We are into the throes of summer and looking around the league it appears as if most teams have made their moves. Aside from some training camp invites for players like Iginla and presumably Jagr it's time to look around the league and see how teams are going to perform this season.
I have made my opinions on the Oilers moves this summer known. Short answer; they didn't do enough. The team at best looks like they will finish similar to last season. While that sounds good in theory this team still has the appearance of a playoff contender and not a Cup contender.
The potential good news is the moves around the Pacific may work in favour for how this team will finish in the standings.
Being an Oilers blogger first and foremost, let's look at their moves first.
IN: Ryan Strome, Yohann Auvitu, Jussi Jokinen, Brad Malone, Ty Rattie
OUT: Jordan Eberle, Benoit Pouliot, Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick, David Desharnais, Matt Hendricks
The biggest gamble for the Oilers this season will be replacing Eberle's production. The hope is for a combination of newcomer Ryan Strome and Jesse Puljujarvi to pick up the slack. However the Oilers lost some scoring depth andneed some players to step up in a big way. As long as Talbot and McDavid stay healthy the team will make some noise but if Draisaitl remains unsigned to start the season things could get ugly fast.
Now let's look at the rest.
IN: Dennis Rasmussen, Ryan Miller, Reto Berra
OUT: Clayton Stoner, Shea Theodore, Simon Despres, Jonathon Bernier, Rick Garbutt, Nate Thompson, Emerson Etem
The top team in the Pacific looks to remain that way. The fact that the team can lose a rising prospect such as Theodore and still have one of the best young D cores in the league shows what a great job Bob Murray has done with this team. Bernier did well for the Ducks down the stretch last season but struggled early on. Having a 1, 1A punch of Gibson and Miller will provide Boudreau with options on a nightly basis.
IN: Nicklas Hjalmarsson, Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Nick Cousins, Brandon Hickey, Emerson Etem
OUT: Shane Doan, Mike Smith, Teemu Pulkkinen, Anthony DeAngelo, Connor Murphy, Radim Vrbata, Peter Holland
Chayka has been a busy busy man. The Coyotes are still a ways from being a real playoff contender but the moves this summer are certainly moving the team closer to respectability. We can argue if Stepan is a true #1 centre but he is a skilled veteran who will be a great mentor to players like Dylan Strome. Hjalmarsson joins Goligoski, Ekman Larsson, and Chychurn on a defense that is of playoff calibre. The team is going to have growing pains but there is finally optimism in the desert.
IN: Travis Hamonic, Mike Smith, Eddie Lack, Spencer Foo, Luke Gazdic.
OUT: Lance Bouma, Deryk Engelland, Brian Elliott, Chad Johnson
The Flames seem to enjoy picking up all the players that I was expecting the Oilers to acquire. First the team acquires Travis Hamonic to make the Flames have arguably the best D core in the league and then they sign college free agent Spencer Foo who should provide similar offense to what Caggiula did for the Oilers last year. There is a sense of urgency in Calgary that is enviable to us up north. There are still questions about where the offense will come from up front and Mike Smith strikes me as another bandaid fix but this will be a fun team to watch this season.
IN: Mike Cammalleri, Darcy Kuemper,
OUT: Ben Bishop, Matt Greene, Brayden McNabb, Devin Setoguchi, Teddy Purcell, Rob Scuderi, Jarome Iginla
The Kings are an interesting case. Though stats wise the team appeared strong that was far from the reality. Surprising to many the team fired multiple cup winning coach and GM Sutter and Lombardi and made big head office changes. The general team itself is mainly unchanged and the hope is a new coach will instill a new level of play in this team. Plenty of cap issues with this team and we may be talking about a larger level rebuild after this season.
San Jose Sharks
IN: Brandon Bollig, Antoine Bibeau
OUT: Patrick Marleau, David Schlemko, Michael Haley
The door has shut for the San Jose Sharks. Marleau has left and Thorton resigned for one more year; presumably his last. While the team has enough skilled players to be competitive they are looking far removed from their Cup run of two years ago.
IN: Sam Gagner, Alex Burmistrov, Anders Nilsson, Michael Del Zotto, Patrick Wiercioch
OUT: Ryan Miller Luca Sbisa, Nikita Tryamkin, Drew Shore, Philip Larsen.
The best news for Canuck fans this season? With the addition of the Golden Knights there is a chance.... that the team will not finish dead last. There is no way to say this politely, this is a really bad team. While the team has some talented young players in Horvat, Stecher, and Baertschi, they are not established enough to carry a team. Add in the most expensive third line that is masquerading as a first line with Eriksson and the Sedins and we all see how this is going to end.
Las Vegas Golden Knights
I was a bit dissapointed with how things ended up for the Knights. They had an opportunity to have a pretty decent top 4 D as well as some potentially strong options up front but walked away with plenty of picks and a weak roster. In fairness the team will not be competing for the next 5 years and the picks may end up being more valuable than players who will bolt the first chance they get.
1.) Anaheim Ducks
2.) Edmonton Oilers
3.) Calgary Flames
4.) LA Kings
5.) San Jose Sharks
6.) Arizona Coyotes
7.) Vancouer Canucks
8.) Las Vegas Golden Knights
These are my predictions. The Ducks are the clear cut conference favourite and should enjoy another strong season. Both the Flames and Oilers have some question marks, albeit in different positions but are the next two strongest teams. I think the argument can be made either way for one of these teams to be 2nd in the division.
My biggest surprise is certainly having the Kings finish higher than the Sharks. Overall I believe LA is a better team and having a healthy Quick to start the season could go a long way to helping this team out.
The Coyotes made some good moves but I don't see them finishing higher than any of the teams above them. Lastly we have the Canucks and Golden Knights who will be battling it out for the title of Worst Team.
As far as the Oilers go, I would have liked to see them make more moves but looking around the division I don't see any teams, with the exception of Calgary leap frogging them in the standings. The deadline will be very interesting to watch this season but that's getting ahead of ourselves. In the meantime...
Thanks for reading!