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NHL Pacific Division Power Rankings: Week 1

Setting the first ranking before the season kicks off

Calgary Flames v Seattle Kraken Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

After a one year hiatus for the Pacific Division Power Rankings with the Canadian Division Power Rankings in their place, we are back as we kick off the first week of power rankings. The intended schedule for the season will be Wednesday’s going forward, but I wanted to get this one out between the end of pre-season and the Seattle Kraken kicking off their season on Tuesday night against Vegas.

1. Vegas Golden Knights

Key Additions/Subtractions: IN - Brett Howden, Nolan Patrick, Evgenii Dadonov, Laurent Brossoit OUT - Cody Glass, Marc-Andre Fleury, Nick Holden, Ryan Reaves,

Schedule (up to 10/19): 10/12 vs SEA, 10/14 at LA

The Knights look to once again be the powerhouse of the Pacific after a year where they dominated the NHL’s Central Division, although finishing second to Colorado due to a tiebreaker. They made it all the way to the Conference Finals before bowing out to the Canadiens. The biggest change for Vegas is the departure of “face of the franchise” Marc-Andre Fleury as he was moved to Chicago for cap reasons. The net will belong to Robin Lehner this year and Vegas will need him to carry over his success as a full-time #1 that he had in Chicago and with the Islanders.

2. Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton Oilers v Winnipeg Jets - Game Four Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Key Additions/Subtractions: IN - Duncan Keith, Warren Foegele, Cody Ceci, Derek Ryan, Zach Hyman OUT - Caleb Jones, Adam Larsson, Ethan Bear, James Neal, Alex Chiasson, Jujhar Khaira,

Schedule: 10/13 vs VAN, 10/16 vs CGY, 10/19 vs ANA

The Oilers look as primed as ever to serve as the division’s #2 team with their two superstars in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. With the addition of Zach Hyman and a step forward from Jesse Puljujarvi, there is no question that Edmonton will be able to score this year. The issues will lie on the backend with the departures of Ethan Bear and Adam Larsson, who were replaced by Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci for some reason. A lot will be riding on the Smith-Koskinen tandem this year, specifcally on Smith who will be 40 by the end of the season. Could be a lot of 6-5 games in Edmonton.

3. Seattle Kraken

Seattle Kraken v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Key Additions/Subtractions: IN - Everybody OUT - Tyler Pitlick (lol)

Schedule: 10/12 at VGK, 10/14 at NSH, 10/16 at CBJ, 10/18 at PHI, 10/19 at NJ

I tossed the #3 position to the Kraken as I expect them to come out of the gate with the same kind of early resilience we saw from Vegas in 2017-18. Ultimately I don’t expect it to last though as I don’t really believe in the roster they assembled for the time being. They will have a five game Eastern road trip before returning to Seattle for their first ever home game on October 23 against Vancouver. That should be must-watch television.

4. Vancouver Canucks

Key Additions/Subtractions: IN - Jason Dickinson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Tucker Poolman, Jaroslav Halak OUT - Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, Nate Schmidt, Braden Holtby, Jake Virtanen, Alex Edler, Olli Juolevi

Schedule: 10/13 at EDM, 10/15 at PHI, 10/16 at DET, 10/19 at BUF

The Canucks certainly made some...decisions this offseason, moving on from a number of albatross contracts in exchange for one big one in Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Obviously a lot of this season will come down to relying on him to return to some sort of earlier career form to solidify the Canuck blue line. With Quinn Hughes signed long term and Elias Pettersson now bridged for three years, they will have an opportunity to focus on putting together a winning team. Conor Garland and Jaroslav Halak will be sneaky good additions for the club as well.

5. Calgary Flames

NHL: SEP 29 Preseason - Kraken at Flames Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Key Additions/Subtractions: IN - Nikita Zadorov, Dan Vladar, Blake Coleman OUT - Mark Giordano, Derek Ryan

Schedule: 10/16 at EDM, 10/19 vs ANA

An offseason that seemed to promise a lot of entertainment ended up being very dull as the Flames once again simply shuffled the deck chairs and that’s why I put them beneath Vancouver. Calgary will be entering their season without a captain for the first time in ages and we will see who steps up to fill the void left behind by Mark Giordano. The team did perform well under Darryl Sutter last year, but the key will be avoiding a slow start to the season.

6. Los Angeles Kings

Key Additions/Subtractions: IN - Viktor Arvidsson, Alex Edler, Phillip Danault OUT - N/A

Schedule: 10/14 vs VGK, 10/16 vs MIN, 10/19 at NSH

The Kings ultimately seem to be the most settled and most likely to have any shot at playoff contention of the California teams heading into the season. An unfortunate ankle injury to 2020 2nd overall pick Quinton Byfield has put a bit of a damper on their prospects heading into the year, but I would not be shocked to see the club take a step forward this season. While there are still pieces around from their glory days, there are a lot of young players eager to take a step forward this year, don’t sleep on them.

7. Anaheim Ducks

Key Additions/Subtractions: IN - N/A OUT - Ryan Miller, Danton Heinen

Schedule: 10/13 vs WPG, 10/15 vs MIN, 10/18 at CGY, 10/19 at EDM

The Ducks are a team in pretty obvious rebuild mode as they didn’t really bring in any big name players this summer, instead opting to insert some organizational prospects and wait for continued improvement from other young players. It’s not a terrible strategy but it probably won’t win them enough games this season to get them into the playoff conversation. At the very least having John Gibson will give them an opportunity to win more games than they should.

8. San Jose Sharks

NHL: OCT 04 Preseason - Ducks at Sharks Photo by Matt Cohen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Key Additions/Subtractions: IN - Adin Hill, James Reimer, Andrew Cogliano, Nick Bonino OUT - Martin Jones, Ryan Donato, Patrick Marleau

The Sharks are a mess right now. The names they brought in seem to indicate that they still believe they can compete for a playoff spot, and while the division is weak, there’s just too much uncertainty around a swiftly declining Sharks core. With so much money tied up in older contracts, this is a team stuck in limbo right now. That’s not even getting into the Evander Kane saga and if the off-ice issues will result in him missing games this year. Kane was one of the Sharks best players (if not the best) last year with 49 points in 56 games, and losing him will probably seal their fate to languish in the bottom of the Western Conference.