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Photo Credit: © Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacific Division isn’t getting any weaker

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.

Calgary Flames

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.

San Jose Sharks 

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.

Vegas Golden Knights

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.

Arizona Coyotes

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.

Vancouver Canucks

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.

Anaheim Ducks

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.

Los Angeles Kings

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.

THIRD ANNUAL OILERSNATION OPEN

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.



  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Dzingle is off the market…

    I should be upset, I should be mad, I should be ranting and raving and screaming. But I’m not. In fact, I just don’t care anymore. I’m going into this season with the expectation that we’re gonna suck, AGAIN, and Connor is going to show if frustration, AGAIN. And WHEN he leaves, then I will put the full blame on this management for doing nothing to help him. Because at the end of the day, it’s clear that they just don’t care. If they cared, they’d spend more money on a top 6 guy, instead of wasting money on 5 bottom 6 players. If they cared, they would’ve drafted a forward instead of drafting a defenceman who’ll be ready when Connor says “adios”. If they cared, they’d hire a GM who is forward thinking, not a guy trying to rebuild the 2008 Red Wings. If they cared, we’d have more than 2 playoff appearances in the last 13 years.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Dzingel may have seen the writing on the wall that if he wait longer he might get an even lower offer once Gm’s started to clear guys out to get cap and contract compliant so he took an offer that made sense to him, probably not what he wanted, but they obviously thought it worked. Didnjt see Holland signing any guys over 3 mil a year no cap space to doit, imagine if Holland had signed Dzingel to what he got from Columbus, There would still be several holes to fill and no cap space to do it with. Chia left a mess behind and Holland has to deal with it, that said I dont think Holland is done yet, he will still want to move a contract to free up cap space and with other teams going to have to release guys there may be some good guys who get their walking papers simply due to cap and contract restraints, so I am okay with things so far

    • RJ

      Im not impressed with the lack of movement on adding any top-six wingers. A chance to play with Connor or Nuge probably could have made sense on the ice for Dzingel.

      On the flip side, Dzingel’s fiancée has done some work in golf broadcasting. Moving to Carolina made sense for both of them. So as much as I’m not impressed with KH’s work to date, Dzingel’s choice was clearly family-based.

  • Nanook

    kings ducks and flames have no real change. vegas and san jose lost players. van and Arizona made small upgrades, I can see how you thing the west didn’t really get weaker.kind of looks like the same pathetic division as last year with the upgrades the cental made.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Th West which is usually a horse race to the finish was really a mess last year, and this year well we will see. As for the standing and teams making it to the playoffs as we witnessed it mean diddly squat, Value Village out in 5. Lightning out in 4, Toronto out in 7, Nashville out in 6, Jets out in 6, Pittsburgh out in 4 Teams couldnt get it done despite on paper and in the standings looking like they could.

    No one thought the Blues would win a cup, heck no one thought they would make it to the playoffs and they did. so lets not read too much into predictions, a lot of sports sites ate their words with the predictions they made last year

  • For the Canucks, adding Miller, Ferland, Myers, and Benn is only part of the story. Pearson, Leivo, Hughes and Demko were added mid-season and were significant contributors – now we get them for the full season. We lost a bunch of veterans and top players to injury, hopefully they will stay healthy: Baertschi, Sutter, Beagle, Roussel (will start on LTIR), Edler, Tanev, Pettersson, and Boeser. We also dumped our underperforming defencemen (Gudbranson, Pouliot, Schenn, Hutton, and Del Zotto) and goaltender (Nilsson). Goldobin and Eriksson could also lose their roster spot in training camp. There are a lot more dynamics in play in Vancouver than you think.

    • Dean Martin

      Ferland, Myers & a healthy Roussel are the Canucks biggest need.
      When Dorset went down, Petey, Boeser & Horvat had no space…
      The players like Beagle, Roussel & Edler tried to take that role, but couldn’t do it alone and got injured… Ferland hits like a truck & as an Oiler fan I’m mildly pissed that he is back in our division… Kinda proves a little value in Lucic, Kassian & Khaira (once he gets his game together.)
      Out of that list above, I think so far anyway, that the Canucks are the most improved Pac Division team.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Vancouver was better than Edmonton last season. Edmonton constantly got beat to the puck on the forecheck and along the boards. Have we improved our speed enough for those things to change?

  • Biomass

    DE’s Hair makes a damn good point. Most years it’s the teams that have the drive/spirit (in addition to a decent roster) that go deep. Not sure anyone knows where that comes from exactly — but I’m optimistic that Tippett will be effective in moving the needle on team commitment.

  • TruthHurts98

    Oilers literally have zero percent chance at the playoffs unless Connor scores 200 points, Leon puts up 60 goals and Nuge goes supernova and has a career year. Their roster is flat out awful up front after those 3. I’ll gladly bet any one cash that thinks the Oilers will make the playoffs. They will be fighting L.A. for last in the division (again) and probably jockey with the Sens for the best chances at a 1st overall pick. What can Holland trade now that brings back anything better without mortgaging away the future? 2020 draft is deep and if it takes one more year of misery, oh well. Drafting Broberg tells me Holland is looking 4 years ahead and not just this year. That’s just the reality of it.

  • alledmonton

    I think your title is wrong. Since the subtractions for each team seem to be more notable than the additions, the Pacific Division is actually getting weaker.

  • Randaman

    SJ made a very big mistake signing the often injured Karlsson to that ridiculous contract. Letting Pavelski walk after 38 goals? Wilson has finally stumbled. Long term, this will come back and bite them in the a$$

  • Hockey Bunker

    Tough for oilers to make changes when saddled with bad contracts for even worse players. Once they build up enough prospects they can start moving bad contracts with high ociks as a sweetener. Or they are going to have to trade a player like Nuge. Maybe Looch will stub his toe and go in LTIR.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Seems to me:

    Calgary hasn’t got better and may need to lose a roster player in order to sign their 3 RFAs

    San Jose has got materially worse losing a few important players

    Vegas has got worse having to lose players to open cap space (and they need to do more).

    Vancouver looks to have improved but Myers will likely be asked to play over his established 4-5 levels and they may need to shed in order to get Boeser under contract.

    Arizona has improved but Panik is not an immaterial loss – they will be better with better health.