoint or get injured.

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#61 Oilers
August 15 2014, 10:43AM
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When the Flames finish ahead of the Oilers this year, are we going to discuss the real problem of Lowe and Mac T running the team or are we going to continue to look the other way like the past 9 years?

My challenge to the bloggers. If this happens will you step up with some real journalism like George Johnson in Calgary who questions management and forced change or leave us with same old same old.....

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#62 Spydyr
August 15 2014, 10:49AM
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Oilers wrote:

When the Flames finish ahead of the Oilers this year, are we going to discuss the real problem of Lowe and Mac T running the team or are we going to continue to look the other way like the past 9 years?

My challenge to the bloggers. If this happens will you step up with some real journalism like George Johnson in Calgary who questions management and forced change or leave us with same old same old.....

The Oilers stopped a guy from handing out stickers at a bar on Whyte Avenue,stickers.

What do you think would happen to any media member that stood up to this regime?

If anyone needs a refresher go watch the "six rings" press conference again.

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#63 Loxeus
August 15 2014, 10:58AM
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Buffalo finishes 30th and wins the draft lottery with their pick from NYI, adding both McDavid and Eichel.

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#64 trueoilfan
August 15 2014, 10:59AM
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@Spydyr

What happens if any one of those teams center gets injured.can SJ replace thorton,can LA replace kopitar.

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#65 Rob...
August 15 2014, 11:03AM
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@Oilers

I don't see Calgary having the pieces necessary to stay out of the basement. Edmonton has the pieces to miss the playoffs while being competitive. With the addition of a decent second line center we could make the playoffs. The only thing Calgary has going for it is a team work ethic that last year far exceeded what the Oilers were able to muster. Hopefully the late-season and off-season additions and subtractions have moved us in the right direction, effort-wise.

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#66 freelancer
August 15 2014, 11:07AM
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@Serious Gord

Don't see how the expectations of Petry have changed between this year and last. No smid but Fayne and Nikitin provide more depth.Last season Ference was pencilled in as a top 4 d while right nlw we are looking at him as a bottom pairing.

Last season we knew at this time rnh was going to be out for awhile.

Not gonna argue Dubnyk with you. I was also on the not convinved side though I didn't expect him to implode like that. It's a smaller sample size but Scrivens Fasth has provided at least average goaltending now.

No way do I think this team is playoff ready but stop being so serious all the time Gordy

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#67 Spydyr
August 15 2014, 11:07AM
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trueoilfan wrote:

What happens if any one of those teams center gets injured.can SJ replace thorton,can LA replace kopitar.

Of course no team can replace their #1C if they get hurt but those teams are not counting on a 18 year old rookie to be their #2C and have more depth throughout their entire organizations.

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#68 Harry
August 15 2014, 11:38AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Defense : no smid, Ference is older, Shultz is now a question mark and certainly less promising at the start of this season than he was last year. Ditto Petry.

Centre THIS time last year was much better RNH wasn't injured.

Dubnyk THIS time last year had 171 games played - 60 more than the current two goalies have combined. To many - not me - he looked like a solid #1 goalie.

You can't use the results of last season to make a rebuttal to my points because THIS time last year you did not know what those results would be. Just as right now we don't know who will disappoint or get injured.

Gord, you are way smarter than this and I thinking that their depth was better last season is just plain wrong.

The defence/wingers dont even warrant an argument from me. As far as goaltending goes, you do have a point. Scrivens and Fasth have their work cut out for them. The center position is beter off this season. And to be clear im talking about opening night not mid August. The center depth chart was horrendous in 2013. This year not so much

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#69 Serious Gord
August 15 2014, 12:05PM
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freelancer wrote:

Don't see how the expectations of Petry have changed between this year and last. No smid but Fayne and Nikitin provide more depth.Last season Ference was pencilled in as a top 4 d while right nlw we are looking at him as a bottom pairing.

Last season we knew at this time rnh was going to be out for awhile.

Not gonna argue Dubnyk with you. I was also on the not convinved side though I didn't expect him to implode like that. It's a smaller sample size but Scrivens Fasth has provided at least average goaltending now.

No way do I think this team is playoff ready but stop being so serious all the time Gordy

Sorry I meant gagner not RNH.

Petry might be traded by the start of the season for a centre - that was not the case last year at this time.

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#70 David S
August 15 2014, 12:25PM
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I reject your reality and substitute my own!

The Oilers WILL make the playoffs by god.

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#71 Mason Storm
August 15 2014, 12:49PM
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People have really got to start looking at Arcobello realistically. He started out last season with 11 assists in 11 games and finished the year with 7 points in his next 30. He's not a #2 center, never will be. He's a good #13/14 forward to put in the line-up for short periods. If he's in the top 9 too start the year, this team is still outside the playoffs by 6-10 points.

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#72 backup bob
August 15 2014, 01:23PM
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An objective and fairly accurate assessment.

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#73 Burnward
August 15 2014, 01:58PM
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Still think the Oilers finish bottom. That's the worst defense group in the whole league, "improved" or not.

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#74 Burnward
August 15 2014, 01:59PM
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@Burnward

Playing in front of two unproven tenders.

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#75 Evilas
August 15 2014, 04:13PM
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LOIL99 wrote:

"5. Edmonton - knocking on the play-off door, but not quite there yet. Addition of 2 C, without losing a key piece would put them in #3 and about 7th or 8th in conference."

With a 2C Oilers finish in #3 ahead of either LA, SJ or ANA?

WOW...just WOW. I love the Oilers, but not as much as you do apparently!

I apparently need a "blog buddy" someone to read my stuff before I hit send. Meant #4, caught it after I hit send.

I am always optimistic in August, but not THAT optimistic.

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#76 prendrefeu
August 15 2014, 04:33PM
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And what if the Flames win the Superb Owl and prove you wrong?!?!

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#77 oilers
August 15 2014, 07:09PM
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Spydyr wrote:

The Oilers stopped a guy from handing out stickers at a bar on Whyte Avenue,stickers.

What do you think would happen to any media member that stood up to this regime?

If anyone needs a refresher go watch the "six rings" press conference again.

How about growing a pair and then take six rings down.

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#78 Burnward
August 15 2014, 07:48PM
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@prendrefeu

Wouldn't that be the Stan Lee Cup?

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#79 Neil B
August 16 2014, 02:52PM
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I think that the balance of power in the conference has shifted towards the Big Muddy. It would not surprise me if 3 teams (CHI, STL, and either COL or MIN) have a higher point total than the Pacific division champs. I also suspect that only 3 teams from the Pacific make the playoffs.

Like many posters here, I expect LA to find some reason to not finish higher than 4th in the Conference. That will still be good enough to win the division, though. Like many of the same posters, I also like their odds to repeat as Cup winners.

I fully expect San Jose to blow up. I may be biased, but I just don't think they are as good as their press suggests. That said, I still think they make the playoffs because, as I said, I think nearly everyone in the division will also be worse than last year.

Canucks are about right; they could be as high as 6, or as low as 10 for the conference, depending how it breaks. If they're not better than either San Jose or Anaheim, they don't make the Show.

I'm amazed at how confident folks are that Anaheim will pick up where they left off. They have significant question marks at centre, even with the addition of Kesler. And I don't have as much faith in their blueline as others do either.

I think the Canucks/Ducks will go down to the team with the best ROW to make the playoffs and, since the Canucks suck at the shootout, that should let them sneak in.

The Flames & Oil will be in about a dead heat. Edmonton will do it with skilled forwards & an overachieving blueline; Calgary with the exact opposite model.

Arizona will finish 26th overall, and will still get McDavid. Because even with Buffalo having the #30 and #28 (NYI) picks, they will still find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Because, hey, Buffalo.

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#80 Kevin M
August 16 2014, 04:14PM
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DCR wrote:

Without making too many predictions, I expect the Canucks to do better this year than last.

Too many players had career worst years; take Alex Burrows and Daniel Sedin for example: Burrows scored 5 goals last year, 21 fewer than his lowest total of the previous 4 full seasons.

Daniel Sedin scored 16 goals last year, 13 fewer than the lowest total his previous 4 full seasons.

Even if we split the difference between their 2013-2014 totals and the lowest of their last 4 full seasons that would still give the team 18 more goals with both players playing well under their previous expectations.

Last year was far too much of an outlier to make any sort of serious predictions based on those results.

Kesler's loss hurts, but probably not enough to offset the natural bounce-back of the rest of the team.

Actually I think your analysis is understated. Throughout last year I heard analysts and the media lamenting the overuse of the Sedins, I don't think that will happen this year and that will improve their numbers and they have a legitimate sniper on the wing in Vrbata. The other thing I would disagree with a bit is the impact of losing Kesler. Here are my reasons: 1) It is widely reported that he was a whiner and complainer in the dressing room when things did not go his way; 2) His numbers the last two years are not what they were before his injury in the Nashville series, he is not a 40 goal scorer; 3) He seems to have lost a little of his speed edge, not a lot but it is starting; 4) The way he plays he is going to pile up injuries as he gets older; 5) He has never been a good puck distributor and does not improve his linemates. I think the three players that they got in return more than make up for his loss and have more potential to grow. The other factor not in your analysis is having a good coach who likes an uptempo game instead of a despot who did not care about his players and wants to play as style that pre-dates the first work-out and has been a failure since Tampa Bay.

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#81 Kevin M
August 16 2014, 04:41PM
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Here are my projections for the West.

14. Calgary, A wonderful team of fourth liners. Designed to play the hockey of ten years ago. Clutch and grab. Can't score and has weaker goaltending than in the past.

13. Arizona, Problems scoring and an aging core that is getting to use to not scoring. In addition, they have to play such a defensive style that they get lost in the shuffle. Gagner adds very little.

12. Edmonton, Lousy management almost guarantees failure, if they are in 1st in February, Lowe will trade the top 3 players for futures. Unproven goalies, mediocre d-men, one dimensional forwards.

11. Winnipeg, Truculent forward who needs to be traded and a goalie who is hot and cold, often in the same game. Not tough enough in their division.

10. Nashville, A great goalie and one great d-man, but name me a forward on this team, who can score more than 15 goals. See Arizona comments.

9. Minnesota, Lots of pieces but the whole does not seem to be there and I think the multi-goalie situation is going to hurt them. Everything revolves around Suter and Parise and I think they are weak at center.

8. Colorado, I think this is a team with a great future, but I expect them to drop back a little this year as they will surprise no-one and Roy's rah-rah style will not work as well. Lost a few key pieces.

7. Anaheim, I know, this looks ridiculous, but the goaltending over a season is questionable, the defense is middle of the pack at best, any d with Allen on is has questions. Finally, I honestly think Kesler is overrated, he is not the player of 2010 and 2011, and he does not help his line mates and can be negative.

6. Vancouver, I believe that the new management will have an impact. The Sedins are still I believe point a game players, especially with a sniper on RW (slowing is not a factor, they were never fast) and they have three other decent lines. Goaltending is strong and the defense is above average and most importantly Torts is gone and that is worth 20 points.

5. Dallas, this is one of the elite teams in the West. Good but not great goalkeeping, a growing d, and two lines of great scoring.

4. San Jose, I am not sure of this one. On paper they are an elite team, but I have concerns about the goaltending and defense and I am worried about Big Joe and other forwards who really don't seem to have the fire in the belly.

3. Los Angeles, this is a great playoff team with amazing goaltending and adequate offense and a very good defense, but they tend to take some time off in the regular season. However if they lose their goalie at any point for some time, they are vulnerable.

2. Chicago, a very, very good team, but not as strong as in the past. They still have to get under the cap and this may mean losing Sharp, which will hurt. I see them as Stanley Cup finalists this year, because it will be the last. The two salaries starting next year, plus the two big defender salaries mean they will start having to dump young talent next year.

1. St. Louis, almost a perfect team. Great defense and a whole group of above average forwards who can score and physically intimidate. They were great last year until the injuries hit and they have the best young forward in the league Tarasenko. Goalie is the only possible question mark, but the defense will help compensate by limiting shots.

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#82 TigerUnderGlass
August 16 2014, 06:41PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

With both yak and draisaitl getting fifty points you are saying that they both will be in the top fifty or so in the league for their positions. While anything could happen that seems very very unlikely as is wiping out a 67 goal differential compared to last year.

(I wonder how many teams in the history of the nhl have accomplished such a feat?)

Not as uncommon as it seems. Just last year Colorado had a swing like that.

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#83 Ryan
August 16 2014, 08:51PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Not as uncommon as it seems. Just last year Colorado had a swing like that.

Because Semyon Varlamov played out of his freaking mind and had a career year.

Something I don't see the Edmonton goalies being capable of.

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#84 Nathan A'Hearn
August 18 2014, 09:35AM
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For a team that hasn't done anything in almost 10 years there are certainly a lot of Oilers fans around.

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