2018/19 NHL Division futures
While some of the favourites are good bets to win their Division, there is always at least one underdog to look at when betting on NHL Futures.
NHL Division Futures
- 01Atlantic Division Winner – Toronto Maple Leafs +131
- 02Metropolitan Division Winner – Philadelphia Flyers +603
- 03Central Division Winner – Winnipeg Jets +160
- 04Pacific Division Winner – San Jose Sharks +220
Atlantic Division Winner – Toronto Maple Leafs +131
Something few people could fathom is the Toronto Maple Leafs have only one Division title (1999-00) since their last Stanley Cup victory in 1967. However, the Toronto Maple Leafs are poised to add another banner to the rafters in 2019.
After signing John Tavares in the offseason, the Maple Leafs climbed the odds (vaulting the Lightning) to become the favourites to win the Atlantic Division.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming off a franchise record 105 points, and with the addition of Tavares, the Leafs should only improve this season.
With Tavares, the Leafs are well-positioned to lead the NHL in goals and power play. Without Tavares, last season, the Leafs finished second in goals scored and second in power play. Tavares netted 37 goals last season and looks to have chemistry with him new Leaf teammates.
While the Leafs still have some question marks on defence, goaltender Frederik Andersen has proven to be a reliable netminder for the Leafs. As long as he is healthy, the Leafs have enough talent elsewhere on the ice to cover up for their deficiencies on the blue line.
Metropolitan Division Winner – Philadelphia Flyers +603
While the Philadelphia Flyers finished seven points back of the Metropolitan Division title in 2018, if they did not lead the league in Overtime/shootout losses, they would have come even closer. While the Flyers are not the trendiest pick to win the Metropolitan in 2019, a little bit more luck and some developing players could make them the surprise underdog to bet on this season.
Four of the Flyers top scorers last season were 25 years or younger, and all posted a +10 or better +/- rating.
That includes defensive Shayne Gotisbehere, who is sharing into one of the best defencemen in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers also have Claude Giroux who finished second in points last season with 102. Last year marked the fourth time in Giroux’s career he averaged a point or better in an NHL season.
The Flyers should also have better goaltending this season. Brian Elliott was shaky at best in his first season as a Flyer. However, his career statistics suggest he is much better than the numbers he posted in 2017-18. Elliott has twice led the league in save percentage and during his five years with the St. Louis Blues, Elliot had a 2.01 GAA. If he comes close to matching his Blues numbers, the Flyers will win more games this season.
Central Division Winner – Winnipeg Jets +160
It is a toss-up between the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets, for who will win the Central Division title in 2019. However, the Jets get the advantage this season due to their continually improving offence and emerging star goaltender.
The Jets tied with Toronto for the most goals scored last season (277) and were the only team in the NHL last season to rank in the top-five for goals scored and goals allowed.
Their success came, despite many of their top players being 24 years or younger last season.
With all the young talent on the Jets, the team should only make more progress that is positive in 2019. Patrik Laine is arguably the best goal-scorer in the Western Conference (after just two seasons), while veteran Blake Wheeler is a stud playmaker, tying for the league-lead in assists. Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor, join Wheeler and Laine Kyle Conor has Jets to top 57 points last season.
The Jets also have a beast in the net with Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck led the NHL with 44 wins last season and set career highs in save percentage, GAA and shutouts. Hellebuyck enters this season at just 25 years of age. He can continue to improve this season and could finish the 2019 season as one of the top candidates to win the Vezina Trophy.
Pacific Division Winner – San Jose Sharks +220
After snagging Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators, the San Jose Sharks are now the favourites to win the Pacific Division. The addition of Karlsson gives the Sharks the best defensive tandem in the NHL. Karlsson and Brent Burns are both Norris trophy winners, with the two finishing first and second in the voting just two seasons ago.
Without Karlsson, the Sharks ranked second in penalty kill last season and ninth in goals against. They should be as good, if not better in 2019.
The Sharks finished with the sixth best offence in the Western Conference last season. The group does have some good, young players including Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, who combined for 43 goals last season. If they can combine for 50 to 55 goals this season and Joe Pavelski can rebound from his lowest goals per game average since 2008, the Sharks offence should look better this year.
Even if their offence remains average, their defensive talent and goaltender Martin Jones are good enough to help the Sharks win their first Pacific Division title since 2011.