NHL point totals: 3 overvalued teams to fade
It's all about value.
After bringing you four undervalued teams to consider last week, let's visit the other end of the spectrum by identifying three clubs that sportsbooks are overvaluing based on headline-catching offseasons:
Toronto Maple Leafs under 102.5
A lot of people - led by the Kyle Dubas Stans - are high on the Maple Leafs this season after an active summer. However, it's time to pump the brakes. After finishing with 100 points last season, did the roster actually improve this offseason?
Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room: Mitch Marner. The restricted free agent tallied a team-high 94 points last season but remains unsigned and entrenched in a bitter contract dispute that's threatening to drag into October. Is anyone truly confident that Marner will sign in time for training camp? Dubas hasn't provided much reason for optimism given last year's situation with William Nylander. And considering Marner was Toronto's most valuable player in 2018-19, even a month without him could drastically impact the team's point total.
The Leafs will already be without Zach Hyman (knee surgery) to start the season, making a Marner holdout that much more important to avoid. Their depth will be tested, and looking down the roster I'm not sure that's a good thing. Exchanging Nazem Kadri for Alex Kerfoot is at best a wash, and that's operating under the assumption that Kerfoot can play center. It would leave Toronto thin down the middle if he can't. Meanwhile, Nick Shore and Jason Spezza were brought in, but the latter was a healthy scratch at times with Dallas, while the former spent last season in the KHL and has never scored more than six goals in an NHL season.
By trading Kadri, the Leafs also lost their last bit of grit. As talented as this roster is, it's small and soft throughout the lineup. You could notice a shift in how teams attacked the Leafs down the stretch last season, getting pucks deep and wearing them out by grinding down low. It resulted in a 10-10-5 record to close out the season. Does that sound like a 103-point team?
On the back end, Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci should help shore up a top-four group that will also have Jake Muzzin for a full season. However, Jake Gardiner - a very useful player for Toronto, Game 7 deficiencies aside - along with strong penalty killers in Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey are all gone. Morgan Reilly is coming off a career year in which he posted an unsustainably high shooting percentage, while Travis Dermott is also set to miss at least the first month of the season.
The Maple Leafs are still a very good hockey team, but there are too many question marks to back them increasing their point total in an Atlantic Division that improved over the summer.
Minnesota Wild under 87.5
The Wild just went through one of the most embarrassing offseasons in NHL history. Former GM Paul Fenton's disastrous campaign was exposed by the Athletic's Michael Russo, and he was fired after just one year in charge. To make matters worse, Bill Guerin was only hired a week ago as the replacement, inheriting a bad roster and minimal flexibility to make changes before the season.
So please, someone tell me how this team is expected to be better after finishing 2018-19 with 83 points? Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, and Charlie Coyle are all gone from a roster that produced just 211 goals, while Mats Zuccarello is the only reinforcement in that area.
At this point, the first line is closer to moving into Del Boca Vista than moving the Wild into a playoff spot, while goaltender Devan Dubnyk already turned back into the pumpkin he was in Edmonton. Minnesota will be lucky to finish with 80 points.
New Jersey Devils under 90.5
Ray Shero went on a warpath this summer to improve his hockey team. He definitely succeeded, but probably not to the extent that people seem to think. P.K. Subban and Wayne Simmonds will help sell tickets, but these are two guys on the wrong side of 30 and coming off down years - not exactly inspiring.
Nico Hischier is now joined by fellow first overall pick Jack Hughes to form what should be an electric one-two punch at center, and of course, 2017-18 NHL MVP Taylor Hall is healthy. But Hall, an unrestricted free agent after this season, still needs a new contract. It could prove to be a big distraction if he doesn't get one before opening night.
The biggest issue surrounding the Devils, however, and the reason everyone should be skeptical about them making a massive jump up from 72 points last season, is the situation in net. Young Mackenzie Blackwood has a grand total of 23 NHL games on his resume and his best single-season save percentage in the AHL was .907. How many times have we seen goaltending hold back exciting teams? The Devils will be fun to watch, but please don't bet on them getting 10 more wins than last season.
Follow Alex on Twitter at @alexjmoretto