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Pacific Division free agency preview: Can Sharks keep cornerstones Thornton, Marleau?

The Anaheim Ducks have won the Pacific Division five years in a row but did not reach the Stanley Cup Final during that span. The San Jose Sharks did, in 2016, and the Los Angeles Kings hoisted the Cup for the second time in three years in 2014. Of late, the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames have rejuvenated the Battle of Alberta. (Free agents are unrestricted, unless otherwise noted as restricted free agents.)

Anaheim Ducks


Notable free agents:CNate Thompson, GJonathan Bernier

Needs: The Ducks might look at depth defensemen while Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm recover from shoulder surgeries. It remains unclear who Anaheim's No. 2 goalie will be. The Ducks are tight against the cap but could use a clutch performer to help them reach the next level. An extension for potential 2018 free-agent defenseman Cam Fowler should be Anaheim's top priority.

Cap space: $5.5 million

Big moves so far: The Ducks re-signed trade-deadline pickup Patrick Eaves, a winger, to a three-year deal. They lost young defenseman Shea Theodore to theVegas Golden Knightsas part of an expansion-draft agreement.

Arizona Coyotes


Notable free agents:RWRadim Vrbata, LWAnthony Duclair (RFA), CAlexander Burmistrov (RFA), CNick Cousins (RFA), GChad Johnson

Needs: Stability and direction are what the wayward Coyotes need most. They will soon hire a new coaching staff. They brought in a fresh goalie tandem and a couple of high-pedigree veteran skaters. They will need some young players to step forward and cement their roles. The Coyotes have plenty of cap room but will probably not approach the cap ceiling if recent years offer any indication.

Cap space: $25.2 million

Big moves so far: After Andrew Barroway took over full control of the Coyotes, he immediately parted ways with the team's coach (Dave Tippett), startinggoaltender (Mike Smith) and longtime captain (Shane Doan).They also traded for goalie Antti Raanta as well as a pair of playoff-seasoned veterans, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and center Derek Stepan.

Calgary Flames


Notable free agents:RWAlex Chiasson (RFA), RWKris Versteeg, LWMicheal Ferland(RFA), DDennis Wideman, CSam Bennett (RFA), GBrian Elliott

Needs: The Flames could look to add a veteran defenseman and took care of their need for a backup goalie with the acquisition ofEddie Lack from the Carolina Hurricanes. Their roster is well-rounded but not complete, so any other moves might be on a best-player-available basis.
Cap space: $15.7 million

Big moves so far: The Flames won the bidding war with regional rivals like theWinnipeg Jetsfor defenseman Travis Hamonic. They sent a first-rounder and a second-rounder to the Islanders for Hamonic, who will jump immediately into Calgary's top four.

Edmonton Oilers


Notable free agents:CLeon Draisaitl (RFA),CDavid Desharnais

Needs:Re-signing Draisaitl should be the Oilers' first order of business. Sportsnet in Canada reported that Edmonton andConnor McDavidhave agreed in principle on an eight-year extension worth more than $100 million that will kick in next season. Beyond that, the Oilers mostly need to shore up their third defensive pairing with a steady partner for Darnell Nurse. Acquiring a reliable No. 2 goalie would ensureCam Talbot doesn't end up playing 70-plus games again this season.

Cap space: $18 million

Big moves so far: The Oilers gained financial flexibility and versatility up front when they traded Jordan Eberle, a one-dimensional winger who struggled in the playoffs, to theNew York Islandersfor Ryan Strome. Edmonton also re-signed shot-blocking defenseman Kris Russell.

Los Angeles Kings


Notable free agents:RWJarome Iginla, CNick Shore

Needs: The Kings need to add speed throughout their lineup, and they are in desperate need of a scoring forward. It could be a winger to play alongside Anze Kopitar or a center who would allow them to move Jeff Carter from second-line pivot to first-line right winger. Los Angeles is reportedly pursuing centerJoe Thornton, who has played with rival San Jose since 2005. The hefty contracts of Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown make such moves difficult but not impossible.

Cap space: $10 million
Big moves so far: The Kings bought out veteran defenseman Matt Greene and got a steal in the draft when they selected center Gabriel Vilardi 11th overall. They also re-signed wingers Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.

San Jose Sharks


Notable free agents:C Joe Thornton, CPatrick Marleau

Needs: The Sharks must first decide what direction to go in with their two longest-tenured players, Thornton and Marleau. Both are former Sharks captains, and Marleau has been with San Jose since 1997. Replacing their production and leadership might be a challenge, but it has to happen sooner than later -- both players will be 38 by the start of next season.

Cap space: $18.4 million

Big moves so far: The Sharks re-signed forwards Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. They also brought the speedy Jannik Hansen into the fold last spring.

Vancouver Canucks


Notable free agents:CBo Horvat (RFA), CBrendan Gaunce (RFA), GRyan Miller

Needs: To be polite, the Canucks need everything. They have their goaltender of the future in Thatcher Demko, a reliable center in Horvat and intriguing prospects. At the top level, the club has languished during the twilight of the Sedin twins' careers.

Cap space: $19.5 million

Big moves so far: Vancouver might have turned around its fortunes in the draft with shrewd selections in an overall weak class. It also hired Travis Green as its new coach.

Related Topics:
sportsespnedmonton oilersjoe thorntonfree agency2017 draftpacific divisionrestricted free agentarizona coyotessan jose sharksleon draisaitlfree agentspatrick marleaunhl entry draftlos angeles kingsunrestricted free agentdarnell nurseufavancouver canucksryan millernhldraftcalgary flamesanaheim ducks
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