Read this informative article for your NHL futures betting, as this handicapper shares his thoughts on his NHL Western Conference early season contenders, sleepers, and pretenders.
Western Conference Early Favorites
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings have won 2 of the last 3 Stanley Cup Finals, and have made to the Western Conference Finals 3-years in a row. Their roster entering this season remained virtually identical from the one that hoisted the Stanley Cup around the Staples Center last June. They’ve proven during their successful run, it doesn’t matter how low their seed is at the end of the regular season. It’s how you perform in the playoffs is all that matters.
Chicago Blackhawks: The Hawks lost a gut wrenching Game 7 in overtime during the Western Conference Finals to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Kings. Similar to Los Angeles, the Blackhawks front office has done a marvelous job of keeping their roster intact since winning their first of 2 Stanley Cups won since 2010.
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks finished first overall in the Western Conference last season, and should be near, or at the top of the standings when next April rolls around. They lost in 7-games during the 2015 Western Conference Semifinals at the hands of the Kings.
San Jose Sharks: It will take an awful lot to erase the mental scar left from last season complete meltdown during the Conference Quarterfinals. The Sharks were just the 4th team in NHL history to lose in the playoffs after having a 3-0 series lead. There’s still plenty of proven talent in San Jose, it’s just a matter of how they bounce back from the humiliating way last season ended.
Western Conference Early Sleepers
Minnesota Wild: The Wild has shown early this season that what they accomplished a season ago was no fluke. Minnesota possesses a plethora of team speed, and is a disciplined defensive club. If the goaltending comes through, this team is very capable of making a deep playoff run.
Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks vastly underachieved last season for reasons that were both understandable, and others that were unacceptable. Gone is their former highly volatile head coach John Tortorella. Ryan Miller was a key free agent acquisition during the offseason, and should be able to stabilize the goaltending situation that was a liability a season ago.
Dallas Stars: The former long time Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff did an outstanding job in his first year behind the Dallas bench. The Stars have a very good core group led by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Newcomers Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky were key additions to this season’s roster.
St. Louis Blues: The recent history of this franchise has their fan base pulling their hair out, as well as those who played them on the NHL futures odds markets. They excel during the regular season slate creating excitement and high expectations heading into the postseason. Then comes the annual early exit from the playoffs.
Colorado Avalanche: The stars all aligned in a row for the young Avalanche team last season. I look for them to take a significant step back in the upcoming season, and wouldn’t be shocked if they missed the playoffs entirely.
Nashville Predators: Their fast start to the season is nothing but fool’s gold.
Save your Money
Calgary Flames: They’ve shown signs of improvement since the 2014 Olympic break, but are still a long ways off from a playoff team, let alone a contender.
Winnipeg Jets: If you’re looking for excitement or looking to win NHL picks, stay away from Winnipeg.
Arizona Coyotes: They play before friends and family at home, and their intensity level on a nightly basis matches the fan base.
Edmonton Oilers: Pinnacle Sports is offering the Oilers, the home of former first round draft choice busts, and 9-years worth of franchise futility. at odds for winning the Western Conference at +5085.