This is the final part of my 2013-2014 NHL season preview. Here’s what I think will happen in the Pacific Division:
Key Additions: Dustin Penner, Jakob Silfverberg, Mathieu Perreault
Key Loss: Bobby Ryan
After surprising everyone by winning the Pacific Division last season, the Ducks looked primed and ready to do it again. This franchise’s 20th year marks 1) A potential breakout year for Jakob Silfverberg, who was traded from Ottawa for Bobby Ryan. 2) The return of the Eggplant jerseys on Throwback Night. And 3) the last ride in Anaheim for Teemu Selanne.
Key Additions: TJ Galiardi, Kris Russell, David Jones, Shane O’Brien
Key Losses: Miikka Kiprusoff, Alex Tanguay, Cory Sarich, Roman Cervenka
It’s the first year of a new era in Calgary Flames hockey. No Iggy. No Kipper. Like Canadian-born rapper Drake, this team is starting from the bottom, but like any other rebuilding team, it will take some time to get to where they should be.
Key Additions: Andrew Ference, David Perron, Boyd Gordon, Jesse Joensuu, Philip Larsen
Key Losses: Ryan Whitney, Mark Fistric, Andy Sutton
If you’ve watched the award-winning documentary series “Oil Change”, you know far and well the story of the rebuilding process of the Edmonton Oilers. Hopefully, this team is ready for the next step: removing the “upstart” label and replacing it with “contender.” The Oilers got a veteran boost in the back-end when they signed Andrew Ference, and their offense was boosted when they traded Magnus Paajarvi to St. Louis for David Perron. And most importantly, the Oilers have a new head coach. Dallas Eakins, a former defenseman who has spent the last four seasons as the head coach of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and led those Marlies to a Calder Cup Final appearance in 2012, will have to prove himself worthy of being an NHL-caliber head coach. This team CAN contend, but I don’t see it coming this season.
Los Angeles Kings
Key Additions: Matt Frattin, Daniel Carcillo, Jeff Schultz, Ben Scrivens
Key Losses: Dustin Penner, Brad Richardson, Jonathan Bernier
The Kings defense of the Cup last season began and ended with losses at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks. But this team is WAY too good to rest on their laurels. This team still has most of the core intact from the 2012 Cup championship season, and they will still be the team to beat in the Pacific Division.
Prediction: Pacific Division Champions
Key Addition: Mike Ribeiro
Key Loss: Boyd Gordon
The Coyotes last season didn’t get it going from the beginning. Mike Smith had a injury-riddled season, and the Desert Dogs missed the playoffs. However, the Coyotes do have a new owner, re-signed Smith and head coach Dave Tippett, and they brought in Mike Ribeiro. Overall, the ‘Yotes will be in the playoff picture and prove themselves that they’re not a one-trick pony team.
San Jose Sharks
Key Addition: Tyler Kennedy
Key Loss: TJ Galiardi
After starting the season with seven straight wins, the Sharks struggled to score. Eventually they finished sixth in the Western Conference last season, but pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the playoffs, sweeping the Vancouver Canucks in four games. This team is still a division favorite, but as of right now, I believe this team will be a middle-of-the-division team.
Key Additions: Benn Ferriero, Brad Richardson
Key Losses: Mason Raymond, Max Lapierre, Derek Roy, Cory Schneider
Much like the New York Jets in the NFL and the Miami Heat in the NBA, this team has a very polarizing public view. After back-to-back first round exits, Alain Vigneault was replaced by John Tortorella. You’ve probably heard about Torts: he won a Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay in 2004; he used to work for TSN as a studio analyst, and for the last five seasons, was the head coach for the New York Rangers. In his tenure on Broadway, the Rangers have missed the playoffs once. But during his tumultuous time in New York, his relationship with the New York media was YouTube fodder. Now he goes to a team where, just like in New York, the success of the team is essential to life in the city. Will it be deja vu or will it be something different, like in Tampa Bay? This team has the talent, but can they play at their absolute full potential when it matters the most? That’s what you’re gonna be looking at all season long.