With the NHL regular season two weeks away, various bookmakers have released their lines on how they believe teams will do. As a degenerate gambler myself, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on which teams should be good bets this upcoming season. These picks will be 100% correct come April, so feel free to wager uncomfortable amounts of money on my predictions.
All lines are based from Bodog and are subject to change in the future.
Arizona Coyotes Over 76
The reasoning is quite simple. They’ve improved a ton on defence with the addition of Niklas Hjalmarsson and now Jason Demers, Antii Ranta should give them solid goaltending, and Derek Stepan should provide some much-needed offensive punch — all of these players were acquired through trade and without giving up any major pieces. They also have two top-end prospects in Clayton Keller and Dylan Strome likely to crack their lineup. I don’t see them having anything less than this total. (Note: I would get on this line as soon as possible. It’s already moved up 1.5 points since it’s opened).
Anaheim Ducks Under 104.5
The Ducks finished with 105 points last year and are still a solid team, but will be missing some key pieces to start the season. Ryan Kesler is likely to be the first two months of the season, and Sami Vatanen plus Hampus Lindholm will also be out for the beginning of the season. They will once again be a contender in the Western Conference but their injury trouble to begin with may leave them short of the point total they’re predicting.
Toronto Maple Leafs Over 95.5
Last year the Leafs had a surprising season where there wasn’t much expectation. They ended up with 95 points, good enough for the last playoff spot and they have the potential to do even better this year. Last year Toronto finished 1-8 in the shootout, worst in the league — that’s bound to be better. They also had some bad luck in one-goal games that could move back the other way. As much as it pains me to say, the Leafs are a team on the rise.
Colorado Avalanche Over 70
Colorado was spectacularly bad last year, finishing with a lowly 48 points. You have to be actively trying to be bad to finish with a point total around 48 for two straight seasons, and the Avs still have some respectable players that they shouldn’t hit that again — I don’t expect players like Nathan Mackinnon to have a 5.43 shooting percentage this season. They won’t be a playoff team by any means, but they won’t be nearly as terrible.
Edmonton Oilers Under 104
This could be risky because of Connor McDavid, but I’m not as sold on the Oilers as everyone else seems to be, especially after one good season. They will be a playoff team, but they once again traded another top winger during the summer for an underwhelming return, and the depth chart is not exactly great. People want the Oilers to follow the same path as the early Crosby Penguins, but that may not happen.
Winnipeg Jets Over 91.5
The Jets have a ton of good young talent — Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers — but their Achilles heel has always been goaltending. Enter Steve Mason. Winnipeg signed him to a two-year deal on July 1st, and if he can provide average goaltending they should be much better than the 87 points they had last year. They’re in a very tough Central Division, so the Jets will likely be aiming for a wildcard spot. That’s very possible with the team they have.
Carolina Hurricanes Over 92.5
Like the Jets, the Hurricanes have been subjected to terrible goaltending over the last few years, which as really hurt them. Consequently, they went out and acquired Scott Darling who looked good in his limited role in Chicago. It will be interesting to see if Darling can be a true number one starter in the NHL, but my money is on yes. The Hurricanes could be the surprise team in the East this year.