After months of waiting, hockey season is finally back. In regards to odds on which team will capture the NHL’s Pacific Division banner in 2018-19, the race is open according to oddsmakers.
In BetOnline, the San Jose Sharks will be the +240 front-runners, with all the Vegas Golden Knights (+260), Anaheim Ducks (+550), Los Angeles Kings (+550), Calgary Flames (+550), Edmonton Oilers (+650), Arizona Coyotes (+4500) and Vancouver Canucks (+5000) rounding out the listing.
Golden Knights have already become the darlings of Sin City
The Pacific was the most fascinating branch in the NHL per year ago as a result of growth of the Golden Knights. During their inaugural season, the growth Golden Knights — Gold Misfits, since they were affectionately known — had unprecedented success, winning the Pacific using a record of 51-24-7 (109 points) and making a run all the way to the Stanley Cup final before bowing out to the Washington Capitals.
So, how will the Knights follow up their unforgettable first season? After dropping James Neal to Calgary in free service, GM George McPhee signed veteran center Paul Stastny and exchanged to ex-Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty to strengthen the top-six ahead group. Together with the rock-solid Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes, the Knights figure to compete for the Pacific once more and could easily win the division for the second year in a row.
Watch out for the Sharks
The Golden Knights were tabbed as the branch favorites for the majority of the offseason, but San Jose’s recent acquisition of franchise defenseman Erik Karlsson in the Ottawa Senators has put them at the driver’s seat. San Jose will always have lots of doubters because of its inability to get over the hump from the postseason, but plenty of people used to say the exact same thing concerning the Capitals as well.
Karlsson, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joakim Ryan comprise an unbelievable top four on the blue line, while the Sharks’ forward group characters to get a boost in light of the registering of sharpshooting left-winger Evander Kane. San Jose’s core team is still about and its own chances of finally winning a Stanley Cup have never looked better. They deserve to be the favorites, and their +240 price is excellent value in my eyes.
Best of the rest
The Ducks, Kings, Flames and Oilers are the only other groups that have a realistic chance of eclipsing that the Golden Knights and Sharks, but Calgary is the pick of this litter to raise some eyebrows in the division this year. The Flames improved considerably of their roster in the offseason and now have a profound team on paper together with a brand new head coach in Bill Peters.
Calgary’s forward group is impressive, as Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are already stars in the league despite their young age. Elias Lindholm, James Neal, Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund should provide plenty of offense, but the Flames will go so far as 36-year-old goaltender Mike Smith may take them. If Smith plays at a level he’s in the past, a shot at the Flames at +550 chances resembles excellent long-shot value to me.
For a complete breakdown of Stanley Cup odds, click here. OddsShark’s NHL page has all the betting information you will have to put a little extra cash in your pocket to the ice this year.
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