#NHL Pacific Division Update 2011-12

Half of the Western Conference playoff field came from the Pacific Division last year.  At the end of each summary we will highlight just one blog for that respective team, but there are many quality sites out there if you care to search for them.  Please share your comments on the rest of the teams across the NHL as we fill the void of the offseason.

Anaheim Ducks
2010-2011 Record: 47-30-5 (2nd  in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far: The moves have not been fast and furious in Anaheim, but the way they closed the season made it easier to stand pat.  Jonas Hiller was superb in goal to help the team back to the playoffs although he had some injury issues.  Hiller said he is ready for the season.  Kurtis Foster came over in exchange for Andy Sutton. Center Andrew Cogliano also comes over in a trade and Brian McGrattan was added for some depth.
                                          Kyle Palmieri on draft day (blog.nj.com)

Analysis: I’m not sure Ducks’ fans have stopped talking about Corey Perry’s 50 goal season.  However, Teemu Selanne decided to come back for another year just to energize the Anaheim faithful some more.  Kyle Palmieri hopes to stick with the team for the full season as the Ducks seem to have an open battle for the third and fourth lines.  Barring injury, this team should battle for the division lead.

Dallas Stars
2010-2011 Record: 42-29-11 (5th in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far: Dallas started showing a change in philosophy at the beginning of last year and continued it through the season.  So while they are still trying to finalize the transition to a new ownership, the team moves forward.  Michael Ryder, Sheldon Souray, Vernon Fiddler, and Radek Dvorak were all added on July 1.  Of course the big news is the loss of Brad Richards to the Rangers as the number one free agent got a big contract from the blue shirts.

Analysis: Dallas may have finished last in the Pacific, but they were only two points from making the playoffs.  Mike Ribeiro is expected to have a heightened role and seems to have embraced that idea.  Alex Goligoski filled in on the power play admirably with Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas helping to create a lot of movement on the man advantage in the last three months of the season.  How will Kari Lehtonen fair in goal for Dallas with Andrew Raycroft backing him up?

Los Angeles Kings
2010-2011 Record: 46-30-6 (4th  in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far: News swirled around the Kings as an active location this offseason and they did not disappoint Los Angeles acquired Mike Richards from Philadelphia a week before the free agency period.  Next Colin Fraser was added then Simon Gagne signed a two year deal. Ethan Moreau was a recent signing and this is in addition to the acquisition of Dustin Penner at last year’s trade deadline.  The Kings shook up their roster letting go of Brayden Schenn, Ryan Smyth, and Wayne Simmonds. 

Analysis: The biggest news is that Drew Doughty is holding out waiting for a new contract from the squad and general manager Dean Lombardi.  Lombardi says his offer will not increase and even threatened to reduce the offer for each day Doughty is not in camp.  Matt Greene, Jack Johnson, and Rob Scuderi could have more burden if the holdout is prolonged.  Anze Kopitar enters his sixth season with some thinking he can still improve his consistency throughout the season.  Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier are a great tandem in net. There are a lot of uncertainties still with the Kings, so they could finish anywhere from first to third in the division. 

Phoenix Coyotes
2010-2011 Record: 43-26-13 (3rd  in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far:  Is the biggest story that the Coyotes are still in Glendale?  This season is a turning point for the Arizona franchise as there are still questions about its ownership.  The team also lost long time goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and now will be looking at Mike Smith, Curtis McElhinney, or Jason Labarbera to emerge as the number one.  Lee Stempniak was shipped to Calgary for Daymond Langkow. No big name free agents made their way to the desert, but the Coyotes did resign Keith Yandle.  Phoenix also lost Eric Belanger and Ed Jovanovski.

Analysis: Phoenix took the biggest step backwards in the Pacific but still scratched and clawed its way into the playoffs.  They have a roster filled with role players that needs to be pieced together just right behind Langkow, Shane Doan, and Ray Whitney.  The questions in goal could prove to be too much while youngsters Andy Miele and Oliver Ekman-Larsson hope to make a positive impact.  Yandel, Derek Morris, and Adrian Aucoin will provide the veteran presence on the blue line.

San Jose Sharks
2010-2011 Record: 48-30-5 (1st  in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far: Dany Heatley did not live up to his billing in San Jose during postseason play and now finds a home in Minnesota to make room for Martin Havlat.  Brent Burns could be the biggest offseason acquisition for this perennial pacific powerhouse.  Colin White was signed to provide depth on the blue line.  Michal Handzus and Jim Vandermeer also call San Jose home for the 2010-11 season.  Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Jamal Mayers, and Ian White all departed in the offseason.

Analysis: Although the Sharks made it to the conference final, it was clear the front office had a plan and set it in motion quickly after the season ended.  Despite not playing a game the chemistry of the team seems improved while Havlat and Burns should be solid additions. Antti Niemi and Antero Nittymaki improved over the season and Logan Couture looks to improve on a great rookie campaign.  The Sharks should be at the top of the division once again. 


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