- Craig Custance
One of the by-products of San Jose GM Doug Wilson's trade deadlines moves was that his team's speed improved. It gave younger legs an opportunity to replace veterans Ryane Clowe and Douglas Murray and the Sharks successfully played a faster game down the stretch and into the postseason.
But coach Todd McLellan said it wasn't all personnel. During the lockout-shortened season, players approached the coaching staff about the amount of practice time the Sharks were squeezing in and the impact it had on the players. "Maybe we were over-practicing, overworking in a lockout season," McLellan said when we chatted shortly after the draft. "They came to us and talked to us about the work-to-rest ratio and we narrowed it down a little bit. We were fresher. It's not always the feet and skates."
It was one of the nuances of a strange season. And the coming season will have nuances of its own. With realignment comes new divisions, new rivalries and new quirks -- like McLellan's Sharks now traveling the most miles this season, according to math done by Dirk Hoag of the On the Forecheck blog. To get ready for the new-look NHL, this week we'll examine which way teams in each of the new divisions are trending as training camp inches closer.
Average team point total last season: 54.1
2012-13 playoff teams: 4
Notable strength: This division features some of last season's most potent power plays, including the No. 4 overall Ducks (21.5 percent). Five of the top 10 power plays from last season are now in the Pacific (Ducks, Sharks, Oilers, Flames and Kings). As a division, the Pacific was at 18.8 percent on the power play last season (212-for-1,128), a total dragged down by No. 25 Phoenix.
Points last season: 66
Trending: Down -- The Ducks were one of the league's biggest surprises after the lockout, as Bruce Boudreau continued to get the best out of his team during the regular season, but it's hard to see this team defending its Pacific Division title. With the trade of Ryan and the impressive group of prospects on the way in Anaheim, the Ducks will be much better in two seasons than they will be next season -- especially if GM Bob Murray can add even more young talent in return for starting goalie Jonas Hiller, who is expendable because of Viktor Fasth and prospect John Gibson. A small step back before all the young talent in Anaheim is ready is a reasonable expectation.