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2016-17 Pacific Division Power Rankings
Early Issues Edition
11/7/16 - By Ryan Hall -

Welcome Sharks Fans to another season of the Pacific Division Power Rankings! I'm a bit late with this first edition, but I wanted to give enough time for some clear trends to emerge. Boy have they ever! While it may be early, every team has shown their strengths; and where they are vulnerable. Time will tell if these flaws will become fatal, or if they can be overcome, but for now it's clear that there are some issues facing each Pacific Division squad.

#1 - Edmonton Oilers: Secondary Scoring

It's finally happened. I'd like to welcome the Oilers to the top spot in the Division, after nearly a decade of irrelevance. Nice to see you. Don't forget to grab your gift bag from the table on the left.

The Oilers have been propelled by an improved blueline, solid goaltending from Cam Talbot, and the emergence of legitimate Top 6 scoring. However, they rely too heavily on their big guns to carry them through a game. It's been working so far, but unless the supporting casts picks it up, Edmonton will remain vulnerable.


#2 - LA Kings: 3 I's

Honestly, it's a pick'em between the California teams, but the Kings have been slightly better as of late, so they get the nod at number 2. LA has been surviving without Jonathon Quick and Marian Gaborik, which is their first problem: Injuries.

Missing key players has affected their ability to bring their A game ever night, leading to inconsistent play and a lack of intensity. These are things that will need to be cleaned up, if the Kings hope to stay in the Pacific playoff picture long-term.


#3 - Sa Jose Sharks: Stanley Cup Hangover

Teams that make the Cup Finals traditionally have a hard time at the start of the next season, as they are plagued with inconsistency and lethargic play. Sadly, the Sharks have fallen victim to the malaise as well, unable to string together 60 complete minutes on a regular basis. When they have though, they've looked dominant, which is what makes this hangover all the more maddening. If, or when, they can find consistency, San Jose will be a force to be reckoned with.


#4 - Anaheim Ducks: Age

Following their ouster last playoffs, the Ducks decided to part ways with Bruce Beaudreau and opted to bring back Randy Carlyle. So far the results have been mixed, with the Ducks again leaning heavily on their core of aging star forwards. With precious little depth scoring on the roster, these veterans will need to carry the load all season if Anaheim plans on reaching the postseason. There's no way to turn back time, meaning age will remain a concern for the Ducks all year.


#5 - Calgary Flames: Goaltending

Last year the Flames goaltending was putrid, and that was a big reason they missed out on a return to the playoffs. In the offseason they though to upgrade by landing Brian Elliot, who was supposed to solidify their crease. So far that hasn't happened. Calgary has allowed the most goals of any team in the league, which is a sure fire way to end up at the bottom of the standings. Unless they can find a way to stop the bleeding on their backend, it'll be another long season in Cowtown.


#6 - Arizona Coyotes: Depth down the Middle

Previously, the Coyotes had been a team that lacked offensive punch, but made up for it with a tight-checking defensive game. To do this they often iced a veteran heavy roster that could be counted on to take care of things in their own end. However, as they've been rebuilding, more and more young players have found their way into the roster; many of them before they are ready to play at both ends of the ice.

As a result, the Coyotes often can't score enough to win a track meet, but their best players aren't good enough defensively to eat big minutes. So, Coach Tippett has been forced to promote checkers to Top 6 roles, such as by using Jordan Martinook and Brad Richardson as his #1 and #2 centers. You just can't win like that; a reality which Arizona is quickly awakening to.


#7 - Vancouver Canucks: Lack of Talent

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Vancouver Canucks are a hot mess. After a disappointing season which highlighted the need to get younger and faster, Vancouver went out and signed some veterans to big money, long term deals. The result: this is a team that can't score, play defense, or keep the puck out of their net. The Canucks rank dead last in goals for (20) and have the worst differential in the entire league (-14). Even worse, they're pushovers physically, having recently been bullied by the Toronto Maple Leafs of all people. It's clear to just about everyone not in management that Vancouver is lacking talent, and that means things are going to worse before they get better.


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