NHL Pacific Division Notebook: Let’s Get Bold

NHL Pacific Division

Happy New Year to you all! As we ring in 2018, it’s time to do the one thing that will make me look like a fool in a few months, make predictions. Today, we’ll be taking a spin around the Pacific Division and making a bold prediction for every team in 2018.

These predictions won’t be obvious, and I’m willing to bet almost all of them end up being wrong. That’s what is fun about this though, so let’s kick back and take a spin around the Pacific!

Los Angeles Kings:

The Kings are oh so back, and look well on their way to making it back to the postseason. My bold prediction for 2018 for Los Angeles? The Kings will represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings have a legit number one goaltender, defender and center, and the group is playing some of the best defensive hockey in the entire league.

On top of the, the Kings offense has come alive and they are deeper than they have been in a few years. I suspect first year GM Rob Blake will add a few pieces come the deadline, and Los Angeles will shock some people by returning to the Final for the first time since 2014.

Anaheim Ducks:

My bold prediction for Anaheim Ducks is that, after making the Western Final last season, they miss the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Many people believe the Ducks will jump up the standings once they get healthy, and I once agreed with that thought process, but I’m not longer sold. The Ducks have some serious roster holes and I’m not sold on their goaltending duo of Ryan Miller and John Gibson.

The underlying stats for this Duck team are weak and I’m not sure they have the scoring punch to push up the standings and make the dance. It’ll be a wildly disappointing result for a team that likely thought it had Stanley Cup hopes this season.

San Jose Sharks:

Joe Thornton’s career in San Jose will come to an end on July 1st, 2018. After another early exit for the Sharks in the postseason, Thornton will once again test the free agent waters. Unlike last year, when Jumbo returned to Northern California, he’ll be wearing a new uniform on opening night in October. The Sharks window to compete for a Stanley Cup is rapidly closing, and Thornton likely sees that.

After a sensational career as a Shark, Thornton will be wearing the third different logo of his career come October.

Arizona Coyotes:

The Coyotes will end up finishing last in the NHL this season and will win the lottery, gifting them Swedish defender Rasmus Dahlin. In response to adding the generational talent on defense, the Coyotes will trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson this off-season. The package will be huge, garnering Arizona another first round pick, a top prospect and a roster, but the loss will still be huge.

I’ll wager that Toronto is the landing spot for Ekman-Larsson, as they have the most to give and I’m sure Arizona would prefer to send OEL out east. The move will send shock waves through the NHL as the Coyotes continue would very well could be a fruitful rebuilding process.

Vegas Golden Knights:

Golden Knight fans and hockey fans in general should be enjoying this run from the latest NHL expansion team, but as Brett Farve once said, all good things must come to an end. Vegas’ Cinderella story will come to an end too. The Golden Knights will struggle mightily following the All-Star break, slipping out of a top three spot in the Pacific division. The good news? They’ll hang onto to a wild card spot and sneak into the dance, but will be mopped up quickly by the LA Kings in round one.

After an off-season that sees multiple players leave via free agency, the expansion Golden Knights we all expected will arrive next October.

Edmonton Oilers:

After a 100+ point season a year ago and a trip to game seven of the second round, many people pegged the Edmonton Oilers as a Stanley Cup favorite this season. Boy, we couldn’t have been more wrong. The club struggled out of the gate and currently sits outside of the playoffs. The Oilers will miss the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, taking a major step back after many thought they turned north a year ago.

That’s not my bold prediction. Here’s what is: The Oilers, after missing the playoffs, will fire GM Peter Chiarelli and replace him with current Red Wings boss Ken Holland, who is in the final year of his contract with the club.

Calgary Flames:

It’s been a tough start to the season for the Flames, but have no fear Calgary fans, my bold prediction will put a smile on your face. At the deadline Calgary will make a play for, and acquire, Buffalo sniper Evander Kane, who will arrive and ignite a struggling offensive group. As a result, the Flames will jump the Vegas Golden Knights and make it into the top three in the Pacific, where they’ll upset the San Jose Sharks in round one before falling to the Kings in round two of the post-season.

Vancouver Canucks:

As it becomes more and more obvious that the Canucks won’t make the playoffs this season and need to continue the rebuild, GM Jim Benning will make a bold decision. After much discussion, the Canucks will elect to trade the Sedin twins at the 2018 trade deadline, giving them a chance to go win the Stanley Cup. Vancouver will eat half of both of their contracts to maximize return, and the Sedin twins will end up in the postseason.

Part two of my bold prediction? The Sedin twins can’t quit on Vancouver, and return to the Canucks as free agent on July 1st.

Photo Credit: Flickr/mark6mauno C.C. 2.0 

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