Best bets to miss the NHL Playoffs: Fade the Original 6
The 2021 NHL season is just around the corner, meaning it's time to kick preview content into high gear.
We'll be combing through plenty of futures markets leading up to opening night. Up first are a couple sides that seemingly have short odds to miss the postseason.
|Team||Odds to miss|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||-2000|
|Detroit Red Wings||-1400|
|Los Angeles Kings||-320|
|New Jersey Devils||-200|
|New York Islanders||+270|
|New York Rangers||+160|
|San Jose Sharks||-320|
|St. Louis Blues||+100|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+850|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+850|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+900|
Chicago Blackhawks (+100)
The Blackhawks garnered a lot of hype following a very noisy offseason, and on the surface, it's easy to see why.
Chicago acquired Seth Jones in a blockbuster deal with the Blue Jackets, pried Vezina finalist Marc-Andre Fleury from the Golden Knights, and plucked Tyler Johnson from the Lightning in a cap dump. Add in captain Jonathan Toews' return, and there's a lot of name-brand talent being infused into the lineup.
While the team undoubtedly improved, I think the pendulum has swung a little too far.
The Blackhawks ranked 30th in five-on-five Corsi For last campaign, and no club controlled a lesser share of the expected goals. Their underlying numbers were awful, and the squad tied the offensively inept Ducks in terms of five-on-five goal-scoring. The Blackhawks were a really bad team.
Jones is an upgrade for Chicago, yes, but his teams have actually fared better in expected goals share without him on the ice in three consecutive years. He's not the magic elixir for the Blackhawks' play-driving problems.
Johnson doesn't tilt the ice in his club's favor, either, and it's fair to question just how much of a difference Toews - who's 33 and just spent a year out of hockey - will make in that regard.
And even with Fleury in goal, there is reason to believe Chicago will struggle to outscore its problems. With Pius Suter walking in free agency, the Hawks only have three forwards on their roster who a) played in at least 20 matchups last season and b) averaged more than 0.5 points per game.
Chicago also plays in a very difficult division. Five Central teams - the Avalanche, Wild, Jets, Blues, and Predators - qualified for the playoffs last year. The Stars were also knocking on the door despite an unfathomable amount of injuries to key players throughout the season.
It's a lot of competition for a club that, while improved, still has plenty of flaws.
New York Rangers (+160)
These odds imply the Rangers have a 38.5% chance of missing the playoffs. Fun fact: The odds are greater than that.
New York missed the postseason last year despite what I'd consider fairly solid team health. Players like Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider, Adam Fox, and K'Andre Miller all missed six contests or fewer. The majority of the Rangers' best pieces were consistently available, and the club still fell short.
And it's not as if the Rangers went out and noticeably improved their roster - quite the opposite. Trading Buchnevich to the Blues in exchange for Sammy Blais and a draft pick was a huge step in the wrong direction.
Buchnevich is an unquestioned first-line talent who sits 21st in five-on-five points over the last two campaigns. Losing him and getting Blais - a role player who has averaged 30 points per 82 games for his career - as the lone player in return is ... not great.
Sure, New York saved a good chunk of cap space with the trade. But the franchise hardly used it optimally, spending big on Barclay Goodrow ($3.64 million per season over six years) and trading for enforcer Ryan Reaves ($1.5-million cap hit).
I do love the star power on this roster. The Rangers have some of the best players in the league at each position - Artemi Panarin on the wing, Zibanejad at center, Fox on defense, and Igor Shesterkin in goal - but that wasn't enough to make the playoffs during the last campaign, and now that they've got a worse supporting cast, New York is getting too much credit from the market.
The Rangers very well might qualify, but it's more of a 50-50 proposition, so I'm happy to take a shot at +160.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.
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