- BetOnline has the Vegas Golden Knights (+140) as a heavy favorite in the Pacific
- The Flames (+400) are the best value in the division once RFA Matthew Tkachuk re-signs
- The Sharks (+450) hope Joe Thornton returns for one more Cup run
The Pacific is easily the NHL’s worst division. I mean, when there are four teams listed under the Arizona Coyotes, you know something is amiss.
The Canucks, Ducks and Kings are all in various stages of rebuilding and the perennially-terrible Oilers might be without Connor McDavid for a couple months.
That leaves only the Golden Knights, Flames and Sharks. Using the odds at BetOnline, let’s determine which club is poised to win this dumpster fire of a division.
NHL PACIFIC DIVISION ODDS
|Vegas Golden Knights||+140|
|San Jose Sharks||+450|
|Los Angeles Kings||+5000|
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
The Golden Knights’ only notable offseason moves were extending speedy forward William Karlsson and dealing KHL MVP Nikita Gusev to the Devils for draft picks.
However, the up-against-the-cap franchise can at least look forward to a full year of Mark Stone after acquiring the Selke-finalist forward at last year’s trade deadline.
William Karlsson, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault and Nate Schmidt are excited to see their bobbleheads this preseason ?
They’re also pretty pumped to see you rocking The Fortress this September ?
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) July 15, 2019
The Knights will attempt to recreate the dream 2017-18 season that saw them reach the Stanley Cup Final in their first year in existence, while forgetting the nightmare that was blowing a 3-0 third-period, Game 7 lead to the rival Sharks in Round 1 last year.
Vegas has a solid young team across the board, but there’s not enough star power on the Strip to justify being a +140 division favorite.
After putting together the best record in the Western Conference last year, the Flames were bounced from playoffs in just five games by the Avalanche.
General Manager Brad Treliving took a beating in the media after dealing for Milan Lucic this summer, but the aging power forward’s Cup experience could be just what the doctor ordered.
— Sportsnet 960 (@Sportsnet960) September 3, 2019
After setting career highs in goals (34) and points (77) in his third season, Matthew Tkachuk is one of many high-profile restricted-free-agent stars still without a contract. Assuming the 21-year-old forward signs soon, Calgary should once again be one of the NHL’s top teams.
With a nice mix of youth upfront (Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm) and reigning Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano anchoring the defense, the Flames are a scorching-hot bet at +400 to win the Pacific.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Since becoming general manager in 2003, Doug Wilson’s Sharks have made the postseason in 14 of 15 seasons. His most important move was stealing Joe Thornton from the Bruins in 2005 and it looks like the 40-year-old will be back in San Jose for his 22nd NHL season.
Wilson also inked smooth-skating Swede, Erik Karlsson, to an eight-year, $92M extension this summer, but captain Joe Pavelski packed his bags for Dallas.
— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) August 30, 2019
San Jose still has ascending stars in 30-goal scorers Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, but a lot of key players are either approaching or on the wrong side of 30: Karlsson (29), Logan Couture (30) Brent Burns (34).
While you can expect the Sharks to make the playoffs, and perhaps another Cup run, keep in mind that 2010-11 was the last time they actually won their division.