It’s been no secret that over the past six seasons, the Pacific Division was regarded as one of the leagues least competitive. Let’s face it, for basically the entirety of the Golden Knights’ existence three or four teams were annually counted out of contention before the puck hit opening night ice. Vegas is the only team to reach the Stanley Cup Final in that span and the Golden Knights became the first Pacific division team to win the Cup since 2014.
Heading into the 2023-24 season, the division looks to play out the same way it did last year. Of course, it’s foolish to eliminate teams before the season begins but would anyone be surprised if Anaheim, San Jose, or Vancouver missed the 2024 playoffs? According to Sportsnet, they wouldn’t be.
Whether it’s a repeat from Vegas, a breakthrough for Edmonton, or something of a Cinderella story from Los Angeles or Seattle, might the 2024 Stanley Cup champion come out of the Pacific Division again? Might this division also house the team that “wins” the first-overall selection? –Sportsnet.ca
According to William Hill, the Pacific Division is expected to be conquered by the Edmonton Oilers (+180), the reigning champions (+210) or the LA Kings (+440) in 2024. The divisional odds are not much different from last season’s expected winners. Vegas came away with division with Edmonton and LA filling out the top three Pacific clubs. As you go further down the list, the prices drastically get larger, suggesting that it would be a major surprise if any team outside of the top three took the division.
William Hill Pacific Division Winner
- Edmonton Oilers: (+180)
- Vegas Golden Knights: (+210)
- LA Kings: (+440)
- Calgary Flames: (+800)
- Seattle Kraken: (+1300)
- Vancouver Canucks: (+2000)
- San Jose Sharks: (+10000)
- Anaheim Ducks: (+10000)
Sportsnet broke down each Pacific Division team and divided them into five different tiers. Clearly, the Golden Knights landed in the top tier and deserve to be in by themselves.
The defending champs are in a tier by themselves, and winning the Stanley Cup within owner Bill Foley’s six-year window after getting the team will provide a grace period. But, as always in Vegas, the clear expectation is to keep winning and the hope would be to snuggle a second banner beside the first one next year. –Sportsnet.ca
Although the Oilers are favored to win the group, Sportsnet projected them to be the divisional runner-up to the world champions. As we’ve exhaustedly covered this offseason, there are mountains of motivation coming from Edmonton. Team leaders Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are fed up with individual achievements and their lack of playoff success. We shall see if losing to the Golden Knights in the second round is enough of a motive to overcome the division.
Where Vegas has broken through to win, the Oilers have bowed out to the eventual champions two years in a row. It’s time for the Oilers to do it. All the pieces are in place… anything short of a deep, deep run this season would be a disappointment. –Sportsnet.ca
There’s an argument that Los Angeles should be in the second tier along with Edmonton, but Sportsnet dropped the Kings to the third level of Pacific Division contenders. LA is joined by the Seattle Kraken as the two teams closest to challenging Vegas and Edmonton for the #1 seed in the Pacific.Next up is the two remaining Canadian teams. Putting it frankly, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks were utter embarrassments last season. Many expected the Flames to secure the Pacific Division in 2023 and for the Canucks to battle for a playoff spot. Going into 2023-24, who knows where each team is heading? Sure, both organizations tweaked their rosters but are they good enough to push the division?
The Flames lost so many close games in 2022-23 that you could easily build a case for why they could be the bounce-back team of 2023-24.
The Canucks refuse to believe they must entertain the idea of a rebuild and insist that this core will eventually get on to something. So what is the reality here? –Sportsnet.ca
Lastly, we have the expected bottom-feeders of the Pacific Division. Anaheim and San Jose combined for 118 points, that’s seven points more than the Golden Knights last season. Both were among the worst records in NHL and it likely won’t get much better in 2023-24.
Sure, championship hangovers happen but the Golden Knights are well built to overcome their mediocre division. It’s likely that four teams from the Pacific will qualify for the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs and Vegas should be one of them. Considering Anaheim and San Jose have other plans, the Golden Knights will really only have to worry about eclipsing the records of two other Pacific clubs. And proven by their championship run, the reigning champs can get it done at home or on the road so losing the top seed to Edmonton isn’t too concerning.