2013-14 Pacific Division: Projected Standings

Over the last few weeks we’ve looked at the Edmonton Oilers’ new division. Now the pivotal question: will they snag one of the four playoff spots in this group?

The Contenders

1. Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are my choice for the top spot in the division; this team won the Cup in 2012 and went to the Conference Finals in 2013 and the roster hasn’t changed much. They fell down the standings last year thanks to an abnormally poor regular season from Jonathan Quick, and that isn’t likely to be repeated. They should be well clear of Edmonton.

2. Vancouver Canucks. This roster doesn’t look as good on paper as previous editions of the team, but the same stars are there up front and the defence might be the best in the Western Conference despite the lack of a superstar number one. A lot hinges on Roberto Luongo; the Canucks have gambled that after wanting to leave he’ll be able to come back and contribute at a high level. It’s a risk, but they’re probably right.

3. San Jose Sharks. This is a very good team; they’re smartly coached and smartly managed (given my choice of NHL general managers, there aren’t many I’d take ahead of Doug Wilson) and they have great depth and talent down the middle.

The Bubble

4. Anaheim Ducks. The loss of Sheldon Souray to injury and the addition of Mark Fistric on defence have changed the picture a little bit since our comparison, weakening the Ducks’ defence. This is a catchable team for the Oilers but not one I’d care to bet on Edmonton being ahead of.

5. Edmonton Oilers. We’ve analyzed Edmonton’s strengths and weaknesses to death this season. Up front they have solid top end talent but questionable depth, particularly at centre. On defence, they have exceptional depth but a dearth of proven top-two defencemen. Devan Dubnyk provides solid goaltending. Put it all together and this is a team on the bubble, one I have projected to be in the playoff race until the bitter end (though they could snatch a crossover spot in the Central). (Others feel more optimistic about the team’s placement).

6. Phoenix Coyotes. A forward corps that leans too much on Mike Ribeiro and Shane Doan is the Coyotes’ primary weakness, and what might make them vulnerable to the Oilers this season. Any of the three teams listed here could snag that final playoff spot in my estimation; there isn’t a night-and-day difference between Anaheim and Edmonton and Phoenix.

The Cellar

7. Calgary Flames. The roster was gutted last season and it seems likely to take a few more vicious kicks in the lead up to the 2013-14 trade deadline. The forward group lacks top end talent, the defence is suspect and nobody knows who the starter is. Welcome to the rebuild.

Recently around the Nation Network

A new picture has been making the rounds in Winnipeg, one showing a much leaner version of defenceman Dustin Byfuglien. At Jets Nation, Travis Hrubeniuk writes about what Jets fans can expect from the oft-criticized defenceman:

I believe that he has the chance to be a truly successful top pairing D-man with the numbers to back it up, should a couple things happen. First, he needs some help in net. It’s been the story for this team for years now. People refuse to believe that the Jets have been a solid defensive team with poor goaltending behind them, and choose to inaccurately accuse the blue line of inadequate play. Byfuglien may as well be the poster boy for this myth, as he and Enstrom are truly an effective top pairing duo.

Click the link above to read more, or check out some of my recent stuff:

  • Big Cap

    We still don’t have a playoff-quality bottom six, and few (if any) of our bottom six players can shut down the big, tough key players in our division.

    So I’m picking the Oilers 5th, behind LA, San Jose, Vancouver and Phoenix. But we may sneak into the playoffs at the expense of the team placing 4th in the Central Division.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Looking at the division, I think it’s safe to bet the Oil will finish 4-5, 6 being a complete disaster. I’d say the true wild card of this division is the Canucks.

    The Sedins are in a contract year, but I doubt that’ll suddenly remove the baby fat. Kesler is perpetually injured but gets 2nd line matches, he could bounce back, I think he won’t. Booth, Kassian and Burrows all took a nap at season’s end and into the playoffs. They all seem like the kind of 2-way players that Torts could ignite, though I hope that doesn’t happen.

    The Nucks D is solid though a couple injuries could expose a lack of depth. Torts does make instant impacts though he’s never coached in such a fickle city with an ignorant fan base.

    I think the Canucks could be anywhere from missing the playoffs (which would be beautiful) to winning the division. Thoughts DSF? Hockey is much more dynamic than pulling previous years statistics from a small sample size. We all know your bias but you have yet to truly embrace the uncertainty of your own team. Nuck fans are like the S&P 500 begging for another round of QE, unfortunately in your books that’s only a President’s Trophy.

    The Canucks will not win the Stanley Cup this year, easy prediction.. Lou can’t play in the playoffs, D-depth is an issue and I’m not impressed with Booth, Kassian and Burrows in the top 6.

    DSF, the ball is in your court….

    • DSF

      I’d say that’s a pretty decent analysis but the only way I see them missing the playoffs is if a lot of things go wrong.

      One factor you haven’t addressed is the team’s management insisting that they will be going all out to try and insert some youth into their lineup.

      http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/hockey/vancouver-canucks/Putting+Johnny+spot/8818161/story.html

      With Kassian getting a more prominent role and with Niklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce, Bo Horvat, Kellan Lain and others pushing for spots, the team might look quite a bit different than last season.

      How well that strategy works out is, of course, an unknown but Tortorella has a pretty strong track record of getting production out of young players.

      Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh and Ryan Callaghan all thrived under Tortorella.

      I think the major reason behind his hiring was his willingness to work with young players, something Vigneault didn’t have the patience for.

      • Admiral Ackbar

        The hopes in Torts are valid but still an ‘if’ albeit a probable one. You’re right about Torts and the young’uns but I’d have reservations about considering them a division contender from the past few years results. The big names on this team may simply be those guys that don’t know how to get it done when it counts. Call it a lack of heart, call it AV’s inability to rally the dressing room. I’d suggest that it’s management ignoring the elephants in the room and knowing when to file for divorce.

        The Oil are trending upward with the slow but sure maturation process. The Canucks have stagnated at best with a trend downward as recent success would suggest. Will Torts be better than AV? The Rangers didn’t think so. I guess we’ll find out.

        I think this team was modelled for AV’s style, not Torts’. Living in Van, I’ll be watching attentively, and vindictively. Waiting to call out, once again, Nuck fans’ delusional optimism.

  • Clyde Frog

    DSF trundles back to his computer bleary eyed but feeling triumphant!

    He had rushed his nightly ritual of washing mother and had seen his weekly allowance cut in half as a result… But it had been worth it! He had freed himself up to crush the hopes and dreams of Oiler fans on the internet!!

    Besides after 47 years he had saved up enough of his allowances to float himself through leans weeks like this. That and mother had recently restocked his cabinet of Cheeto’s and Dr.P…

    Sitting down at his desk, pausing briefly to pray at his Gillis shrine, he sets to work..

    Before the satisfied chuckle could escape his lips, the reality of the last several posts sets in. How could these fools still cheer for the team?

    He had posted several compelling arguments backed up by minutes of Googling! Yet these fools still dare to dream! This will not stand!!!

    Mixing equal parts Cheeto and Dr.P in a bowl he gently stirs the concoction until it becomes the nourishing paste that will sustain him through the morning and into the afternoon. He will need the time and energy to devise new statistics backed up by new googlings to irrevocably prove that the Oilers are the worst team in the league and to crush absolutely the dreams of an entire fanbase.

    A mad gleam enters his eyes and he begins to laugh maniacally, “muwhahahaHAHHAHAHAHA!” Well at least until mother yelled downstairs threatening the other half of his allowance unless he respected the silence rule while her stories are on.

  • OutDoorRink

    Hey hey hey everyone. Give old dsf a break. I really need him to continue posting. I’m using his comments as a source material for my study of Enuresis.