With another season just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at where the power lies within the Pacific Division. I’m going to rank the top 20 players in the division heading into the 2018-19 season based on a combination of what they did last year and what I think they are capable of this season.
One thing I realized while putting this piece together is that the Pacific division, outside of Connor McDavid, is the weakest in the league when it comes to top end offensive talent.
The top ten will be revealed later this week. Here is a look at the bottom half of the top 20 including a few players that didn’t make the cut.
20. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (F) – Edmonton Oilers
Nugent-Hopkins finished the season strong after being moved to the wing alongside Connor McDavid. The Nuge finished with 17 points in his last 16 games and if McLellan is able to fight the urge to move him off the top line a 70-point season will be within his grasp.
19. Logan Couture (F) – San Jose Sharks
With the exception of the 2017 playoffs, Couture has always left me wanting more offensively. He had 61 points last year highlighted by hitting double digits in power-play goals for a second straight season. He managed to hit the 30-goal mark last year for the first time in six seasons.
18. Clayton Keller (F) – Arizona Coyotes
Keller had a huge 19-year old season for an awful Coyotes squad. The former B.U. star put up 65 points as a rookie and is capable of closing in on a point-per-game this season. The Coyotes finally have a piece they can build around offensively.
17. Rickard Rakell (F) – Anaheim Ducks
Rakell is probably the most under-rated player in the entire division. He finished with 34 goals and 69 points last season while playing over 19 minutes a night for the Ducks. The 25-year old scored 33 times two years ago, which actually led the entire Pacific Division in goals. He played two more minutes a night last season which helped lead to an 18-point jump in his season total.
16. Sean Monahan (F) – Calgary Flames
Monahan scored 31 goals for the second time in his career last season but this time he did it in just 74 games. Monahan was clutch for the Flames last year with 11 of his 31 goals proving to be game winners. He has scored at least 27 goals in each of the last four seasons and there is no reason to expect anything less than 25 again this season.
15. Brock Boeser (F) – Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks have an elite sniper on their hands. Boeser scored 29 times in 62 games last year, which pro-rates to a 38 goal pace as a rookie. He managed to find the back of the net on a regular basis without much help which leads me to believe he will pick up this season right where he left off last year.
14. Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D) – Arizona Coyotes
Ekman-Larsson has become a bit of a polarizing figure over the past couple of years in Arizona. I’m still a big fan of this guy. After 18 months of trade rumours the Coyotes proved that they too are big fans of the Swede signing him to a big money extension. If Arizona can get its act together, and he’s a big part of that, Ekman-Larsson should be able to get back to the 50-point plateau.
13. Jonathan Marchessault (F) – Las Vegas Golden Knights
I didn’t want to have Marchessault so high on this list but you can’t ignore his .97 P.P.G. last season. Only four forwards in the entire division averaged more points per game than the Golden Knights speedster. I can’t see him doing this again but at this point, I’d be a fool to not give him respect.
12. Max Pacioretty (F) – Las Vegas Golden Knights
Max Pacioretty scores goals, lots of goals. The now, former Habs captain has scored 30 goals five times in his career and I’d project him to hit that total again this season. I’m assuming he’ll play the role that James Neal had last season, the only difference is that Pacioretty should do it better. It’s a nice pick up for the Knights and bad news for the Oilers.
11. John Gibson (G) – Anaheim Ducks
For a third consecutive season, Gibson topped the .920 save percentage mark last year. The Ducks had been patient with Gibson and they have been rewarded over the past two seasons. He’s on the verge of taking over as the best goaltender in the division, he’s just not there yet.
The Honourable Mentions
As I mentioned the top ten will be revealed later this week but here are a few guys who didn’t make the cut.
Joe Pavelski – His best years are behind him but he still finds a way to be effective.
Evander Kane – He’s the Sharks highest paid forward, can he live up to those expectations?
Jeff Carter – Coming off a season in which he played just 27 games. If he stays healthy he’s good for 60 points.
Ilya Kovalchuk – Back in the NHL and being paid like the Kings expect him to score at least 30 goals.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Always flies under the radar but still gets the job done.
On The Way
Elias Petterson – The Canucks rookie could very well crack the Top 20 this time next year. Phenomenal talent.