The 2018-19 NHL season is almost upon us and hockey odds are already filling up SBR's top-rated sportsbooks. One popular bet through the years has been team point totals and trying to pinpoint where each club will finish in the standings. A new season and a clean slate always brings high hopes for every team, and as we’ve seen in the past some teams will live up to the hype, some will exceed expectations and some will underachieve. In my first post for SBR, I am going to tell you who may underachieve based on point totals found on Bovada's NHL futures.
Even though some teams are still wheeling and dealing or trying to lock up some restricted free agents, we’re starting to get a feel for what rosters will look like and there’s some interesting takes throughout the betting world on team point totals. The first puck drops October 3 as the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals host the Boston Bruins, raising their first Cup banner prior to faceoff. While both teams made some solid additions and suffered some subtractions, they should end up with a point total relatively the same as last season when the champs finished with 105 points and the Bruins at 112. Both will be contenders once again. What about the rest of the league, though?
Here are three teams getting a bit too much love from Bovada on point totals:
Chicago Blackhawks (84.5)
I may regret saying it, but we may have seen the end of a dynasty in Chicago last season as the Blackhawks missed the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons and finished last in the Central Division with just 76 points. After trading sniper Artemi Panarin away prior to last season, the core of the team struggled mightily and goalie Corey Crawford battled concussions and was only able to play 28 games.
Saying the core struggled may even be an understatement. Patrick Kane’s point total (76) dropped 13 points from the season before, Duncan Keith’s (32) dropped 21 points, and Artem Anisimov (31) and Brent Seabrook (26) went down 13 points each. Meanwhile, captain Jonathan Toews hasn’t cracked the 60-point plateau in three seasons. Considering the only additions of note this offseason were Marcus Kruger, Brandon Manning, Chris Kunitz and goalie Cam Ward, how can anyone expect a bounce back of 12-13 points unless you’re simply going on past success prior to last season?
Maybe the core has a better season, but still the Western Conference is even stronger this season and no one knows how healthy Crawford will be, hence the Ward signing. General manager Stan Bowman did clear a ton of cap space trading oft-injured Marian Hossa to the Coyotes and as Pete Blackburn of CBSSports.com pointed out, could be gearing up for a big trade, but that was back on July 12 and as of this writing Bowman hadn’t swung a deal or signed a marquee free agent. It appears time is winding down on the Blackhawks dynasty, and soon we may talking about the over/under on when head coach Joel Quenneville may be out in Chicago.
Edmonton Oilers (91.5)
According to Bovada, the Oilers will finish the season with 91.5 points. That’s a 13-14-point improvement on last season’s disappointing 78-point showing. Yes, Edmonton has arguably the best player in the NHL in 2018 Ted Lindsay and Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid, who was also a Hart Trophy Finalist, but as last season proved in Edmonton one player can’t carry a team to the playoffs.
Considering the fact their only additions this offseason were bottom six forwards in Tobias Reider and Kyle Brodziak, what about the team around McDavid changed to make someone think they could bounce back and make a 13-point jump in the standings -- especially in a Pacific Division that just saw the reigning division and Western Conference champions Vegas Golden Knights add the likes of a perennial 30-goal scorer in Max Pacioretty and a brilliant playmaker in Paul Stastny? Or what about the San Jose Sharks, who now have arguably the best blueline in the NHL after acquiring two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson while only surrendering one roster player in depth forward Chris Tierney. Let’s not forget that the Los Angeles Kings signed sniper Ilya Kovalchuk too.
Back to the Oilers: They failed to unload the contract of Milan Lucic, whose best days have sadly passed him by, they have a suspect defense at best and will be without Andrej Sekera again (torn Achilles tendon) until mid-December. They also still have an average at best goalie in Cam Talbot, who came back to earth last season after a solid 2016-17 and looked like the career backup he’s always been.
This team goes where McDavid goes and unless McDavid can be even more superhuman than he already is, this team as currently constructed is skilled up front but not balanced enough. They will be lucky to sniff the playoffs with a 4-5-point improvement if any at all.
Ottawa Senators (71.5)
We could just let you watch the above video to explain why you should bet the house on the Ottawa Senators finishing dead last in the NHL and maybe breake the record for the fewest point total in the modern era NHL, which is held by the 1974-75 Washington Capitals who finished with 21 points.
While that bizarre video, reminiscent of a Saturday Night Live skit pretty much says it all, we’ll delve into why the Senators won’t just fall shy of this 71.5 points prediction but why they may have the lowest NHL total in 25 seasons, when they finished dead last with 24 points, the third-worst total in the history of the modern era NHL.
They are going to win the #LoseForHughes Sweepstakes for the right to pick top prospect Jack Hughes. In typical Senators fashion, they won’t be winning it for themselves but rather the Colorado Avalanche, who own the Sens’ 2019 first-round draft pick via the trade that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa last November. Just another example of how the team that came within one goal of the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 has once again become the laughing stock of the NHL. As mentioned above, they lost Karlsson in the recent trade with San Jose and only got one proven NHLer back in the deal in Tierney.
They also lost -- and yes he had to go because of off-ice issues -- Mike Hoffman, who scored 22 goals and finished with 56 points last season. Couple that with two pending unrestricted free agents in Duchene and Mark Stone, and a goalie in Craig Anderson who has requested a trade and as Ottawa is a dumpster fire right now. They will be lucky to crack 50 points if Stone and Duchene decide to boost their value on the free agent market, but it’s a toxic situation in Ottawa and 71.5 points is simply laughable! Bet 'under' on anything positive when it comes Ottawa this season.