NHL 2016-17 Preview: Puck Daddy picks Pacific Division

The 2016-17 NHL season is finally upon us, which means it’s time to start picking, prognosticating and forecasting the standings.

We previewed the Atlantic earlier. Now, here’s how our panel of so-called experts sees the Pacific Division shaking out. They sincerely hope you forget you ever saw this unless they’re right:

Pacific Division
Pacific Division

Greg Wyshynski, Editor: The Kings are a 102-point team again and just edge out San Jose for the division lead. Everyone’s predicting a Ducks’ fall from grace, and I’ll jump on the pile: The preseason has already shown that Bruce Boudreau took his offensive pixie dust with him to Minnesota.

This is the season where Connor McDavid drags the Oilers to the playoff bubble but they just fall short of topping their rivals for the last playoff spot. Next time, Sweet Prince of Pucks. Next time.

Sean Leahy, Editor: California will reign supreme with the defending conference champs taking the division with the Kings right behind them. The Randy Carlyle Effect means that the Ducks will take a small step back but still end up in the Western Conference playoff picture. Calgary and Arizona are making small steps toward being playoff contenders, but they’ll fall just short come April.

Jen Neale, Editor: The Pacific is still a dumpster fire. Anaheim will sneak in and not because of Randy Carlyle’s coaching. San Jose and LA are interchangeable at the top. The rest of the teams aren’t ready for prime time. Yes, even the Flames with their new goaltending. Still have a lot of growing to do.

Josh Cooper, Editor: I was close to putting the Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs, but ultimately I just couldn’t do it. That group should improve greatly but they’ll come up short. I see the usual powers controlling the Central and the Pacific for one more year. Again in the Pacific, it’s basically a tossup between the Kings, Sharks and Ducks

Ryan Lambert, Columnist: San Jose will have the luxury of being the best team in a worsening division. Los Angeles probably finishes a little higher in the Pacific than Chicago does in the Central. Anaheim’s the last team in, because somebody has to be in that division.

Steve Laidlaw, Fantasy Columnist: If the league rules allowed it, I’d have the entire Central Division in the playoffs. All of these teams look more talented than what we have in the Pacific or most of the East. Since we don’t have that option, the status quo remains in the Pacific.

Sam McCaig, NHL Editor: It’s all about the West Coast (again) with the Ducks, Kings and Sharks in the mix for first place. Nobody else in the Pacific makes the playoffs, but look for the Flames and Oilers to make it interesting.