Last year, the Los Angeles Kings shocked the hockey world winning the Stanley Cup as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. What was even more impressive was the dominance they showed in the postseason, shredding everything in their path. The Kings knocked off the top three seeds in the West, losing only two games before beating the New Jersey Devils in six games to capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
In this shortened NHL betting season, let’s take a look at who is expected to represent the West in this year’s Finals.
Favorites: Vancouver Canucks +475
Last year, the Vancouver Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy by recording 111 points but they suffered a disappointing first round exit in the playoffs. They had high expectations after going to the Cup Finals the previous year but they ended up winning just one playoff game and being forced out by the Kings. Once again this team is favored to win the West and that’s mostly because their roster has remained consistent.
The Canucks are led by Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who help provide good balance up front. Injuries could come into play, though, as Ryan Kesler and David Booth will both begin the season on the long-term injury list.
No team has better depth in goal as the Canucks appear ready to open the season with both Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo. While it is a great luxury to have two world class goaltenders, time will tell if this proves to be an unwanted distraction for the rest of the team.
Favorites: Los Angeles Kings +500
It’s not a surprise that the other favorite in the West is the defending champion Los Angeles Kings. The Kings struggled to score for most of the regular season last year but once they made the trade to reunite Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, the offense picked up.
Like the Canucks, the Kings are very deep and kept the entire core from last year’s championship together. They did get a scare during the lockout as Anze Kopitar suffered a sprained right knee and is doubtful for the team’s opening game.
Led by all-world goaltender Jonathan Quick, the Kings will be tough to score against. Quick did have back surgery during the offseason but says he is good to go.
Sleepers: Edmonton Oilers +1000
While the Oilers have been rebuilding with three straight years of drafting first overall, this very well could be the season this team gets back into the playoffs.
Aging teams like San Jose and Detroit are expected to take a step back, paving the way for this team of young guns, who have all been playing during the lockout in the AHL. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Justin Schultz are a very impressive core, and if this team gets stable goaltending, the future could be now for the Oilers.
Sleepers: Nashville Predators +1500
The Predators lost Ryan Suter to free agency and that is certainly a big blow but the team was pretty close to the Cup last year, losing to Phoenix in Round 2 of the playoffs. They were able to keep Shea Weber and with Pekka Rinne in goal, this team will always have the ability to steal a round or two in the postseason.
Prediction: Los Angeles Kings
While we don’t get great value with this pick, the Kings are the deepest team in the West. Los Angeles has no glaring weaknesses and the organization sent a clear message to its players by keeping the core together. This team is built to be a possible dynasty, so consider betting their NHL futures to win the division, conference and the Cup.