With the start of the regular season right around the corner, let’s take a quick look at the Pacific Division favorites and what they’ve been up to during the offseason!
Vegas Golden Knights: The team of misfits is gearing up for their second season ever after completing an incredible run for the Stanley Cup. They’ve made some changes to their lineup, most notably adding Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty to help cushion the loss of David Perron and James Neal. The Knights are also going to need to fill the void left by Nate Schmidt since it was announced that he’s violated the NHL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game throughout the postseason and it’s not looking like he’ll falter any time soon. Overall, the team’s story was earth-shaking, but now its time to see if that “Vegas Magic” we all talked about has worn off.
San Jose Sharks: The San Jose defense is going to be a force to be reckoned with this season. It’ll be interesting to see how they spread out the wealth of defensive talent they have, now that they’ve acquired Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators. Their blue line is solid with Karlsson now alongside Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. They’ve also re-signed Evander Kane, who has fit in like a puzzle piece since joining the team. Martin Jones shows a ton of promise to evolve into a top goaltender over the length of the 6-year contract he signed, which begins this season. Like everyone else, the Sharks are gunning for the Cup, and their hoping Kane and Karlsson will tip them over the edge to success this season.
Los Angeles Kings: After missing the playoffs 3 years in a row, getting swept by the Knights had to sting, but the Kings are hoping to be on the upswing this season. The team did not sit by quietly, securing some solid contracts during the offseason. They inked Ilya Kovalchuk to a 3 year/$18.75 million deal. Although he’s been out of the NHL for five years, Kovalchuk is returning after playing in Russia and boasts back-to-back 40-goal seasons. Drew Doughty solidified his place with the Kings when he agreed to an 8-year contract. Jonathan Quick remains steady in the net for Los Angeles and won a second Jennings Trophy. The team is still undoubtedly starved for goals, but if they can get a handle on that, they could be looking at a more productive playoff run this year.