Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Puck Daddy

Post-Olympic Break Primer: Pacific Division

Puck Daddy

View gallery

.

Western Conference 2.23.14

The Olympics are over. Time to stop celebrating medals. We are at a much more important time of the year: the stretch drive to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Teams have around 22 to 25 games remaining in their NHL schedule. The season resumes play on Tuesday with Buffalo and Carolina making up a cancelled game from January.

In order to get you ready for the final third(ish) of the season, we gathered together some of the best and the brightest around the hockey-blogging world to get their thoughts on the remaining portion of the season. They address their team's play prior to the Olympic-break, possible activity at the trade deadline (March 5), and predictions for the playoffs.

To start things off, a look at the Pacific Division.

View gallery

.

Getty Images

Anaheim Ducks (41-14-5, 87 pts.)

By: Chris Kober, Anaheim Calling

Pre-Break MVP: Ryan Getzlaf - Quite simply the captain does everything for this team. He leads the team in scoring (29-38-67) but that’s just the tip if the iceberg. He’s amazing on the PK and can seemingly will the Ducks to victory with size, speed and skill.

Pre-Break LVP: Luca Sbisa – This is a tough one because the season has gone so well, but Sbisa often gets caught out of position trying to do more than he needs to and is currently displacing the young talent of Sami Vatanen from the roster.

Pre-Break Team Grade: A (Exceeded Expectations). It’s just hard to believe that last year’s start wasn’t a fluke, especially after having been told by everyone in the hockey (stats) world that it was and seeing it come crumbling down in the first round. Plus who could expect a 20-0-2 home start?

At the trade deadline, the Ducks will ... buyers only.

What do the Ducks need to buy at the deadline? Since the Ducks are pretty well set at forward and in goal, defense is the obvious answer, but the emergence of Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen has been a pleasant surprise, so they’d likely be looking just to add some depth rather than a big name.

What are the Ducks willing to give up to get what they need? There is a glut of goaltending in the Ducks’ system, but I doubt the return would be worthwhile. Also with Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu nearing the end forward prospects are at a premium, so mostly picks, especially with two firsts in the 2014 draft.

At the end of the regular season, the Ducks will end up ... safely in a playoff spot.
Top 3 of Division or Wildcard? Top 3

When will the Ducks' season end? Eliminated in semi-finals

Which WC team do the Ducks NOT want to play in the playoffs? The Ducks have had a terrible time with Dallas this season and the way that the Kings turn up the heat in the postseason is terrifying.

Western Conference Champ: Chicago Blackhawks
Eastern Conference Champ: Pittsburgh Penguins
Stanley Cup Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins

View gallery

.

Brent Burns (Getty Images)

San Jose Sharks (37-16-6, 80 pts.)

By: Megalodon, Battle of California

Pre-Break MVP: Thornton, Pavelski, and Marleau are all fine choices here, but nobody was more valuable to the team during the opening 50+ games than Brent Burns. When Burns was hurt, the Sharks were totally lost offensively. He's absolutely essential.

Pre-Break LVP: Mike Brown sucks at hockey and shouldn't be on the Sharks or any NHL team. I do not understand how Sharks' GM Doug Wilson can make so many brilliant and wonderful roster moves and then go out and get a worthless hump like Mike Brown.

Pre-Break Team Grade: B (met expectations). The Sharks are right near the top of the Pacific, perfectly poised to pass up the plummeting Anaheim Ducks in the final weeks of the season. With the roster the Sharks have, anything outside of the top two spots in the division is a failure.

At the trade deadline, the Sharks will ... do nothing. They're fine the way they are, and there just aren't a lot of logical moves to make. Dumping Dan Boyle's salary would make sense if they weren't playing so well, but as it is they need him around for another shot at the Cup.

At the end of the regular season, the Sharks will end up ... safely in a playoff spot.

Top 3 of Division or Wildcard? Top 3

When will the Sharks' season end? Eliminated in Western Conference Finals

Which WC team do the Sharks NOT want to play in the playoffs? The Chicago Blackhawks, because they are still obviously the best team in the league and it's not fair. I think the Sharks can beat any other team in the West in a playoff series, but getting by the Blackhawks would take more luck than the Sharks have ever benefited from in the past.

Western Conference Champ: Chicago Blackhawks
Eastern Conference Champ: Pittsburgh Penguins
Stanley Cup Winner: Chicago Blackhawks

View gallery

.

Getty Images

Los Angeles Kings (31-22-6, 68 pts.)

By: The Royal Half, The Royal Half

Pre-Break MVP: Sure, he's had his patented scoring slumps, but Anze Kopitar has provided the closest thing to consistent offense this season. Kopitar's defensive game has also been so good the fact he's gets ignored for a Selke gets more and more ridiculous.

Pre-Break LVP: 10 goals and 16 points in 58 games are subpar numbers for LA Kings Captain, Dustin Brown. Something is wrong with Brown's game this year, be it an injury or discord with Darryl Sutter. And that 8 year, $47 million contract kicks in next season.

Pre-Break Team Grade: C (Not good, not terrible). Yes, they're in the playoff hunt but yet again the LA Kings offense continues to disappoint. They are "built for the playoffs" but the only reason the Kings are in a playoff spot today is because Vancouver is awful. Well, and Phoenix.

At the trade deadline, the Kings will ... be buyers only.

What do the Kings need to buy at the deadline? Even though they aren't scoring, the LA Kings Top 6 can compete with the rest of the league. The Kings are missing bottom 6 depth scoring and Dean Lombardi will probably focus there or on a stay-at-home defensemen.

What are the Kings willing to give up to get what they need? After giving up 1st Rounders for Dustin Penner and Jeff Carter, Dean Lombardi might be gun-shy about losing yet another one. But with Kyle Clifford's name out in rumors before the break, it seems like some of the young core could be available.

At the end of the regular season, the Kings will end up ... on the playoff bubble.

What do the Kings need to do to make the post-season? Score! And then score some more. Jon Quick seems to have recovered from his pre-injury slump and will give the Kings a chance to win every night. I'm just asking for 3 goals a game to make the playoffs... is that too much?

Say the Kings do make the playoffs, when does their season end? Eliminated in conference finals.

Which WC team do the Kings NOT want to play in the playoffs? The St. Louis Blues once they trade for Ryan Miller. (Because with a decent goalie, the Blues have a serious axe to grind with the Kings.) Barring a Blues goalie upgrade, I don't think anyone in the West wants to face the Chicago Blackhawks, right?

Western Conference Champ: Chicago Blackhawks
Eastern Conference Champ: Pittsburgh Penguins
Stanley Cup Winner: Chicago Blackhawks

View gallery

.

Getty Images

Phoenix Coyotes (27-21-20, 64 pts.)

By: Jaime Eisner, Five For Howling

Pre-Break MVP: Antoine Vermette. He leads the team in goals (21) by a healthy margin while winning 55.8% of his faceoffs. He plays significant PP and PK time when he’s not facing the other team’s top forwards 5v5. He is on pace to have his first 30-goal season.

Pre-Break LVP: Rusty Klesla. After suffering a preseason head injury, he has not been the same, the result being four points in 25 games and a pair of trips to the AHL for the veteran defenseman. Odds are good that Klesla has played his last game in Sedona Red.

Pre-Break Team Grade: C (Not good, not terrible). The Coyotes are right in middle of the wild card race with games in hand on most of the teams around them. A tie-breaker is the only thing keeping Phoenix out of the final playoff spot. Phoenix squandered a hot start to get to this point, however, and can only blame itself if they miss the playoffs.

At the trade deadline, the Coyotes will ... be buyers only.

What do the Coyotes need to buy at the deadline? The obvious need is a top-6 winger to play with Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. Phoenix lacks offensive forward talent in the system and needs to find it elsewhere. Other needs include a physical stay-at-home defenseman and a penalty killing center.

What are the Coyotes willing to give up to get what they need? Very little. GM Don Maloney has expressed his unwillingness to mortgage the future for immediate, temporary gain. Don’t expect the Coyotes to give up top prospects or first round picks. But, Phoenix does have defensive depth it can part with.

At the end of the regular season, the Coyotes will end up ... on the playoff bubble.

What do the Coyotes need to do to make the post-season? Find consistency and an identity. The Coyotes have beaten some of the best teams in the NHL only to lose to some of the worst teams. In-game consistency is imperative as well as Phoenix has a tendency to play one great period and two mediocre ones.

Say the Coyotes do make the playoffs, when does their season end? Eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Which WC team do the Coyotes NOT want to play in the playoffs? Anaheim. The Coyotes have not found a way to solve those pesky Ducks. Phoenix lost all five games this season against them and six of the last seven. Even though some see Anaheim as a potential 1st round upset, Phoenix may not be the one to do it.

Western Conference Champ: St. Louis Blues
Eastern Conference Champ: Boston Bruins
Stanley Cup Winner: St. Louis Blues

View gallery

.

Getty Images

Vancouver Canucks (27-24-9, 63 pts.)

By: Daniel Wagner, Pass It To Bulis

Pre-Break MVP: With the team on a 7-game losing skid, it's hard to find positives, but Roberto Luongo has been the least disappointing Canuck, giving them a chance to win game-after-game. It's hardly his fault that they haven't taken advantage of those chances.

Pre-Break LVP: Surprisingly, the team's least valuable player has been Alexandre Burrows. All the effort has been there for the normally-reliable winger, but injuries and puck luck have derailed his season. He's now up to 28 games and 62 shots without a goal.

Pre-Break Team Grade: D (Below Expectations). While the Canucks weren't expected to be full-fledged contenders this season, they were expected to be able to compete in the new Pacific Division and make the playoffs. It hasn't worked out that way: numerous injuries and a complete lack of scoring have them on the outside looking in.

At the trade deadline, the Canucks will ... buyers and sellers.

What do the Canucks need to buy at the deadline? The Canucks perennial need is a top-six winger to play with the Sedins or Ryan Kesler, but depth at centre is a more pressing need, with Mike Santorelli done for the season and Henrik Sedin struggling with a rib injury.

What are the Canucks willing to give up to get what they need? The Canucks won't trade prospects or picks, so will try to make deals around the fringes. 4th-liner Dale Weise netted them legitimate defenceman Raphael Diaz, so that might be the type of deal they look to make to improve depth in key positions.

What are the Canucks up to selling at the deadline? Anyone need a barely used David Booth? No? Didn't think so. If the right deal came along, the Canucks might be willing to part with a big name, like Alex Edler or even Ryan Kesler, but it would have to be for a significant (and younger) return.

What do the Canucks want/need in return? Youth, youth, and more youth. The Canucks need to get younger and have an underwhelming prospect pool, so will look to add blue chip prospects and high draft picks if they trade a significant member of their core.

At the end of the regular season, the Canucks will end up ... on the playoff bubble.

What do the Canucks need to do to make the post-season? Score a few goals, preferably all in the same game. The Canucks have scored more than two goals just twice in their last 15 games.

Say the Canucks do make the playoffs, when does their season end? Eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Which WC team do the Canucks NOT want to play in the playoffs? Pick any team not in a wild card spot and, as long as it's not the Colorado Avalanche, I want nothing to do with them. The Blackhawks, Blues, Ducks, Sharks, and Kings are all terrifying in their own way.

Western Conference Champ: San Jose Sharks
Eastern Conference Champ: Pittsburgh Penguins
Stanley Cup Winner: San Jose Sharks

View gallery

.

Sean Monahan as Sears Catalog Model (Getty Images)

Calgary Flames (22-29-7, 51 pts.)

By: Kevin Kraczkowski, Matchsticks and Gasoline

Pre-Break MVP: Sean Monahan, no question. Conventional wisdom would dictate that most blogs would point to their leading scorer, their top goaltender, or their number one defenseman. Calgary has to hold out hope for the future. Enter super-rookie Monahan.

Pre-Break LVP: Brian McGrattan. He's the only team "regular" with negative point shares. He has one goal, two assists and 95 penalty minutes. Honestly, I don't know why the Flames FO keeps McGrattan and fellow bruiser Kevin Westgarth holding down the fourth line.

Pre-Break Team Grade: C (Not good, not terrible). Calgary's fanbase has proven to be understanding and patient. We all knew we would be in for a rebuild coming into this season. 22-29-7 isn't exactly pretty, but it's around what we were expecting, TBH. Maybe we'll see the team flip that number around next season.

At the trade deadline, the Flames will ... be sellers only.

What are the Flames up to selling at the deadline? Mike Cammalleri. He's got the tools to quickly energize a playoff-bound team, and his contract expires after this season.

What do the Flames want/need in return? Calgary needs another option in net. Ramo is a good number two on most teams, and Reto Berra should be at the AHL level. Failing that, draft picks are always a welcome asset.

At the end of the regular season, the Flames will end up ... praying for the top lottery pick

If the Flames receive the first overall pick, they should draft ... a defenseman.

Western Conference Champ: Chicago Blackhawks
Eastern Conference Champ: Tampa Bay Lightning
Stanley Cup Winner: Chicago Blackhawks

View gallery

.

The Chosen One (Getty Images)

Edmonton Oilers (20-33-7, 47 pts.)

By: Allan Mitchell, Lowetide

Pre-Break MVP: Taylor Hall. His scoring numbers are outstanding despite some concern over his possession numbers. Hall's ability to create offense makes him extremely valuable.

Pre-Break LVP: Sam Gagner. The severe injury in Vancouver combined with his returning much too soon hurt the Oilers in a major way.

Pre-Break Team Grade: F (miserable failure). You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who predicted the Oilers season correctly. At they very least the expectation was some improvement. It's been an epic failure, beginning with goaltending and coverage and continuing to a ghastly power play.

At the trade deadline, the Oilers will ... be buyers and sellers.

What do the Oilers need to buy at the deadline? Solutions to next year's problems. I think Edmonton will "buy" contracts for players they deem as being possible solutions to problems. The recent acquisition of Matt Hendricks is an example. They also need draft picks.

What are the Oilers willing to give up to get what they need? The list of available talent from Edmonton is fairly well known: Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth, Nick Schultz, Corey Potter, Anton Belov, Ilya Bryzgalov may all be available; all are UFA's except Sam Gagner. Edmonton may also be willing to take on bad contracts if the return is good.

What do the Oilers want/need in return? Established NHL players or NHL ready players. They can't afford any more rebuilding. The Oilers must be more competitive next season.

At the end of the regular season, the Oilers will end up ... praying for the top lottery pick
If the Oilers receive the first overall pick, they should draft ... a defenseman

Western Conference Champ: St. Louis Blues
Eastern Conference Champ: Boston Bruins
Stanley Cup Winner: St. Louis Blues

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball
View Comments (9)