The real fun stuff, though, comes in the form of learning who is in the tier below the Elite Headline Makers. Guys like Nikita Kucherov, Brendan Gallagher, and Tomas Tatar should end up being almost as valuable (if not more valuable) to their teams as the big guns like Bergeron, Marchand, and Stamkos.
So, this morning, let's head from one ocean-themed conference to another and tackle the Pacific Division. As before, I'm going to include all of the first-line forwards, number one defensemen, and top-ten goalies in my rankings.
Projected Pacific Division Standings
- San Jose (93.9% chance of making the playoffs)
- Los Angeles (92.5%)
- Anaheim (62.0%)
- Calgary (47.1%)
- Edmonton (36.4%)
- Arizona (21.0%)
- Vancouver (7.0%)
The first thing that jumped out at me here was the weakness of the divison. The Atlantic features four teams with a playoff chance above 78%. The Pacific features just two, and Anaheim is quite a bit back in the race. Part of that is the sheer strength of the Central Division (with which these Pacific teams complete for Wild Card playoff spots), but still. This is the worst division in the league by far.
The Sharks and Kings are good, though. So they have that going for them, and we'll get a great rivalry matchup in the second round of the playoffs.
Best Forwards In The Division
- Joe Pavelski, San Jose (1.92 GSAR/60, 3.2 GSVA)
- Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles (1.84, 2.8)
- Connor McDavid, Edmonton (1.71, 2.8)
- Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles (1.57, 2.8)
- Joe Thornton, San Jose (1.67, 2.6)
- Jeff Carter, Los Angeles (1.38, 2.3)
- Tomas Hertl, San Jose (1.52, 2.1)
- Corey Perry, Anaheim (1.31, 2.1)
- Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim (1.29, 2.1)
- Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary (1.28, 2.1)
- Logan Couture, San Jose (1.25, 1.9)
- Daniel Sedin, Vancouver (1.21, 1.9)
- Milan Lucic, Edmonton (1.08, 1.6)
- Jordan Eberle, Edmonton (1.05, 1.6)
- Loui Eriksson, Vancouver (0.99, 1.6)
- Tanner Pearson, Los Angeles (1.03, 1.5)
- Mikael Backlund, Calgary (1.02, 1.5)
First, yes, you did not see a single Coyote on that list because they have no forwards that grade as first-line players. That will almost certainly change in the coming years with Domi, Duclair, Strome, Crause, and Rieder.
Second, I was surprised to only see one Sedin brother. Here's some trivia to impress your friends with: Daniel is better than Henrik (by a pretty significant margin, too).
Third, here's another point to back up "The Atlantic is better than The Pacific" - the Atlantic division had 26 top-line forwards, which is three whole extra teams worth of top-line players more than this Pacific Division.
Best Defensemen In The Division
- Brent Burns, San Jose (1.52 GSAR/60, 3.3 GSVA)
- Mark Giordano, Calgary (1.21, 2.5)
- Drew Doubty, Los Angeles (1.00, 2.4)
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona (1.05, 2.2)
- Jake Muzzin, Los Angeles (1.03, 2.0)
- Dougie Hamilton, Calgary (0.96, 1.8)
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose (0.92, 1.8)
- Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim (0.89, 1.7)
- Alex Goligoski (0.67, 1.4)
- TJ Brodie (0.62, 1.3)
The Oilers and Canucks both lack a true number one defenseman, which could be part of the reason why there's like a quarter-of-a-percent chance that they both make the playoffs.
Burns is the most productive defenseman in the division, and he's going to get paid like it next summer.
Best Goalies In The Division
- Brian Elliot, Calgary (0.16 GSAR/60, 1.8 GSVA)
That's the whole list. Cam Talbot is just outside the top ten, with a 0.16 GSAR/60 and 1.7 GSVA. This could also be part of the reason why the Pacific is in fourth place of the four NHL divisions.
Winger: Matt Hendricks, Oilers (-0.56, -0.5)
Center: Markus Granlund, Vancouver (-0.52, -0.6)
Winger: Derek Dorsett, Vancouver (-0.45, -0.5)
Defenseman: Derek Engelland, Calgary (-0.35, -0.4)
Defenseman: Darnell Nurse, Edmonton (-0.42, -0.7)
Goalie: Mike Smith, Arizona (-0.05, -0.5)
Fun fact: Mike Smith's cap hit is almost $5.7 million, and he's signed through 2018-19 (with a No Movement Clause all the way through).
(Yes, I did just copy and paste that Jimmy Howard fun fact from yesterday and change a few details.)
Here are the full rankings/projections: