NHL Season Props Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 10/07/2008
With the NHL season about to get started, it's time to take a look at the props and futures that are available to see what looks interesting and potentially profitable. Props and futures are not only a good way to have some fun and maybe make a few bucks. They also can help to get you thinking about the season and how you expect it to play out. That is valuable for your handicapping. All odds are from Bodog:
Toronto Maple Leafs points - o/u 76.5 - The Leafs, in a word, stink. The had 83 points last year, but they will be very hard pressed to reach that total again this year. They lost their top scorer in Mats Sundin, and they have done little to replace him. The team may have one Top 6-caliber forward, and even that's a bit of a stretch. They are young, they aren't talented, and there is little upside. Needless to say, I like the under.
Los Angeles Kings points - o/u 77.5 - The Kings had 71 points last year, and I don't see how they are seven points better this year. They have a ton of young talent, but this is a rebuilding team, and they are still just laying the foundation. Their defensive corps is lousy, and their goalies will be heavily tested. That would be fine if they were any good, but both of their stoppers would struggle to be a No. 2 on most contenders, never mind a No. 1. They will give up a ton of points, and don't yet have the talent to make up for it. It will be a very long season in the Staples Center.
Odds to win Stanley Cup - Pittsburgh - 6/1 - The Penguins are the second choice behind Detroit to win it all. On the surface that's not surprising, since they made the finals last year, and their two superstars are a year older and wiser. The success of this team is far from guaranteed, though. They have lost four left wingers, including Marian Hossa, and haven't replaced them with equivalent talented. Their defense has been ravaged by injuries and just doesn't look like a championship group. Crocby and Malkin are incredibly good, but I wouldn't be willing at this price to bet that they are good enough to carry this team to where they couldn't get with more talent last year.
Odds to win Stanley Cup - Dallas - 18/1 - This is, in my eyes, the closest thing to value on the board. Dallas has great forward depth, solid defense, a top five goalie in Marty Turco, and new toughness thanks to Sean Avery. The team is well coached and well run. They made it to the Western Conference final last year, and they should build on their success this year. They are no lock to win it all obviously, but I like their chances a lot better than some of the teams that can be had at less attractive odds.
Alexander Ovechkin goals - o/u 58 - Ovechkin had 65 goals last year, and he is the best pure goal scorer in the league. That being said, I think the under is the more attractive side here. 58 goals is a ton in this league - Ovechkin could have fewer than that and still have a great season. His team is more talented this year, so he won't have to do it all himself. That will impact his goal total. There also always the chance of an injury for a guy as aggressive, and as hunted, as Ovechkin is.
Rick Nash goals - o/u 36 - I like the over here. Nash had 38 goals last year, and he played with a spark that had been missing for a while. He has a good relationship with coach Ken Hitchcock, and the effect is showing on the ice. Nash is a brute force forward, and the team has been upgraded enough that I think he has 40 goals in him.
Marian Gaborik goals - o/u 36 - Another over in my eyes. Gaborik had 42 last year. The Wild have upgraded their offensive talent. Most significantly, though, I expect Gabrk to have a big year because he is due for a new contract - and a hefty pay raise. He'll be motivated to put up big numbers to maximize his future riches. He has been over this total two of the last three years, and only missed it the third year because of the time he missed due to injury. I expect him to continue the trend.
Derek Roy points - o/u 80 - This Buffalo center had a career year last year, ending up with 81 points. That was a significant up-tick from what he had done in the past. I expect him to have a solid season, but I will be surprised if he doesn't take steps back in both goals and assists - especially since the team has a renewed focus on defensive discipline. The under is the much safer play here.