The party that everyone is invited to
Las Vegas Golden Knights (+175) – The Knights are heading into the 18-19 season coming off one of the most remarkable stories in sports history. Never have we seen such dominance, 109 points and winning the Western Conference from an expansion team. Vegas didn’t sit around this summer, happy with their results, hoping for the best. They went out and they got better, acquiring Max Pacioretty from the Canadiens. The former Canadiens captain is hoping for a bounce back season in his new city after a difficult season, but with all the trade rumors behind him, Max is poised to help his new team make another deep run. The Knights are obviously not your normal expansion team seeing as they made the Finals in their first season, but this year they are the 3rd oldest team in the NHL. This is not a team built for the future, they have a shot to win right now, and they are going to take it.
San Jose Sharks (+175) – The Sharks took what was already a very talented defensive unit and added Erik Fucking Karlsson. Burns, Karlsson and Vlasic is an insane top 3 and gives them what I believe to be a top two defensive unit in the entire league. Obviously having the two best offensive defensemen in the NHL makes the Sharks dangerous, I think this roster was on the playoff cusp before the trade but now believe they are firmly in the playoff picture, but this is a tough division with a lot of potential breakout teams and the Sharks forwards are no lock for an outstanding season, which I think will end up keeping the them from finishing first in the division.
Anaheim Ducks (+350) – The Ducks have had 100 points in each of the last 5 seasons and look poised to make a run at number 6. The Corey Perry injury obviously doesn’t help them accomplish their goal but he isn’t nearly the same player he once was and this should finally allow some of their younger, stronger wingers play first line minutes with Getzlaf. 22 year old Ondrej Kase who had 38 points in 66 games last year would logically slot in and could allow him to have a massive breakout season. The Ducks are a picture perfect model of consistency, and I’m not going to bet against this model breaking.
Los Angeles Kings (+350) – Honestly, the Kings give me a really good laugh because this team is SO OLD. In a game in which speed and space are becoming ever more valuable, the Kings have decided to double down on being the slowest and oldest team in the NHL. This was made to be a certainty when they signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a 3 year deal at the age of 35. Lets continue to run through this roster with some ages and contracts. Kopitar is 31 and signed until he is 36, Dustin Brown is 33 signed until 37, Jeff Carter is 33 signed until 37, Dion Phanuf is 33 signed until 36, Alec Martinez is 31 signed until 34 and Jonathan Quick is 32 signed until 36. They are literally a bunch of old farts. Now these farts have some talent, right now and this team will compete and potentially make the playoffs this year, but the future is BLEAK. In 2 years this team is going to be completely unwatchable, filled with guys in their mid to late 30’s and no room or ability to make moves.
Edmonton Oilers (+350) – The Oilers are this high on the list simply because they have the best player on the planet. Connor McDavid is a remarkable talent, and the singular reason this team will even come close to a playoff appearance. I know he is only three years into his career but his 1.22 points per game average would place him 11th on the all time list between Phil Esposito and Guy LaFleur and I really think that number is only going to go up. I believe if he can stay healthy he beats his 108 point total from last season and becomes the first player since Malkin in 11-12 to have a 50 goal and 50 assist season. With that, the depth on this team is non existent and with Talbot struggling in goal last season it will be difficult for this team to finish at the top of the division. Even with the best player in the world, the Oilers, who didn’t do much in the offseason to get better, are going to need a lot to go right for them to reach the playoffs in 18-19.
PS: Imagine how good this team would be if they didn’t trade Taylor Hall, what a bunch of idiots.
Calgary Flames (+450) – There is no better nickname in sports then Johnny “whatever sport they play” and the Flames are lucky enough to have a stud in Johnny Hockey along with other extremely talented young forwards Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk. The addition of veteran wing, James Neal should also help this teams ability to score goals but the controversial offseason trade of star D-man Dougie Hamilton will hurt this teams chances of finishing in the top of the division and most likely has them fighting for a 3 seed or a wild card spot. Things could go right though, Mike Smith can stay healthy and give them a strong season, Matthew Tkachuk could have the breakout season that I expect him to have and they could possibly do something special. The Flames are going to a be a team I have my eye on all season.
The losers who were not invited to the party
Arizona Coyotes (+2800) – It’s honestly harsh to call the Coyotes losers because they got a lot better this offseason. I think they can push to somewhere around the 90 point mark this season. They added a lot of offensive depth getting Galchenyuk and Grabner, and Clayton Keller should continue to improve into one of the league’s premier offensive payers. Anti Raanta was tremendous last season and if he can stay healthy and improve look for the Yotes to make a run at a wild card spot.
PS – Their regular season point total over/under is listed at 81.5, I like the over a lot.
Vancouver Canucks (+2800) – This team is really bad, for them to finish in any spot besides last, all of their young players who have to have major improvements. It is incredibly unlikely that will happen this year.
Pick – I like the Ducks a lot at +350, even with the Corey Perry Injury. His time as a 1st liner has come and gone and this made the process a little easier. Getzlaf should help develop some of the younger talent and a 6th straight 100 point season and another division title is on the horizon. QUACK QUACK QUACK