A Look Into NHL Teams Post 2020 Offseason Part 4: Pacific Division
Written by Tyler Jones
Edited by Brandon Caputo
Photo Credit: Jeff Duarte & calisportsnews.com
With January 13th fast approaching and training camps underway, we have come to my final blog piece for this series. I want to thank you all for taking this ride with me, as I am no writer, just an educated fan/player who loves hockey and helping my buddy out! Can’t wait to help with other things on the website and other future projects!
Even though it appears that we will be getting new division lineups, for this exercise we just need the teams in some kind of order.
Most of the line combinations will be taken from dailyfaceoff.com to get the most accurate look at potential combinations.
Cap space statistics will be gathered from capfriendly.com.
Free Agent list can also be found at Cap Friendly here at capfriendly.com/browse/free-agents.
We know there will be re-alignments this season with the shortened COVID season. However, as far as these articles go, we will continue on by going Division-by-Division in alphabetical order.
With the Atlantic Division, Central Division, & Metropolitan Division done; let’s finish off strong with 4th division in our lineup: the Pacific Division.
Contracts: 48/50 Projected Cap Hit: $83,429,999 Projected Cap Space: $-1,929,999
Anaheim will is looking at a mixture of youth and veterans to bounce back from the rough season they had last year. I don’t see this first line being able to produce as well as others in the league with the line they have right now. Rakell is a great player, but Henrique and Silfverberg are second line guys on most clubs. That 3rd line is definitely an interesting one with it constructed as is. All the guys are under the age of 23 and are coming off short sample sizes in the NHL. The Ducks were 27th in goals for last season, and unfortunately for Anaheim fans, I think they will be right around the same area this season. As of right now they are over the cap, but they will put Ryan Kesler on IR when the season starts and that will clear their cap issues up for the moment.
Photo Credit: Kyle Shohara / AnaheimDucks.com
Despite their forwards having a lot of question marks, one thing that is crystal clear is that the defense is stout. Lindholm is quickly becoming one of the better defenseman in the league and having a partner of either Manson or Shattenkirk will be great for him. Fowler has been bandied around in trade rumors for years, but it looks like he will finally be staying put.
The Ducks have built a defense of puck movers,
which is critical in today’s NHL and will be looked upon to guide this team forward.
John Gibson has been one of the best goalies in the NHL during his young career and has not had a lot of help in front of him over those years. With a defense like this I don’t think stopping pucks will be an issue, but I foresee many 1-0 or 2-1 games in the Ducks future with the offense on the team thus far. They did just sign Ryan Miller back so I don’t see Stolarz as the backup moving forward.
Contracts: 44/50 Projected Cap Hit: $79,470,284 Projected Cap Space: $2,029,716
I can actually see Arizona being a team popping a lot of pucks in the net next season with this lineup if they can stay healthy. Garland is coming off a 22 goal campaign and will look to continue that pace. The 2nd line is more than likely going to be their actual first line in terms of ice time with two guys as talented as Keller and Kessel. The Coyotes actually have pretty good depth when you look at on paper, but as many injury issues as they’ve had in the past, that depth gets pushed to the test.
This may be the best defense corp the Coyotes have ever had. OEL is an absolute stud and playing with Demers allows him to fly all over the ice. Chychrun is becoming the defenseman they hoped he would be when he was drafted 16th overall in 2016. He is still only 22 and looks to be a top shutdown defenseman already. Hjalmarsson has lost some steps since his Cup winning days in Chicago, but is still a great penalty killer for this team. Arizona was 3rd in Goals Against last season and could be 1st this year.
The defense is certainly very good for Arizona, but the real reason they were 3rd in GA last year was this duo. Darcy Kuemper has become one heck of a goalie and having a back-up like Raanta makes things a lot easier for the entire team. I could definitely see the Yotes trading one of the goalies if a team comes knocking with a great offer for another forward or 2.
Contracts: 43/50 Projected Cap Hit: $81,276,666 Projected Cap Space: $233,334
Calgary was a team on the rise, but has stalled out a bit the last year or so. They didn’t really do anything to help with their offense, but another year of development from Tkachuk and Mangiapane should help bring the offense up a little bit. Gaudreau has been in the trade rumours a lot as of the last 8-10 months and until he has a new contract I don’t see that changing. There is a pretty big drop off in talent from the top 6 to the bottom 6 in this lineup. The Flames have the least amount of cap space without going over at the moment, so any moves made for offense would have to come by trade.
Photo Credit: Pete Jensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor
The Flames will take a hit losing T.J. Brodie to Toronto and they only went out and got Chris Tanev to help take that blow. Tanev is a serviceable defenseman, but Brodie was a great puck mover and that will be sorely missed on this club. Mark Giordano has been one of the best players in the league the last couple years, but how much longer does he have that in him? Hanifin will now be going into his 6th year in the NHL and will need to step up big time if he wants to stick around or get his money. Kylington is a young, puck moving defenseman who will probably be looked upon to make an impact for the Calgary power play this season.
The big grab for Calgary this off-season was goaltender Jacob Markstrom. They really did great with this move as it took him away from rival Vancouver and will help them in net for the next 6 years. Markstrom is coming off one of his best seasons ever, winning 23 of 43 with a .918 SV%, which was the best save percentage in a season in his career. I do think Markstrom will suffer a bit this season with the swap in teams, but getting 6 million dollars a year for six years is a heck of a haul for him.
Contracts: 47/50 Projected Cap Hit: $83,698,325 Projected Cap Space: $-2,198,325
Edmonton is a team that made moves this offseason that will really help them take another step forward. The addition of Turris to the centre ranks will help ease some of the burden from McDavid and Draisaitl. Kahun signed for under a million and could prove to be a steal. He had 4 points in 6 games with Buffalo after being traded from Pittsburgh, and being paired with more skilled guys should help his point total. Puljujarvi is coming back to the team after a stint with Karpat in Liiga last year where he put up 53 points in 56 games.
He’s still young, but if he matures, Jesse could be putting up huge points playing with Connor.
Tyson Barrie signing with the Oilers was a bit of a shock, but could prove to be very good for the offensive defenseman. Playing with point producers like Connor and Leon will help get him a much better deal on his next contract as he is only signed for one year. Ethan Bear has come into his own and has been a bit of a surprise that he’s played well as he did last season. Nurse is becoming a top shutdown defenseman and will be a force this year. With Klefbom out for the season he will go on IR to start the year and that should clear the Oilers cap issue.
The biggest issue the Oilers faced in the off-season was their goaltending and unfortunately for Edmonton fans, they will have the same duo as last year. Smith has taken a big step back from his peak days and Mikko Koskinen was signed to a huge deal before proving himself in the NHL, which has proven costly for them. At this point they will have to ride it out with Koskinen or buy him out. With only two years left on the deal, it would probably be better to just ride it out.
Los Angeles Kings:
Contracts: 44/50 Projected Cap Hit: $69,079,285 Projected Cap Space: $12,420,715
We have now found the team that will fight with Detroit for last in the NHL this season in the LA Kings. Boy on paper they look absolutely brutal. With realistically only one good forward in Kopitar on the roster at the moment, goals are going to come few and far between. Fagemo, Vilardi, and Andersson are certainly three to keep an eye on as they are very young and highly rated players. One thing LA fans have to look forward too is the future for this club on offense. The Kings might have the best forward prospect pool in the NHL. Names like Turcotte, Byfield, and Kaliyev; all of which could see time with the big club this season.
M. Anderson-M. Roy
The defense for the Kings a little bit better than that forwards are overall just with Doughty there. Olli Maata could turn out to be a good acquisition and fill the void left by Martinez. With the Kings having the most cap space in the league they really need help everywhere and have the room to make moves. I don’t think they will this season with the youth movement coming in a hurry.
Jonathan Quick hasn’t been quite the same goalie since the Stanley Cup days, but he can still play until LA finds someone else they would rather have. I could see Quick being a goalie moved if another team has an injury to their starter if LA retains some of his salary. With the space they have it is a doable trade, so watch out for that this season.
San Jose Sharks:
Contracts: 47/50 Projected Cap Hit: $79,146,6 Projected Cap Space: $2,353,333
The San Jose Sharks had a rough year last season and look to bounce back with a healthy team. Not much changes were made to the forward ranks with the thought that with the whole team healthy they should be fine. I don’t know how much I like that thought process, but we will see if it works for them. Donato is one guy they added who I do think will be a great addition to this team's Top 6. Marleau coming back will be a boost to the guys who have been around him before and will be great for all the young guys as well.
With Hertl only having two more years left on his current contract, it would be the Sharks best interest to prove to him that they can get back to the playoffs or risk him walking in a couple years.
Much like the forwards on this team there wasn’t much turnover on the back end either. With Erik Karlsson healthy, they look for him to help Burns lead this defense corps to a better spot than last year.
Karlsson is a former Norris winner who has shown that he can be a top offensive defenseman in the NHL,
but health has become an issue for him over the years. If he can stay healthy, look for him to once again be in contention for the Norris trophy.
Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images
With the colossal collapse of Martin Jones last year the Sharks went out and got another starting goaltender in Devan Dubnyk. This could be a volatile situation if Jones decides he doesn’t want to split time or be the backup, but he should’ve played better last year then Devan wouldn’t be there. Much like The Oilers earlier the goaltending could be the downfall of San Jose if they don’t watch it.
Contracts: 43/50 Projected Cap Hit: $82,940,211 Projected Cap Space: $-1,440,211
Last year I told the owner of our great website Brandon Caputo that Vancouver would finish ahead of his 2nd favorite team, the Sharks, and make the playoffs. He scoffed at that thought and said I was crazy. Well look who was crazy at the end of the season last year!! Vancouver is just a young, skilled club with good depth.
The top line is one of the best in the NHL right now and I see no reason why that will stop anytime soon. Nils Hoglander will be an interesting look on that 2nd line coming off a 14 point campaign while on loan for 26 games to Rogle BK. This will be a make it break it year for Jake Virtanen, as if he can’t start producing he could be out of Vancouver soon. With Michael Ferland having concussion issues it is more than likely he goes on LTIR this season to help the Canucks with their recap issue.
The Canucks are another team building around their defense which, seems to be the way teams are heading lately. Quinn Hughes is coming off an absolutely incredible season and will be a contender with Josi for the Norris this year. Myers is a steady big defenseman to help with these speedy puck movers do their jobs better. Losing Troy Stecher and Chris Tanev could’ve hurt them, but getting Nate Shmidt should help ease those losses. They also invited Travis Hamonic to training camp, so I would look for him to be signed when Ferland’s cap hit goes off the books for the year.
Calgary did their best to kill two birds with one stone by signing Markstrom out from them. Then Vancouver went and signed Braden Holtby to be the stop gap before Demko takes the crease over. Holtby is coming off a few great seasons with Washington and with a better defense in front of him, expect another great season from the Llyodminster, Saskatchewan native.
Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Vegas Golden Knights
Contracts: 45/5 Projected Cap Hit: $82,474,104 Projected Cap Space: $-974,104
Vegas will look to continue its unbelievable entry into the NHL another stud forward group. As I have mentioned in some of my other blogs, the Golden Knights are swirled in rumours surrounding some of their forwards. Only being less than a million over the cap, I would probably find another way to clear space other than trading a top 6 winger. I’m obviously just a big fan of 3rd lines because once again the third line here is very interesting. Tuch is coming off a down season, but playing with a great young centre in Cody Glass might be the remedy for that.
As much as I am not a fan of big, long contracts for older players; you can’t argue that Vegas getting Alex Pietrangelo was not a huge deal for them. He is a top 6-7 defenseman in the league and is an unbelievable leader on & off the ice. Martinez was a great addition last year via trade putting up 8 points in 10 games since coming over from LA. Shea Theodore is someone I see competing for multiple Norris trophies as well in his career. The 25 year old had 46 points in 71 games last season while also being the defensive leader on the club as well. Look for Vegas to once again compete for a chance at Lord Stanley this year.
Vegas will once again have the best goalie tandem in the league, although I don’t understand having 12 million in cap space dedicated to that one position. I’m a huge fan of Lehner and see him being in talks for Vezina’s for a long time, but Fleury just cannot be happy about this whole situation. It’s Matt Murray and Pittsburgh all over again! I think a team like Minnesota should be doing everything possible to get MAF on their squad for the last 2 years of his deal. This whole situation will be one to keep an eye on throughout the season.