The 2018-19 NHL season is approaching rapidly.
Training camps will begin to open in three weeks, and the regular season starts Oct. 3.
At this point, most clubs have their rosters in order, and we have a pretty good idea of what each team will look like going into camp. Thus, the betting market is beginning to take shape.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook was the first to release point totals for the 2018-19 season.
2018-19 NHL Point Totals
Three Value Picks
Arizona Coyotes Over 80.5
The Coyotes were expected to take a step forward in 2017-18 but got off to a 2-15-3 start, essentially ending their season before Thanksgiving. Things would eventually trend up for Arizona, and a 20-14-7 finish to the campaign was reason enough for optimism.
Another reason to believe in the ‘Yotes is that they had one of the league’s best goalies last year. Antti Raanta only played 47 games and battled injury, but when he played, he was darn good. The 29-year-old finished the year with a 93.7 even-strength save percentage and 7.05 Goals Saved Above Average.
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The Coyotes also enjoyed a solid offseason in which they added Alex Galchenyuk and Vinnie Hinostroza to a young, exciting top six, and free agent signing Michael Grabner should add some scoring flair to their bottom six.
Galchenyuk has all the makings of a No. 1 center, and he should a lot more time in that role than he was afforded in Montreal. If Galchenyuk clicks with Clayton Keller — who is coming off a terrific rookie season — and 2015 No. 3 overall pick Dylan Strome, the Coyotes could have themselves some firepower.
Arizona ended the season on a high note and got better in the offseason. Not only do I think it will go over 80.5 points, the Coyotes could be a sneaky pick to make the playoffs.
Carolina Hurricanes Over 84.5
Every offseason it seems like the entire hockey world is picking the Hurricanes as their “dark horse.” This season will likely be no different.
Horrible goaltending sunk the Canes last season, as Scott Darling struggled in his first year as a starter and Cam Ward didn’t provide much security as the backup.
It’s hard to imagine Darling will not improve, and Petr Mrazek — although he’s struggled over the past two seasons — should be an upgrade over Ward.
Carolina has been among the league’s best in terms of shot metrics, and it ranked in the top 10 in terms of expected goals for per 60 minutes at 5v5 (xGF/60) in 2017-18.
The Hurricanes did have a pair of big losses over the offseason, as coach Bill Peters moved to Calgary and top-six winger Jeff Skinner was traded to Buffalo, but there’s enough on this team to make up for those losses.
There’s a ton of high-level talent on offense (including 2018 No. 2 overall pick Andrei Svechnikov), and the Carolina defense was upgraded big time in the offseason, as the Canes traded for Dougie Hamilton and signed Calvin de Haan.
To cash this over, you need Carolina to improve by two points from last season. It should do that with improved goaltending and one of the league’s best defenses.
Colorado Avalanche Under 91.5
The Avalanche were an adorable story last season, going from last place in 2016-17 to a playoff team one season later.
How did they do it?
First and foremost, they were carried by Nathan MacKinnon. The former No. 1 overall pick had an astounding breakout campaign and was very close to winning the Hart Trophy.
The Avs also outran their underlying metrics in a big way.
Not only did the Avalanche have poor shot metrics, they posted a -20.2 expected goal differential at 5v5, but somehow still managed to finish +12 in goal differential. Overall, the Avalanche finished with the second-worst xGF/60 last season, and that points to some negative regression.
Getting to 92 points would be impressive for the Avalanche, as they needed basically everything to go right for them to get to 95 in 2017-18.
- The Lightning boast the highest total at 107.5 points. Last season, five teams finished above that mark: Nashville (117), Winnipeg (114), Tampa Bay (113), Boston (112) and Vegas (109).
- The Senators sport the lowest over/under at 71.5 points. Four teams finished below that threshold in 2017-18: the Canadiens (71), Coyotes (70), Senators (67) and Sabres (62).
- Buffalo has the biggest discrepancy between its 2017-18 point total (62) and 2018-19 over/under (79.5).
- Colorado made the playoffs with 95 points last year, the fewest of the 16 teams that qualified. Seventeen teams have their over/under set at lower than 95 points at the Westgate.