NHL Picks: 2015-16 Western Conference Playoff Projections

David Lawrence

Monday, November 30, 2015 2:18 PM GMT

Monday, Nov. 30, 2015 2:18 PM GMT

It's time to look at some Western Conference futures odds. We’ve crunched the numbers and have narrowed down our eight playoff teams in the West.

Anaheim Ducks
I expect the Anaheim Ducks to be the best regular season team in the Western Conference once again. They finished with 109 points last season and should be just as good – if not better. They added Carl Hagelin, Chris Stewart and Kevin Bieksa without losing a lot. Their forwards unit is deeper than ever before. That’ll keep them at the top.

 

St. Louis Blues
The Blues are a horrible postseason bet for NHL odds but they’re a decent bet to finish with more than 100 points and push for the top spot in the conference. They’re just a very balanced team with the offense now built around Vladimir Tarasenko up front and the blue line looking rock-solid with Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Butler and Jay Bouwmeester. Will they get over their playoff shortcomings? No. Will they push for a top playoff seed? Yes.

 

Nashville Predators
I don’t see the Predators as a fluke from last season. They had injuries – especially to Pekka Rinne – which derailed an otherwise impressive season. They return a stellar blue line and we’ve already seen what head coach Peter Laviolette can do with the offense. If they can find a couple more forwards at the trade deadline, they might be a good choice for NHL picks to win the West.

 

Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks won the Cup last year and experienced a bunch of change in the offseason. They’ll still be good but they won’t be as hungry in the regular season. They traded away Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards and Johnny Oduya, and have some new faces coming in like Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Viktor Tikhonov and Trevor Daley. They’ll be a problem in the playoffs but I don’t see them climbing the standings in the West.

 

Dallas Stars
The Stars vault up the list after a productive offseason. They were already an excellent offensive team and they should be even better. Patrick Sharp provide offensive support beyond the top line while Johnny Oduya should do a decent job replacing Trevor Daley on the blue line. The Stars also upgraded in net with Antti Raanta, who might replace Kari Lehtonen as the starter.

 

Calgary Flames
This is a young team that’s on the rise. They plugged a big hole in net last season with the Jonas Hiller/Karri Ramo combo and built a strong, young team around them. After surprisingly making the final eight, they added stud defenseman Dougie Hamilton and some depth scoring with Michael Frolik, who somehow becomes the team’s highest-paid forward. If guys like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan continue along the trajectory, the Flames will be a playoff team nobody wants to face again.

 

Minnesota Wild
Is this a team that’s for real? We’re still trying to figure out if their vault up the standings was legit or not. And is Devan Dubnyk actually that good? If so, then seventh could be low for the Wild. However, we’ll remain skeptical as this is a very young team beyond Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Ryan Suter, and who knows with Dubnyk.

 

Los Angeles Kings
This is a bizarre team that should be better than what they are in the regular season. One would think they get into the playoffs, right? How could they not with a roster that includes Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Card, Marian Gaborik, Milan Lucic, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Drew Doughty. One concern is goaltender Jonathan Quick, who’s save percentage hasn’t been higher than .918 over the last three seasons. That .918 save percentage last season was good for 17th in the NHL as guys like Eddie Lack and Ondrej Pavelec outperformed him. That has to change.

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