Our professional NHL consultant provides us with five teams he feels will go under their projected point total against the NHL odds for the upcoming season.
Anaheim Ducks under 104.5 (-115): As I alluded to in a preview article on Anaheim last week, I like the Ducks to come on in the second half of the season. There was just too much movement regarding personnel during the offseason, and it would be unfair to expect them to come out of the gate like gangbusters. Gone from a team that went to the Western Conference Finals last May are Matt Beleskey, Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem, James Wisniewski, Francois Beauchemin, Tomas Fleischmann and Mark Fistric. New to the team this season will be Kevin Bieska, Carl Hagelin, Anton Khudobin, Shawn Horcoff, Chris Stewart, Mike Santorelli and Shane O'Brien. This still remains a very talented team, but one that will need time to jell. My inclination is that I’ll really relish them come playoff time. I’m going to go under 104.5 regular season points for one of my NHL picks.
Boston Bruins under 88.5 (-115): The Bruins really reached their peak from the 2009-2010 through the 2013-2014 NHL regular season campaigns. They looked to be an absolute lock to make the playoffs last season, and then went into a swan dive in March and April. Still on the roster from that successful period are David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Lui Ericksson, Chris Kelly, and Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Charra, Adam McQuaid, and Tuuka Rask. The rest of the roster leaves a lot to be desired, and they’ll have some serious depth issues when injuries occur.
Chicago Blackhawks under 99.5: For the first time in quite awhile, Chicago had a sizable turnover of their roster during this past offseason. Not to mention, another distracting incident involving Patrick Kane over the summer that grabbed headlines. Gone from the 2015 Stanley Cup winning team are Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Brad Richards, Kris Versteeg, and Johnny Oduya. They really didn’t pick up anyone of significance because due to salary cap issues. As good as they were a season ago, the Hawks still managed just 102 points, and finished only 5 points ahead of Calgary who snagged the final playoff spot. There will be some decline this season, it’s just a matter of how much.
Edmonton Oilers under 87.5 (-115): You’ve got to be kidding me with this point total? This is a club which had a paltry 62 points last season, exceeding only Arizona and Buffalo in the regard. I will concede that they’ll be much improved, and certainly more entertaining to watch with 18 year old whiz Connor McDavid now in the mix. However, they continue to rely on some of their high draft choices that have vastly underachieved. They’ll also be missing their most consistent forward during recent seasons in Jordan Eberle. He sustained a shoulder injury, and will be sidelined four to six weeks. I very seldom question where NHL odds are set, but this is certainly one of those times.
Nashville Predators under 95.5 (-115): I predicted the Predators would be an early playoff casualty last January, and they obliged me by falling to Chicago in six games during the Western Conference Quarterfinals. They ranked near the bottom of my NHL special teams efficiency ratings last year, and faded badly down the final stretch of their regular season. I’ll go out on a limb, and predict this club won’t even make the playoffs.