With the NHL regular season now only a couple of weeks away and the preseason now in full swing this is an ideal time to look for value in the NHL season point totals futures. Without further ado (odds are from Bodog):
Atlanta (83.5) - I like the ‘under’ here. They had 83 points last year, and this year they are without Ilya Kovalchuk from the outset. They rallied well and played hard once Kovalchuk was traded to New Jersey last year, but with a full year to face and a serious deficit in talent they are going to come to terms with the challenge facing them. They picked up four Stanley Cup winners form Chicago in the offseason. The important thing to remember, though, is that these were four players the Blackhawks were willing to part with, so they aren’t the cream of the crop.
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Calgary (92.5) - This one is a no-brainer - take the ‘under’. Calgary only managed 90 points last year, and they aren’t as good as they were then. They made some truly bizarre offseason moves, they didn’t add any significant scoring despite offensive woes last year, and they would need several players to have career years in order for them to even flirt with the playoffs. This will be a bleak year for a bleak team.
Chicago (106.5) - I think that the Blackhawks will have another decent year, but I still have to take the ‘under’. They had only 112 points last year, so they could have a very good year and still be ‘under’ this total. They maintained their core, but financial considerations forced them to deal away several key depth pieces. Combine those changes with the challenges of dealing with being defending champions and wearing a target on their backs and they could easily be a couple of wins worse than they were last year.
Columbus (79.5) - The ‘over’ is the way to go here They had 79 points last year, but they should be at least a little better this year. For starters, they made a full-scale coaching change in the offseason, and it should have a positive effect - last year’s two head coaches didn’t help the cause, and the new staff is very strong. Steve Mason was brutal in goal last year, but he was brilliant as a rookie, and it’s certainly possible that he will bounce back and be stronger than he was. Ethan Moreau was a very nice addition, and Nikita Filatov is back to give the NHL another try and could be very useful if he is ready to play this time. This team won’t be brilliant, but they are just one season removed from being a playoff team, and they have many of the same players here, so improvement is definitely possible.
Edmonton (76.5) - I would take a shot with the ‘over’. The conventional wisdom is that they are among the worst teams in the league again like they were last year when they earned just 62 points. I don’t entirely buy into that. They aren’t likely a playoff team, but they have added three of the most exciting rookies in the entire league in Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, and Jordan Eberle, they made a coaching change that should be a better fit to handle that talent, they cut much of the dead weight from their roster in aggressive fashion, and though they don’t have a clear No. 1 goalie they have added some promising depth. All of the changes have created some clear holes, but they have also created a real swagger around the city and with the team. The Avs pulled off a surprising jump in the standings last year by adding some precocious young talent. It’s not at all beyond the realm of possibility that they could add 20 points this year.
Toronto (84.5) - Brian Burke thinks that this team is dramatically improved. I’m not buying it at all, and I am on the ‘under’. They had 74 points last year, so this total would represent a serious gain, and I doubt their ability to get that done. The team has Dion Phaneuf as the captain. If you think that that’s a good thing then you haven’t watched Phaneuf play enough. He’s not a leader. The Leafs didn’t add nearly enough new talent, and that which they did add they overpaid for. They botched the Tomas Kaberle situation, so now a player who doesn’t want to be with the team is forced to be there and won’t be a positive impact on the team. They didn’t add enough scoring, they don’t have a No. 1 center, their goaltending is still questionable - this team just isn’t any good.
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