32 NHL clubs will report for training camp later this month after a busy summer that saw over 100 free agent signings and 60 trades. A number of teams will look dramatically different because of moves to improve, rebuild or made out of necessity to adjust to the league’s flat salary cap.
Here is how teams in the Pacific Division will look to start the 2021-22 regular season next month.
San Jose Sharks
The days of the Sharks contending for the Stanley Cup may be a thing of the past, as they finished near or at the bottom of the Western Conference standings for the second straight season and are crippled by cap constraints with over $26 million allocated to three defenseman (Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Mark-Edouard Vlasic) over the age of 30.
GM Doug Wilson appears to be moving the club towards a rebuild, adding only hole-plugging veterans Reimer, Bonino and Cogliano in free agency, and trading with Arizona for goalie Hill after buying out Jones. The continuing off-ice issues of Kane has the Sharks leading scorer suspended from the club until an investigation is complete.
The Kraken did not repeat the Golden Knights formula in the expansion draft but put together a roster that may be competitive in their inaugural season. GM Ron Francis plucked a few quality veterans in the draft with term on their deals (Mark Giordano, Jordan Eberle, Brandon Tanev, and two-time Cup winner Yanni Gourde), selected players about to become unrestricted free agents and signed them to extensions (Jamie Oleksiak, Adam Larsson, and Chris Driedger) and dipped into free agency for goaltending (Philipp Grubauer) and scoring (Jaden Schwartz) help.
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The Canucks cleared out the salaries of Schmidt (traded to Winnipeg) and Holtby (buyout), Eriksson, Beagle and Roussel (traded to Arizona) and allowed Edler to walk in free agency, but have yet to get their most important task of the off-season complete, as RFA’s Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes remain unsigned after the start of training camp.
GM Jim Benning signed veteran Halak to backup Thatcher Demko, added depth on the blueline in Schenn and at forward with Dickinson, but his big move was acquiring All-Star blueliner Ekman-Larsson and winger Garland from the Coyotes.
Vegas Golden Knights
After getting upset by Montreal in the Semi-Final, the Golden Knights made the difficult choice of trading the most popular player in franchise history, sending Vezina Trophy winner Fleury to Chicago to clear his $7 million cap hit. GM Kelly McCrimmon also shipped out enforcer Reaves to New York for Howden, swapped Holden to Ottawa for winger Dadonov, and made a three-way deal with the Flyers and Predators, sending former first rounder Glass to Nashville and obtaining former second-overall pick Patrick from Philadelphia.
Vegas is definitely in win-now mode with veterans Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo in their prime, and used most of their remaining cap room to re-sign defenseman Alec Martinez and forward Mattias Janmark and add Brossoit to backup Robin Lehner