Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned: The Pacific Division feels like the one to watch

Let's assume the Edmonton Oilers are set.

They have no real moves to make and have a fairly deep forward group, perfectly acceptable defence corps, and apparently they "addressed" the goaltending situation over the summer. If Jack Campbell is as good as he was in Toronto (which is to say kinda bad despite a solid save percentage, because the Maple Leafs were so stout defensively), they should be fine and primed to secure a divisional playoff spot with relative ease.

Their provincial rivals in Calgary seem primed to take a step back. Several of their players punched well above their weight in terms of output and are therefore regression candidates. 

Without two All-Star wingers by his side, Flames centre Elias Lindholm doesn't feel like a 40-goal guy. Andrew Mangiapane probably won't pop in 35 again. Jacob Markström should be good, but likely not a Vezina Trophy candidate who will go .930ish through his first 40 appearances. That means a step back, but they have one of the best defenses in the league and, for a team that finished with 111 points (sixth in the league) the odds they drop out of the divisional playoff race feel slim.

The Vegas Golden Knights? Well, everyone had them written in ink as one of the three playoff teams from the Pacific Division, but with Robin Lehner out for the year, no amount of Adin Hill-level trades are going to convince everyone a foolproof backup plan was in place. 

Now it's up to Bruce Cassidy to create the kind of defensive structure in which those relatively untested goaltenders can succeed, and history says he does that pretty effectively, so here too we can say "missing the playoffs" is an unlikely outcome except in the event of another plague of injuries, which is always a possibility.

Access this article with EP Premium

Go Premium to access this article

Register your Premium-membership at to get access to this article and more quality, in-depth coverage at EP Rinkside

This article is about:
NHL Anaheim Ducks Calgary Flames Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings San Jose Sharks Vancouver Canucks Vegas Golden Knights NHL Adin Hill Robin Lehner Elias Lindholm Andrew Mangiapane Jacob Markström Bruce Boudreau Bruce Cassidy
Scoring Leaders