If it comes to the odds where NHL team will win the Central Division from the 2018-19 campaign, it’s only a two-team race in sportsbooks.
The Nashville Predators are the little +150 favorites to claim the bragging rights in BetOnline, with the Winnipeg Jets directly behind them at +160. Even the St. Louis Blues (+850), Dallas Stars (+850), Minnesota Wild (+850), Colorado Avalanche (+1800) and Chicago Blackhawks (+2000) around things out at the store.
Who has the advantage: Jets or Preds?
While the Predators are a perennial contender at the Central for quite a while, the Jets burst on the scene in a huge way in 2017-18 by posting a 52-20-10 album — a substantial jump from their 40-35-7 revealing two years back. The emergence of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck supplied Winnipeg with all the franchise netminder it’s been missing since the group came in Manitoba in 2011. Because of this, the Jets signed up the Vezina Trophy runner-up to a six-year, $37-million deal in the offseason.
It is difficult to find many weak places on the Jets roster, and a run to the Western Conference finals that led to a loss to the Vegas Golden Knights has convinced the biggest non-believers that Winnipeg will be the real thing. While the Predators stay an elite group, longtime goaltender Pekka Rinne is beginning to show his era at 35, and I believe Winnipeg is the greater choice here in order to win the Central.
Blues spent making moves The Blues, who missed the playoffs with a single stage in 2017-18, were in need of a shakeup, also general manager Doug Armstrong did exactly that in a dramatic roster overhaul that has his club poised to greatly improve on its 44-32-6 record.
Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Patrick Maroon and Tyler Bozak were brought in to jumpstart an offense that already boasted Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. The goaltending remains a small question mark, but when Jake Allen can return to form for the full season, expect St. Louis to contact the postseason following spring.
What happened to the Blackhawks?
Contemplating that the Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, their fall from grace is difficult to believe, yet the +2000 cost on them to acquire the Central speaks volumes. Last year was a nightmare for the’Hawks, as an injury to starting goaltender Corey Crawford at December effectively ended any hope Chicago fans had of their team being competitive. What followed was a 33-39-10 record and a last-place showing from the Central.
It is no secret Chicago has had its own fair share of salary cap problems, however general manager Stan Bowman has begun to make some moves to free up some space that is badly needed. Barring a miracle, the Blackhawks will not be in the dialogue of Central contenders for the near future.
Click here. OddsShark’s NHL page has all the betting information you’ll have to put some excess cash in your pocket on the ice this year.
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