2019 NHL Pacific Division Expert Predictions with Betting Odds and Picks
In my honest opinion, the Pacific Division's best chance at winning their first Stanley Cup since 2014 was when the Vegas Golden Knights - an expansion team no less - took the league by storm en route to Game 6 of the Cup Finals, where they ultimately lost to the Washington Capitals. This season, the Pacific is very weak outside of the top three teams, which include the Golden Knights as well as the San Jose Shark and Calgary Flames.
These three teams should have no trouble occupying the top three spots within the division and guaranteeing themselves a playoff spot. I am high on one team in particular in this division, and I'll touch on that in a moment. For now, we can only hope that this division is more competitive than it actually looks like it will be on paper.
As of writing this, the Vegas Golden Knights are favorites to win the Pacific Division at odds of -105. Behind them, the San Jose Sharks check-in as second favorites at +425, with the Calgary Flames right on their heels at +450. Then we see a major drop off to the Edmonton Oilers at +1100, the Arizona Coyotes at +1200, the Vancouver Canucks at +1200, and the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings at +6600. This division is by far the weakest in hockey. And outside of the top three division teams that make the postseason, none of the other teams will sniff a wild-card spot.
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The Favorite: Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights took the league by storm in their inaugural season, making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Washington Capitals. In their second go-round, the sledding was tough, but the Golden Knights overcame a rocky start to make the postseason only to be eliminated by the San Jose Sharks thanks to a controversial penalty call. This season, the Golden Knights may yet again be the Pacific Division's only hope at lifting the Stanley Cup, as they have a plethora of returning offensive players like Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, and Mark Stone.
They also boast one of the best goalies in the league when he's on in future Hall of Famer, Marc-Andre Fleury. "The Flower" as he's known, carried the team with an impressive 35-21-5 record with a .913 save percentage and a 2.51 goals-against average. No goalie has had more shutouts in the last five years than Fleury with 28.
If you think Fleury can backstop the Golden Knights to a Stanley Cup victory, you can grab them at +1100 to win the Cup, and you can grab the netminder at +1100 to win the Vezina Trophy.
The Contenders: San Jose Sharks + Calgary Flames
The San Jose Sharks are the team that everyone picks as the sexy sleeper pick to win the Stanley Cup, only to eat crow at the end of the season because they were dead wrong about them. Well, this year, I'm telling you, it's their year.
The Sharks had a great season last year only to lose to the eventual Cup Champion Blues. They have an abundance of talent littered through the roster that includes both grizzled veterans and up-and-coming stars, and they have two high-end goalies in Aaron Dell and Martin Jones. On the blueline, the Sharks are led by Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, the latter of which is +600 to win the Norris Trophy this season. They also can rely on a very underrated player in Brenden Dillon, who may be the best-kept secret in the NHL as nobody really watches those late-night West Coast hockey games on the East Coast.
This is the year the Sharks get over the hump and bring home that coveted prize. I'll be jumping on the Sharks to go "over" the listed point total of 95.5 (-130) as I think they easily reach the 100-point mark, especially given how bad the division is.
As for the Calgary Flames, they come into this season in good standing as they finished with the second-best record in the NHL last year at 50-25-7, which was good for 107 points. Unfortunately, they were taken out by the Avalanche in the opening round of the postseason, thus leaving their goals unfulfilled. Offensively, the Flames have the talent to score goals with the best of them, and they have the reigning Norris winner in their lineup in Mark Giordano. The Flames downfall comes in net, where they have a tandem of shaky goalies in David Rittich and Cam Talbot. Goaltending was the issue last year, and it may very well be the issue again this season.
We see the Flames taking a step back this season, and you can grab them at -120 to finish under their listed point total of 96.5. You can also grab Johnny Gaudreau to lead the league in assists at +1400 - a bet which I believe has a good chance to cash.
The Rest: Edmonton, Vancouver, Arizona, Anaheim, Los Angeles
As for the rest of the division, a lineup featuring Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl should scare teams into oblivion. Instead, the Oilers franchise is a dumpster fire, and they have not filled the rest of the lineup with players capable of playing with these two elite players. And as such, Edmonton is well on their way to missing the playoffs yet again. Vancouver and Arizona are still a few years away from being a proper contender, while Anaheim and LA are an afterthought in today's NHL.
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