2015-16 NHL Divisional Breakdown: Pacific

Updated: October 1, 2015 at 3:13 pm by Brock Seguin

McDavid-Connor2

In the past I have done a breakdown of all 30 NHL teams. This season I have decided to break it down by division with a preview for each team inside!

The Pacific has historically been a tough division and it gets even more exciting this season after the Edmonton Oilers added Connor McDavid to their lineup.


1. Anaheim Ducks

Additions: Subtractions:
Kevin Bieksa – D Matt Beleskey – LW
Anton Khudobin – G Emerson Etem – RW
Carl Hagelin – LW Francois Beauchemin – D
Shawn Horcoff – C
Chris Stewart – RW
Matt Hackett – G

In 2014-15 the Ducks finished first in the Western Conference and were just four points away from finishing first in the NHL. They ended up getting bounced from the playoffs in a Game 7 loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions. This offseason they did all that they could to make sure that doesn’t happen in 2015-16. They bolstered their blueline by adding Kevin Bieksa and also added some more speed with Carl Hagelin and some veterans in Shawn Horcoff and Chris Stewart.

Overall, they are a very deep group and it starts up front, where they are led by the dynamic duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. They have struggled over the years to find someone who can consistently play on their other wing, but heading into the season it look like Patrick Maroon will get the first crack at landing that job. Whoever plays on that line becomes fantasy relevant and is an especially good DraftKings option. There is not a lot of drop off from their first to second line. Ryan Kesler enjoyed a good debut season with the Ducks and with Jakob Silfverberg and Hagelin likely on his wings this year, he should build off of 2014-15. Rickard Rakell is a nice third line piece, but his scoring upside is limited.

As impressive as they are at forward, this is a steady blueline as well. Bieksa should be a great fit after losing Francois Beauchemin in free agency. His is all-around D-man who likes to play a physical brand of hockey but he also owns a good shot. He and Hampus Lindholm should log massive minutes for the Ducks as a shutdown pair with scoring potential. Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen are both great offensive defenseman with double-digit goal upside—especially Vatanen.

Between the pipes might be where the Ducks are the deepest though. Frederik Andersen had 35 wins a season ago and should see the majority of the starts again this year. However, instead of battling John Gibson for playing time he will fight with Anton Khudobin, whom they added this summer as well. The addition of Khudobin allows Gibson to marinate in the minors for another season before becoming a full-time NHL net minder in 2016-17. Khudobin had sub-par numbers for a bad Hurricanes team last season but will push Andersen this season and will be one of the best spot-start options in the league.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Corey Perry – RW
  2. Ryan Getzlaf – C
  3. Sami Vatanen – D
  4. Frederik Andersen – G
  5. Ryan Kesler – C

Click HERE for the Ducks’ Projected Line Combinations


2. Los Angeles Kings

Additions: Subtractions:
Jhonas Enroth – G Martin Jones – G
Milan Lucic – LW Justin Williams – RW
Andrej Sekera – D
Jarrett Stoll – C

The Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2013-14, but then failed to qualify for the postseason last year. However, they still have a quality lineup and are still the winners of two of the last four Stanley Cups.

The Kings made a couple of changes this summer, starting wit the acquisition of Milan Lucic. The Kings like to play a heavy game, so the addition of Lucic makes a lot of sense for what Los Angeles wants to do. He is expected to join Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik on the top line. Their second line is expected to feature ‘That 70’s Line’ of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. Carter is a near 30-goal scorer every season and he makes the 23-year-olds beside him better. Their bottom six is filled with heavy hitters with scoring upside. They may not be Cup favourites this season, but they won’t be fun to play against.

Last year the Kings had a hole on the blueline because of Slava Voynov’s legal issues, but they filled that hole this summer by signing Christian Ehrhoff to a one-year contract. Ehrhoff, who elected to sign a one-year deal in Pittsburgh last season, but missed 33 games due to concussions. He joins a group that is led by the top pair of Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin. Doughty is arguably the best defenseman in the NHL and as a pair they are the best possession blue liners in the league.

Playing behind him is Jonathan Quick, who enters his eighth full season. Quick was sixth in the NHL in wins (36) and goals against average (2.24) but just 17th in save percentage (.918). This season he will have a new backup after the Kings traded Martin Jones to Boston, who was then sent to San Jose. L.A signed former Sabre and Star Jhonas Enroth. Quick has played 60-plus games in four of seven seasons, including 72 starts twice. Darryl Sutter likes to play him as much as possible so Enroth might not see a tonne of playing time this year.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Anze Kopitar – C
  2. Jonathan Quick – G
  3. Drew Doughty – D
  4. Jeff Carter – C
  5. Milan Lucic – LW

Click HERE for the Kings’ Projected Line Combinations


3. Calgary Flames

Additions: Subtractions:
Dougie Hamilton – D Raphael Diaz – D
Michael Frolik – RW Brian McGrattan – RW
Max Reinhart – C

Prior to the 2014-15 season, the Flames had missed the playoffs in the five previous seasons, but made a surprising push to the postseason last year behind a 45-30-7 record.

Last year Calgary had one of the top bluelines in the NHL and bolstered that unit this offseason by trading for Dougie Hamilton. He joins a group that is led by Mark Giordano. The two are expected to be the Flames’ top pair to start the season, at least while T.J Brodie is recovering from a broken hand. Also on their blueline is Kris Russell, who led the NHL with 283 blocked shots last season and Dennis Wideman, who finished sixth among defensemen in goals (15).

Up front the Flames are a very youthful group. Their top line of Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler was fantastic last season, combining for 86 goals and 116 assists (202 points). Their second line will be improved this season with rookie Sam Bennett set to play his first full season and Michael Frolik being signed to a five-year deal this offseason. Their bottom six has a combination of heavy hitters and goal scoring upside.

In goal the Flames bring back the combo of Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo. The two of them led Calgary to a 2.60 GAA last season, which ranked 16th in the NHL. Hiller comes in with the inside track to receive starts, but if he falters, Ramo will be there to try and clean up.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Johnny Gaudreau – LW
  2. Mark Giordano – D
  3. Sean Monahan – C
  4. T.J Brodie – D
  5. Jiri Hudler – RW

Click HERE for the Flames’ Projected Line Combinations


4. San Jose Sharks 

Additions: Subtractions:
Joel Ward – RW Antti Niemi – G
Paul Martin – D Matt Irwin – D
Martin Jones – G John Scott – RW
Mark Cundari – D

The Sharks missed the playoffs last season after making the postseason for the previous 10 seasons. After seven seasons under Todd McLellan the Sharks shifted gears this summer and hired Pete DeBoer as the seventh head coach in franchise history.

The Sharks made some moves this summer, but the biggest one of all was trading Antti Niemi to the Stars and acquiring Martin Jones from the Bruins. Jones will get a chance to be an NHL starter after spending two years as Jonathan Quick’s backup in Los Angeles. In those two seasons he went 16-11-2 with a 1.99 GAA, .923 SV% and seven shutouts. He will have Alex Stalock as his backup.

The other moves that they made definitely improved their squad.They lost John Scott (big deal) and replaced him with Joel Ward, who had 43 goals and 40 assists (83 points) in 164 games over the last two years with Washington. The rest of the group remains intact and will once again be carried by Joe Pavelski. The 31-year-old is fourth in the NHL with 125 goals over the last four seasons—proving that he is among the league’s elite. In that same time span, the other Joe, Joe Thornton is tied for first in the league with 206 assists. In addition to them, Logan Couture had a career year in 2014-15, posting 27 goals and 40 assists (67 points) and could be a 30-goal scorer in 2015-16.

On the blueline they lost Matt Irwin but replaced him with Paul Martin, who comes over from Pittsburgh. This is a strong group of defensemen, led defensively by Marc-Edouard Vlasic and offensively by Brent Burns. The 30-year-old Burns tied his career high with 17 goals and set a new career best with 43 assists and 60 points. He is a forward playing D and is one of the top fantasy defensemen because of it.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Joe Pavelski – C
  2. Logan Couture – C
  3. Joe Thornton – C
  4. Brent Burns – D
  5. Patrick Marleau – LW

Click HERE for the Sharks’ Projected Line Combinations


5. Vancouver Canucks

Additions: Subtractions:
Brandon Sutter – C Matt Bonino – C
Brandon Prust – RW Zack Kassian – RW
Matt Bartkowski – D Kevin Bieksa – D
Taylor Fedun – D Eddie Lack – G
Blair Jones – C Shawn Matthias – C
Richard Bachman – G Brad Richardson – RW

The Canucks had a disappointing 2013-14 season, but were able to get back into the playoffs last year. Despite making it back to the postseason, the ride didn’t last long as they upended by the Flames in six games.

This offseason they didn’t make a lot of noise, but lost some key names. They traded Bieksa to the Ducks, lost backup goalie Eddie Lack to Carolina and depth pieces Shawn Matthias and Brad Richardson. The loss of NHL caliber talent opens the door for some of their young talent to crack the opening night roster. Jake Virtanen, 19, their first round pick (6th overall) in 2014, probably has the best chance of any to make the team. He is coming off of a season where he had 21 goals and 31 assists (52 points) in 50 games with Calgary (WHL). Their 2012 first round pick Brendan Gaunce will battle for that spot as well, but could probably use year in the AHL after having a so-so first season with Utica.

Those two would join a group that is led by a number of quality veteran forwards. Daniel and Henrik Sedin are 35-years-old now, but are still capable of posting near point per game totals and leading the team in scoring. Radim Vrbata had an impressive debut season with the Canucks and should continue to be a steady force at the top of their lineup. However, they also have an infusion of young talent as well—Brandon Sutter, 26, was brought over from Pittsburgh and will anchor the middle of their lineup and take the vast majority of defensive zone starts. Bo Horvat, should play more of a second line scoring role with Sutter handling the defensive responsibilities. The 20-year-old had 13 goals and 12 assists in 68 games last year. The one really intriguing player on this roster is Sven Baertschi. The 22-year-old seems like he’s been around forever and his struggles in Calgary were well documented. However, once he was traded to Vancouver at the trade deadline, his play impressed. He had 15 points (7G / 8A) in 15 games with Utica and then two goals in two games with the Canucks. He could score a bunch in the right situation, but he’s teased us before.

On the backend and in goal the Canucks have a pretty vanilla group. Alex Edler is the only blueliner worth fantasy consideration, until Yannick Weber starts scoring. There a decent group, but certainly not great. Between the pipes Ryan Miller’s best year’s are behind him. He’ll produce solid numbers, but he isn’t a preseason Vezina Trophy candidate. He’ll be pushed by Jacob Markstrom, who was excellent in the AHL last season—22 wins, 1.88 GAA, .934 SV%. The once highly touted prospect has also had his fair share of disappointing seasons, but appears ready to finally make a breakthrough at the NHL level.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Daniel Sedin – LW
  2. Henrik Sedin – C
  3. Radim Vrbata – RW
  4. Ryan Miller – G
  5. Alex Edler – D

Click HERE for the Canucks’ Projected Line Combinations


6. Edmonton Oilers

Additions: Subtractions:
Cam Talbot – G Boyd Gordon – C
Andrej Sekera – D Martin Marincin – D
Lauri Korpikoski – LW Matt Fraser – RW
Mark Letestu – C Richard Bachman – G
Eric Gryba – D

The Oilers won just 24 games last season, but did what they did best in the offseason and won the draft lottery. But this wasn’t your normal draft lottery. This was the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. McDavid comes in as one of the most hyped players since Sidney Crosby—he is also the Oilers’ fourth first overall pick in the last six years.

McDavid joins an incredibly talented group of forwards, composed of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle (out 4-6 weeks), Nail Yakupov, veterans Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot. That’s a lot of offence, but they haven’t been able to put it together in the past. The addition of McDavid should definitely help and should push them closer to the .500 mark, but this still doesn’t have the look of a playoff contender. I give them another year before they are really pushing for their first postseason berth since 2005-06.

On the backend is where the Oilers struggles have been for years, but this is finally starting to look like a group that can start keeping the puck out of their own net. Oscar Klefbom is set for his first full season after being stout in 60 games last year. They also brought Andrej Sekera and Eric Gryba in to help this season. Sekera is a solid two-way guy who will help take some of the offensive burden off of Justin Schultz and Klefbom.

They also made a move to solidify their goaltending. They acquired Cam Talbot from the Rangers after he starred in a backup role behind Henrik Lundqvist. Through 57 games Talbot has 33 wins, a 2.00 GAA and .931 SV%. Those are great numbers, but he’s going from the Presidents Trophy winning Rangers to the Oilers…so temper your expectations. The addition of Talbot eases Ben Scrivens back into a No. 2 role, which better suits him.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Connor McDavid – C
  2. Taylor Hall – LW
  3. Jordan Eberle – RW
  4. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – C
  5. Cam Talbot – G

Click HERE for the Oilers’ Projected Line Combinations


7. Arizona Coyotes

Additions: Subtractions:
Antoine Vermette – C Sam Gagner – C
Zbynek Michalek – D Lauri Korpikoski – LW
Anders Lindback – G John Moore – D
Steve Downie – RW Jason LaBarbera – G
Brad Richardson – RW Tye McGinn – LW
Boyd Gordon – C Mark Arcobello – C
Nicklas Grossmann – D
John Scott – RW

The only team worse than the Oilers in the Western Conference last season were the Coyotes. In an 82-game season they managed to lose 50 games, but the team seems to be trending in the right direction.

They didn’t make any big offseason moves, but they did some nice things. They brought back veterans Antoine Vermette and Zybnek Michalek after shipping them for assts last season. They also added a bunch of depth pieces in Steve Downie, Boyd Gordon and Brad Richardson. However, reason to be excited in Arizona is Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. Domi was the Coyotes first round pick (12th overall) in 2013 and was sent back to develop in the OHL last season—he went on to score 102 points (32G / 70A) in 57 games. Domi also displayed incredible chemistry with Duclair for Team Canada at the World Juniors. That prompted the Coyotes to acquire Duclair when they elected to ship Keith Yandle out of town. Now the two of them get a chance to showcase what they can do at the NHL level, likely with Vermette as their pivot. Both incredibly talented players, who should produce nearly 50 points each this season.

On the blueline it is all about Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He led all NHL defensemen in goals last season with 23 and is fifth among blue liners with 41 goals over the last three seasons. They have quality young defensemen in Michael Stone, Klas Dahlbeck and Stefan Elliott but none of them are going to be huge point producers this season.

Behind them is a very tall goaltending duo. Mike Smith (6’4”) is the starter and he is coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career (3.16 GAA / .904 SV%) but should have a better team in front of him and get that GAA back closer to 2.50 than 3.00. Behind him this season is Anders Lindback (6’6”) who is already playing for his fifth team since coming into the NHL in 2010.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Oliver Ekman-Larsson – D
  2. Mikkel Boedker – LW
  3. Mike Smith – G
  4. Max Domi – C
  5. Anthony Duclair – LW

Click HERE for the Coyotes’ Projected Line Combinations


For a Full 30 Team preview and player projections and fantasy analysis for 300-plus players and goalies. Click HERE to purchase our Fantasy Hockey Draft Guide for just $4.95 CAD!


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Brock Seguin

Brock has been the Editor-In-Chief of DailyFaceoff.com since the start of the 2012-13 season, the Host of the DFO Podcast since 2015 and Editor-In-Chief of DailyDugout since the 2017 season.
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