In creating our NHL West Preview 2021, we found that of the eight teams in this division, there are two that are destine to be in the postseason. We like the Colorado Avalanche and St Louis Blues to finish in the top two spots respectively. That leaves two other NHL West teams that will qualify for the playoffs. That could be any of four of the six remaining teams. We see it as being a battle between the Vegas Golden Knights, Minnesota Wild, Arizona Coyotes, and San Jose Sharks. In the end, we do expect to see the Golden Knights and Wild make it into the postseason, leaving the Coyotes and Avalanche out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Finally, we doubt that neither the Anaheim Ducks nor Los Angeles Kings will be in the playoffs.
NHL West Preview – Teams
Here’s a thumbnail of each of the teams in the West Division. Click on each link to go to the expanded team profile.
Anaheim Ducks – West Preview Notes Scoring a Problem
John Gibson is solid in net, while the blueline has been upgraded. Still, this team doesn’t have the depth it needs to really contend. Plus, they’re asking for their younger players to excel in a manner that’s quite improbable. Scoring will be an issue as will limiting opponent scoring opportunities.
Arizona Coyotes – In Need of a Break or Two
In what is a weak division, the Coyotes will have a chance to finish in the top four of the West. However, goaltenders Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta will have to make up for what is lack of scoring potential. That was also an issue last season. Unfortunately, the front office did little to address it. The blueline is sound but not spectacular. This team will need some breaks to get to the postseason.
Colorado Avalanche – NHL West Division Champs?
As we’ve noted, the Avs have a good chance of not only being in the playoffs, but also, of winning the division. Colorado has one of the best offenses in the league. Led by forward Nathan Mackinnon, it’s explosive. This is a deep group. Additionally, the defense, though young, is proficient. Also, they too are deep. Goaltenders Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz are not topflight, but they certainly proved to be reliable last season.
Los Angeles Kings – NHL West Preview Sees Some Improvement
Don’t look for the Kings to burn up this ice this season. Yes, they have improved. Two young centers Quinton Byfield and Gabriel Vilardi bring promise. But it will take some time for them to read their full potential. In net, with Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen, they look fine. However, a lack of depth at forward and on D will be this team’s undoing.
Minnesota Wild – West Preview See Exceptional D
Led by Ryan Suter, the Wild defense is the best part of this team. The good news is that it is strong and deep. As a result, Minnesota has a solid chance of making the playoffs. Alex Stalock and Cam Talbot should prove to be a proficient duo in goal. However, they won’t be spectacular. On area of weakness is the center position. Consequently, it will be touch and go for this team as far as the playoffs are concerned.
St. Louis Blues – Playoff Bound?
Despite some issues in net and on offense, the Blues are deep. Plus, they are a relatively strong team in a weak division. Consequently, we expect the them to do well in the NHL West. One big question mark for the Blues this season is whether they can replace Alex Peitrangelo? Torey Krug will definitely help replace Peitrangelo’s offensive production. Also, there are questions regarding backup netminder Ville Husso’s ability to perform in the NHL. That’s to be seen. The D-zone should benefit from Colton Parayko’s reputation as being a shutdown artist.
San Jose Sharks – Netminding Problems
Last season, the offense was inconsistent. Injuries were certainly partly to blame. If they can stay healthy. That will help. Goaltender Martin Jones has put in two-straight subpar seasons. If he has a third bad one, this team won’t have a chance. Last year, defensemen Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson did not play up to expectations. If they can generate some points that will help. Overall, this team is a mixed bag.
Vegas Golden Knights – Another Playoff Appearance?
D-man Alex Peitrangelo, who’s an awesome point-producer, comes to Vegas from the Blues. He’s a huge addition. Plus, the Knights’ offense is strong. There’s a fine core here. Additionally, the goaltending duo of Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the best in the NHL. Look for them to make another playoffs appearance.
NHL West – Final Order of Finish
Here’s the order of finish for our NHL West Preview 2021:
- Colorado Avalanche
- St Louis Blues
- Vegas Golden Knights
- Minnesota Wild
- Arizona Coyotes
- San Jose Sharks
- Anaheim Ducks
- Los Angeles Kings
NHL West Preview – Final Word
Our NHL West Preview 2021 observes that this division is weak. The top two teams, the Avs and Blues should excel. As a result, the middle of the pack will be crowded. We look for a four-way battle for the last two playoffs spots. We think they will go to Vegas and Minnesota with the Golden Knights being the stronger of the two. The Arizona Coyotes could certainly find themselves in the fourth rather than the fifth spot.