By GTOG Staff (follow Finesse and Artistry on Twitter)
Do we stay up and watch a lot of West Coast games? Not really. But still. Here's our Pacific Division Preview. Take it to the bank.
Best Case: The Ducks continue to get lights-out goaltending from Hiller and Fasth and career years from the twin towers, Getzlaf and Perry. A weight has lifted with the departure of Bobby Ryan. Bruce Boudreau still has goodwill in the locker room and at the local Sbarro.
Worst Case: THEY TRADED THE WRONG GUY. Listen, we know the cap is expected to go up, they're still only 28, centers are more valuable than wingers, etc., etc., yada yada yada. But 8 years, $66M for Getzlaf, and 8 years, $69M for Perry? Yikes. Some context for the next time you hear complaints about the Crosby contract: Perry is essentially the same cap hit, but he's also 2 years older, a winger, never scored 100 points, and had 20 fewer points that Crosby last season despite playing in 6 more games than Sid. Perry's 2010-11 MVP trophy might as well be a big bronze asterisk.
Prediction: More male pattern baldness. Boudreau still can't get a good team over the hump in the playoffs.
Best Case: Ummm. Uhhhhh..... Hm. The Ben Hanowski era!!!!
Worst Case: Mike Cammalleri afflicts the whole team with a critical case of Mike Cammalleri face.
Prediction: Pain. And a lot of time by us spent on Capgeek figuring out trades for Cammalleri. And by a lot of time, we mean A LOT OF TIME.
Much more after the jump...
Best Case: They figure out a way to balance out the roster. A+ job locking up Hall, Eberle, and Nugent-Hopkins long-term at $6M/year, but that means bye-bye Ales Hemsky, and a lot of uncertainty about the future of super sniper Nail Yakupov. It can't be all speed and flash.
Worst Case: Andrew Ference is a solid enough player, but he's not Rod Langway. Another cold, cold winter in the Oilers' zone.
Prediction: Man, it's a lot easier to make the playoffs in the West than in the East these post-realignment days (7% easier, to be exact). The Oilers still don't cut it. But if they do, they instantly become the Western Conference's "team that can't win the Cup but that no one wants to play in the playoffs." Like the Islanders.
Los Angeles Kings
Best Case: They give Neil Greenberg another Corsi Boner.
Worst Case: With the Olympics looming, Jonathan Quick has another less-than-spectacular regular season. They settle into the 2010-2013 Penguins phase where everything looks the same as when they won the Cup, but something just feels off.
Prediction: Whatever he does in the regular season, Quick will have another spectacular post-season, as will clutch playoff performers like Dustin Brown and Justin Williams.
Best Case: They're still in Phoenix. You want more? The defense establishes itself as among the best in the league, Mike Smith is a rock, and Dave Tippett is coach of the year.
Worst Case: It doesn't matter, because there's such meager punch up front. Your leading scorer can't be a defenseman.
Prediction: Maybe they sneak into the dance. More likely, this is the year they begin to regret committing to 36-year-old Shane Doan as their most important offensive player. Better late than never.
San Jose Sharks
Best Case: If the Sharks are at all under the radar, they shouldn't be. Rock solid organ-i-zation finally puts it together and comes out of the West.
Worst Case: Tyler Kennedy flourishes riding shotgun with Joe Thornton and Brett Burns on the top line, potting the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Finals against Pittsburgh with a blistering snapshot past a flailing Marc-Andre Fleury, then he tenderly licks his stick in celebration.
Prediction: We don't care, as long as it's not the Worst Case Scenario.
Best Case: They have a good record and want to kill their coach.
Worst Case: They have a bad record and actually kill their coach.
Prediction: Their coach kills a Canucks beat writer.
2. San Jose
3. Los Angeles