NHL Pacific Division Notebook – The One Where Jaromir Jagr Returns

NHL Pacific Division

As an Edmonton Oilers fan and longtime blogger, my biggest hope this off-season was that the club would sign Jaromir Jagr. Naturally, Jagr came to Alberta but signed with the Flames last week, finally arriving in town on Wednesday hours before the Flames played the Oilers up in Edmonton.

While Jagr has yet to make his debut with the team, he’s already had an impact with the Flames. After a rough week with the ongoing arena issues, fans in Calgary appears happy about something with their club and there is some positive press around the team. Not to mention, on the ice Jagr should help shore up Calgary’s offensive depth on the wings.

Not only is it a sexy signing, but it is a smart signing for the Flames. The management team in Calgary has done an excellent job of adding quality veteran players that fill holes and Jagr is no exception. Sure, he isn’t the MVP player he once was, but I would bet money he finds a way to score 40-50 points for the club this season.

Those 40-50 points are absolutely an upgrade over internal options like Curtis Lazar, Spencer Foo and Mark Jankowski. Will this move make Calgary an overwhelming favorite to win the Cup? No, it won’t, but it certainly strengthens an already strong roster.

Lastly, Jagr is going to help Calgary in an area where a lot of people aren’t talking about. The Flames have a lot of young talent on their roster and while some of the players have already become stars (Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan), others still need a push. Much like he did with Claude Giroux in Philadelphia, Jagr could help Sam Bennett or someone else take that next step in their career. It’s something to watch.

Viva Las Vegas!:

What a start for the Golden Knights, huh? They became just the third expansion team in NHL history (joining the LA Kings and California Golden Seals) to win their first two games when they knocked off the Coyotes on Saturday night in overtime.

There are obviously a lot of things to still be worked out with the team, and I still suspect they finish last in the division, but they couldn’t have scripted a better start to their existence. James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury have been the stars this team has needed, and they have the whole hockey world talking.

More importantly, they have given the city a nice distraction in what has been a week from hell. I expect that building to be bedlam on Tuesday night when the Knights open their home schedule against Arizona.

Travis Green Gets Last Laugh:

Vancouver Canuck fans were up in arms on Saturday when word leaked out that forward Brock Boeser, one of the team’s best young players, would be a healthy scratch for the season opener against Edmonton. Head coach Travis Green was taking a beating just hours before his debut behind the bench, but he eventually got the last laugh.

Green’s Canucks beat the Oilers 3-2 to capture their first win of the season and looked mighty fine in the process. It wasn’t perfect, but Vancouver looked faster, more poised and a lot more exciting to watch than last year. It was just one game, but the Canucks did a lot of things right and proved their coach right in game one.

McDavid Magic And a Wake-up Call:

That McDavid kid is alright, huh? Connor McDavid stole the show on opening night with his second career hat-trick, propelling the Oilers to a 3-0 victory over Calgary. The team looked great all around, and appeared to be ready to live up to their Stanley Cup hype this season.

The young Oilers got a little bit of a wake-up call on Saturday however, as they fell 3-2 in Vancouver. Edmonton didn’t play a horrible game, but they made a lot of mistakes, took a lot of lazy penalties and weren’t crisp in the offensive zone.

The club is 1-1-0 and of course there is no reason to panic, but the Oilers were humbled a bit in this one. The Canucks simply worked harder and were willing to battle more. I suspect the Oilers will bounce back from this, but it’s worth noting they took an early season set back.

Last Call:

The Kings have looked good early this season, jumping out to a 2-0-0 start and playing sound all around hockey. If Jonathan Quick is back in form, as I predicted, and the offense can score enough, this is a playoff team. It’s been a good start for the Kings and they’ll be worth watching as the season’s opening month drags on.

The Sharks haven’t look great early, but I suspect they’ll click pretty soon. Losing Patrick Marleau hurts the goal scoring of this team and it’s forced some players to move up the depth chart. I thought they looked very loose on opening night against Philly and am curious to see how they tightened that up.

Arizona’s young group has taken its lumps early, blowing two leads late and falling in their first two games. This team is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season, but fans should be expecting a lot of growing pains like this as the season goes on. I’m serious though, if you can catch one of their games you absolutely should.

Lastly, the Ducks are 1-0-1 and getting by without some key players defensively. As I said in my season preview, they are the best team in the Pacific. I was impressed in their first two games with how they handled the loss their key guys and battled through.

Photo Credit: By Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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