NHL Betting Advice: Which Cellar Dwellers Will Tank for Draft Position?
The NHL season has only just passed the halfway point. There is a lot of hockey left to play. But the league feels top-heavy this year, so it feels like there are a larger than normal number of teams that already don't have much left to play for. And because there are some really good teams at the top of the standings - the playoff field is mostly defined already in the East, and the West has five really good teams and not much else - the incentive for teams that are already struggling now to look towards their future and their lottery prospects is going to be high in a lot of cases. And while this is more of a deep draft than a star-studded one, the prospect of grabbing forward Jack Hughes first overall will be very tempting for teams. Let's look at the struggling teams in the league right now (Odds to win the Stanley Cup are from Bovada ):
Philadelphia (+35000): Last year the team looked like they were going the right way. But while they have plenty of talent, it just isn't working right now. Injuries have been a factor, and they are just a mess in net with a revolving door at the position. A coaching change and a change in GM have both already been tried this season, and both failed miserably. This is a team in a deep funk, and they just can't shake it. There is work to do, and it will take a while. Wayne Simmonds is among the most attractive targets at the deadline, so the team isn't likely to get more talented at the deadline.
Ottawa (+30000): Ottawa got off to a surprising start, so it seemed like maybe they were a Cinderella story in the making. But then reality set in. This is a very young team, and the only thing they can do is suffer now and wait for a better future. They don't have their first-round pick, so that robs them of incentive to tank. But they are likely to be sellers down the stretch, with Mark Stone and Matt Duchene guys who don't factor into the long-term future in Ottawa, but they could command a nice price at the trade deadline. Losing their best players won't help a team that already has the fewest points in the league. It's going to be a long few months between now and the end of the season. Heck, it's going to be a long few years in Canada's capital.
L.A. (+25000): When other teams in the division were getting younger and faster this offseason, the Kings instead got older and slower. It's like they are trying to play in an NHL that doesn't exist anymore. They, too, have already tried a coaching change without success. Their path to significant improvement would require some old guys to improve significantly, and that just isn't likely to happen right now. This team is a total mess.
Detroit (+20000): This team has had to rebuild after decades of success. And it largely has seemed like they are doing so without a real plan. They have some nice young players but not enough of them. And the guys that they have are largely not the top of the lineup guys that teams need. They have too many third-line types and second-pairing defensemen. I don't think they'll get significantly worse than they are now, but there isn't a lot of short-term upside, either.
New Jersey (+15000): Last year the Devils were a very pleasant surprise as they made the playoffs and Taylor Hall won the MVP. But this year the team is having the season that most expected them to have last year. They are a really solid home team this year but are just terrible on the road. Taylor Hall has been productive when he isn't injured, but too many guys aren't doing as much as they need to. Their margin for error was small this year, and they just haven't got the breaks. The goaltending has been lousy, and too many guys have regressed when the team needed them to advance. Their play at home is reason for some cause for optimism, and Hall should be back after the all-star break which is a huge boost. They aren't in as rough shape as some teams here and should actually deliver some value at times down the stretch.
Florida (+12500): The Panthers are such a frustrating team. It wasn't too long ago that it seemed like they were moving in a very promising direction. But ever since, they have found new, perverse ways to disappoint. They fired Gerard Gallant midseason a few years back, which was a disaster at the time and has only gotten worse since as he has torn things up in Vegas. And then they really blew the expansion draft to add insult to injury, somehow deciding to trade away two very good guys to avoid having to lose one less impressive guy in the draft. The team is run by morons, and they have been unable to grad their mojo because of that. Something is broken, and I have no faith that it will get fixed in any hurry.
Arizona (+12500): Arizona is bad and disappointing. What else is new? They have only rarely not been those things. They are an ugly organization, and this is just what they are at this point.
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