It’s that time of year again where we begin our quest for another winning season. Before padding our bankroll in October let’s take a detailed look at each division in the National Hockey League and how have offseason changes affect each team’s value for a futures play.
All Stanley Cup future odds will be taken from A+ rated Bet Online by Sports Book Review.
Carolina Hurricanes 50/1
It seems like the same song, different year from the Carolina Hurricanes. They make off season moves to excite the fan base only to wash it down with another letdown season. Last season, they pretended to be wild card contenders for a few months but fell eight points short of making the postseason, extending their postseason drought to eight seasons.
This offseason was filled with a small controversy when it was reported that current owner Peter Karmanos was deep in discussion with former Texas Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg to sell the franchise for $500 million. This proved to be false but it’s not difficult to understand that if Karmanos doesn’t make a move to create interest in a franchise that’s last in attendance, Quebec always has their arms open.
Judging by their off season moves Carolina is once again trying to make a push to break out of their postseason slump.
Teams build from the net out so last May the Hurricanes went out and signed free agent goaltender Scott Darling to a four-year deal. Darling, will provide an upgrade in net after a 18-5-5, 2.38 GA, .924 season in Chicago. At 6-6, 232, Darling is a big netminder who will surely be an upgrade from last season, but the question remains, is he ready to carry the workload.
The ‘Canes will miss the postseason again but will stay in it longer with improved defensive depth and stronger play in goal.
Columbus Blue Jackets 16/1
The Jackets won a team record 16 straight games last season but were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the Playoffs. Head Coach John Tortorella won the Jack Adams Award for guiding his team to a 108 point season so is there any reason to think the Jackets are not on their way up? Look no further than Sergei Bobrovsky (41-17-5, 2.06)
Even though Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy last season it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from playoff disappointment considering his confidence level has been questioned from time to time in his career.
This year the Jackets won’t be surprising anyone but with the addition of Artemi Panarin (31-43-74, 82 games) the Jackets will punch their ticket into the playoffs again.
Philadelphia Flyers 40/1
Call me crazy but I’m going to bet on the Flyers making a huge jump after last year’s disappointing playoff omission. The arrival of Nolan Patrick (205 pts in 163 career WHL games) have many of the Flyers faithful looking to what could be. The dangerous side of this is, if Patrick, who is slated to be a second line center between Valtteri Filppula (12-30-42, 79 gms) and Wayne Simmonds (31-23-54, 82 gms) doesn’t find success in his rookie season. What if his past injuries, including sports hernia surgery before the draft, don’t allow a team that finished 21st in scoring last season to improve? They can’t afford to be wrong on Patrick especially with the loss of Brayden Schenn (25-30-55, 79 gms).
I’m betting that Patrick is going to be a huge success along with newly signed goaltender Brian Elliot (26-18-3, 2.55) catapulting the Flyers into the playoffs finishing second in the Metro.
New Jersey Devils 100/1
The Devils are clearly another team that is relying on their top draft pick, Nico Heschier (86 pts, 57Gms, QMJHL), who will likely center the Devils top line between Taylor Hall (20-33-53, 72 Gms) and Kyle Palmieri (26-27-53, 80gms). The Devils, who are desperately looking for scoring, added Marcus Johansson (24-34-58, 82 gms) to their second line with Brian Boyle (13-12-25, 75 gms) to give the Devils some depth up the middle. The Devils finished 28th in team scoring while finishing dead last in 5 on 5 scoring (114). There are too many incomplete grades on this team for me to take them seriously right now.
Pittsburgh Penguins 7.5/1
The Penguins are the favorite to repeat in the East and why not. Kris Letang (34 points in 41 games), who has been out of the lineup since the end of February, will return to take his top pairing spot with Olli Maatta (+17 55 games) and the addition of Ryan Reaves (6-7-13, 80GO) will allow the Pens to be tougher physically and defensively.
Like most teams in the division there has been some shake-up in net with Marc-Andre Fleury (18-10-7, 3.02) taking his talents to the Las Vegas Strip leaving Antti Niemi (12-12-4, 3.30) to back up Matt Murray (32-10-4, 2.41). I am a bit concerned with the Penguins depth after losing Chris Kunitz (9-20-29, 71 gms), Nick Bonino (18-19-37, 80gms), Trevor Daley (5-14-19, 56 gms), Ron Hainsey (4-13-17, 72 gms and Matt Cullen (13-18-31, 72 gms) but they still have plenty of star power left to in the division.
I do expect a drop off from last season’s point total of 111 only because of the amount of games this team has had to play over the last two seasons to win back to back cups but they should still have enough to win the Metropolitan.
New York Rangers 16/1
I know this going to cause some to question my sanity but I think the Rangers take a step back after accumulating 102 points last season. A lot of times I simply look at back-up netminders and envision what would happen if they had to play for a few weeks if the starter were to miss some games. Last season Henrik Lundqvist (31-20-4, 2.74) only played in 57 games and then another 12 playoff games where he was just 6-6 with a decent 2.25 goals against. This season there isn’t an Antti Raanta (26-16-10, 2.26) to lean on with Ondrej Pavelec (4-4, 3.55) taking over the back-up duties. Lundqvist missed eight games last year with a hip injury in March and I foresee more of that this season. I think the Rangers take a major step back so I won't tying up any money long term on season long NHL picks on the Rangers.
New York Islanders 28/1
Many close to the Islanders are encouraged by the fact that the Islanders were left just one point out of a playoff spot last season. General Manager Garth Snow went out and traded for Jordan Eberle (20-31-51, 82) in exchange for Ryan Strome (13-17-30, 69 GP). Eberle will be line mates with John Tavares (28-38-66, 77 GP) and Anders Lee (34-18-52, 81GP). The unfortunate part is the Islanders didn’t do much to help themselves out defensively as they go into this season with the same defensive pairings. Nick Leddy (11-35-46, 81 gms) and Johnny Boychuk (6-17-23, 66gms) are a solid top pairing but Calvin De Haan (5-20-25, 82 gms) and Dennis Seidenberg 5-17-22, 73GP) are just okay. Nothing compels me to put a future bet on the Islanders.
Washington Capitals 12/1
I’ve always said that maybe the best thing to have happened to Barry Trotz’s team is to not have such lofty expectations after winning another President’s Trophy.
I predict the Capitals will be a wild card team this season but rests assure Alexander Ovechkin has sat around all summer listening to prognosticators talk about his demise. True, Ovechkin wasn’t much of a factor in the postseason but let’s not forget that he did tally 33 goals last season although it was 17 goals less than the 2015-16 season. Still, it doesn’t guarantee that Ovi’s production is in decline for more than last season. The only question mark is what Ovechkin’s decision will be in relation to the Olympics. It would be tough to bet a future on a team that may lose their superstar for a few weeks when the Olympics start
Metro Predicted order of Finish
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Columbus Blue Jackets
4. Washington Capitals
5. Carolina Hurricanes
6. New York Islanders
7. New York Rangers
8. New Jersey Devils