NHL Hockey Odds and Picks: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 2/16/2015
Two big trades in the NHL last week to analyze. I wrote in this column a week ago that Evander Kane had likely played his final game as a member of the Winnipeg Jets, and indeed Kane, who is out for the season, has. The former 30-goal scorer was dealt to Buffalo along with defenseman Zach Bogosian and a college goaltender with the Jets getting defenseman Tyler Myers, forwards Drew Stafford and Joel Armia, the rights to 2014 second-round pick Brendan Lemieux and Buffalo's latest first-round pick in 2015.
Free $60 in Member NHL Picks No Obligation Click Here
The main thing to take from a betting perspective out of this is that Buffalo is 100 percent tanking the rest of the season. Myers and Stafford were two of the team's best players. Myers, just 25, was the NHL Rookie of the Year in 2010 and has played in 365 games for Buffalo since being drafted 12th overall in 2008. Stafford had 145 goals and 177 assists in nine seasons with the Sabres. Buffalo's only goal now is to finish last overall in the NHL and be able to draft either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. If you finish last, you are guaranteed no worse than the No. 2 pick. The Sabres could be pretty good again as soon as next season. I also doubt they are done dealing.
As for Winnipeg, it's a pretty good return for a guy whom everyone knew had to be traded. Sure, Kane is likely the best player in this deal, but Myers could blossom out of the losing in Buffalo the way Tyler Seguin did after being traded from Boston to Dallas. Bogosian is a solid blueliner and only 24. The Jets currently hold down the top wild-card spot in the West, and I think this trade assures they get into the playoffs. Winnipeg is 18/1 on Bovada to win the West.
The second trade really strengthens the Nashville Predators, who have the most points in the NHL with 82. They got defenseman Cody Franson and center Mike Santorelli in a trade Sunday with the Maple Leafs, giving up veteran forward Olli Jokinen, prospect Brendan Leipsic and a first-round pick in 2015. The Leafs are going full Sabres mode as well, but this was a smart trade because both Franson and Santorelli will be unrestricted free agents after the season. Franson, who played with Nashville from 2009-11 before being traded to Toronto, has six goals and 26 assists in 55 games this season and now gives Nashville arguably the best defensive group in the NHL, while Santorelli has 11 goals and 18 assists and can play both wing spots as well. They should debut Tuesday at home vs. San Jose. The Predators are -155.
The Predators are 5/1 to win the West, still behind Chicago (3/1) and Anaheim (15/4). I think they do finish with the most points in the league, that Peter Laviolette wins Coach of the Year, Pekka Rinna wins the Vezina Trophy and Filip Forsberg the Calder Trophy. I'd still take Chicago in a seven-game series, however.
Back in the preseason I though the Stars' Seguin was solid longer-shot value to lead the NHL in points. I was feeling pretty good about that until Friday when Seguin had to be helped off the ice after being hit by Florida's Dmitry Kulikov (who is facing a multi-game suspension). Seguin, who is tied for third in the league with 59 points, was placed on injured reserve and will miss 3-6 weeks. Not only does that knock Seguin out of the scoring race but also pretty much kills the Stars' chances of making the playoffs. Dallas enters Monday with 60 points, five out of the second wild-card spot.
The Arizona Coyotes aren't very good and won't make the playoffs, but the season-ending back surgery by center Martin Hanzal has cost the team a potential trade chip. He's a big guy at 6-foot-6, 236 pounds and just about any contender with salary-cap space would have taken him as a third-line center. In 37 games this season, Hanzal has 24 points and set a career high with 40 points last season. He hadn't played since Jan. 29.
This Week's Games to Watch
Washington at Pittsburgh, Tuesday: Anytime that the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin and Penguins' Sidney Crosby face off, it's worth watching, and it's still the best individual rivalry in the NHL. Washington has really had Pittsburgh's number this season, winning 3-0 on Dec. 27 and 4-0 on Jan. 28. Braden Holtby was in net for both games for Washington. Ovechkin had two goals in the most recent meeting. He has 43 points in 37 regular-season games vs. the Penguins and has taken over the NHL goal-scoring lead with 36. Crosby was really off in that game. He lost 15 of his first 18 faceoffs and finished 17 of 24, a 29 percent success rate that is among the worst in his career. Pittsburgh is a -147 favorite at BetOnline.
Detroit at Chicago, Wednesday: This will be a tough ticket in Chicago -- well, every game is as the Hawks have been sold out for years -- as it's the only visit of the season by the hated Red Wings. This was the best rivalry in hockey, in my opinion, that was obviously lessened when the Wings moved to the Eastern Conference last season. Detroit goes for the season sweep as it won 4-1 in Motown on Nov. 14. The Wings broke it open with two goals in the second when they outshot Chicago 20-8. Jimmy Howard made 25 saves for Detroit.
Tampa Bay at Anaheim, Wednesday: Stanley Cup Finals preview? Certainly could be as Tampa is tied with Montreal for the most points in the East and Anaheim has the third-most in the West and is a lock to win the Pacific Division. The Bolts are 12/1 to win the Cup and Ducks 7/1. It's game No. 3 of a five-game West Coast trip for the Lightning. The Ducks, meanwhile, have lost four of five. Tampa won at home against the Ducks 5-3 on Feb. 8. Brian Boyle had two goals overall and Tampa Bay jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one period. The Ducks actually outshot the Lightning 28-23.
Pittsburgh at St. Louis, Saturday: Expect the Penguins to make a move before the March 2 trade deadline; they were interested in Santorelli as well. Ditto the Blues, who have won three straight and are trying to chase down Nashville for the Central Division title and top seed in the West. It's Pittsburgh's only visit of the season to St. Louis, although obviously these teams could play again this summer. The Pens are 9/2 favorites to win the East and the Blues 5/1 in the West.
Get free picks from any Doc's Sports handicapper - there is no obligation for this offer and no credit card required. Just sign up for an account, and you can use the $60 in free picks for any Doc's Sports Advisory Board handicapper and any sport. Click here to get started now.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent Hockey Handicapping Articles
- Handicapping the NHL Western Conference Playoff Race
- 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Analysis
- NHL Trade Deadline: Major Moves and Updated Futures Odds
- NHL Handicapping: Boston Bruins Once Again a Championship Contender
- NHL All-Star Game: Expert Analysis and Free Betting Picks
- Vegas Golden Knights - Then and Now: NHL Expert Analysis
- NHL Expert Handicapping: Calgary Flames Surging Towards Playoff Spot
- NHL Betting Advice: Colorado Avalanche Better than Advertised
- Expert NHL Handicapping: the Surprising Winnipeg Jets
- 2018 Stanley Cup Finals Expert Betting Predictions with Odds and Analysis