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NHL 2013-14 Pacific Division team-by-team preview

Cazeneuve's NHL preview: Pacific Division
SI.com's Brian Cazeneuve breaks down the Pacific and who may be affected most by realignment.
Photo:

Anze Kopitar

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Los Angeles Kings

Coach: Darryl Sutter
2013 record: 27-16-5, 5th in West, lost to Blackhawks in conference finals
Vital signs: 2.73 goals-for per game (10th), 2.38 goals-against per game (7th), 19.9 power play pct. (10th), 83.2 penalty kill pct. (10th), shootout record: 2-4 (23rd)
Notable adds: F Matt Frattin (Maple Leafs), G Ben Scrivens (Maple Leafs), F Dan Carcillo (Blackhawks)
Notable losses: D Rob Scuderi (Penguins), G Jonathan Bernier (Maple Leafs), F Dustin Penner (Ducks)

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

Forwards
Justin Williams - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Kyle Clifford - Jarret Stoll - Matt Frattin
Dan Carcillo - Colin Fraser - Trevor Lewis
Jordan Nolan

Defensemen
Robin Regehr - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin - Matt Greene
Jeff Schultz

Goalies
Jonathan Quick
Ben Scrivens

Outlook: The biggest hurdle in the Kings' way will likely be a matter of consistency, from top to bottom. Without question, there is no shortage of talent in Los Angeles. Forwards Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter are all capable of racking up 30-plus goals, and Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov have shown they are among the top defensemen in the league when on their games. Goalie Jonathan Quick has proved his worth in pressure situations, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2012. But the Kings haven't been able to tap all that talent to its fullest extent yet. Quick had an inconsistent regular season in 2013; Doughty struggled for the first half of 2011-12, and Richards hasn't put up the kind of numbers he did in Philadelphia. So for the Kings to recapture the throne, they'll need some steady production from their top stars or lean on secondary scoring to get them through the long season. That hasn't always been a strong suit for this team, but perhaps the addition of Matt Frattin, traded from Toronto, will give Los Angeles a more balanced attack.

San Jose Sharks

Photo:

Brent Burns

Coach: Todd McLellan
2013 record: 25-16-7, 6th in West, lost to Kings in conference semi-final
Vital signs: 2.42 goals-for per game (24th), 2.33 goals-against per game (6th), 20.1 power play pct. (7th), 85.0 penalty kill pct. (6th), shootout record: 8-4 (1st)
Notable adds: LW Tyler Kennedy (Penguins), RW Anthony Stewart (Kings)
Notable losses: C Scott Gomez (Panthers), F T.J. Galiardi (Flames)

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

Forwards
Tyler Kennedy - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tomas Hertl
Tommy Wingels - Joe Pavelski - Raffi Torres (injured)
James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish
Martin Havlat (injured)/Matt Nieto/Freddie Hamilton
Anthony Stewart

Defensemen
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brad Stuart
Justin Braun - Jason Demers
Scott Hannan

Goalies
Antti Niemi
Harri Sateri

Outlook: Midway through last season, the Sharks moved towering 6' 5", 219-pound defenseman Brent Burns up to forward, and he promptly scored an impressive 20 points in 23 games. It was a bold move, and one that should continue to help San Jose muscle some goals in a tough division. Burns's size advantage, particularly along the boards, will complement center Joe Thornton and an opportunistic scorer, perhaps former Penguin Tyler Kennedy. And that extra offensive power is something the Sharks desperately need. Last season, San Jose averaged just 1.60 goals per game at 5-on-5, fourth worst in the league. Their energy and grit took a hit when Raffi Torres tore his ACL in a preseason game -- he'll be out three to five months -- so what the Sharks will need is a breakout year from a youngster to infuse their offense with a little more life. They've seen it happen before, with centers Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. Now may be the time for 19-year-old Tomas Hertl, a 2012 first rounder, to make the step into NHL life. He's impressed in preseason and could even see some time skating with Thornton and Burns when the season gets started.

Vancouver Canucks

Photo:

John Tortorella

Coach: John Tortorella
2013 record: 26-15-7, 3rd in West, lost to Sharks in first round
Vital signs: 2.54 goals-for per game (19th), 2.40 goals-against per game (10th), 15.8 power play pct. (22rd), 84.0 penalty kill pct. (8th), shootout record: 5-6 (5th)
Notable adds: C Brad Richardson (Kings), C Mike Santorelli (Jets), D Yannick Weber (Canadiens)
Notable losses: RW Mason Raymond (Toronto), C Max Lapierre (St. Louis), D Keith Ballard (Wild), G Cory Schneider (Devils)

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

Forwards
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
David Booth - Ryan Kesler - Zack Kassian
Chris Higgins - Brad Richardson - Jannik Hansen
Tom Sestito - Mike Santorelli - Dale Weise
Benn Ferriero

Defensemen
Alex Edler -- Kevin Bieksa
Dan Hamhuis -- Jason Garrison
Yannick Weber -- Frank Corrado
Chris Tanev

Goalies
Roberto Luongo
Eddie Lack

Outlook: Center Ryan Kesler admits, "Things just kind of got a little stale" under coach Alain Vigneault. Well, "stale" isn't a word often associated with new bench boss, the famously acerbic John Tortorella. But the biggest question in Vancouver will be if and how the Canucks embrace him and his system. Kesler, for one, spoke of Tortorella's tenacity admiringly, saying he hoped he brought accountability to the entire roster. What Tortorella will definitely demand is a tougher mentality, a fierce forecheck and a grinding game of puck pursuit instead of elegant tic-tac-toe plays. How will the new identity play out in Vancouver? Will the Sedin twins start laying down in front of shots from the point? How will the players respond to the change in culture? How will the fanbase? The answers will become clearer with time, but the Canucks, who have won just one playoff game since losing Game 7 of the Cup final in 2011, needed some change. The Tortorella era will certainly be different.

Edmonton Oilers

Photo:

Taylor Hall

Coach: Dallas Eakins
2013 record: 19-22-7, 12th in West
Vital signs: 2.56 goals-for per game (18th), 2.73 goals-against per game (19th), 20.1 power play pct. (8th), 83.4 penalty kill pct. (9th), shootout record: 2-3 (20th)
Notable adds: C Boyd Gordon (Coyotes), LW David Perron (Blues), LW Jesse Joensuu (Islanders), D Andrew Ference (Bruins)
Notable losses: LW Magnus Paajarvi (Blues), D Ryan Whitney (Panthers), C Shawn Horcoff (Stars), D Mark Fistric (Ducks), G Nikolai Khabibulin (Blackhawks)

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

Forwards
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
David Perron - Sam Gagner - Nail Yakupov
Ryan Jones - Boyd Gordon - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Smyth - Anton Lander - Jesse Joensuu
Mike Brown

Defensemen
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Andrew Ference - Justin Schultz
Nick Schultz - Denis Grebeshkov
Corey Potter

Goalies
Devan Dubnyk
Jason LaBarbera

Outlook: After seven years of rebuilding with six top 10 picks, including three No. 1 overalls, since 2007, the Oilers have zero playoff games to show for it. Enter Dallas Eakins, a highly regarded AHL coach who has experience molding young talent. He inherits plenty of that in Edmonton, and his main directive will be to turn that handful of exciting-to-watch standouts into a winning group. The learning curve will be steep and some may experience growing pains, particularly early, as they get used to a more structured system, but ultimately defensive accountability has to be a high priority for a team that gave away the puck more than any other in the West last season. The Oilers were most successful when they were able to limit their opponents' chances, winning 73 percent of their games when they outshot their opponents. That would have been great if Edmonton didn't give up the second most shots in the league. As a five-man unit, the Oilers will have to bring more accountability to both ends of the ice, and if youngsters like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle can embrace two-way play, then Edmonton has a shot at that elusive playoff game.

Anaheim Ducks

Photo:

Cam Fowler

Coach: Bruce Boudreau
2013 record: 30-12-6, 2nd in West, lost to Red Wings in first round
Vital signs: 2.79 goals-for per game (8th), 2.40 goals-against per game (11th), 21.5 power play pct. (4th), 81.5 penalty kill pct. (13th), shootout record: 6-3 (3rd)
Notable adds: LW Dustin Penner (Kings), D Mark Fistric (Oilers), RW Jakob Silfverberg (Senators)
Notable losses: C Matthew Lombardi (Swiss league), LW Bobby Ryan (Senators), D Toni Lydman, C Dave Steckel (PTO)

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

Forwards
Dustin Penner - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Matt Belesky - Saku Koivu - Kyle Palmieri
Jakob Silfverberg - Andrew Cogliano - Teemu Selanne
Nick Bonino - Peter Holland - Emerson Etem (injured)
Daniel Winnik - Mathieu Perreault 

Defensemen
Francois Beauchemin - Mark Fistric
Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy
Bryan Allen - Sami Vatanen
Sheldon Souray (injured)/Luca Sbisa (injured)

Goalies
Jonas Hiller
Viktor Fasth

Outlook: Even captain Ryan Getzlaf was surprised by the Ducks' 22-3-4 start last season. "I don't think we expected to come out the way we did," he admits. "Our young guys played really well, and we're really hoping they can come out and do the same [again]." The Ducks will need even more from the kids this season now that winger Bobby Ryan is gone to Ottawa in a trade. The perennial 30-goal scorer brought the kind of offensive depth that made Anaheim a contender for years. He'll be hard to replace, but the hope is that a youngster, like Kyle Palmieri or former first rounder Emerson Etem might be able to flourish with more ice time. Or perhaps the goals could come from Ryan's return in the deal, Jakob Silfverberg, who scored 10 for the Senators as a rookie last season, second most on the team. The Ducks' defense will be bolstered by a healthy Francois Beauchemin, who played through an ACL injury last spring, but this could really be the year for blueliner Cam Fowler, 21 and already in his fourth NHL season. The former first-rounder hasn't had the kind of immediate impact that his promising rookie campaign in 2010-11 suggested, but he still has huge upside potential and could be ready to take the step to the elite level.

Phoenix Coyotes

Photo:

Mike Ribeiro

Coach: Dave Tippett
2013 record: 21-18-9, 10th in West
Vital signs: 2.52 goals-for per game (21st), 2.60 goals-against per game (15th), 14.8 power play pct. (25th), 79.9 penalty kill pct. (22nd), shootout record: 4-6 (12th)
Notable adds: C Mike Ribeiro (Capitals), RW Brandon Yip (Predators)
Notable losses: C Boyd Gordon (Oilers), C Matthew Lombardi (Ducks/Swiss league), G Jason LaBarbera (Oilers)

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

Forwards
Mikkel Boedker - Mike Ribeiro - Shane Doan
Lauri Korpikoski - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Max Domi - Antoine Vermette - David Moss
Rob Klinkhammer - Kyle Chipchura - Brandon Yip
Paul Bissonette

Defensemen
Zbynek Michalek - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Rotislav Klesla - Michael Stone
David Schlemko

Goalies
Mike Smith
Thomas Greiss

Outlook: The most important signing in Glendale this off-season was obviously the finalized sale of the Coyotes to the IceArizona Acquisition Co. A close second was coach Dave Tippett, who re-upped his contract for a reported five more years. Not only has Tippett been able to get the most out of his teams since coming to Phoenix in 2009, he's been a source of stability for an organization that knows little about the word. And again this season he'll be working with a thin lineup, particularly up front. The Yotes signed center Mike Ribeiro for four years and $22 million durimg the summer, finally getting a skilled pivot for captain Shane Doan. That signing should add some goals and a little more offensive flair, which was often severely lacking in the desert last season. The team's leading scorer in 2013, their first season without a playoff appearance since 2009, was defenseman Keith Yandle. If that doesn't change, neither will Phoenix's playoff status.

Calgary Flames

Photo:

Brian Burke

Coach: Bob Hartley
2013 record: 19-25-4, 13th in West
Vital signs: 2.67 goals-for per game (12th), 3.27 goals-against per game (28th), 20.0 power play pct. (9th), 81.5 penalty kill pct. (14th), shootout record: 0-3 (29th)
Notable adds: LW T.J. Galiardi (Sharks), RW David Jones (Avalanche), D Shane O'Brien (Avalanche), C Joe Colborne (Maple Leafs)
Notable losses: G Miikka Kiprusoff (retired), LW Alex Tanguay (Avalanche), D Cory Sarich (Avalanche), C Roman Cervenka (KHL)

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

Forwards

Curtis Glencross - Mikael Backlund - Michael Cammalleri
Sven Baertschi - Matt Stajan - Jiri Hudler
T.J. Galiardi - Sean Monahan - David Jones
Tim Jackman - Roman Horak - Lee Stempniak
Joe Colborne

Defensemen

Mark Giordano - Dennis Wideman
Kris Russell - T.J. Brodie
Chris Butler - Shane O'Brien

Goalies

Karri Ramo
Joey MacDonald

Outlook: On paper, there aren't a whole lot of positives coming into 2013-14. The Flames traded away longtime leader Jarome Iginla last season and saw longtime goalie Miikka Kiprusoff retire this summer. The floods in Alberta in June and July were even more devastating, bringing extensive damage to the Saddledome and ravaging the city. But perhaps it all signals a time of rebirth for Calgary. Brian Burke, former GM of the Maple Leafs, was hired last month to oversee hockey operations, and he'll bring with him a wealth of experience in turning around a moribund franchise. (Jay Feaster remains the GM.) But this will take some time. The Flames don't really have the assets to improve right away; and as it stands, will need upgrades everywhere to make themselves a part of any conversation about playoff contenders. Most notable is the hole in goal, where they have Karri Ramo, who hasn't played in the NHL since 2009 and Joey MacDonald, whose 3.01 career GAA is the highest among active goalies with at least 70 games played. Reto Berra, a 26-year-old Swiss netminder with no NHL experience, also remained a possibility through preseason. The goalie situation is but one of the myriad question marks for the Flames this season. And if they don't get answered quickly, Calgary is in for a long season.

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