As summer drags its lazy backside into fall, we can all rejoice at the impending return of the NHL. Here at 4th Line Towers we can’t wait to watch some proper hockey again. This year we’re approaching our previews in a different way; the word count for each team’s preview has been dictated by the number of points that team scored last season. To further mix things up, we’ve divvied up the teams between our writers. Let the Pacific division preview begin!
Vegas Golden Knights – Mike Laybourne
2017/18: 109 points
The sophomore season, the difficult second album… whichever way you look at it, Vegas have to prove they’re a serious contender and that 2017/18 wasn’t beginner’s luck. Starting the season without Nate Schmidt will hurt the team, but better to get the suspension out of the way early.
There’s going to be a lot of focus on William Karlsson, as many are predicting a serious regression, so bear that in mind for #HiSticking. On paper Vegas look good, having re-signed some big names, but James Neal and David Perron have gone, as has Luca Sbisa. Fleury‘s new contract is crazy but he’s reliable and still the team’s deciding factor.
Anaheim Ducks – Carl Landra
2017/18: 101 points
The Anaheim Ducks made very few offseason moves, but addition by subtraction could be their main approach. Francois Beauchemin retired and will be replaced by Andrej Sustr, a significant upgrade from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ryan Kesler is potentially out for the entire season, looking to be replaced by Patrick Eaves, who missed all of last season. Eaves will fill the right side on one of the top two lines, with Adam Henrique taking Kesler’s centre position. The Ducks are a consistently quality team, with an above average defense corps and John Gibson in net. This year should be the same.
San Jose Sharks – Mike Laybourne
2017/18: 100 points
Having been dumped out of the finals in the second round, the Sharks’ pursuit of the their first Stanley Cup continues. Unfortunately the off-season hasn’t shown any positive changes that will end the drought. Evander Kane, Logan Couture and Joe Thornton have all been re-signed, although the pursuit of John Tavares came to nothing.
With the departure of Mikkel Boedker, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward & Jannik Hansen, there’s a lot of pressure on Kane and Jumbo Joe’s old knees. Former Sabre Kane impressed after his mid-season trade to the Sharks and his seven year contract shows the team believes in him.
Los Angeles Kings – Mike Laybourne
2017/18: 98 points
Despite being swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Vegas Golden Knights, the LA kings did go on to win the race for Ilya Kovalchuk. The big winger tallied 816 points in as many games before retiring, now he’s back and the Kings have him locked up for three years. Impressive? Yes, but Kovalchuk’s an old man on an old team, in fact the LA Kings’ average age is 28.46. Only the Detroit Red Wings are older and they’re in the doldrums. Age was a key factor in the early cup exit, and nothing’s changed.
Calgary Flames – Joseph St-Amour
2017/18: 84 points
After missing the post season by 14 points, the Flames have made some significant changes during the off season by adding the likes of Noah Hanifin, James Neal. Elias Lindholm and Derek Ryan. It is believed they have significantly upgraded from Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and highly anticipated rookie defenseman Adam Fox. The Calgary Flames will also need a find a more consistent season out of goaltender Mike Smith if they hope to make the playoffs. I predict at least four wins in the post season.
Edmonton Oilers – Joseph St-Amour
2017/18: 78 points
After a very disappointing regular season, the Oilers look for a bounce back season. Connor McDavid was quoted saying “I want to score more goals”. Look for the superstar to aim for the 50 goal plateau. Having made some depth moves, acquiring Tobias Rieder from the Carolina Hurricanes the Oilers hope that last season was simply a fluke. If they want to make the post season they will also need a much better regular season from goaltender Cam Talbot.
Vancouver Canucks – Joseph St-Amour
2017/18: 73 points
With the Sedin twins enjoying retirement, this should open up ice time for younger players like Brandon Sutter and Brendan Leipsic. After blowing up the SWE-HL, we are looking forward to seeing Elias Pettersson in the lineup and see what kind of jump he can bring to Vancouver’s depleted offense. The Canucks could really use an upgrade in between the pipes because a 1-2 punch of Markstrom and Nilsson simply won’t cut it.
Arizona Coyotes – Carl Landra
2017/18: 70 points
After many saw the Coyotes as an improved team last season, an injured Antti Raanta and poor goaltending behind him led the Coyotes to finishing last in the Western conference. If Raanta cannot play more than the 48 times he did last season, expect more of the same as the Coyotes changed nothing behind Raanta. Moving Max Domi for Alex Galchenyuk has allowed them to potentially add some center depth.