PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 3.1.16

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In an effort to keep Los Angeles Kings fans aware of the comings and goings of the other teams in the Smythe Pacific Division… we here at The Royal Half have created the Pacific War Room… a wrap-up of the past week in the Pacific from some of the best and brightest bloggers who cover Pacific Division teams. In order of the Pacific Division standings… we present the Pacific War Room for the week of March 1st, 2016!!

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS
1st PLACE, 37-21-4, 78 POINTS
@TheRoyalHalf from The Royal Half

UGH HERE COME THE TEARS!

NHL+Awards+Nominee+Portraits+V1J9AetoGCGl

AND HERE COMES VERSTEEG!

With the acquisition of Rob Scuderi and Kris Versteeg at the NHL Trading Deadline, the LA Kings now have a total of 31 Stanley Cup Rings in their dressing room (Coaches excluded).

The San Jose Sharks continue to have 0 Stanley Cup Rings in their dressing room.

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS
2nd PLACE, 34-19-8, 76 POINTS
@EarlSleek

It was a pretty tough week for the Ducks, as they only managed to score one 5-on-5 goal all week, and that was only because the Kings blew a line change. And, to add to that, not all their wins came in regulation. Tough times, indeed. :)

But win them all they did! Anaheim, who if you recall picked up only 12 wins in their first 33 games before Christmas, just added another 12 wins in 14 games this month.

On Wednesday, they shut out the pesky Sabres 1-0 on the strength of a Sami Vatanen power play goal and 26 saves from Freddie Andersen. This after scoring 21 goals in 4 games against western Canada…

Then on Friday the Ducks had another nail biter (no, not you, Yakupov!), this time against the Oilers. In overtime, Ricky Rakell scored a gorgeous 3-on-3 goal, Anaheim’s first of the season, to secure a 2-1 win. Not a lot of offense, but in consecutive games against Kesler, Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid scored zero points.

On Sunday the Ducks hosted the Kings with a chance to move within two of the division lead. You probably saw it. :) A well-battled game, well-suited for national TV, in which Corey Perry scored a hat trick and the power play went 3-for-5 en route to a 4-2 win.

With Anaheim on an 8-game win streak and boasting a 22-4-2 record since Christmas, there wasn’t great pressure on GM Bob Murray to make a big splash at the deadline. Prior acquisitions David Perron and Ryan Garbutt were slotting in nicely and contributing, there was comfortable depth at basically all positions, and while there still were plenty of contract negotiations to come with RFAs Andersen, Lindholm, Vatanen, and Rakell (and possibly UFA Perron), there was still summertime to figure all that out. While the Hawks, Panthers, Sharks, and Penguins were renting players from Canada in the days leading up to the deadline, Ducks stayed patient.

Then in the zero hour the Ducks pulled four different trades, mainly acquiring forwards Brandon Pirri for a sixth and Jamie McGinn for a conditional third – bargain depth rentals at proper, non-crazy prices. They also sent Patrick Maroon to the Oilers, freeing up money for the summer, and Tim Jackman to the Blackhawks, in a move that barely matters at all but it happened anyways.

McGinn is set to join the team immediately, while Pirri is out with an ankle injury and may be two weeks away. Shawn Horcoff’s suspension will end after five more games, and Chris Stewart may someday recover from his broken jaw, so Boudreau should eventually have plenty of options up front. Bottom line: some nice additions without sacrificing any important piece of the current or future roster. Well done, Barstool Bob.

And just for fun… :)


 

SAN JOSE SHARKS
3rd PLACE, 34-22-6, 74 POINTS
@sharkdressedmen

Last week, I called Alex Stalock and Mike Brown “waste[s] of space” and “utterly fucking useless.” And Doug Wilson listened. Seriously, I think Dougie reads this, so…I told you so. On Monday, the Sharks traded away Raffi Torres and 2 2nd round picks (2017 & 2018) to the Toronto Perpetual Sadnesses for D Roman Polak and F Nick Spaling, who would later score on his first shot with the Sharks. The Sharks got another defenseman to shore up their rotation, a forward to fill out the bottom line. They also got a master of banter:

And we’ll need the shade because it’s been in the mid-70s all week in the South Bay.

This trade also rid us of the worst player in Sharks history:

torresing

In 4 seasons, Raffi Torres played in 16 games. That’s including not playing at all this season or last season. He was suspended for 47 total games. The rest of the time, he was on IR. Raffi Torres was an absolute waste of money. Of air. A horrible excuse for a hockey player. Luckily, we found someone dumb enou….savvy enough to turn his career around. He’ll start that turn around by making himself inactive for the rest of this season:

But we weren’t done. Oh no. Wilson had another deal up his sleeve. G James Reimer and F Jeremy Morin from Toronto (again) for G Alex Stalock, F Ben Smith, and a 4th (2018) that could become a 3rd should the Sharks make the Cup Finals. More importantly:

Alex. Stalock. Is. Gone.

It’s got me feeling a lot like Jumbo after his performance against the Blues on Monday:

So I’m going to post this one last time, because it’s the last time I can use it:

ALexStalocksucks

If you’ve read my blurb before, you know I hate Alex Stalock. If you’ve seen him play, you know you hate Alex Stalock. He’s gone and now we have a solid back up to give Martin Jones some rest heading down the stretch into the playoffs. Additionally, we get another Bottom-6 forward to push Mike “Dead Weight” Brown* further out of the picture. In this trade, the Sharks didn’t give much up, as we didn’t want Stalock, Smith was sort of forgotten (though a solid 4th liner when needed), and only one draft pick. Huge win for San Jose on this trade.

Combining both trades together makes it look like Doug Wilson has his magic GM touch back. The first trade was a little heavy on the picks given away, but getting Reimer and Polak for 2 second rounders and clearing deadweight is pretty solid.

Reimer won’t be in for a while, so Aaron Dell, a development goalie who I mentioned last week, will be filling in until Reimer is able to join the Sharks. I’m pumped, because now we’ll have the self-proclaimed “World’s Okayest Goalie” on our bench:

Aaron Dell's shirt. 😂

A photo posted by San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) on

It’s clear that the “rebuild” that was previously talked about is over and the Sharks are committed to winning now.

It’ll be an uphill battle to finish out this season. 21 games remain, 14 of which are at home. The Sharks are getting better at home, but are still 11-13-3. However, they have the most road wins in the league with 22. If San Jose can be close to perfect in their last 7 road games, they may be able to cover any point losses from the home games until they fix whatever juju is preventing them from being dominant at home like in years past.

Oh, I almost forgot about the dumb way the NHL scheduled the Sharks’ season. In their final 22 games, they play the Canucks 5 times with 2 sets of home and homes. They play 3 times this week alone. They also play the Coyotes 3 times in this final month. Currently, the Canucks and Coyotes are 12 points behind the Sharks in 4th and 5th place, respectively. If the Sharks can take out the Canucks and Coyotes in those 8 games, they can secure at least 3rd in the Pacific and try to mount a late season charge to the top 2 spots. Each of those games are really worth 4 point swings in the standings, so it’s imperative the Sharks take care of business. With no Stalock to Stalock things in the 3 remaining back-to-backs, the playoff forecast is looking better and better for this Sharks team and the added rest should only improve Jones’ effectiveness in these final games.

4 points behind the Ducks, 6 behind the Kings.

Let’s go.

The Sharks face the Habs and then have their first Home & Home against the Canucks to finish this next week.

***EDIT: As I begin to write this at 9AM PST Sunday: Stalock has been placed on waivers by TOR. Mike Brown has been placed on waivers by SJ. I am a Nostradamus of bad hockey players.***

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
4th PLACE, 24-25-12, 60 POINTS
@JDylanBurke from Canucks Army

The Vancouver Canucks have a less than 4% chance of making the playoffs, so of course they haven’t sold off a single asset to date. As I write this we’re less than five-hours away from the final day of trade activity before the deadline strikes. Dan Hamhuis is still here. Radim Vrbata is still here. Hell, everyone past their prime is still here.

Hunter Shinkaruk, on the other hand, is not. Makes sense. Shinkaruk was the Canucks highest scoring prospect with the Utica Comets and was developing into a force offensively. In return, they got Markus Granlund. He’s 23 on the other side of April and hasn’t even developed into a full-time NHL player. At best, we’re talking about a third-line center here. Have to give up on blue chip prospects to get those.

The Canucks also picked up the rights to Philip Larsen for a conditional fifth-round selection. Larsen couldn’t crack the Edmonton Oilers lineup over the course of a season, but he’s been enjoying a pretty successful stay in the KHL, so sure, yeah… why not?

Actually, I can think of why not… A good place to start is the fact that he’s likely a third pairing defenceman at this point. Can find any number of those for free in free agency. Have to surrender a draft pick for the privilege.

Anyways, the Canucks won a game here, lost a game there. They’re awfully boring nowadays and fan apathy is at a new high. Club seats are going for $27.00. Tough times in Rogers Arena.
 

ARIZONA COYOTES
5th PLACE, 27-30-6, 60 POINTS
@CataCarryOn

So the Coyotes lost a bunch this week, but who cares?

Let’s talk about the trade deadline.

HAHAHAHA. HAHAHAAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA.

Now, let’s talk about what Boedker said.

He wanted to go to a team that will win more quickly than Arizona, so… Don Maloney sent him to the Colorado Avalanche. That’s shade, Don.

Depending on who you talk to (aka: Avs fans vs. normal people), the Avs are primed to win their next Stanley Cup before… well, maybe the Edmonton Oilers. Possibly the Toronto Maple Leafs. They could hit the post-season this year, but their possession stats remain a glaring hole – and we have yet to see a team that boasts year-to-year possession nightmares end up winning the cup. They see post-season action, but they don’t win it all.

Beyond that, the Coyotes just gave up arguably one of their worst possession players for what could amount to a veteran rental, a defensive prospect, and a second round draft pick.

Look, it’s not that I think the Coyotes got the best deal they’ve ever gotten for a player. They hauled in two first round picks, a second round pick, Klas Dahlbeck, and Anthony Duclair for Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle last year. Compared to that, this deal is far more beneficial to both sides.

BUT… given what the Anaheim Ducks paid for Brandon Pirri, I think the Avalanche made, ah, a poor call.

Dashboard 1

Also important to note: The Avalanche have let guys walk in the past for wanting too much money. So this summer should be interesting, as Boedker wants a reported $6M AAV.

Look at that possession graph.

Now look at $6 million dollars.

Your move, Colorado.

THIS IS WEIRD.

Anyways.

Now that the Coyotes have gotten rid of Mikkel Boedker, they have a couple of names they still need to look at in the off-season. Forward Tobias Reider, defensemen Connor Murphy and Michael Stone, and goaltender Louis Domingue are all pending RFAs this summer – and they’ve all played key roles on the team this year. Rieder is arguably one of the team’s best two possession forwards who can play in all situations, Murphy has been auditioning for a spot with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Stone is a physical defenseman who can play just about anywhere. Add in Domingue, and that’s a lot of question marks over money.

There’s also the question of where young guys will fit in, which we have to start taking a look at. We’ve got this one:

Also, we’ve got the other human cheat code, Conor Garland:

Garland was actually a healthy scratch last week, for apparent attitude issues that seemed to revolve around him not liking to lose and refusing to pass the puck to his teammates who weren’t scoring. I hate selfish play so I’m glad they slapped some sense into him, but seriously.

The Coyotes are currently playing the Pittsburgh Penguins and I don’t even want to look at the score. Who cares? If it lands us Auston Matthews or Matthew Tkachuk, I can take the pain.
 

CALGARY FLAMES
6th PLACE, 26-32-5, 56 POINTS
@MikeFAIL from Flames Nation

This week has been extremely frustrating from a fan perspective and on a personal perspective. So, I got my mom’s disabled cat to write today’s Pacific War Room column. His name is Dominic and he has cerebellar hypoplasia so he runs weird, has limited balance, and really likes Hockey Twitter.

Take it away, Dom!

Jiri Hudler got traded. He seems like a guy who would like to pet me. Yesterday afternoon I ate some lint off the floor and it reminded me about the Calgary Flames season. Recently I fell down the stairs and I think it’s an analogy for the Flames’ season so far. Sometimes when I’m going pee in the litterbox, I lose my balance and fall into my own urine.

The joy on ice this week really came from these sequences. Bennett backchecks better than Monahan already. God this kid is good.

Oh yeah, Jim Benning went full on idiot trading for Markus Granlund, a very-meh NHLer for Hunter Shinkaruk. Remember when folks said Granlund would be better than Backlund/he should replace Backlund?

Between the OT loss to the Islanders and the disgusting excuse for defense against the bloody Senators, I can safely say this team is hot trash. But hey, #NeverQuit, right guys? Let’s get on the Fancy Cats bandwagon and embrace a world where the Panthers have Hudler and Jagr together. If that doesn’t warm your heart, then go make out with Corey Perry.

I hate this team. I’m going to text my dad, tell him I love him, and then go get a burrito.
 

EDMONTON OILERS
7th PLACE, 23-34-7, 53 POINTS
@JSBMjeanshorts from Oilers Nation

Our national nightmare is finally over gang. In like a lion, out like a half-eaten lamb. The Justin Schultz Era® in Edmonton has officially come to an end! Yes, UNBELIEVABLY another NHL team purposely made a trade to acquire Justin Schultz. Once again this just reenforces my theory that anyone who owns a suit is qualified to be an NHL GM.

And somehow even MORE unbelievably the Oilers also acquired a warm body AND a draft pick for Anders Nilsson. For those unfamiliar with Nilsson here are his numbers over his last 10 games.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 3.10.23 PM

That is…… not good.

Everyone’s favourite neighbour Teddy Purcell was also shipped out of town, and if my math is correct I think that leaves the Oilers with 75 third round picks for the 2016 draft.

Feel-good story and non-first round draft pick Brandon Davidson was re-signed to a ludicrously good extension, along with former Calgary Flame prospect (THANKS AGAIN FOR HIM FLAMES!! HOW IS LADI SMID DOING THESE DAYS??) and Macklemore look-alike Laurent Brossoit.

Everything has gone so well for the Oilers over the last few days that even Anton Lander got in on the action, scoring his first goal of the season!

I still can't believe it either: an actual Anton Lander goal!! #TheAntonHasLandered

A video posted by OilersNation (@officialoilersnation) on

Connor McDavid has quieted down a little, with only two assists to his name over the last 4 games. This has been your weekly Connor McDavid update.

As an aside the Oilers lost 7 games in a row before beating the Islanders Sunday night, so everyone should just go ahead and pre-order their Auston Matthews Oiler jerseys now before they sell out. Don’t think you can just call up half the Marlies and pass that off as an NHL team and coast your way to a first overall pick, Leafs! Tanking is a way of LIFE, and there is no one living la vida tank more than the Oilers. Maybe next year Toronto.
 

TRH WILD CARD WATCH™

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Thanks to all the amazing Pacific Division Bloggers. Check back next week for another edition of Pacific War Room! You can check out past editions of Pacific War Room here!

The Royal Half has been a Los Angeles Kings fan since 1988 and a Half-Season Ticket Holder since 2002. He has seen the following goaltenders play in person for the Los Angeles Kings… Kelly Hrudey, Grant Fuhr, Byron Dafoe, Jamie Storr, Stephane Fiset, Felix Potvin, Cristobal Huet, Roman Cechmanek, Mathieu Garon, Adam Hauser, Jason LaBarbera, Barry Brust, Sean Burke, Dan Cloutier, Yutaka Fukufuji, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Erik Ersberg, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones.You can follow The Royal Half on Twitter @TheRoyalHalf.