Ian Cameron provides a look at NHL futures for the Central and Pacific Divisions in the Western Conference for the upcoming 2016-2017 NHL season while sharing his predictions and futures picks.
Central Division, Odds provided by Bookmaker/CRIS
Odds to Win 2017 Central Division
St Louis Blues+261
There is no doubt in my mind this is the best division and most competitive division in the NHL. As many as 5 teams can win this division with Chicago, Dallas, Nashville and St. Louis all having the best shot to win the division as evidenced by their NHL odds but Minnesota is a team worth looking at as a longshot here. Bruce Boudreau takes over as head coach of the Wild and he has a great track record of regular season success to the tune of 6 division titles won in 6 full seasons as an NHL head coach with the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks. Playoff success has eluded him but the fact remains his coaching has made teams better right away and I expect more of the same from him with the Minnesota Wild. They will be in tough to win this division facing a litany of quality and talented teams in the Central but I wouldn't rule it out and for that reason, I feel the Wild are worth a shot at the very attractive plus price to win the Central.
Free NHL Pick: Minnesota Wild +1870
Pacific Division, Odds provided by Bookmaker/CRIS
Odds to Win 2017 Pacific Division
Los Angeles Kings+204
San Jose Sharks+262
Vancouver Canucks +10000
For many years, the Pacific Division has been ruled and dominated by the three California-based teams: the LA Kings, San Jose Sharks, and Anaheim Ducks but I feel there could be at least somewhat of a changing of the guard this season. Anaheim may not be as good and there are various question marks with LA (a core that maybe needs to be shaken up) and San Jose (avoiding a letdown from a near miss at winning the Stanley Cup last season). That could open the door for a legitimate shocker in this division and I'm looking at the two Alberta teams: Calgary and Edmonton to not only make the playoffs potentially but actually threaten the California stranglehold on the Pacific Division title. Even though Calgary has a new coaching staff, the Flames should be in a position to bounce back from last season and could be a sleeper. Edmonton maybe even more so. The Oilers are loaded up front and have FINALLY done something to address their porous blue line with the addition of Adam Larsson in a trade with the New Jersey Devils which should bolster that group immensely adding to improving young defenseman Darnell Nurse and veteran shutdown defensemen Andrej Sekera and Mark Fayne. Cam Talbot has proven to be a solid option in net and the team is still stacked with the ability to put the puck in the net. Kris Versteeg a veteran with tons of playoff experience was signed by Edmonton on a PTO and if he makes the team, it could make them even better. Todd McLellan is now in his second season as head coach in Edmonton which should lead to less teaching and a better understanding from Oilers players of his systems and what to expect. I think there is finally some real upside with the Oilers entering this season and I'll take a stab with them as my NHL pick to win this division.
Free NHL Pick: Edmonton Oilers +1055
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