Despite the fact that a puck has yet to be dropped this season, the Los Angeles Kings fell behind two of their Pacific Division rivals this past week.
In two key moves, both the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the San Jose Sharks sent out word to the Kings and the rest of the league that they plan to be at the top of the Pacific Division.
Pacific Division Making Moves
On Monday, the Golden Knights traded for the Montreal Canadiens captain and winger Max Pacioretty. The Knights boosted their scoring by acquiring Pacioretty, who netted 30-plus goals four-times in his career including three years straight form 2015-17.
Vegas will now be better than last year. And that is saying something for a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, after winning the Pacific Division, in their first season.
When healthy, Pacioretty’s elite scoring now gives the Golden Knights two top lines. The addition of Paul Stastny gives them a second playmaker that can pair well with Pacioretty. For a team that was fourth in all of the NHL in goals scored, with 272, the trade is a case of the rich getting richer.
That’s bad news for the Kings who were swept by the Golden Knights in first round of this past years playoffs.
As if the Golden Knights getting better wasn’t alarming enough, the other team to recently eliminate the Kings in the playoffs pulled off the blockbuster trade of the offseason.
Sharks Upgrade Their Defense
On Thursday, the San Jose Sharks traded a slew of players and draft picks for defensemen Erik Karlsson. The two-time Norris Trophy winner has given the Sharks an elite pairing to go alongside 2017 Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns.
Both Karlsson and Burns were in the top six of points for defensemen in the league last year. Even if the pair don’t stop a single puck, it’s more than likely that they can out score a team by themselves.
No pairing the Kings put together can match up with the Sharks. There might not even be a team in the entire NHL who can match up against two Norris winners on the same blue line.
The Kings will now have to deal with the Golden Knights boosted scoring, and the Sharks potential Stanley Cup defensive pairing. This season hasn’t started and they find themselves behind. If the Kings don’t play to their full potential this season, then they risk falling even further behind their rivals.