Here is a look at the best bets to win their division in the NHL’s Western Conference this season. We took a look at the main contenders and came up with two solid NHL picks.
Chicago is the defending Stanley Cup champion but they lost a number of key pieces including Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette and Johnny Oduya from last year’s roster. While they have reloaded with some considerable talent, they will face an uphill climb winning their division this season and cashing on the NHL odds. The Blues won the Central last year and should be right there in the mix again this season but one team that we think hasn’t gotten enough attention as a contender to win the division is Nashville. The Predators finished five points back of St. Louis in the Central last season but they remain the most steady team in the division as long as Pekka Rinne is healthy, which he is heading in to this year. Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, Anton Volchenkov and Barret Jackman make up arguably the deepest and most talented defense core in the NHL and there are some talented pieces up front including rising star Filip Forsberg, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro. Nashville isn’t a sexy choice like St. Louis or Chicago but look for the Predators could also be a good option for your NHL picks.
Predicted Winner: Nashville Predators +650
Next In Line: St. Louis Blues +300, Chicago Blackhawks +450 at 5Dimes
The Ducks had no problem locking up the Pacific last season and while the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames should give them more of a challenge this year the division is still theirs to lose. Anaheim is loaded down the middle with Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Rickard Rakell and they have plenty of talent to complement those players with in Corey Perry, Jakob Silfverberg, Patrick Maroon and the recently signed Chris Stewart. The Ducks added another veteran to their defense in Kevin Bieksa to compliment a talented young core that includes the emerging Sami Vatenen and Simon Despres and while their goaltenders are still relatively unproven it’s impossible to doubt their skill level. Frederik Andersen is expected to lead the way as the No. 1 this season while Anton Khudobin was brought in as the backup to presumably allow future franchise netminder John Gibson to continue to develop in the AHL. The Kings and Flames will be better overall this year and with Connor McDavid now in Edmonton there is a chance the tide could turn for the Oilers over the next couple of years but for now there is no doubt that Anaheim is the team to beat in the Pacific.
Predicted Winner: Anaheim Ducks +325 at Bet365
Next In Line: Los Angeles Kings +250, Calgary Flames +550