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Pacific Division Power Rankings #7
(California) Dreaming Edition
3/2/16 - By Ryan Hall -

I guess we should have seen this coming.

After five months of games, the Pacific Division has aligned itself into two groups: California and The Rest. Despite some stumbles and struggles during the early stages the Sharks, Ducks, and Kings have emerged as the only legitimate teams in a division that is chock full of underwhelming, young, inexperienced squads. For those clubs the only thing left to worry about is the Austin Matthews sweepstakes; while for the big boys the California Derby is just getting started.

With all this in mind, what would it take for each of the westernmost squads to consider the remainder of their season a success? Is it a championship? A good playoff showing? Or snagging a Top 3 draft pick? What exactly is in everyone's wildest dreams…

#1 Los Angeles Kings (Win the Stanley Cup)

Everyone plays to win championships. That's what motives players, managements, and fans alike - the thought of hoisting the Stanley Cup. For Los Angeles however, that is the only way they can consider this a successful season. After brining in free agents, trading picks and prospects away, and facing an aging roster the Kings are in win now mode. To reach this goal they'll need to stay healthy, and pray Chicago gets upset in the Central.

Last Ranking: 1

#2 Anaheim Ducks (Win the Stanley Cup)

During the offseason the message in Anaheim was "This is our year". After stumbling out of the gate, the Ducks began to soften their message to "Let's just get in the playoffs". However, a streak of solid play, including a win over Los Angeles on Sunday, has vaulted them right back into a Championship mindset. While their window isn't as small as the Kings, they still need to take advantage of the chances they get - and once again hope to dodge the Blackhawks.

Last Ranking: 2

#3 - San Jose Sharks (Reach the Stanley Cup)

Even writing this seems like a stretch for squad whose best days are behind it. The recent additions of Polak, Spaling and Reimer - plus the contributions of youngsters Hertl, Donskoi, and Karlsson - have propelled San Jose into a situation where they can legitimately contend with the best teams in the conference. If the Sharks can get out of the Pacific division, they even have a better than average shot against Chicago, as they inexplicably play the Hawks tight. Still, reaching the Conference Finals might be a more realistic ceiling for this club, but I can't help being a teal-glasses wearing optimist.

Last Ranking: 3

#4 - Arizona Coyotes (Top 10 Draft Pick)

In reality, this season has already been an unqualified success for the Coyotes as they managed to contend for half of the year, seasoned their youngsters, found their goalie of the future, and now are slipping down the standings into a good draft position. If there was a book on how to grow a team, this would be the blue print. It's all house money from now on, so the only question for Arizona is: how low can they go!

Last Ranking: 4

#5 - Vancouver Canucks (Top 10 Draft Pick)

It wasn't supposed to be this bad for Vancouver. They have the Sedins and Ryan Miller. They'd made the playoffs last season, and looked poised to be in the mix for a post-season berth this year as well. That didn't happen, and now the Canucks need to lose some games to better their draft standing. This should be doable, but it won't remove the elephant in the room: how to retool around a core of aging stars that won't be UFA's for a long time?

Last Ranking: 6

#6 - Edmonton Oilers (Top 3 Draft Pick)

If it's possible to have experience at the Draft Lottery, then Edmonton has it in buckets. In fact, if they win this year's #1 pick the league might have to institute a rule preventing clubs from winning it too often. Still, there are signs of life in Oil country, and the exodus of dead weight players is the sole reason why Edmonton isn't at the very bottom of this list. It might be splitting hairs, but for the Oilers every trade they make - and every player they ship out - makes them a better team RIGHT NOW. A sad testament to the culture they've built.

Last Ranking: 7

#7 - Calgary Flames (Top 5 Draft Pick)

Like their Alberta brethren, the Flames are in next year mode. Still, they also have to contend with trading away UFA's that they can't easily replace on their roster. Sure, the pipeline might be full of talent, but right now the roster is starting to look pretty thin at nearly every position. Things will improve in the long run, but for now, Calgary is the dregs of the division.

Last Ranking: 5

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