For this installment we'll swing across the continent and visit the Pacific Division, home of the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.
Prior postings in this series:
Western Conference - Pacific Division
Anaheim Ducks 2012-2013
Cap Space: $16.1M
Lifecycle Phase: Avian Bipolar Disorder (Contending? Death's Door?)
Analysis: What in the world are the Ducks doing with Bobby Ryan. They've put him on the block so many times he's finally had enough and asked to be moved. Clearly he's going to be traded as Anaheim secured his replacement, Dan Winnik, just weeks ago (ok, kidding). The presumed loss of Ryan thins the Duck's core substantially unless they can get a talented but less established player as part of a trade (for discussions sake, say Matt Duchene). Brian Burke left this team in a mess. Bob Murray has struggled to get them back on the right track. Their first line (with Ryan) has been among the best (last year being an exception), but their second line is among the oldest in the league. This should be a Climax team. Their best players are in their prime. Their veterans are still productive. Their goaltender is Stanley Cup quality. They have youth and depth. They stunk it up out of the gate last season but finished like a contender. Is Bruce Boudreau the answer? We'll know by the trade deadline.
Dallas Stars 2012 2013
Transitional Players: Michael Ryder
Cap Space: $16.9M
Lifecycle Phase: Past Prime
Analysis: By the model, this was a Rebuilding team last year. They were supposed to bring in young talent and jettison the geezers. The Stars management must have been convinced they were Contending, in spite of not making the playoffs, and added two of the oldest players in the league. If you measure the core of a team by no-trade clauses, the Stars are in alignment; they have many. This is a desperate franchise. They have a new owner who wants to win now. They failed to grab any of the top free agents this summer so went instead for proven box office draws. This team will likely be strong early, but may fade down the stretch. Again, Dallas as a team will be known by the trade deadline.
Los Angeles Kings 2012-2013
Geratric Stars: Willie Mitchell
Cap Space: $7.9M
Lifecycle Phase: Climax
Analysis: With few exceptions, Cup winners are Climax teams. This team defines Climax. They are young with a touch of experience. They have excellent depth. They moved from Contending with the acquisition of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter through the trade of non-core assets and picks. Their roster will be largely unchanged from the one that won the Cup, but great teams continue to improve. On top of the experience they earned through the playoffs, they have almost $8M in cap space for upgrades. This team will be trouble in the West for years to come.
Phoenix Coyotes 2012-2013
Transitional Players: Mikkel Boedker, Lauri Korpikowski
Geriatric Stars: Shane Doan, Daymond Lankow
Cap Space: $26.2M
Lifecycle Phase: Contending
Analysis: Let's assume for a minute that the Phoenix Coyotes franchise plays in the 2012-2013 season. Put aside rumors of a dispersal draft. Let's assume that the people of Glendale want a regular tenant for their very expensive arena who pays their bills. Phoenix has been a regular in the playoffs the last few seasons. They made the Conference Championships last season with a mix of youth and experience, and they have depth. They play a style of hockey that fits their roster. Losing Shane Doan will be a blow to the team, but not as big as if he were a young player on the way up. If Doan is gone, this team is still only 2 two-way top-6 forwards from challenging the Kings for the top of the West. They definitely have the cap space.
San Jose Sharks 2012-2013
Geriatric Stars: Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle
Cap Space: $5.6M
Lifecycle Phase: Death's Door
Analysis: The acquisition of T.J. Galiardi and Dan Winnik at the trade deadline last season smacked of desperation. They gave up a potential top-6 (McGinn) forward for a pair of 3rd liners, one of whom they didn't re-sign and the other spent quite a bit of time eating nachos during the playoffs. They struggled to make the playoffs, sneaking in as the 7th seed and got bounced in the first round 4-1. After a long stretch of quality hockey, the Sharks are old and depleted. They could accelerate their rebuild by trading some big name players, but they will have to fight no-trade clauses for almost all of them. This franchise is in for a long period of decline and rebirth.