Bodog NHL Futures: Western Conference Ultimate Roundup
Pacific Division Odds
- Favorites – Edmonton Oilers / Anaheim Ducks
- Best Dark Horse Bet – Calgary Flames
- Most Improved – Phoenix Coyotes
- Most Likely To Fall – Los Angeles Kings
Winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes was the best thing to happen to the Edmonton Oilers since Wayne Gretzky defected from the WHL to the NHL. They also lucked out on Cam Talbot, who transformed into an outstanding starting goaltender, giving the Oilers a workhorse the defense can count on. Injuries will affect their blueline, but they’ll be able to compensate and grow stronger as the season progresses. Keep in mind that McDavid hasn’t hit his prime – he could tally 110 points, enough production to secure another Hart Trophy.
Playing the Anaheim Ducks resembles hitting the ice against a team wrapped in sandpaper. Corey Perry’s still one of the most annoying humans in the NHL. As his scoring declined, Richard Rakell stepped up to the plate, notching 33 goals on the top line. Ryan Getzlaf is still a top center and the team even picked up an insurance policy by signing goalie Ryan Miller. The Ducks are ready to make another deep run through the playoffs under non-nonsense bench boss Randy Carlyle.
The Calgary Flames are one of the most intriguing teams in the west because they added plenty of defensive support during the offseason. Mike Smith will provide the type of solid, veteran goaltending that stabilizes the entire team. Adding Travis Hamonic gives the Flames one of the best defenses in the league. Calgary’s fleet of speedy young forwards will be deadlier as a result, making the Flames a great dark horse bet.
Central Division Odds
- Favorites – Nashville Predators / Chicago Blackhawks
- Best Dark Horse Bet – St. Louis Blues
- Most Improved – Dallas Stars
- Most Likely To Fall – Minnesota Wild
The Nashville Predators proved that they’re one of the best teams in the league with a convincing romp through the western conference.
Only the indestructible Pittsburgh Penguins could halt the Predators progress, which could be the case again this year. All key contributors return to the lineup, and the franchise even has an extra starting goalie in Jusse Saros, should Pekka Rinne become unplayable.
Chicago had to deal Artemi Panarin because of salary cap issues, but they received a decent return in Brandon Saad. Saad won’t provide the same chemistry that Panarin created with Patrick Kane, but the Blackhawks scoring will remain steady. They’re still one of the finest teams in the NHL, and if they have an injury-free year, they’ll compete for a cup.
The most improved team in the NHL are the Dallas Stars, who added Alex Radulov, Marc Methot and Ben Bishop during the offseason. Dallas was already a good squad, despite underperforming during the 2016-17 regular season.
Now that the front office went all in, the Stars could quickly rise to take over the central.
Minnesota shouldn’t be taken lightly, but the franchise didn’t do anything to combat old age creeping into the lineup. All their top players are a year older, not a year better, which reduces the odds that the Wild will outperform compared to last season. On the opposite end of the spectrum, St. Louis finished hot last season, and could outperform expectations as long as goalie Jake Allen remains steady. The Blues should be considered the dark horses of the Central Division.
The Winnipeg Jets are unfortunate to be stuck in the strongest division in the NHL.
This team does have great forwards and an underrated back line, but Steve Mason as starting goaltender shouldn’t inspire confidence. There’s no reason to believe that the Avalanche will be anything but the worst team in the central.
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