Wrapping up the division-by-division looks at the NHL heading into the summer, here’s the Pacific Division. The Kings are excluded, since it would be a tad redundant to cover the same ground we’ve been treading, but here’s how the other four teams look, starting with how they finished in the division and conference this season…
1. San Jose Sharks, 105 points (2nd in Western Conference)
2. Anaheim Ducks, 99 points (4th in Western Conference)
3. Phoenix Coyotes, 99 points (6th in Western Conference)
4. Kings, 98 points (7th in Western Conference)
5. Dallas Stars, 95 points (9th in Western Conference)
Hanging around?: The Ducks have a dominating first line in center Ryan Getzlaf and wingers Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry, and they’re all under contract for at least two more seasons. The Ducks have also managed to rebuild their defense, from the Niedermayer-Pronger era, and have all six of their top defensemen under contract next season. Anaheim has breakthrough goalie Jonas Hiller under contract for three more seasons, but will he be healthy for the start of next season?
Saying goodbye?: Teemu Selanne is the only significant player the Ducks risk losing this summer, and for Selanne it’s a matter of retiring or returning to the Ducks. Selanne turns 41 this summer, but he scored 31 goals this season and still seems to have enough in the tank to be productive for another season. For the Ducks, the key will be to get a decision from Selanne early in the season, so that they have time to replace him should he decide to retire.
Draft card: Having built their defense in the short term, the Ducks will be a formidable opponent if some of their forward prospects can break through behind the Getzlaf-Ryan-Perry line. At the junior level this season, Emerson Etem scored 45 goals in 65 games while Peter Holland scored 37 goals in 67 games. Kyle Palmieri scored 29 goals in 62 games in the AHL this season and also got a 10-game taste in the NHL at only age 20.
(Restricted free agents: Nick Bonino, C; Kyle Chipchura, C; John DeGray, D; Ryan Hillier, LW; Jean-Philippe Levasseur, G; Patrick Maroon, LW; Eric Regan, D; Dan Sexton, RW; Nigel Williams, D; Tomas Zaborsky, LW; Sean Zimmerman, D.)
(Unrestricted free agents: Ray Emery, G; Josh Green, LW; Nate Guenin, D; Jason Jaffray, LW; Andreas Lilja, D; Todd Marchant, LW; Brian McGrattan, RW; Joel Perrault, C; Jarkko Ruutu, LW; Teemu Selanne, RW; Brad Winchester, LW.)
Hanging around?: The Stars have a handful of strong pieces in place throughout the lineup, with wingers Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson — ages 21 and 25, respectively — plus 25-year-old defenseman Alex Goligoski, plus goalie Kari Lehtonen, who looked to be a keeper in his first season in Dallas. Brenden Morrow is the centerpiece and has another two years left. The Stars also have veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas plus complementary forwards such as Mike Ribeiro and Steve Ott.
Saying goodbye?: Dallas will be left with a huge hole if, as seems likely, Brad Richards departs via free agency this summer. Given the Stars’ ownership uncertainty, it’s unknown how much they will spend this summer, and the Stars have to make a couple decisions on veteran free agents. Karlis Skrastins and Jeff Woywitka are veteran defensemen and forwards Brian Sutherby and Brandon Segal are energy-line players. Midseason acquisition Jamie Langenbrunner might be likely to move on.
Draft card: There isn’t a lot of short-term help there. Jack Campbell is a highly regarded goalie prospect, but the Stars already appear relatively set with Lehtonen. It’s very possible that 21-year-old defenseman Philip Larsen, who played professionally in Sweden and put up a solid season in the AHL this year, is ready to contribute more at the NHL level, but up front, it doesn’t appear that the Stars will be able to fill many holes from within.
(Restricted free agents: Richard Bachman, G; Sean Backman, RW; Guillaume Monast, D; Colton Sceviour, RW.)
(Unrestricted free agents: Severin Blindenbacher, D; Aaron Gagnon, C; Brent Krahn, G; Jamie Langenbrunner, RW; Philip Larsen, D; Trevor Ludwig, D; Brad Lukowich, D; Travis Morin, F; Brad Richards, C; Raymond Sawada, RW; Brandon Segal, RW; Karlis Skrastins, D; Brian Sutherby, C; Jason Williams, C; Jeff Woywitka, D.)
Hanging around?: The Coyotes have their veterans locked up, particularly on defense. Derek Morris, Michal Rozsival, Adrian Aucoin and Rostislav Klesla are all 29 and older and will be back on defense, and 34-year-old Shane Doan and 39-year-old Ray Whitney have another season up front. This week, the Coyotes re-signed Jason LaBarbara to a two-year contract, so they have at least one NHL-caliber goalie on the roster. Depth forwards Martin Hanzal and Taylor Pyatt are also still around.
Saying goodbye?: Who will be in goal? Ilya Bryzgalov is an unrestricted free agent whose rights have been traded to Philadelphia. The Coyotes still have significant ownership questions going into a summer in which they have many free agents, both restricted and unrestricted. Keith Yandle and Lauri Korpikoski are notable RFAs, and contributors such as Eric Belanger, Vernon Fiddler, Radim Vrbata and Ed Jonvanovski are UFAs. Will the Coyotes spend the money to keep them?
Draft card: As noted, the Coyotes’ group of defensemen is starting to age, so it’s certainly a positive that most of the team’s top prospects are on the blue line. Oliver Ekman-Larsson spent more than half of this season in the NHL and should be ready for the full-time jump, and defensemen such as Brandon Gormley, David Schlemko and Chris Summers might not be far behind. The Coyotes might need some help up front, because they lack high-caliber forward prospects.
(Restricted free agents: Jonas Ahnelov, D; Mikkel Boedker, LW; Joel Gistedt, G; Lauri Korpikoski, LW; Josh Lunden, F; Brett MacLean, LW; Jeff May, D; Alexandre Picard, LW; Viktor Tikhonov, LW; Kyle Turris, C; Matt Watkins, RW; Keith Yandle, D.)
(Unrestricted free agents: Matt Beaudoin, F; Eric Belanger, C; Dane Byers, LW; Matt Climie, G; Andrew Ebbett, C; Vernon Fiddler, C; Ryan Hollweg, C; Ed Jovanovski, D; Bracken Kearns, C; Petr Prucha, LW; Nolan Yonkman, D; Radim Vrbata, RW.)
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Hanging around?: The Sharks are in good shape throughout the lineup, with hardly any potential holes to fill. Is there a better trio of centers in the NHL than Joe Thornton, Logan Coture and Joe Pavelski? Perhaps not, and they’re all still under contract, as are wingers Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley and Torrey Mitchell. Big-minute defensemen Douglas Murray and Dan Boyle are sticking around, and the Sharks have two NHL-caliber goalies in Antti Niemi and Antero Nittymaki.
Saying goodbye?: The Sharks will need to work out a new contract for restricted free agent Devin Setoguchi, who scored 22 goals this season and will be in line for a raise from the $1.8 million he made. Beyond that, the Sharks will need to address their depth on defense, as veterans Ian White and Niclas Wallin are due to be unrestricted free agents. Up front, gritty wingers Kyle Wellwood and Jamal Mayers are also headed for unrestricted free agency.
Draft card: There would seem to be some potential among the Sharks’ pool of prospects, but not a lot of sure-fire future NHL players. There’s some excitement about last year’s first-round pick, Charlie Coyle, but Coyle has played only one season of NCAA hockey. On defense, Taylor Doherty showed consistent improvement throughout his junior career. In goal, the Sharks have a strong goalie prospect in Alex Stalock, but Niemi is under contract through the 2014-15 season.
(Restricted free agents: Patrick Davis, LW; Andrew Desjardins, C; Benn Ferriero, C; Thomas Greiss, G; Kevin Henderson, LW; Carter Hutton, G; Joe Loprieno, D; John McCarthy, LW; Jamie McGinn, LW; Frazer McLaren, LW; Devin Setoguchi, RW; Nick Schaus, D; Alex Stalock, G; Michael Swift, C.)
(Unrestricted free agents: Ben Eager, LW; Kent Huskins, D; Jamal Mayers, RW; Scott Nichol, C; Sean Sullivan, D; T.J. Trevelyan, LW; Kyle Wellwood, C; Niclas Wallin, D; Ian White, D.)