In 2023-24, everyone is chasing the Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights. While the Golden Knights have worked to keep their roster as intact as possible, others in the division have taken some steps to try and catch up with Vegas.
The Pacific Division has seen some changes so far this summer with the most significant coming from the blockbuster trade made by the Los Angeles Kings. Here’s a look at the additions and subtractions from each of the seven other Pacific Division teams.
Additions: Alex Killorn, Radko Gudas, Robert Hagg
Subtractions: Kevin Shattenkirk
The Ducks are still going to be a bad team. That being said, as their younger players gain more and more experience, they are going to be much tougher to beat night in and night out. The addition of Alex Killorn is a good one as he’ll slot into the top-six and likely help players like Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras improve defensively. Gudas for Shattenkirk may not make the team any better at hockey, but it’ll definitely add a bit more flavor to their games. Simply put, the Ducks will likely still not be a threat to the Golden Knights.
Additions: Jordan Oesterle, Yegor Sharangovich
Subtractions: Tyler Toffoli, Milan Lucic, Trevor Lewis, Troy Stecher
The Flames have to be better than they were a year ago. In a way, they remind me a bit of the Golden Knights heading into last season where everyone knew the roster was strong but there were still major question marks due to missing the playoffs the year prior. The loss of Toffoli will hurt but Oesterle and Sharangovich will certainly bring more offense than Lucic and Lewis did last year. They still have a strong top-six, a decent blue line, and a goalie who has shown he can be great. Calgary’s bounce-back could be fierce, but the offseason additions shouldn’t really concern the Golden Knights.
Additions: Connor Brown
Subtractions: Kailer Yamamoto, Nick Bjugstad, Klim Kostin
There’s one place the Oilers really needed to improve this offseason and they didn’t do it. They’ll return essentially the same defensive corps as last year which was clearly not good enough to slow down the Golden Knights. Obviously, the Oilers remain a massive threat as long as Connor and Leon are healthy, but an offseason highlighted by the addition of Connor Brown is unlikely to solve the other problem they faced against Vegas, even strength.
Los Angeles Kings
Additions: Pierre-Luc Dubois, Trevor Lewis, Cam Talbot
Subtractions: Gabe Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari, Sean Durzi, Sean Walker, Joonas Korpisalo, Cal Petersen
The Kings suddenly look terrifying down the middle of the ice. Dubois now slots in with Anze Kopitar and Philip Danault to make a trio of centers that will be incredibly difficult to play against. Los Angeles lost a lot to make this happen though and there’s no question that depth will be an issue for them as they look to replace players at all three positions. Talbot is probably an upgrade in goal and as good as Durzi can be, his absence should make them even better defensively. If some of the Kings’ younger guys can take a big step, they could be a real problem for Vegas.
San Jose Sharks
Additions: Anthony Duclair, Kyle Burroughs, Mackenzie Blackwood
Subtractions: Steven Lorentz, James Reimer
The long rebuild continues for the Sharks and eventually, they’ll complete the next step of shipping off their best player, Norris winner, Erik Karlsson. This team was terrible and they’ll remain terrible for the foreseeable future.
Additions: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Kailer Yamamoto, Brian Dumoulin
Subtractions: Daniel Sprong, Morgan Geekie, Ryan Donato, Carson Soucy
Just looking at the names coming in compared to the names going out, it appears the Kraken have gotten worse. That being said, if we looked at a lineup that included Sprong, Geekie, and Donato last summer, we would not have been projecting a trip to the second round. Seattle has been named as a possible landing spot for Erik Karlsson which could change things a bit, but until the Kraken show they can stay on the ice with the Golden Knights, it’s hard to consider them as true competition to the Cup Champs.
Additions: Teddy Blueger, Carson Soucy, Ian Cole
Subtractions: Kyle Burroughs, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ethan Bear
At some point, the Canucks should be able to figure out how to become a good hockey team with the elite talent they have at the top of their roster. However, that really hasn’t happened for a few years and there’s not much in this offseason that indicates much will change on that front. If everything falls into place, Vancouver have enough good players to be a problem for anyone in the league, but things never seem to fall in place for them.