Pacific Division team trends
Less than a month into the off-season and already the landscape has changed in the NHL. The draft, free agency and a couple of franchise-altering trades have shifted the balance of power, setting up some teams to take the next step in 2016-17... and others to drop into the abyss.
1anaheim ducks2015-16: 46-25-11In: Jonathan Bernier, Jared Boll, Jeff Schultz, Mason Raymond, coach Randy CarlyleOut: Frederik Andersen, Jamie McGinn, David Perron, Brandon Pirri, Shawn Horcoff, Chris Stewart, Anton KhudobinIt's been a curious off-season in Anaheim. Lingering trade rumors, a controversial coaching change and a purge of talent up front leave the win-now Ducks scrambling just to tread water.The decision to let go of one-third of the forward corps was inevitable. GM Bob Murray needed the cash to re-up on several of his top young players, including Sami Vatanen (done) and Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm (pending). Smart move, but it meant steering clear of the big names in free agency and shopping off the post-July 1 sale rack instead. Raymond isn't the answer to the Ducks' needs at left wing, but he'll contribute. The 30-year-old played well under Carlyle in Toronto back in 2013-14, potting 19 goals and 45 assists. Anaheim would be happy with similar production here. Boll is a rough-and-tumble winger who seems like a decent fit for a fourth-line role.Moving Andersen netted a first and a second rounder—a solid return considering the market—and paved the way for the deal that brought in Bernier to back up John Gibson. It hurts the team short term, but it's solid asset management over the long run.Hiring Carlyle to replace Bruce Boudreau remains controversial. Although he guided the Ducks to their 2007 Stanley Cup win, his last coaching stint in Toronto was a disaster marked by epic playoff failure and brutal puck possession numbers. Maybe he can push the right buttons, but Carlyle's X's and O's are a concern heading into the season.2los angeles kings2015-16: 48-28-6In: Zach Trotman, Teddy Purcell, Jeff Zatkoff, Michael Latta, Tom GilbertOut: Milan Lucic, Jhonas Enroth, Jamie McBain, Luke Schenn, Jeff Schultz, Kris VersteegThis was destined to be a step-back summer for the Kings. Even after cutting ties with Lucic, they didn't have the cap space to make any real improvements to the roster that was eliminated by the Sharks in the first round last spring. That left GM Dean Lombardi to talk bravely about finding answers within while patching over the holes with bargain-basement options.That doesn't mean the end is nigh. Anze Kopitar, the team's new captain, just won the Selke Trophy. Drew Doughty claimed the Norris. Jonathan Quick was a Vezina finalist. The bones are still strong ... but if they're going to add any meat before the season, they'll have to find it within their own system.3san jose sharks2015-16: 46-30-6In: Mikkel Boedker, David SchlemkoOut: James Reimer, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, Dainius Zubrus, Matt TennysonThe Sharks learned a lesson about the value of speed during their loss to the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final. Boedker is San Jose's response. He'll elevate their pace and provide secondary scoring at a very fair price (four years, $16 million). This could end up being one of the better value signings of the summer. GM Doug Wilson may yet add another forward in free agency, or he could leave jobs up for grabs in camp. Either is a reasonable option.Schlemko is an underappreciated defender and a more mobile replacement for Polak on the third pairing. A right shot might have been the Sharks' first choice, but he has shown in the past that he can play either side. Wilson also needs a backup goalie to replace the departed Reimer.4arizona coyotes2015-16: 35-39-8In: Jamie McGinn, Justin Peters, Clayton Keller, Jacob Chychrun, Jamie McBain, Ryan White, Pavel DatsyukOut: Alex Tanguay, Kyle Chipchura, Boyd Gordon, Joe VitaleNew GM John Chayka is earning mixed reviews for his early work this offseason. His acquisition of Datsyuk's contract was key for a team that needed to get to the cap floor without actually spending $54 million, but there was an expectation that he'd pocket a young asset from the Wings in the process. Instead, he only moved up four spots in the draft—and had to throw in a second-rounder for the privilege. Detroit GM Ken Holland got the best of him there. But Chayka rebounded with a strong draft, getting good value out of his two first-round selections. Chychrun, taken with the pick acquired from Detroit, could see action this season. McGinn was also an excellent pickup in free agency. The 27-year-old is a reliable secondary scorer with a side of sandpaper. White could be useful on the team's fourth line. If Chayka can get a deal done with captain Shane Doan, this should be a better lineup than the one that finished 2015-16 in fourth place in the division.5calgary flames2015-16: 35-40-7In: Brian Elliott, Troy Brouwer, Chad Johnson, Linden Vey, Matthew Tkachuk, coach Glen GultuzanOut: Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo, Joe Colborne, Josh Jooris, Joni Ortio, Drew ShoreAddressing their woeful goaltending was the top priority for the Flames, and GM Brad Treliving delivered. Elliott has never established himself as a full-time No. 1, but he brings some impressive numbers with him to Calgary. Elliott led the NHL with a .930 save percentage with the Blues in 2015-16, and ranks second to Cory Schneider in save percentage since 2011. Johnson, who impressed behind a bad Sabres defense, is a capable backup. Together, they could help slice 40 goals off last season's league-worst 257 and move the Flames into the middle of the pack defensively.Brouwer's deal was overly generous in both term and dollars, but he fills a need for a top-nine winger who can bring a physical presence and some touch down low. He could emerge as a vital power-play weapon as well. Tkachuk is a long-shot to stick, but was a windfall at the draft. The Flames would have preferred to retain Colborne, but they'll survive without him.Gulutzan's hiring seems like less of a sure thing. He was a flop in his first go-round as a head coach in Dallas, and was part of an underperforming group in Vancouver. Has he learned enough along the way to lead Calgary out of the wilderness? That's the biggest question mark facing this team now.6vancouver canucks2015-16: 31-38-13In: Loui Eriksson, Erik Gudbranson, Olli Juolevi, Anton Rodin, Philip LarsenOut: Dan Hamhuis, Jared McCann, Matt Bartkowski, Yannick Weber, Brandon Prust, Radim VrbataThe Eriksson deal is puzzling. He's a solid player, but committing six years to a 30-year-old winger with a history of concussion problems doesn't make much sense for a team that is rebuilding on the fly. Still, he makes them better in the short term. So does Gudbranson, who came over from Florida in a swap for McCann. He might never reach the ceiling many projected for him in his draft year, but he's a solid No. 4 defender with size and a snarl. Juolevi's more likely to pay off down the road than this season, but Vancouver's first-round pick was arguably the top defenseman in the draft. He's the blue-chipper on the back end that this organization desperately needed. Rodin, a high-scoring winger who was the MVP of the Swedish league, and Larsen, the fifth-highest scoring defender in the KHL, are low-risk gambles for a team that ranked 29th in offense last season. If either or both pay off, it's a big win for GM Jim Benning and his scouting staff.7edmonton oilers2015-16: 31-43-8In: Adam Larsson, Milan Lucic, Jesse Puljujarvi, Mark Fraser, Jonas GustavssonOut: Taylor Hall, Adam Clendening, Luke Gazdic, Eric Gryba, Nikita Nikitin, Adam PardyTaken on its own merits, the trade that sent Hall to the Devils was an embarrassing mismanagement of assets that will haunt Peter Chiarelli for the rest of his career. The return simply wasn't sufficient for a player of that accomplishment and potential.Of course, nothing happens in a vacuum in hockey. And while Chiarelli had his pants yanked down by New Jersey's Ray Shero, he pulled them back up again with some hard work and a bit of good luck. He paid too much (and committed too long) with the signing of Lucic, but by landing the top UFA on July 1, Chiarelli essentially replaced Hall. He also made a strong statement about the viability of Edmonton as a free-agent landing spot, something that could pay dividends down the road. Puljujarvi was an absolute gift at the draft. The big winger could make the club right out of camp. His potential, both short and long-term, is staggering. And yes, Larsson is a much-needed upgrade for the blueline. He fills a glaring need for a right-shot defender who can play heavy, shutdown minutes on the top pair. He'll never be a star, but he could become a very important piece as this team continues building toward the future. All told, the Oilers project to be a much better team next season, even without Hall.