The Pacific is an interesting division, in that there are two consensus top teams, and two consensus bad teams, with the remaining three squads vying for a potential wildcard.
The Kings are defending Cup champions, and will be bringing back essentially the same roster. In terms of the division race however, the usually leave gas in the tank for an extended playoff run, so gunning for first may or not be required in their eyes. A healthy Jonathan Quick would go a long way to making them a favorite to repeat.
The Ducks on the other hand, are built to dominate in the regular season. They are the definition of elite, and bringing in Ryan Kesler solidifies their top six. Adding Dany Heatley is a no/low risk move that could pay off big time. Their only question is in net, where they are running with an inexperienced tandem of Frederk Andersen and John Gibson.
Put me in the category of those who feel like the Sharks' window has closed. They've been built for a Cup for years, but the turmoil this past offseason makes me think this is a team running on fumes. Other than losing Dan Boyle and pulling the rug out from under Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, the team wasn't active in the offseason.
The Coyotes finally have some stability, and there's a good chance they'll be in the mix for a wildcard. Though their only big addition was Sam Gagner, they still possess an excellent goaltender in Mike Smith and have one of the best young defense groups in the league, led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle.
After bottoming out thanks to the John Tortorella fiasco last season, the Canucks still have the pieces to make some noise.The Sedins still have tread on the tires, and they added Ryan Miller to stabilize the cage and Radim Vrbata to help offset the loss of Kesler. Dat D tho...
Barring a miracle, the Oilers are again going to struggle to gain any height in the standings. They're wasting Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall, not to mention Nail Yakupov. Until they can build their team outside of the scoring lines, they will continue to struggle. I'm thinking one or more of those aforementioned forwards may get moved to help shore up the defense. Stop me if you've heard that one before, though.
Ahh the Flames. They are plucky, and of course, truculent. Adding Jonas Hiller in net will keep them in games if he can stay off the IR, but they'll be relying on kids to do the heavy lifting on defense and up front. Devin Setoguchi was an under-the-radar addition.
Here are our picks, let's see yours in comments: