Vegas Golden Knights won their first Stanley Cup in only their sixth NHL season, and fielding a largely unchanged squad, they look the team to beat heading into the new campaign.
There’s a bruising 82-game regular-season schedule to get through before attention turns to the battle for the Cup, however, and it’s a wide-open market for both the regular-season points total and Stanley Cup winner.
Injuries are common and can have a huge effect, which makes bold predictions risky, but there is some value to be had in the divisional markets.
Carolina Hurricanes topped their section for the third straight year last season and look a decent bet to again pick up the most points in the Metropolitan Division.
It’s a competitive division with New Jersey and the New York Rangers both heading into the season in good shape, and the improved Devils finished only a point behind the Hurricanes last term.
But Carolina have the depth to cope with any injuries that may come their way and boast one of the best defenses in the league. They look the value call.
An ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division could make it hard for Pittsburgh to make the playoffs. The Penguins missed the postseason for the first time since 2006 last term, but while Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin and Kris Letang begin their 18th season as teammates, the rest of the squad is much changed and may take time to gel.
Vancouver had an awful defensive record last season but they looked much sharper when goaltender Thatcher Demko returned from injury.
The Canucks have strengthened the defense in front of him and having recorded 33 wins in net the previous season, Demko should be able to surpass 27 victories this time.