Ken Holland has taken a conservative approach in his first summer as the general manager of the Edmonton Oilers. There’s still time left for him to change the roster, but rather than talking about what he has done, hasn’t done, or might do, let’s look at what everybody else in the Pacific Division has been up to.
50-25-7 (107 points)
Notable additions: Cam Talbot, Brandon Davidson, Byron Froese.
Notable subtractions: Mike Smith, Garnet Hathaway, Oscar Fantenberg, Dalton Prout.
Unsigned RFAs: Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, David Rittich, Andrew Mangiapane.
Despite a horrendous showing in the playoffs in which they were knocked out by the eighth-seeded Avalanche in five games, the Flames are still the team to beat in the Pacific Division. Of course, a lot can change between now and October as the Flames’ off-season really hasn’t gotten started yet.
They’ve made only minor additions, like adding Cam Talbot as a backup goalie and taking flyers on Brandon Davidson and Byron Froese, and they still have multiple key restricted free agents without contracts. The Flames currently sit with around $10 million in cap room for Tkachuk, Rittich, and Bennett, meaning Brad Treliving is going to need to find a way to shed some salary in order to get all of those players locked up. Moving James Neal would be ideal, but as we know with Milan Lucic, it won’t be easy. The Flames will likely need to move on from an effective player like T.J. Brodie or Michael Frolik to free up cap space for those aforementioned RFAs.
We’ll judge where they’re truly at in a couple of months, but it’s hard to imagine the Flames falling that far down even if they have to shed some decent players to fit under the cap. I’m not sure they’ll be a 107-point team again, but they’ll be good.
46-27-9 (101 points)
Notable additions: Dalton Prout, Johnny Brodzinski, Tom Pyatt.
Notable subtractions: Joe Pavelski, Justin Braun, Gustav Nyquist, Joonas Donskoi.
The Sharks made the choice this off-season to hand Erik Karlsson a massive eight-year extension, and, in the process, they waved goodbye to a franchise icon. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, fresh off of a 38-goal season, walked in free agency, inking a three-year deal with the Dallas Stars.
There’s no doubt that losing Pavelski will be a significant blow to the Sharks, but San Jose is ready to move forward with young stars like Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl as their core forwards. And, of course, in keeping Karlsson, the Sharks have managed to maintain one of the most dynamic bluelines in the league intact. Karlsson might have had a bit of a down year due to injury, but he showed in the playoffs that he’s still an elite producer with 16 points in 19 games.
San Jose also has a little bit of financial wiggle room thanks in part to Kevin Labanc signing a one-year, $1 million deal after a 56-point breakout season. With their spare cap room, we’ll likely see the Sharks brings back veteran Joe Thornton on another one-year deal and we could see them reunite with Patrick Marleau.
It’s fascinating to watch the Sharks continue to reinvent themselves and maintain contender status without ever going through a rebuild.
43-32-7 (93 points)
Notable additions: Nicolas Roy, Patrick Brown.
Notable subtractions: Erik Haula, Colin Miller, Ryan Carpenter, Pierre Bellemare.
Unsigned RFAs: Nikita Gusev.
The Golden Knights have worked themselves into a difficult cap situation and thus have had to spend this off-season dumping contracts rather than making additions to their roster. Vegas sent Erik Haula to the Hurricanes for Nicolas Roy and Colin Miller to the Sabres in exchange for a couple of draft picks. Despite those two dumps, Vegas is still currently over the salary cap ceiling with heart-and-soul defenceman Deryk Engelland and star KHL forward Nikita Gusev without contracts.
Neither Haula or Miller are back-breaking losses, but having to dump both players will lessen the depth on the Golden Knights’ roster, which has been the team’s strength over their two seasons in the league thus far. One thing the Golden Knights have going for them is Gusev, who scored 82 points in 62 games in the KHL last year, who could be used as a nice sweetener for a team taking on one of their bad contracts.
On a more positive note, the Golden Knights were able to get William Karlsson signed to a sweetheart deal worth just $5.9 million annually. As I said, they still need to shed some salary, but there will still be a strong core of a playoff team when it’s all said and done.
39-35-8 (86 points)
Notable additions: Phil Kessel, Carl Soderberg, Aaron Ness.
Notable subtractions: Alex Galchenyuk, Richard Panik, Kevin Connauton.
The Coyotes made a big splash this off-season, sending Alex Galchenyuk and a prospect to the Penguins in exchange for Phil Kessel. Despite being a character who tends to be maligned in the media, Kessel is a consistent producer, coming off 82- and 92-point showings in his past two seasons. Arizona also acquired a solid middle-six centre in Carl Soderberg who’s coming off a 23-goal season in Colorado.
These are key additions for the Coyotes because the team had a difficult time scoring goals last season. They were one of the best teams in the league at keeping the puck out of the net, but Arizona ranked 27th in the league in goals for in 2018-19. They didn’t have a single player hit the 20-goal plateau and their leading producer had just 47 points. Giving up Galchenyuk isn’t something to scoff at, but adding Kessel and Soderberg makes the Coyotes better than they were last season.
Arizona finished just four points out of the playoffs last year despite a wealth of injuries. Key players like Christian Dvorak, Jakob Chychrun, Michael Grabner, Jason Demers, and Antti Raanta all missed major time due to injury so it’s fair to assume a healthy Coyotes squad could push themselves over the hump this year.
35-36-11 (81 points)
Notable additions: Tyler Myers, J.T. Miller, Michael Ferland, Jordie Benn.
Notable subtractions: Markus Granlund, Ben Hutton, Brendan Gaunce, Luke Schenn, Ryan Spooner.
Unsigned RFAs: Brock Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin.
The Canucks are a better team than they were last season, but it came at a pretty significant price. They overpaid a good-not-great defenceman in Tyler Myers in free agency, they gave up a first-round pick to acquire an effective middle-six forward in J.T. Miller, and they signed Michael Ferland and Jordie Benn to multi-year deals. The Ferland and Benn deals are solid, but the Myers and Miller acquisitions were questionable. They also still have to sign a key member of their core, Brock Boeser, to a new deal.
There’s no doubt that Jim Benning is desperate for the team to take a step forward. He doesn’t have a contract beyond this season and if the team is on the outside looking in again I doubt he’ll be back as general manager. The Canucks also surely want to capitalize on Elias Pettersson’s entry-level deal, another contributing factor to why Benning went all-in this summer.
Vancouver finished with 81 points last season. Internal progression from young players like Pettersson and Boeser, top prospect Quinn Hughes cracking the team, and their four major additions should make Vancouver a playoff contender next year. Benning more than likely achieved his goal of pushing the Canucks over the hump, it just wasn’t the prettiest way to go about doing it.
35-37-10 (79 points)
Notable additions: Nick Deslauriers, Anthony Stolarz, Andreas Martinsen.
Notable subtractions: Corey Perry, Andy Welinski, Kevin Roy.
The Ducks had a disastrous season in 2018-19 in which virtually every player on the team missed time due to injury. Adam Henrique was the only Duck to play in all 82 games, while Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Cam Fowler, John Gibson, and Rickard Rakell all missed major time. Despite the terrible injury situation, Anaheim actually only finished 10 points out of a playoff spot.
The biggest move the Ducks made this off-season was cutting ties with all-time franchise great Corey Perry. The 14-year Ducks veteran suffered an injury in the pre-season and missed a good chunk of the season after undergoing surgery. He came back and was a step behind where he used to be and the Ducks ultimately decided to get out from under his massive cap hit.
The Ducks now find themselves in a retooling phase. They have an interesting group of prospects set to work their way onto a team loaded with ageing veterans, which would explain why general manager Bob Murray has decided to mostly stand pat this off-season. If the Ducks can stay healthy next year, they’ll likely be right in the mix for a rebound playoff appearance. That, of course, is a pretty big if.
31-42-9 (71 points)
Notable additions: Martin Frk, Mario Kempe, Joakim Ryan.
Notable subtractions: Dion Phaneuf, Brendan Leipsic, Jonny Brodzinski.
Unsigned RFAs: Adrian Kempe.
The Kings had their worst season in a decade last year, finishing dead last in the Pacific Division with just 71 points. This organization is feeling the inevitable effects of their post-Stanley Cup days as the roster is loaded with old players on bad contracts without many quality prospects waiting in the wings.
It’s hard to imagine the Kings taking a step back into relevance this season as they’ve remained quiet over the summer. It’s more about the big picture for general manager Rob Blake as he tries to rebuild a roster stuck in purgatory. The team made only minor additions like Martin Frk and Mario Kempe this summer, but they also bought out the contract of boat anchor Dion Phaneuf.
Unless the Kings get incredible performances from Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick next season, expect to see Los Angeles selling off guys like Tyler Toffoli, Derek Forbort, and Alec Martinez this year.
What does it all mean?
The Pacific Division was probably the weakest of the four divisions in the NHL last year. It still isn’t a loaded group by any stretch, but the Pacific didn’t get any weaker this off-season.
The top three teams in Calgary, San Jose, and Vegas all maintained their status as playoff teams. Two teams on the cusp of the playoffs in Vancouver and Arizona made additions that make them better than they were last year. The Ducks didn’t do anything, but returning to full health will put them back in the playoff conversation.
There’s still time for things to change, but, as of right now, the situation around the Oilers hasn’t gotten any easier. The Oilers finished seventh in the division last year, ahead of only the Kings. I can’t imagine L.A. jumping the Oilers in the standings, but Edmonton doesn’t have an easy task in hopping over any of Anaheim, Vancouver, or Anaheim to even get to the conversation of unseating any of the Pacific’s three playoff teams.
After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.
- When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday). Tee off at 2 p.m.
- Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
- How much – $1000/team
- Teams – Groups of Four (4)
- How – Book your team here
As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.