These previews are just short bursts of information because you don’t want fancy stats and numbers. You want quick talking points so you look less dumb in front of your friends. Fancy stats and numbers just makes you look like an asshole.
Anaheim Ducks: Always one of the best teams in the regular season, the Ducks have struggled in the playoffs in recent years. They’ve brought back Randy Carlyle and there’s plenty of optimism in Anaheim. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are still forces, but the depth behind them is pretty questionable. Their defense is in good shape with Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen leading the way. Whether or not John Gibson can be a #1 goaltender remains to be seen. I picked the Ducks to win the Cup last year, but I’m not so high on them this season. They’ll be a contender, but their championship window might be shut for good.
Arizona Coyotes: When Anthony Duclair, Max Domi, and Dylan Strome are on the ice; Arizona will be a fun team to watch. Otherwise, they’re a pretty pedestrian group up front. They have two top-end defensemen in Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Goligoski. Expect EKL’s name to pop up in trade rumors throughout the season. Mike Smith can steal games for them when he’s on, but I have my doubts about him being on. The Coyotes are at least a year away from competing, but it’ll be fun to keep an eye on the development of their three young forwards.
Calgary Flames: I don’t know what to make of the Flames. Two years ago, they surprised everyone and made the playoffs. Last year, they were a mess and fired their coach. Johnny Gaudreau is one of the best young players in the game and he’s surrounded by solid talent like Mikael Backlund, Sean Monahan, and Sam Bennett. Unfortunately, that’s where the talent ends for Calgary as their depth is atrocious. The same can be said about their defense. Dougie Hamilton, Mark Giordano, and TJ Brodie are really good, but everyone else is really bad. They acquired Brian Elliott to give them a true #1 goalie and he’ll be relied upon a lot throughout the year. If Calgary can get any contributions from their depth, they could contend for a playoff spot.
Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid, Connor McDavid, Connor McDavid. If you say his name three times, he appears does magic on the ice. The story has been the same with the Oilers for years: a lot of top-five draft picks, all forwards, who haven’t panned out thanks to a losing culture, no defensive help, and poor goaltending. The story will be the same this year. McDavid is amazing, the addition of Milan Lucic will help, Leon Draisaitl is a strong #2 center, and Jesse Puljujarvi could light things up if given a chance. However, they did nothing to improve their defense. They traded Taylor Hall, their second best player and best pure goal scorer, for Adam Larsson, a #3 defenseman. Cam Talbot wasn’t great last year, but it’s tough to fault him given the team in front of him.
Los Angeles Kings: A team as steady as they come and a frustrating team to play against. The Kings aren’t going to dazzle you. They’re going to wear you down and make you submit. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are two of the best players at their position, and you can make a case that Doughty is the best defenseman in the league. They have trouble scoring goals and Jonathan Quick isn’t as good as people will have you believe, but they play such a defensive style that they grind out 2-1 and 3-2 wins. They’re good, they’re boring, they’re the Kings.
San Jose Sharks: The West representative in the Stanley Cup Finals last year, the Sharks seem poised to make another run now that they’ve finally gotten over the first hump. The Sharks are returning all of their core players and they’ve added Mikkel Boedker to give their secondary scoring a boost. While their top players are all elite, they’re also on the old side of things. If they suffer any type of drop off, the Sharks won’t be as good as they were last season. Still, it’s tough to see a team with Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Martin Jones, and a handful of other good-great players not be at the top of the standings.
Vancouver Canucks: There’s not a whole lot to like in Vancouver. The Sedin twins are still the Sedin twins, but they don’t have much around them. After a poor season last year, instead of trying to rebuild and develop young talent, the Canucks went out and acquired a bunch of veterans in hopes of maybe contending for a wild card spot. I really don’t know what this team is doing and I wouldn’t be surprised if things go south quickly for Vancouver.