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Pacific Division Power Rankings 6
Whatcha Need Edition
3/9/14 - By Ryan Hall -

Last week the NHL trade deadline took center stage, and teams around the league were trying to prioritize what they want vs. what they need. In the Pacific Division this dilemma is played out in a small scale with the ‘buyers’, ‘ sellers’, and ‘tweeners’ all being represented. Though it has been claimed that the Stanley Cup can’t be won at the deadline, many fans will argue it CAN be lost – both in this season and ones to come. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Needs of the lucky 7 teams near and dear to us!

#1 – Anaheim Ducks (Depth Scoring)

Even though the Ducks farm system is stocked full of players that on lesser teams might be already be NHL regulars, that future is not yet completely ready for prime time. While the 2017 Ducks looks ready to hit the second season, this year’s group is woefully thin in established veteran scoring. That might not be a problem if everyone stays healthy, but if injuries do hit the Ducks could find themselves in deep trouble. With that in mind, the biggest need for Anaheim is a proven depth scorer along the likes of Ales Hemsky or Jaromir Jagr. Alternatively, thought he price might be higher, parlaying some of that franchise depth into Tomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, or Chris Neil could really put the Ducks over the top.

Last Ranking: 1

#2 – San Jose Sharks (Defensive Depth)

Unlike their other Pacific Division mates, the Sharks have already faced near ‘worst case’ scenarios when it comes to injuries. However, with Torres and Couture returning to the lineup the Sharks will be rolling 3 lines deep with talent. Even if Hertl can’t return this season, the valuable experience gained by injury replacements will only make San Jose better in the short and long term. Where there is concern though is on the backend, where an injury or two could derail a playoff push; and that’s assuming the talent right now is sufficient for a championship run. GM Doug Wilson will undoubtedly be looking for reinforcements with Christian Erhoff’s name being tossed around; though players like Chris Phillips and Jani Pitkannen might be the caliber he can afford.

Last Ranking: 2

#3 – Los Angeles Kings (Someone to Play For)

If you think this is a weird item to be searching for at the trade deadline you’re right, but the only thing the Kings have been consistently good at this year is being streaky. Even though professional athletes shouldn’t need outside motivation, there comes a time when championship squads can lose interest in paying the price it takes to win. That is where a cause can help reignite that passion, such as Ray Bourque did for the Avalanche in 2001 or Dave Andreychuk for Tampa Bay in 2004. One likely target for LA could be Jaromir Jagr, though you have to wonder if even that will be enough.

Last Ranking: 4

#4 – Calgary Flames (Pile’o’Draft Picks)

Yet again, the Calgary Flames bubble up by playing good hockey, posting a 7-3 mark in their last 10. Obviously, for a team on the rebuild this needs to stop, as there is nothing to be gained by progressing with the current bunch of players – many of whom should be renting apartments in new locations by this time next week. Among the players that can be had for the low, low price of future draft picks are Mike Cammalleri, Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak, Kris Russell, and Joey MacDonald. That’s quite a list of names on the market, and the success of this Wednesday will be determined solely on how many no longer play for the Flames Thursday morning.

Last Ranking: 6

#5 – Edmonton Oilers (NHL Talent)

Yup, this is a sad testament to Vancouver and Phoenix that they have been passed by the Oilers and their band of merry men. I recently sat down and watched an entire Oilers game, and the one thing that stood out is that there are too many players on that team that just don’t know what it takes to play in the NHL and succeed. Partly, that comes from all those high draft picks being rushed, but the only way to overcome and instill the proper work ethic, puck protection skills, and commitment level is to bring in some players that can demonstrate it. Where it gets tricky though is that Edmonton needs to win during this process which means they need to acquire high level talent; and that is costly. Thankfully the Oilers are flush with youth and if they are serious some of it needs to be parlayed into real useful assets. As a result, while Ales Hemsky will undoubtedly be moved, the list of acquirable players useful to Edmonton is small and should include players like Chris Stewart, Tomas Vanek (with an extension), or Matt Moulson.

Last Ranking: 7

#6 – Phoenix Coyotes (Top Line Scoring)

The Desert Dogs have been trying to hang tough in the Pacific Division all season but the woefully lacking offense is finally starting to wear down. Strangely, the lack of scoring could probably be overcome if the backend wasn’t also springing leaks which is why the rumours of Phoenix shopping Keith Yandle are all the more perplexing. While the argument could be made that Yandle is part of the problem, the question is will Yandle fetch enough to get established scoring help? And if the bill is higher than that will Phoenix sacrifice future assets to prop up an aging core. Sadly, the best path forward might be to package Doan with Yandle to pry some offense out of a team looking to make a run at the Cup this season.

Last Ranking: 5

#7 – Vancouver Canucks (A Roberto Luongo Trade)

Vancouver, what happened to you? You were showing signs of progress before your coach goes and gets himself suspended and you started a goalie controversy by favouring Lack over Luongo!! The result: a 2-7-1 record and playoff dreams fading. You know, years ago the Islanders were known as the epicenter of dysfunction but I think it’s time to move that title to Van City. Despite all the evidence, the only way forward for the Canucks at this point seems to be moving Luongo for assets (maybe to Buffalo, Edmonton, or Long Island). However, if ownership decides to move Ryan Kessler as well, than Vancouver should consider going all in on a quick rebuild and look at shopping the Sedin’s too. Who knows, maybe there is method to this madness?

Last Ranking: 3

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