A breakdown of what to expect from each team in Western Division in the 2021 NHL Season.
Despite the efforts of a backbone goaltender and veteran leadership, the Ducks are not expected to have an outstanding season. They signed D Kevin Shattenkirk after the loss of Erik Gudbranson and Michael Del Zotto on the back end, but will have to wait for their young and promising prospects to develop.
After being eliminated in the first round by the Avalanche, the Arizona Coyotes lost Taylor Hall to free agency along with other depth pieces in their lineup. They didn’t make any huge acquisitions to make up for it. In order for the Coyotes to have a better season, Phil Kessel will have to improve from his point total last year, Darcy Kuemper to stay solid in net, and maintain consistency in their core.
Still in serious contention to win a Stanley cup, the Avalanche made up for their off season departures with promising young players in D Devon Toews and F Brandon Saad. Not to mention their younger core that is still on an upward scale. This is Cale Makar’s final year of his entry level contract. The Avalanche is in a good position to go far.
Los Angeles Kings
One of the few teams who didn’t even see the qualifying rounds, the Kings are deep into a rebuild that hopefully won’t take too much longer. With second overall draftee, Quinton Byfield and budding goaltender Cal Peterson, the Kings hope to improve but making the playoffs will be a challenge.
Although the Wild suffered losses including Eric Staal, Luke Kunin, and Devan Dybnyk, they had a surprisingly good off season getting similar firepower up front as well as a new starter in net, Cam Talbot. The Wild will likely be underestimated this season but playoffs is a question that only time can answer.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks biggest acquisitions of their otherwise uneventful offseason were Ryan Donato and Devan Dubnyk after letting Joe Thornton walk in free agency. In order to make the playoffs this season, they will need to make a miraculous run in these 56 regular season games. This could be the first year of a rebuild. As for goaltending, Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk could have a more tandem dynamic than a 1-2 depth chart in the crease.
St. Louis Blues
Jordan Binnington will have a little less help in net with the departure of Jake Allen and will either have Jon Gillies or Ville Husso backing him up. Both of whom spent most of their professional career in the AHL. The Blues now have Torey Krug up front and Kyle Clifford to replace Alex Pietrangelo. They will likely have a great regular season but have some potential to make a deep playoff run.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights continue to make sure they have plenty of fire power including landing one of the top free agents this year, Alex Pietrangelo. Hopefully he will be worth the price because the Golden Knights had to let important pieces like Paul Stasney and Nate Schmidt go in order to sign him and Robin Lehner. Vegas expects nothing less than a Stanley Cup this season.
Western Division prediction: