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Pacific Division Power Rankings
All-Star Edition
1/20/15 - By Ryan Hall -

This past weekend the NHL revealed the participants for their annual All-Star Classic, with the usual suspects once again finding themselves on the invite list. For those lucky enough to be playing in this February spectacle, the break provides a nice opportunity to celebrate the game; while giving fans exactly what they want: access to the players when they are just having fun.

However, for the teams in the Pacific Division, all-star daydreaming is still a distance away; with lots of meaningful hockey still be played between now and then. Along the way, management and players need to find a way to address the holes in their line-up, and position their squads for a successful stretch drive. Maybe they'll even acquire an all-star or two to bolster their roster.

With that in mind, this edition of the Power Rankings will take a look at which all-time All-star each of the 7 Pacific teams could most use on their bench for the rest of the season. In other words, if the entirety of franchise history was open to a GM, who would they take, and why?

#1 - Anaheim Duck (Teemu Selanne)

Alright, so this one was very easy. If the Ducks could reach into their past and bring back one player it would be the gentlemen whose jersey they just retired: The Finnish Flash Teemu Selanne. Not only was Selanne the heart and soul of this team, but in his prime there was not a more lethal goal scorer in the league; and that consistent game breaking offense would fit in well with a hard-working Anaheim club. Plus, there was rarely a player who wanted to win more than Teemu, yet he still managed to play within the rules. This lesson would also serve the Ducks well, especially when the playoffs start and tempers get hot.. Honourable Mention: Paul Kariya - lots of goals, and an effort level that never quit.

Last Ranking: 1

#2 - Vancouver Canucks (Pavel Bure)

It's getting progressively hard to rank teams 2 -5 in the Pacific, but the Canucks get the nod here due to how much they've surpassed expectations. This team works hard, gets good goaltending, and continues to play consistent hockey at home and on the road. Now, that might all sound very good, but the one thing Vancouver is lacking is someone who is a pure goal scorer, and who will score nearly every night. That's where Pavel Bure would fit in, as the Russian Rocket did one thing very well: score goals. Not only would a pure sniper like that take some pressure off of the Sedin's, but it would also take the relieve Ryan Miller by providing him more offensive support. Just what the doctor ordered. Honourable Mention: Markus Naslund - A shooter who would mesh perfectly with the Sedin's, finally completing that top line.

Last Ranking: 3

#3 - Calgary Flames (Joe Nieuwendyk)

Once again the Flames continue to impress. While things have gotten rocky as of late, Calgary is hanging tough and right now finds themselves just outside a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It might seem like the last thing they need right now is more offense, but adding former captain Joe Nieuwendyk to this roster would almost ensure they qualified for the post-season; and maybe even won a round or two. Even though there is no shortage of leadership on the Flames right now, the one thing they are lacking is experienced winners. Face it, this club is full of rookies and cast-aways that have come together to create a sum that is greater than the individual parts. A strong veteran presence, who can still put up the points would be a perfect fit, and no one did it better then Joe. Honourable Mention: Al MacInnis - because shooting the puck 100 mph and playing rugged D never goes out of style.

Last Ranking: 5

#4 - Los Angeles Kings (Zigmund Palffy)

Something is wrong in LA this season, and you can see it every time the Kings take to the ice. Maybe it's the Stanley Cup hangover, perhapsthe players are tired of Darryl Sutter, or it could be age but Los Angeles is not the same team everyone is used to seeing. One of the biggest issues has to do with a lack of scoring, as far too often this team has relied on the youngsters to carry the load - a fact which has led Coach Sutter to call out several veterans publically, to no avail. What this team needs is a shot of pure offense, a game breaker like ole Ziggy Stardust himself. Can you imagine a line of Gaborik, Palffy, and Kopitar coming at you? Sure, Palffy wasn't the best in his own zone, but with this team that wouldn't matter as keeping the puck out of the net isn't the problem. Besides, isn't the best Defence a good Offense? Honourable Mention: Marcel Dionne - As one of the greatest to ever lace up the skates, Dionne would be welcome on any team at any time. Still, he was too easy of a choice, so that's why Palffy got the nod.

Last Ranking: 4

#5 - San Jose Sharks (Owen Nolan)

Alright, as a Sharks fan I'm sure you are well aware that consistency and work ethic are not San Jose's strong suits. This goes far deeper than not having a captain, and stretches into the very identity of a club that seems to go away when the going gets tough. It's for these very reasons why the injection of Captain Owen Nolan is exactly what this squad needs, as it would mean accountability, work ethic, and a never say die attitude. Picture Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau being spurred on to give their all every shift. Imagine Logan Couture, Tomas Herlt, and the other youngsters being taught professionalism by the man who bled teal. Not only would it change the shape of this season, but it could even refashion the entire franchise. After all, the Sharks went far without talent when Nolan was there, and they've gone far without heart (after Nolan left); with talent and heart they might just be able to go all the way. Honourable Mention: Sandis Ozolinsh - An offensive defenceman, and PP quarterback, who still took care of things in his own end; like Dan Boyle or Brent Burns only far better.

Last Ranking: 2

#6 - Arizona Coyotes (Jeremy Roenick)

Here's the good news: the season is already half over. The bad news? Arizona continues to be just good enough to put a Top 5 pick in jeopardy. As it stands right now, the Coyotes are 4th worst in the league, but their determination to play .500 hockey as of late means that they are in danger of moving up in the standings and perhaps costing themselves a shot at McDavid or Eichel. No matter what the end result is, Arizona faces a rebuilding job that is going to take time, though a return of JR would definitely speed things up. Long before Roenick was a talking head on TV, he was actually a really good NHL player who brought fire, passion, and a scoring touch to whatever team he was on. Those 3 traits are sadly missing from the current Coyotes, who often pay lackluster and boring hockey, with no sign of changes on the horizon. Even if Roenick couldn't single-handedly save this team, he would make them interesting, and give the handful of remaining fans something to cheer about. Honourable Mention: Keith Tkachuk - Nasty to play against, and a prototypical power-forward who twice scored more than 50 goals in a season. He'd be welcomed with open arms.

Last Ranking: 6

#7 - Edmonton Oilers (Mark Messier)

Wait!? Did I just say Messier instead of Gretzky? Yes I did, as right now the Oilers need a LEADER, and the Moose was one of the best Captains in NHL history. While the current squad often takes shifts off, plays selfish hockey, and leaves the goaltender out to dry, a Messier captained team was known for work ethic, passion, and selflessness - or exactly what this franchise needs. Additionally, as rumours fly that Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle might be a little drunk with power, and perhaps into the party lifestyle too deeply, a healthy dose of Messier would also clear that right up and set those youngsters back on the path to success. I suspect that this would lead to a vast improvement in the standings, as the Oilers are NOT as talent-less as their record would indicate. Honourable Mention: Wayne Gretzky - Okay, yes the greatest player in the history of the game would help. A lot. Can the Oilers have him both?

Last Ranking: 7


Contact Ryan at at ryanhall@letsgosharks.com




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