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Examining the Pacific Division: Part 1 - California

Key arrivals and departures for teams in the Pacific Division

2018 GEICO NHL All-Star Skills Competition - Save Streak Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Suddenly the 2018-19 NHL season is starting to creep up as teams have wrapped up most of their offseason work, with the focus now shifting to training camp in September.

How have the Flames’ rivals in the Pacific Division changed since we last saw them take the ice? We’ll look at the additions and subtractions by each team as well as what their outlook looks like for 2018-19. We’ll be doing this in a three-part series.

First up, all the California teams.

Anaheim Ducks (2nd in Pacific, 44-25-13, 101 pts, Lost in 1st Round to SJ)

Nashville Predators v Anaheim Ducks - Game Two Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Additions: Luke Schenn (FA), Andrej Sustr (FA), Carter Rowney (FA)

Departures: Kevin Bieksa (FA), Antoine Vermette (FA), Francois Beauchemin (Retirement)

The Ducks are going to look very similar to the team in 2017-18 that put up 101 points. They’re also going to look very similar to the team that was swept in the first round of the playoffs. So there’s that.

Anaheim made a very smart move in locking up goalie-of-the-present-and-future John Gibson through the 2026-27 season. They also extended Adam Henrique and Brandon Montour this offseason.

One of the biggest questions facing the Ducks figuring out what level their aging forward core will be able to play at this year. Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and Patrick Eaves will be 34 by the end of the season and accounting for nearly $27M of Anaheim’s cap.

Injuries were a concern for all four players last year, with the most notable ones being Eaves missing almost the full season, and Kesler missing about half the season with some serious doubts of if he’ll even play this year. Getzlaf missed 26 games last year but there shouldn’t be a ton of concern there as he had a fantastic 61 points in 56 games when healthy.

Aside from the four forwards mentioned, the Ducks also have Rickard Rakell who may have the best contract in the entire NHL (3.8M/4yrs) after he put up 34 goals and 69 points in 77 games last year. The Ducks also have a very good and young defence core, and Gibson as already mentioned has been a fantastic goalie for Anaheim.

Even when the Ducks look ready to be written off with slow first half starts, they always seem to turn it on in the second half to make the playoffs. Will that be the case again this year?

Poll

Will Anaheim be Better, Worse, or The Same?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Better
    (89 votes)
  • 56%
    Worse
    (406 votes)
  • 31%
    The Same
    (224 votes)
719 votes total Vote Now

Los Angeles Kings (4th in Pacific, 45-29-8, 98 pts, Lost in 1st Round to VGK)

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Additions: Ilya Kovalchuk (FA)

Departures: Tobias Rieder (FA)

The Kings had a fairly quiet offseason which was to be expected with the Kings having fairly limited cap space this offseason and next.

Of course their one big splash was landing Ilya Kovalchuk as he pondered his return to the NHL. The Kovalchuk signing could very well be a make-or-break signing for this iteration of the Kings as he came at a $6.25M cap hit for three years. He hasn’t played in the NHL since 2012-13 but put up 63 points in 53 games for St.Petersburg in the KHL last year.

At 35 years old, you think he might start slowing down, but the Kings are really banking on him having a few more good years. Like the Ducks, the Kings biggest concern may be father time as they have four players that are 33 or older with at least a $5.25M cap hit for three more years.

Los Angeles also took care of a major headline piece early by extending Drew Doughty for eight years at a whopping $11M AAV meaning he’ll essentially be a King for life.

The Kings got huge bouceback years out of Anze Kopitar (92 points) and Jonathan Quick posting his best Sv% since 2011-12 after missing most of the prior year due to injury. The Kings could improve with Jeff Carter being healthy again after only dressing in 27 games last year.

Los Angeles seems like a team that could be very boom or bust this year, as they have some really high end talent, but there are also quite a few variables involved in the Kings reaching their full potential.

Poll

Will Los Angeles be Better, Worse, or The Same?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Better
    (222 votes)
  • 37%
    Worse
    (268 votes)
  • 31%
    The Same
    (228 votes)
718 votes total Vote Now

San Jose Sharks (3rd in Pacific, 45-27-10, 100 pts, Lost in 2nd Round to VGK)

San Jose Sharks v Vegas Golden Knights - Game Two Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Additions: N/A

Departures: Mikkel Boedker (Trade), Paul Martin (Buyout), Joel Ward (FA), Jannik Hansen (FA)

What’s the old saying? If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse? Is that the theme of the Sharks offseason?

San Jose did make significant plays for John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk this summer and were in the running right to the end but ended up falling short. Other than that the Sharks didn’t make any big acquisitions aside from briefly owning Mike Hoffman before sending him to Florida for picks.

Their biggest news occurred with bringing back Joe Thornton as well as extending Evander Kane, Logan Couture, and Chris Tierney to multi-year deals. Other than that, it’s been a very quiet offseason for San Jose.

Every year I feel like the Sharks may finally start to fall off, but they never seem to do so. Perhaps this is the year but they still have a good forward core, good defense, and a solid starting calibre goalie, so at the very least they’ll be in the playoff mix all year long.

Poll

Will San Jose be Better, Worse, or The Same?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Better
    (152 votes)
  • 42%
    Worse
    (308 votes)
  • 37%
    The Same
    (273 votes)
733 votes total Vote Now

Which team will be the best out of the three in 2018-19? Vote in the poll below or click here if you can’t see it.

Poll

Which team will have the most points in 2018-19?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Anaheim
    (198 votes)
  • 26%
    Los Angeles
    (213 votes)
  • 49%
    San Jose
    (398 votes)
809 votes total Vote Now