NHL futures best bets and win totals: Riding the Oilers and Rangers; fading the Blues and Sabres

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Our season preview series kicks off next week, where we have you covered with each team’s projected point total, their chances of winning the Stanley Cup and everything in between.
But some of the more degenerate folks in the hockey community can’t wait that long, especially with the always slow rollout of two previews per day. For those who want to bet, that’s not soon enough or fast enough. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the best bets to make based on our projections. They went pretty well last year (hello Bruins Presidents’ Trophy) so we’re hoping for some similar luck this season.
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While we won’t be unveiling each team’s specific projections and probabilities, we will be discussing which teams make a good bet based on their current lines from BetMGM.
It’s always important to bet responsibly and only wager what you’re comfortable with — and that’s especially true with futures, where your money will be tied up for the whole season. The key to betting is managing a bankroll: betting small percentages based on edges and not dipping into money that isn’t designated for betting. With futures, what I usually do is designate a percentage of my bankroll for futures only to create a “futures bankroll.” Maybe that’s 10 percent, maybe that’s 25 percent — the idea is to not tie up too much money. Especially if you’re going to be betting on games throughout the season.
The best bets for this year are separated into two sections: point totals and playoffs, plus futures (division, conference, Cup props). I’ve added a stake size based on using up an entire bank roll – so it adds up to 100. Remember: only use a fraction of your bank roll for futures. An eight percent bet is massive; but it’s not as big if you’re only using 25 percent of your bankroll — essentially making it a two percent bet.
Here’s what we’re vibing with this season.
Point Totals and Playoffs
St. Louis Blues
UNDER 87.5 points (6 percent)
Miss playoffs -159 (8 percent)
This feels unbelievably generous for a team that had 81 points last year, is getting older, and lost a fair bit of talent at last year’s deadline without adding much during the offseason. Are we really getting excited for Kevin Hayes? Not me. The Blues feel like an easy pick to miss the playoffs in the West when comparing rosters and 87.5 points feels way too high.
Washington Capitals
UNDER 85.5 points (4 percent)
Miss playoffs -263 (8 percent)
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Same story as the Blues bets — it’s time to let the dream go for both the Blues and Capitals. Washington made some more interesting bets in the offseason, but the Capitals have also lost too much talent lately and too many of their players are on the wrong side of 30. It feels more prudent to expect further decline rather than a return to glory. The Capitals have an 80-point team.
Arizona Coyotes
OVER 74.5 points (9 percent)
The Coyotes seem primed to surprise this year. Super prospect Logan Cooley is in, as are some much-needed reinforcements to the team’s depth. The star-power still isn’t there and the defense corps is weak, but the Coyotes still look like a much stronger team from top-to-bottom this year. The market is expecting at least a four-point increase, but I’m even more bullish on Arizona.
Buffalo Sabres
UNDER 92.5 points (4 percent)
Miss playoffs -125 (4 percent)
It pains me to put the Sabres here and if there’s one bet to avoid it’s this one. Buffalo is getting a lot of hype as a breakthrough team after last year, but the next step to actually making the playoffs is an extremely difficult one. The Sabres’ defensive ability is still lottery level, there’s too much room for their offense to regress, and goaltending is a big ol’ question mark. They didn’t have a strong offseason relative to the other teams in the East fighting for a playoff spot, either. I want to believe in the Sabres, but it feels a bit more prudent to fade the hype here.
Winnipeg Jets
OVER 91.5 points (4 percent)
Make playoffs -125 (3 percent)
This is a dicey one considering the team’s UFA picture. If Mark Scheifele and/or Connor Hellebuyck are traded — good luck. Still, the Jets should be on more solid playoff footing than this. They’re not a contender, but a mid team with an elite goalie is enough to be a playoff team in the West. A -125 price point is generous and they should have little trouble earning 92 points or more.
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New York Rangers
Make playoffs -270 (7 percent)
Implied probability here is 73 percent. No chance it’s that low for a deep team with an elite goalie. Easy bet — and that applies to a majority of the chalky teams. The Stars, for example, are -455 which is an implied probability of 82 percent. They’re closer to 94 percent. It’s a lot to risk to win only a little eight months from now, but the value is there. The Rangers are among the best of those “chalky” bets.
Vancouver Canucks
OVER 88.5 points (4 percent)
Make playoffs +145 (2 percent)
Betting on the Canucks to make the playoffs is a scary proposition. I have them close to 50-50 after their offseason reinforcements and that leaves solid value at +145. Vancouver is still ninth in the West’s pecking order, but all it takes is one team from above to have a worse season than expected. This feels like it’s finally the year for the Canucks to break through. If not, they should at least be in the thick of it and the over might be safer.
Los Angeles Kings
UNDER 100.5 points (4 percent)
Miss playoffs +290 (1 percent)
Every year I fade the Kings. Every year it goes awry. Why stop now? This is the only playoff bet where the odds on it aren’t favourable with an only 37 percent hit rate, but that means there’s value at +290 where the implied probability is 26 percent. The Kings are a good team, but the lack of high-end star-power and weak goaltending gives me pause. A point total of 100.5 points feels fair for a team that’s eclipsed the mark the past two seasons, but I’m still a bit skeptical that they’re that good on true talent level.
Anaheim Ducks
OVER 68.5 points (5 percent)
This is one of my favourite bets this year. A new coach and an injection of youth should put the Ducks back closer to the path many expected before last season where everything derailed. I don’t think they’ll be nearly as horrific defensively and another year of progression for the kids can only be a good thing. This is still a bad team, but a 68.5-point line feels low.
Detroit Red Wings
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Miss playoffs -263 (5 percent)
Implied probability here is 72 percent. No chance it’s that low for a team that lacks star-power and has questions in goal in a stacked conference. The offseason adds don’t move the needle as much as some might think. Interestingly, we don’t have a bet on the under and that’s because I’m right in line with oddsmakers at 85 points — it’s just a difference in how likely that kind of team is to make the playoffs. I think oddsmakers over-estimate it, and under-estimate the likelihood for the good teams.
Florida Panthers
Make playoffs -189 (4 percent)
This feels pretty disrespectful to last year’s East champions. Sure, they only barely made the playoffs. But those playoffs proved they were a lot closer to the East’s best than a wildcard team. Florida will have to deal with a few injuries to start the season, but this feels extremely short.
Calgary Flames
Make playoffs -145 (3 percent)
Everything that could go wrong for the Flames last year did. That should change for the better this year and a new coach should take that a step further. Their odds here are a bit modest — they should be closer to -245, not -145. To be fair, the team’s murky UFA picture does make them a bit of a risk to bet on.
Seattle Kraken
Miss playoffs -115 (2 percent)
Seattle was a nice surprise last season and a lucky hit for us at +360 to make the playoffs. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Kraken take a small step back this season, though. Their depth is their M.O. and it took a hit this summer. Plus, there’s some likely regression coming for a team that shot the lights out last year.
Futures
Edmonton Oilers
Division +200 (2 percent)
Conference +375 (1 percent)
Stanley Cup +1000 (1 percent)
Presidents’ Trophy +950 (0.5 percent)
Spoiler Alert: the Edmonton Oilers are the team to beat this year and should be priced as such. They’re currently tied for second with the Leafs and Avalanche, and behind the Hurricanes — but two of those teams play in a deep East and the Avalanche have serious depth issues. There’s enough separation to like Connor McDavid to finally bring it home and that means there’s value across the board here.
Dallas Stars
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Division +300 (2 percent)
Conference +700 (1 percent)
Stanley Cup +1600 (0.5 percent)
Presidents’ Trophy +1400 (0.25 percent)
It’s interesting that Colorado is the favourite to win the Central Division given the team has roughly seven good players. Great, elite, superstars — but the rest of the team leaves a lot to be desired. Dallas is a lot deeper while also having some serious star-power up front. The Stars seem like a popular dark horse pick and that feels like a disservice to the team they’ve built. This is a legit contender and one of the league’s best teams.
New York Rangers
Division +450 (1 percent)
Conference +900 (1 percent)
Stanley Cup +2000 (0.5 percent)
Presidents’ Trophy +2000 (0.5 percent)
While Carolina and New Jersey get a lot of deserved love it feels like the Rangers are getting slept on a bit. Their blue line is really deep, they have one of the best goalies in the world, and there are a lot of threats up front. They had a quietly good offseason that should keep them in the thick of the mix for the division crown. There are a lot of people who have soured on them after last season’s short playoff stint, but this team still feels better than it’s being given credit for.
(Top photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Coyotes image: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

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