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Pacific Division Stanley Cup Chances: Why Each Team Could or Couldn’t Win

Pacific Division Stanley Cup: The Pacific Division has some competitive teams heading into this season's playoffs, even with three of their teams being in
Pacific Division Stanley Cup

The odds of a Pacific Division Stanley Cup seem slim but the Division has some competitive teams heading into this season’s playoffs, even with three of their teams being in the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery. Each team has legitimate reasons as to why they could contend for the cup, but they also have legitimate reasons as to why they couldn’t.

Why Each Pacific Division Team Could and Couldn’t Win the Stanley Cup

Arizona Coyotes

Why They Could Win

Unlike many teams in the pacific division, the Arizona Coyotes have very good goaltending. They’re icing a tandem of Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, two very reliable, yet underrated goalies. While Raanta is good, Kuemper is better, so he’ll likely get the starting nod in the playoffs. The thing with Darcy Kuemper is that he is never viewed on the same level as the elite goalies in the league, yet he is right up there with them in terms of stats.

Kuemper was third in the NHL in save percentage with a .928, behind just Anton Khudobin and Tuukka Rask. He was also fourth in goals-against average with a 2.22 and first in quality start percentage out of NHL regulars with a .759. Although, Raanta bears just as much of a threat, ranking ninth in save percentage himself with a .921. Together, the duo of Kuemper and Raanta form a formidable duo that could carry Arizona much higher than many expect.

Why They Couldn’t Win

All of the recent Stanley Cup winners have one thing in common: a legitimate first-line centre. St. Louis had Ryan O’Reilly, Washington had Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Pittsburgh had Sidney Crosby. The list only goes on.

For the Coyotes, they have really good centre depth with Christian Dvorak, Nick Schmaltz, Derek Stepan, and Brad Richardson; however, they lack that true 1C. This could end up making it hard for the Coyotes to match up against other first-line centres in the Western Conference and give them some real playoff struggles.

This, combined with a fair share of unflattering seasons, placed Arizona 21st in the league in goals-for this season, with the 24th-worst shooting percentage to boot. There’s plenty more complaints surrounding their offence, lined with their lack of a top-centre, that could easily beat them up headed into the play-in rounds and post-season.

Vancouver Canucks

Why They Could Win

Ever since the Sedin twins retired, the Vancouver Canucks new identity has been their core of young talent, consisting of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes. Those three are the main contributors, but the Canucks also have some talented secondary options with recently acquired Tyler Toffoli, 2018 Hobey Baker winner Adam Gaudette, right-shot D Chris Tanev, and recently broken out J.T. Miller. Vancouver’s young core is going to be put to the test in this year’s playoffs, and it’s their time to prove to Canucks fans what they can do. That main core, however, along with goaltender Jacob Markstrom, will end up dictating how the Canucks do. It’s a young core that’s had a bit of inconsistency but when they’re hot, they’re a formidable group.

Why They Couldn’t Win

Other than Quinn Hughes and Chris Tanev, Vancouver’s defence is less than great. While the Canucks thought they had a big add in free agency with Tyler Myers, he hasn’t really met expectations and is looking like just an overpaid contract at this point. Depth is very important in the playoffs, and Vancouver’s lack of it on defence could be their demise.

Calgary Flames

Why They Could Win

The Calgary Flames are a very balanced team. They have a good mix of star power up front with Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Sean Monahan; as well as some high-end top-six forwards who aren’t quite stars with Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund.

The best part of Calgary’s team, however, is their defensive core. Led by 2019 Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano, the Flames have some stars and depth. Even with Travis Hamonic opting out of the return to play, Calgary can slot in top prospect Juuso Valimaki to fill some of the gaps that Hamonic creates.

Why They Couldn’t Win

Unfortunately for the Flames, they have lacked a high-end goalie for years now. They don’t have someone who they can rely on to steal some games for them in a playoff run. While their starter, David Rittich, had a decent year, nothing he did really stood out enough to make him THAT guy that every playoff team wants.

Edmonton Oilers

Why They Could Win

There are two reasons why the Edmonton Oilers could win the Stanley Cup. Those two reasons are Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl finished first in the league in scoring with 110 points and McDavid in second with 97. The Oilers will go as far as these two guys take them. While they have a decent supporting cast with guys like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Andreas Athanasiou, the whole team is centered around their two superstars.

Why They Couldn’t Win

For the past several years, the Oilers have mainly struggled in two areas: goaltending, and forward depth. While they added to their forward depth at the trade deadline, it could still be a concern; especially in the playoffs, where teams with depth tend to have more success.

As far as goaltending goes, that problem is still yet to be solved. Edmonton is going to be icing a tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith. While both players are solid goaltenders, neither one is a high-end starter who could put a team on his shoulders and be relied upon to carry them to a deep run.

Vegas Golden Knights

Why They Could Win

After the expansion draft, the Vegas Golden Knights already had a good haul of wingers with guys like Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and Alex Tuch. Since then, they’ve added even more talent by acquiring Max Pacioretty in the offseason of 2018, and Mark Stone at the 2019 trade deadline. With four legitimate top-six wingers, Vegas’ offence could be propelled into a deep playoff run.

On top of a powerful winger core, Vegas also has one of the best goaltending tandems in the league with three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner. This team was first in the Pacific for a reason and they look ready to prove it.

Why They Couldn’t Win

Similar to Arizona, the Knights lack that true top-line centre. The closest thing they have to one is William Karlsson. In 2017-18, Karlsson looked like a legit number one posting 43 goals and 78 points for the Golden Knights. Since then, he hasn’t even scored over 60 points, having 56 in 2018-19, and pacing for 60 over a full season in 2019-20. Since his first season with Vegas, Karlsson has had second-line centre numbers, something the Knights are going to feel in the playoffs when matching up against teams with true top-line centres like Colorado, St. Louis, and Dallas in the round-robin.


While the Golden Knights might currently sit in first place in the Pacific, watch out for the Oilers. Any team with McDavid and Draisaitl is automatically a threat. On top of those two, the world still doesn’t know how the Oilers will be with deadline acquisitions, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis. Athanasiou got hurt shortly after being traded, so the impact that playing with McDavid or Draisaitl could have on him is still unknown. He is only one season removed from scoring 30 goals and he’s still only 25 years old.

On top of their added forward depth, the Oilers also have a deep back end. While many focus on Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, and Darnell Nurse, people tend not to realize how good some of the young talent on their blue line is. It is definitely possible for guys like Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear to step up and really take this team to another level. While they won’t be number ones, they could certainly add some underrated depth to this D core and create difficult matchups for opponents. Don’t be surprised if the Oilers get hot.

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