The Pac-8

by Lowetide

Now that the Calgary Flames have solidified their blue line with two late additions, we can look at the revised Pacific Division and slot the eight teams into an order that seems reasonable based on talent. It’s not close to being the best division in hockey and that’s a good thing for a team out of balance like the 2021-22 Edmonton Oilers. Where will the team finish?

THE ATHLETIC!

PREDICTED FINAL STANDINGS, PACIFIC HEIGHTS

  1. Vegas Golden Knights. There are cracks forming, and age is going to be a factor soon for men like Reilly Smith and Alec Martinez. VGK are not as strong at center as in the past, and that could be a factor, especially if Nolan Patrick fails to become a major roster player. That said, the team’s top end talent (Lehner, Theodore, Pietrangelo, Stone, Pacioretty) and the best depth in the division means the Golden Knights will win the Pacific for the third time in the franchise’s five seasons. I don’t see any team seriously pushing this group.
  2. Edmonton Oilers. I have this team as a close comparable to the 2016-17 Oilers. The differences? The 2017 Oilers had Cam Talbot and he was terrific, and veteran Andrej Sekera was a vital defensive piece missing from the current group. This year’s Oilers replace those things with Zach Hyman instead of Milan Lucic and Jesse Puljujarvi over Anton Slepyshev. I think this team is going to spend much of the season going into the third period with the score tied 3-3. The good news is the club will win more than their share of those shootouts because of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The bad news is the team will be vulnerable to a hot goalie and a button-down team in the first round of the playoffs. Expect a trade for a substantial goalie at the deadline.
  3. Calgary Flames. Now this is a button-down team. Sutter’s obsession is suppression and his goalie will have a better season. The defensemen can move the puck (third pair aside) and there’s plenty of firepower up front. In fact, this team has enough to ice three lines of quality forwards and some fine outscorers like Andrew Mangiapane and the newly acquired Blake Coleman. It’ll be close but I believe the Flames win the final playoff spot in the division.
  4. Vancouver Canucks. I love their young elite talent and believe the Canucks goaltending will keep them in most games, but the defense is without a strong two-way defender who can eat minutes and keep the puck heading in a good direction. Maybe OEL or Myers turns back time, but my guess is Vancouver finishes just shy. The forwards are less impressive 1-9 than Calgary but the top end (Pettersson, Miller, Boeser, Horvat) is easily playoff quality.
  5. Seattle Kraken. I love the goaltending, and they should have a capable defense, but there isn’t enough offense here. I’m not sure what the management was thinking, but they’ll get monster payment at the deadline for one of their goalies. If everything breaks right, I could four potential skill forwards (Yanni Gourde, Jordan Eberle, Alex Wennberg, Jaden Schwartz) capable of posting significant scoring numbers. Joonas Donskoi? He’s coming off a career season and is 29. It’s possible he scores 20 but the Kraken need more scoring and we’re a week from training camp.
  6. Los Angeles Kings. Philip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson are excellent additions, and any number of young talents could emerge as legit Calder candidates, but this will be a year that LAK give us a taste of what is to come but will be sellers at the deadline. Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown are mid-30’s and Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte and Arthur Kaliyev are not yet established. The future is clear, but is it now? Perhaps by mid-season.
  7. Anaheim Ducks. The team’s goaltending and defense will keep them from the basement but the kids are likely a year away. We’ll be seeing some great young players emerge this season. Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras should be fun to watch this year. This could be a target for Edmonton once the season is scrapped for parts, with John Gibson, Hampus Lindholm and Ryan Getzlaf possible targets.
  8. San Jose Sharks. The Sharks can’t possibly be this bad. Last season was like one of those 1970’s disaster movie (The Poseidon Adventure) and there isn’t enough here for the team to crawl from the wreckage. There is talent here, the goaltending is better and the aging defense can still compete on any given night. Offensively, several forwards didn’t get much done last season, some will recover but it won’t be enough.

POSSIBLE OPENING NIGHT ROSTER 2021-22

I keep reading about three goalies opening night but I think it’s just as likely we see eight defensemen. The Dylan Holloway news is a blow, but it’s encouraging to see the club being very careful with a big part of the future. It’s a fascinating roster, everyone has had their say, we’re about to see how this plays out.

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OriginalPouzar

Wow, Matty with a great article out last night (I think last night, time change is messing me up).

Lots of quotes from Holland on the Yamamoto contract.

They are looking at comparables, not just one or two but up to like 10 and that he’s not signed yet so obviously there is still a difference of opinion. There is a bit more urgency as they got closer to camp and   that its never good for any player to miss any of camp, especially young players. Holland mentioned he’s a “good young player” but then that he went out and got some “established players”also listed off all the right wingers they have…….

The hold-up on the Marody contract was the AHL salary (which is $150K).

Camp tryouts are possible but nothing on the horizon right now. Mentioned that he spoke to Chiasson’s camp recently but also “but if you look at our team…..” – doesn’t sound like Alex will be getting a PTO with the Oilers.

Reja

Where did they get these Refs for the Elks game they’ve wrecked this game. I’ve never seen such incompetence for a supposedly pro game.

fishman

Your mistake is thinking CFL is a pro league but you are right, CFL officiating is an absolute joke! Guessing they won’t survive too many more years without some real improvement. Having said that the Elks were putrid tonight!

Reja

That entire officiating crew should be individually put on the same boat Fredo was with the same result.

Scungilli Slushy

Life is weird and works in patterns that defy what a reasonable person expects in randomness of events and occurrences.

The Elks roster is with Moncrief now ridiculous on paper. That D was already rock hard. The only thing holding their balance pic back that I read/heard was inexperience at LB. If they can execute what that roster says it can do, they can crush any other team.

The Oilers are loading up, and as Bruce wrote are deep organizationally, at least with reasonable prospects. Not every player has to be a star, the team has the top 6 mostly locked up forever, it’s the guys that will provide support that will be needed as players cap themselves off the team (hopefully for quality returns for a change).

The last time both favs were really humming was decades ago, and it was spectacular and altered the course of the reputation of a smaller prairie city, too far north and cold to be anything other than a foil for Winterpeg. And the course of passion for an already sports mad fan base.

Man, growing up watching that has made the last 2 decades, well, not awesome. Sports wise.

Decidedly Skeptical Fan

Now you’ve gone and done it, LT. Mentioning Milan Lucic in the same sentence with Zach Hyman. Let’s hope the hockey gods weren’t paying attention when you wrote that.

leadfarmer

Rosters are beginning to look set
Leadfarmer divisional prediction
#1 Vegas giving it to the team with the two best Defensemen in division. Lehner is the biggest question mark in division. Does he show up over 300lbs again?
#2. We know what Mcdavid and Drai can do with Kahuns and ennis. For first time team has 6 top 6 forwards. Smith is a question mark but have no doubt Holland will overpay if goalering is sinking team. Big hole at 3c remains and pk will be an issue. There’s no bigger single upgrade then Kahun for Hyman swap
#3. Vancouver. Garland and Podkolzin additions will help a lot although Arizona sold high on Garland. OEL Schmidt swap makes them a bit better. Demko is good enough to put them closer to the other two then rest of division. Overall Benning mortgaged what once looked to be a promising team and now have almost no futures remaining (when Podkolzin joins team)
#4 Calgary. Markstrom is good enough and Sutter will make them play boring boring hockey
#5 LA. Most of the players have seen too many winters or too few.
#6. Seattle. Team of Ricky D will have Ricky D issues. When you are lining up Tyler Johnson when opponents bring out Kopitar Pettersson Draisatl Mcdavid you are gonna have issues. D will give forwards up the boards and out when forwards are not good enough to beat opponents 3v5
#7 San Jose enough vets around to give some fuss on occasion
#8. Anaheim especially when Gibson gets traded

Harpers Hair

The Oilers are the oldest team in the division.

And the two oldest players are in key positions.

leadfarmer

The core of the team is very much in their 20s. Few depth players that are easily replaceable make the average be falsely elevated.
so go fish.
but feel free to make your own list

Harpers Hair

Yeah…a 39 year old starting goaltender, a 38 year old 2LD and a 35 year old 3C are easily replaceable mid season.

You have to wonder why they haven’t already been replaced.

leadfarmer

Keith is gonna see the least minutes he has seen in almost 2 decades and is a stopgap until broberg and Sammy are ready. Smith like I said is a question mark but Holland will overpay in season if he needs to. Ryan is there until Holloway is ready.
but once again
Where Is your list??? We all need a good laugh

leadfarmer

It’s also important to note that the Oil aren’t breaking in any rookies or second year players in any key positions and the only rook of note is Bouchard starting at 3RD.
this is an experienced veteran team

pts2pndr

The two weakest players in the division play critical positions in Vancouver and one has a problem with concussions!

leadfarmer

Yeah I like Ratbones but that d Corp is gonna eat him alive. Gonna get fed since Hughes Myers OEL Juolevi Poolman all need sheltering

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

Nice breakdown. I think I would have identical rankings. Maybe flip San Jose and Anaheim. I would also not be surprised to see Calgary eat shit. Errr, maybe that is just what I am hoping to see.

SwedishPoster

Jeremias Lindewall had his first point of Modo’s preseason today with a GWG in a warm up tournament. According to guys following the team closely he had strong game the game before and showed well again today. He’s been getting bottom six minutes for the entirety of the preseason thus far. The team has one more game to go before Allsvenskan starts. He’s likely to start the year on the 4th line, hopefully he can work his way up the lineup as the season rolls along, scoring game winners should help in that regard.

Randle McMurphy

Strap yourselves in folks!

It’s Laylah time!

She’s about to turn the whole world upside down!

Randle McMurphy

Even if your not a big tennis fan, do yourself a favor, tune in a watch this young woman do things on the court that make you say “wow…just wow”

fishman

Layla loses first set and now has an uphill battle.

Decidedly Skeptical Fan

It’s not just hockey gods … tennis has gods as well.

godot10

The big question for the season will be how long before we have to put Hyman on “The Last Train to Clarksonville”.

Please “Don’t Go Back to Clarksonville” and waste another year.

BornInAGretzkyJersey

Moreso than Smith or Keith?

godot10

Two years vs. eternity.

jp

We’ll have to remember to look back in 4-5 years and see how things went for Hyman and Saad (I believe he was your preferred alternative).

OriginalPouzar

Marody signs 1 year, $750 (2-way).

Just a tidy piece of business.

Guess he wasn’t holding out for a trade, weird.

We know that Holland and Kailer decided to take a break to let the market settle and then get back to talking – Holland has been on vacation (says Matty in the pod), i anticipate a deal shortly.

theDonkeyJohnson

Doubt Marody makes it to Bakersfield after camp, someone’s going to snag him on waivers, especially at that price of contract. Maybe I’m wrong, but the point production in the AHL might be tempting to the Coyotes, Sharks or Kraken.

Harpers Hair

I would think Detroit would be the most likely.

The Coyotes roster is already populated by a bunch of guys who should be in the AHL.

The Sharks have 18 players already on contracts below $950K.

The Kraken won’t have their own farm team this season so doubt they will be taking on superfluous contracts unless they spot a real bargain.

leadfarmer

All that cap space weaponizing resulted in the worst prospect list and no Ahl team

Harpers Hair

Their arena in Palm Springs isn’t ready but carry on with your repetitive narrative.

leadfarmer

im Sure you’ve seen the Athletic rankings

Harpers Hair

I’m shocked a team that has not even played a game yet doesn’t have a deep prospect pool.

Good grief.

leadfarmer

You were saying for a whole year they were gonna be the Vegas Golden Knights *2. One team came away with lots of futures
the other fell flat on their face

Side

If only you met this HH guy, he would not stop talking about how the Kraken was going to hoard a bunch of good players to trade for better players AND prospects, partly because they could weaponize their cap space as well.

HH projected the Kraken to have a stellar prospect pool and be near the top of the division.

It was pretty funny, you had to be there, though.

pts2pndr

You could just have been graceful about being incorrect for the umpteenth time. You are the joke that never stops,but really not very funny!

theDonkeyJohnson

Forgot about the Kings… never have enough depth at center.

Harpers Hair

The Kings have so many centres they will have to start moving them out once they fill up their wings.

Scungilli Slushy

I hope every team fails except the Oilers. I hope the non Oiler players (people) are happy with their lot in life, to experience and watch total dominance from the only team that counts.

Not every person can be a top dog. It contradicts the statement. In the epic and astounding words of Connor McLeod – there can be only one.

This is what a fan looks like.

pts2pndr

Right!😂

pts2pndr

Quinn Hughes?😂

OriginalPouzar

I didn’t say anything about him clearing waivers and heading down (although I do think he very well may – lots of bigger names than Marody clear the days before each season).

theDonkeyJohnson

Just my thoughts, due to the depth on the main team.

Decidedly Skeptical Fan

Not on $750k contracts.

Randle McMurphy

Tracy Lane

@TreenasOil

Oilers have had talks with Jason Demers on a PTO….as per Garfield

Demers only registered four assists in 2021, but he’s still logging more than 17 minutes a night and driving play north despite starting the majority of his shifts in the D-zone.

Common Duncan….get on the phone.

Randle McMurphy

Still holding out hope for

Chara – Bouchard

OriginalPouzar

Logical next step is he signs with the flames for $2.5MM.

leadfarmer

Demers how the mighty have fallen

Scungilli Slushy

The tricky spot is asking an NHL regular to ride pine or buses. They already have Cowboy riding pine. It likely has to be a top end tweener.

Melman

Agree Vegas is still the best in the division, but I’m fascinated to see how the Fleury trade impacts them this season. Brutal way to treat the face of the franchise going into his last season, let alone the dubious assets used to replace him. What’s the impact on the team’s psyche? Assuming Stone and the vets will push it off, but will it be a nothing quite rhymes season on the strip?

Randle McMurphy

Newest fan favorite this season: Zach Hyman
Biggest bounce back season: Ryan Nugent Hopkins.
Most pleasant surprise: Its a tie Mikko Koskinen and Derek Ryan

Last edited 15 days ago by Randle McMurphy
maudite

Foegle seems a pretty good candidate for fan favourite imo.

Oilers fans generally seemed to gravitate towards lunch pail type heroes with lower cap hits.

pts2pndr

You will absolutely love Samorukov! Skill with requisite nasty! All of Alberta will either love and or hate him depending on wether they are Edmonton or Calgary fans!

OriginalPouzar

I think Foegele would have a chance at “fan favourite” but I think many will never get over the perceived overpay in acquisition cost (which I simply don’t agree with).

leadfarmer

Big guys that can skate don’t come cheap
see Josh Anderson

Reja

We had no answer for Josh Anderson if the Oilers ended up playing the Habs in the first round.

OriginalPouzar

Josh Anderson was a major disappointment for the Habs in the playoffs.

Reja

Bear and Jones are gone you didn’t need to be a Brain Surgeon to see that coming. You can’t continue to allow Leon and Connor to be mugged game after game while their line mates do diddly squat. Foegele, Hyman, Keith and Holloway bring a edge to this team that we’ve been missing since Maroon left.

Randle McMurphy

I predict the Kraken stumble right out of the gate and quickly become the Anti-Golden Knights.

People will marvel at how bad the Kraken’s inaugural year is compared to what the Golden Knights did in their inaugural year.

defmn

My major interest in the Kraken is their goaltenders and which one will be available for trade at how much.

leadfarmer

Yes they’ve gone full RickiD and will have full RickiD issues that the forwards are not good enough to overcome
pk will be good
Vegas
Edmonton
hot garbage pile

leadfarmer

Everyone is gonna be watching them too
its not like Vegas with no expectations

maudite

Francis must have really overplayed his hand and seriously pissed off the whole lot of gms.

Be surprised if they don’t end up in heavy and “winning” a lot of next year’s ufa center bidding wars.

leadfarmer

Yep reportedly the prices were sky high and Arizona came and ate their lunch
lucky for them they got the 2nd OV pick otherwise pretty bare bones prospect group

pts2pndr

They are just waiting to weaponize according to our self proclaimed authority HH! 🤭

Randle McMurphy

Calgary’s approach to roster building screams at something good coaches and GM’s have been telling us for years.

We may want to mock the Flames, we may choose to write them off, but we still have to build a team to contend with the Darryl Sutter’s of the world as well as the Jon Coopers.

And with the way the game is officiated, it’s no easy task.

We may finish ahead of the Flames in the standings. But they are going to exact a toll from us physically. I just hope the price we have to pay is not too dear.

Prepare yourselves for the cheap shot intimidation and the “unevenness” of the officiating. Some things never change.

This game isn’t played on paper. Teams are going to do whatever it is they perceive they need to do in order to win. Teams like Calgary will be operating on two age old adages; “If you’re not cheating, your not trying” and , “If you can’t beat em, then beat them”

Last edited 15 days ago by Randle McMurphy
Randle McMurphy

Particularly watch for them to take runs at two of our guys. Connor McDavid and 39 yr old Mike Smith.

Randle McMurphy

Make that 3….. Evan Bouchard

Evan from Heaven is going to look like a Giant Ethan Bear….dancing and trying hard to move the puck quickly, before he gets hit.

Last edited 15 days ago by Randle McMurphy
defmn

Yup. I’ve been saying this since the day they hired Sutter.

There will be blood on the ice in these games or Sutter will know the reason why.

I think some have forgotten that his entire strategy to rebuild the Flames the last time he took over as coach of that team was to make the Oilers the measuring stick for the season.

Reja

Glad to to see the rivalry back on out with Hass, Nygard and Jurco in with Foegele, injury free Kassian also Hyman and hopefully Holloway soon, players that can dish it out as well as receive it. Keith can also be sneaky dirty knows how to get his stick or elbow in the opponent’s chops if their over aggressive on the forecheck.

defmn

It will be playoff hockey every regular season game between these two teams and in the long run that will help this team to mature to where they will be ready for the real thing.

Easy divisions are not a good thing if your goal is the cup. You need to know what it takes.

Reja

We need a couple of pricks maybe it’s Foegele we need a forward that throws teams off of their game plan.

godot10

Kassian throws the Oilers off their game plan.
#ItsPreseasonForMeToo

OriginalPouzar

Remember when you asked when Kassian was productive and were shown calendar year 2019 (which is often cited) when his P/60 were was well over 2 and he had the 2nd highest G/60 on the team, ahead of McDavid – in 82 games?

I do agree with the above though, vis-a-vis the flames, where Kassian was the main contributor to a loss of game in two straight years with his undisciplined nature when protecting himself.

pts2pndr

What Kassian did in those games is send a message! He needs to initiate not react. How the game is officiated makes a difference!

OriginalPouzar

Yes, I agree, he sent a message, that he can be enticed in to taking bad penalties that hurt his team – in the name of protecting himself, not his teammates.

pts2pndr

Speaking of needing pricks does HH know how to skate?

Bulging Twine

Keith is vicious with his stick

pts2pndr

Will he get the leeway as an Oiler that he got as a Hawk?

Side

I have a gut feeling that Calgary will shit the bed this year.

Have a feeling that Sutter will lose the room and Tkachuk will kill it.

I don’t know why, but I am not too concerned about Calgary taking cheap shots or playing super rough games. Maybe early on in the season, but I doubt they keep it up for the whole season.

defmn

How long until Treliving gets sacked and Sutter takes his job?

Side

In the off season after the bed is soiled.

godot10

Has not that effectively happened already? Sutter needs somebody to do the paperwork.

defmn

Hehe. I like it. 😉

Last edited 15 days ago by defmn
Harpers Hair

A gentle reminder that Sutter has won 2 Stanley Cups as a coach and Tippett has never won anything.

jp

I guess that means the Flames are the class of the Pacific then.

Vegas, Vancouver, Seattle, LA, Anaheim, SJ are all fucked since their coaches have also never won ‘anything’.

Really, the Blues, Flames, Penguins, Capitals, Panthers, Islanders and Lightning are the only teams with a chance to do anything this season.

No point wasting your time watching folks.

Last edited 15 days ago by jp
OriginalPouzar

Its amazing how this post can be made by the same poster that talks about how much the game has changed (and discounts arguments from 10 plus year ago because of it) and will disparage Holland who’s Stanley Cup resume dwarfs that of Sutter and even Sakic

defmn

Not sure why I would need a reminder or what the relevance is to what I wrote. Sutter coaches a certain style and demands that his players play that way.

Todd Macallan

Great overview of Oilers Prospects over at the Cult by Bruce yesterday, even seemed to be not so subtly needling LT for his balance photo in there!

Randle McMurphy

There’s really only one balance photo I’m at all interested in; The fulcrum of the photo is Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Bruce McCurdy

Thanks. That was more an homage to the balance photo than a needle.

But the balance in question applies to the current prospect pool, not the team.

Todd Macallan

I’m hoping this means we will see the balance photo in 3-5 yrs then haha.

Elgin R

2019 – 2020 season the Oilers finished second to the VGK in the Pacific – 3 points back. The Oilers have a much improved roster now (both internal growth and acquisitions) where as the VGK club is arguably not as good now as it was then.

Oilers finish the regular season in first place this year and then make it to the 3rd round.

OriginalPouzar

Is it fair to do this exercise now prior to Francis weaponizing his cap space and the flames acquiring Eichel?

leadfarmer

Calgary flames solidified their defense
Ha!!!

OriginalPouzar

That’s the first thing that I noticed as well – solidified themselves by signing two guys that should be PTOs to contracts, one of them for almost $2M, yikes.

They need Rasmus A. to have a bounce-back year and Valimaki to take a step (maybe all the “favorite for Calder” pressure got to him last season).

To me, that’s a meh team that had a meh off-season.

The Nucks improved in the now (although lowered their ceiling for the medium term).

Todd Macallan

Kind of like diarrhea solidifying into a big ol turd.

Apologies for the crude metaphor. Post hurricane brain here in NL.

OriginalPouzar

Tier 1:
Vegas
Edmonton
(likely in the above order)

Tier 2
LAK
Vancouver
Seattle
(fight for the third division playoff spot and maybe a wild card)

Tier 3
Flames

Tier 4
Sharks
Ducks

pts2pndr

So much depends on officiating! I think you will find that LT is far closer to how the teams finish due to the Bettman point. There is a reward for defence and goal tending which could see the Kraken making the playoffs. I think Holland read the writing on the wall and decided to add size with the skill. Calgary Edmonton games will redefine the battle of Alberta with one or more suspensions resulting. My only change in LT’s order of finish would be putting Seattle ahead of Vancouver.

dustrock

Sharks look like they could be one of the worst teams in NHL history which probably means they’ll make the playoffs 😂

I’m usually one of the cynics on here but I agree with you LT that Vegas’ window is starting to slightly close. I think it is possible for the Oilers to win this division but that’s up to Keith turning back the clock, Ceci playing his best, and the goaltenders.