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Midseason Report: Pacific Division

A look back at pre-season predictions for the Pacific Division
1/23/2023 • Gage Westerik

Anaheim Ducks

Pre-Season Rank: 19

Current Rank: 29


Perhaps I was a bit generous with the Ducks ranking. In my defense, however, you would think a team that adds Hedman, Scheifele, Wheeler, Thomas, and Sergachev in the off-season would perform much better than 29th. They’ve since traded Hedman, Thomas, and Kessel and brought in some picks and youth, so they seem to be commencing a rebuild/retool and it’s highly unlikely that they attempt to compete at this point in the season given their team. 


Calgary Flames

Pre-Season Rank: 1

Current Rank: 4


The Flames were expected to perform with the additions of Connor McDavid and Elias Lindholm, and they’ve done just that. Calgary has been on a rampant pace after having a bit of a rough start to the season (had lost more than half of their first 15 games), and they don’t seem to be slowing down. I don’t really think there’s a need for Calgary to improve much. They have excellent depth at all positions, two amazing goaltenders, the best player in the league. If I had to pick anything, maybe add a top 6 defensive defenseman to replace Drysdale? Their bottom 3 defensemen have relatively low defensive ratings which is really the only thing I can think of. Even then, I’m kind of just grasping at straws. Calgary looks primed for a deep run in the playoffs and could very well take home the big one.


Edmonton Oilers

Pre-Season Rank: 23

Current Rank: 14


The Oilers have performed above my expectations and I’m sure many would agree. It’s why I was a little confused to see that they’re trying to retool/minorly rebuild until I really looked at the state of the Western Conference and realized, yeah, their odds are quite low. Despite the fact that they’re 14th in the league, they’re 9th in the West. So realistically, I do understand why they would want to take a step back and re-evaluate their situation. They’ll very likely be sellers for the deadline with Zibanejad and Connor Hellebuyck being the biggest pieces that teams will be interested in, though only the former has been formally put on the trade block. Regardless, Edmonton will be a team to look for come time for the Deadline for any team looking to bolster.


Los Angeles Kings

Pre-Season Rank: 3

Current Rank: 8


Though they aren’t quite as high in the standings as I’d expected, the Kings remain a top 10 team. The Kings, despite being 3rd in the division with Vancouver hot on their trail, shouldn’t make any changes. Maybe switch some lines around, but nothing too drastic needs to be done. They could always package a player with picks to upgrade a certain position, though with the little cap space they have, that could prove to be difficult. Overall, I think LA should stay put. Much like Calgary and San Jose, they have incredible depth at every position and will look to be a top contender in the playoffs.


San Jose Sharks

Pre-Season Rank: 2

Current Rank: 2


The Sharks are performing as expected and I’ll keep this one short because pretty much everything I’ve said about the Kings and the Flames also applies to them. Impeccable depth, something something cup contender etc. Somehow this team has 5M in cap space, though I’d avoid acquiring anyone unless it’s a 1 year rental, this way they save some cap space for their upcoming RFAs. 


Seattle Kraken

Pre-Season Rank: 32

Current Rank: 32


Yeah, I mean, not much to say here. The Kraken have embraced the tank and will be looking to be the top contender in the Bedard sweepstakes. They don’t really have anything to sell/offer to other teams unless you’re interested in 81ov Carl Hagelin. He’s making more money than McDavid, so surely that means he’s a great player. Truly a bargain deal if there ever was one! But yeah, they, uh, aren’t good.


Vancouver Canucks

Pre-Season Rank: 20

Current Rank: 12


Last, but certainly not least, we have the Canucks. Who, in my opinion, is the most interesting team in this division and maybe the entire Western Conference? They’ve performed above my expectations, though to my defense, when I made the rankings, they didn’t have any of Draisaitl, Pastrnak, Chabot, Binnington, Morrissey, Konecny, etc. So, I feel like 20 was a fair ranking at the time. Though currently in possession of the 2nd wild card, the Canucks have recently decided to begin trade talks on two of their top players, that being Pastrnak and Debrincat. Hmm, a team that’s in a playoff spot who is trading top players? Weirdly, I feel like I’ve heard a lack of discussion about this! Jokes aside though, the playoff race in the West changes a lot if Vancouver decides to trade these player for anything less and drop out of the race. However, assuming Vancouver wants to stay in the mix, there’s a few different areas they could improve in. Personally, I’d look to add a defensive defenseman to the mix. They have many good defensemen, but most of those are offensive defensemen and it’s especially a need right now with Seider being injured. Anyways, if Vancouver decidees to trade either or both of those players, the playoff race could change drastically, and so I believe that if there is any team to keep an eye on in this division, it would be the Canucks.


Vegas Golden Knights

Pre-Season Rank: 14

Current Rank: 17


As it stands, the Golden Knights are 5th in their division, though with Edmonton seemingly looking to retool, passing them won’t be an issue. It’s the other teams Vegas will have to worry about. Not only in their division but the Central as well. Let’s face it, there’s a very minimal chance of Calgary, San Jose, and LA dropping out of the top 3. So, that leaves them 2 wildcard spots that they’ll be competing with Vancouver as well as whatever one of the top 4 Central teams is on the bottom at any given moment, as of the time of this writing, that would be the Blues. Vegas is by no means a bad team, but there is certainly one glaring issue that the team has: forward depth. Outside of their top 2 lines, they don’t really have all that much. Not to mention the fact that Matthew Tkachuk has been on the bench for the last several games. If Vegas wants to make their way into the playoffs, they should look to acquire some bottom 6 players, and I'm sure putting Tkachuk on the ice would certainly help too. Of course, with a grand total of $9,453 in cap space, that’s difficult so they would have to trade something substantial to make room for any player. Otherwise, Vegas could potentially be a seller at the deadline. They have a few UFAs who are on their last year though I’m not sure how much they could realistically get for someone like Josh Manson or Marco Scandella, but it would at least clear some cap space and allow for them to improve in other areas. No matter which path they take, look for Vegas to be active at the deadline.