Photo: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The 2019-20 NHL regular season is just a couple of weeks away. The excitement level is rising for many in the hockey universe. Nova Caps has already looked and previewed the Atlantic Division and Central Division. The next Division we will cover is the Pacific Division. Will things be wide open in the unpredictable Pacific Division in 2019-20? Let’s dive in to the Pacific Division Preview.
2018-19 Result: 35-37-10; 80 points; 6th in the Pacific Division; 13th in the Western Conference; 24th in the NHL; missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
2018-19 Leaders: Fwd. Ryan Getzlaf – 14 goals, 34 assists, 48 points; Fwd. Jakob Silfverberg – 24 goals, 19 assists, 43 points; Def. Hampus Lindholm – 6 goals, 22 assists, 28 points. G. John Gibson (26 wins).
Key Offseason Additions: Fwd. Def. Michael Del Zotto, Def. Chris Wideman, G. Anthony Stolarz.
Key Offseason Subtractions: Fwd. Corey Perry.
2019-20 Outlook: The Ducks struggled to find offense a season ago. To put things into perspective, they only had zero skaters that eclipsed over 50 points. They only had one skater (Jakob Silfverberg) that hit the 20+ goal plateau. The Ducks are already going to be shorthanded to start the upcoming season because forwards Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves will not play the entire year.
Dallas Eakins is the new bench boss in Anaheim after replacing Randy Carlyle and interim Coach/GM Bob Murray. Eakins has a tough task ahead for a Ducks team that will likely be entering a rebuild. The Ducks will likely miss the postseason in 2019-20.
2018-19 Result: 39-35-8; 86 points; 4th in the Pacific Division; 9th in the Western Conference; 18th in the NHL; missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
2018-19 Leaders: Fwd. Clayton Keller – 14 goals, 33 assists, 47 points; Fwd. Alex Galchenyuk – 19 goals, 22 assists, 41 points; Def. Oliver Ekman-Larsson – 14 goals, 30 assists, 44 points; G. Darcy Kuemper (27 wins).
Key Offseason Additions: Fwd. Phil Kessel, Fwd. Carl Soderberg.
Key Offseason Subtractions: Fwd. Alex Galchenyuk, Fwd. Richard Panik, Def. Kevin Connauton.
2019-20 Outlook: The Coyotes got close to getting back into the postseason a year ago, but fell a little bit short. During the offseason, they made a huge splash for Penguins star forward Phil Kessel. Kessel will reunite with former Penguins Assistant Coach Rick Tocchet, who is now Arizona’s Head Coach.
The Coyotes have assembled a core of quality young players over the last few seasons and have used their ample cap space as an asset for draft picks. Now, the Coyotes are looking to exit the rebuild and get back into the postseason. They still have some questions on the blueline, but their young group of forwards like Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, and Christian Dvorak are very fun to watch. The Coyotes will likely push for a playoff spot this spring, but will likely fall just short again.
2018-19 Result: 50-25-7; 107 points; 1st in the Pacific Division; 1st in the Western Conference; 2nd in the NHL; eliminated in Round 1 by Colorado in 5 games.
2018-19 Leaders: Fwd. Johnny Gaudreau – 36 goals, 63 assists, 99 points; Fwd. Sean Monahan – 34 goals, 48 assists, 82 points; Def. Mark Giordano – 17 goals, 57 assists, 74 points; G. David Rittich (27 wins).
Key Offseason Additions: Fwd. Milan Lucic, G. Cam Talbot
Key Offseason Subtractions: Fwd. James Neal, Fwd. Garnet Hathaway, G. Mike Smith
2019-20 Outlook: The Flames were one of the top teams in the NHL last season. It was shocking to see them extinguished quickly in the postseason by the Colorado Avalanche.
The Flames have a dynamic group of forwards starting with Johnny Gaudreau. The Flames had four forwards and one defenseman that recorded over 70 points a season ago. There are still some questions with their depth on defense and depth in goal, but this Flames team is built to score a lot of goals. Expect the Flames to return to the postseason in 2019-20.
2018-19 Result: 35-38-9; 79 points; 7th in the Pacific Division; 14th in the Western Conference; 25th in the NHL; missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
2018-19 Leaders: Fwd. Connor McDavid – 41 goals, 75 assists, 116 points; Fwd. Leon Draisaitl – 50 goals, 55 assists, 105 points; Def. Darnell Nurse – 10 goals, 31 assists, 41 points; G. Mikko Koskinen (25 wins).
Key Offseason Additions: Fwd. James Neal, G. Mike Smith
Key Offseason Subtractions: Fwd. Milan Lucic, Fwd. Jesse Puljujarvi, G. Cam Talbot
2019-20 Outlook: The Oilers are in the middle of a rebuild, and the fanbase is very frustrated. Connor McDavid’s prime years are not being spotlighted competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Oilers hired former Red Wings GM Ken Holland and former Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett over the summer to help change the fortunes of the franchise. There is a lot of work to do, and it will not be done overnight. After McDavid and Draisaitl, there is a significant dropoff with the forward talent for the Oilers. To the dismay of many McDavid fans, the rebuild in Edmonton will likely continue into 2019-20.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
2018-19 Result: 31-42-9; 71 points; 8th in the Pacific Division; 15th in the Western Conference; 30th in the NHL; missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
2018-19 Leaders: Fwd. Anze Kopitar – 22 goals, 38 assists, 60 points; Fwd. Dustin Brown – 22 goals, 29 assists, 51 points; Def. Drew Doughty – 8 goals, 37 assists, 45 points; G. Jonathan Quick (16 wins).
Key Offseason Additions: Fwd. Martin Frk, Def. Ben Hutton.
Key Offseason Subtractions: Fwd. Brendan Leipsic, Def. Dion Phaneuf.
2019-20 Outlook: The Kings were another Pacific Division team that searched for offense a season ago. The Kings only had one skater that eclipsed the 60-point mark, and they had two skaters that recorded 20+ goals.
Former Oilers bench boss Todd McLellan is back in California as he will take over in Los Angeles. There are many questions surrounding the depth at forward and on defense with this club. What has not helped the Kings in recent seasons has been the health of Jonathan Quick. Quick has fought the injury bug a little bit, and he has not posted Quick-like numbers in recent seasons. The Kings still have some work to do in their rebuild, and will likely miss the postseason in 2019-20.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
2018-19 Result: 46-27-9; 101 points; 2nd in the Pacific Division; 2nd in the Western Conference; 6th in the NHL; eliminated in Round 3 by St. Louis in 6 games.
2018-19 Leaders: Fwd. Tomas Hertl – 35 goals, 39 assists, 74 points; Fwd. Logan Couture – 27 goals, 43 assists, 70 points; Def. Brent Burns – 16 goals, 67 assists, 83 points; G. Martin Jones (36 wins).
Key Offseason Additions: Fwd. Dalton Prout.
Key Offseason Subtractions: Fwd. Joe Pavelski, Fwd. Gustav Nyquist, Fwd. Joonas Donskoi.
2019-20 Outlook: The Sharks have been one of the NHL’s premier teams in the Western Conference for many years. Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson provide an insane offensive punch from the blueline for the Sharks. Up the middle, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl are two of the league’s most dynamic centres.
Losing Joe Pavelski will hurt a little bit, but the Sharks have plenty of young talent that is ready to take the next step. Look for players like Timo Meier and Kevin Lebanc to have career seasons in 2019-20. The Sharks are likely playoff bound for 2019-20. The major question facing them is whether they can finally win the Cup and perform when it matters most in the postseason.
2018-19 Result: 35-36-11; 81 points; 5th in the Pacific Division; 12th in the Western Conference; 23rd in the NHL; missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
2018-19 Leaders: Fwd. Elias Pettersson – 28 goals, 38 assists, 66 points; Bo Horvat – 27 goals, 34 assists, 61 points, Def. Alexander Edler – 10 goals, 24 assists, 34 points; G. Jacob Markstrom (28 wins).
Key Offseason Additions: Fwd. J.T. Miller, Fwd. Michael Ferland, Def. Tyler Myers, Def. Jordie Benn.
Key Offseason Subtractions: Fwd. Markus Granlund, Def. Ben Hutton, Def. Derrick Pouliot.
2019-20 Outlook: The Canucks spent some money in free agency in order to add to their depth at forward and on defense. They added blueliners Tyler Myers and Jordie Benn to add some size to their blueline. The Canucks also added forward J.T. Miller in a big trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning in order to boost their goal output.
The NHL saw the emergence of Elias Pettersson a season ago. Pettersson will look to have a better sophomore campaign than rookie campaign in 2019-20. In addition to Pettersson, the Canucks have a promising young defenseman named Quinn Hughes that fans should be on the lookout for this season.
Despite some quality young talent the Canucks have built up in the system, there are still questions with their depth on defense and secondary forwards. The Canucks are trying hard to get back into the postseason, but they are attempting to do so with short term quick fixes. The Canucks will likely push for a playoff spot in 2019-20, but will likely fall short.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
2018-19 Result: 43-32-7; 93 points; 3rd in the Pacific Division; 7th in the Western Conference; 16th in the NHL; eliminated in Round 1 by San Jose in 7 games.
2018-19 Leaders: Fwd. Jonathan Marchessault – 25 goals, 34 assists, 59 points; Fwd. William Karlsson – 24 goals, 32 assists, 56 points; Def. Shea Theodore – 12 goals, 25 assists, 37 points; G. Marc-Andre Fleury (35 wins).
Key Offseason Additions: Fwd. Nicolas Roy, G. Garret Sparks.
Key Offseason Subtractions: Fwd. Erik Haula, Fwd. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
2019-20 Outlook: The Golden Knights lost in the first round of the playoffs a season ago after visiting the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2018. The Golden Knights are well-coached with Gerrard Gallant behind the bench. They have a collection of talented forwards with players like Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson.
The Golden Knights surprised many with their opening campaign and following it up with a good second-year campaign. This club is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Expect the Golden Knights to return to the postseason in 2019-20.
Def. Quinn Hughes – Vancouver Canucks
Canucks fans saw a glimpse of Quinn Hughes at the tail end of last season. Hughes turned heads and is expected to be featured in the Canucks lineup full time. He is an excellent smooth-skating defenseman that will likely get a lot of powerplay time for the Canucks this season.
Fwd. Austin Wagner – Los Angeles Kings
Wagner is a 22-year old forward who looks promising for the Kings. He was taken in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Draft. He recorded 12 goals and 21 points a season ago.
Fwd. Troy Terry – Anaheim Ducks
Terry is a 22-year old forward who looks like he will help the rebuild in Anaheim. He was taken in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft. He recorded 4 goals and 13 points for the Ducks a season ago.
PROJECTED PACIFIC DIVISION STANDINGS
1. Vegas Golden Knights*
2. San Jose Sharks*
3. Calgary Flames*
4. Arizona Coyotes
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Edmonton Oilers
7. Los Angeles Kings
8. Anaheim Ducks
*denotes Stanley Cup playoff teams
By: George Foussekis