The 2019-20 NHL season begins Wednesday, but veteran bettors have been scouring the futures market for months looking for value. Here is the latest update from Las Vegas and New Jersey.
When the Westgate SuperBook first posted season point totals in July, sharp bettors targeted UNDER 90.5 for the Blackhawks, before public wagers on the OVER evened out the action, vice president of risk management Ed Salmons told BetChicago.
The Hawks are expected to improve on last season’s 36-34-12 (84 points) record with the additions of Andrew Shaw, Olli Maatta, Calvin de Haan and Vezina Trophy finalist Robin Lehner, but the toughest division in the league is keeping the professional bettors from backing Chicago to make the playoffs at +175 odds.
“We have only written tickets on the ‘yes’ for Chicago to make the playoffs,” Salmons said. “But looking at the dollar amounts, you can tell it’s all public money. We are also a big loser to the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup (now 40/1 odds), but that (liability) happens every year with Chicago sports teams.”
The Blackhawks were the NHL’s best OVER bet last season, compiling a 52-26-4 OVER mark and contributing to betting totals unseen in over 25 seasons (the average total in Chicago games last season was 6.2). Chicago’s blue-line acquisition should help keep totals lower, Salmons said.
First-period OVERs hit at an unprecedented rate last season, a trend to which bookmakers are adjusting.
“To start the year, everyone is going to remember what happened last,” Salmons said. “So those teams that were playing OVERs in the first period are going to be juiced accordingly. Just because it happened one year doesn’t mean it is going to happen again. Some of these teams’ rosters aren’t even the same. Each year is its own animal.”
One team seeing a drastic roster makeover is the Devils. Before the additions of P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev and No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes, the Devils had 66/1 odds at PointsBet in New Jersey to win the Cup. Now, the Devils have the most bets placed on winning the Metropolitan Division (6/1), Eastern Conference (14/1) and Stanley Cup (25/1). Throw in a healthy Taylor Hall playing in a contract season, and it’s not a surprise to see the Devils’ points total at 91.5 despite finishing last season with a 31-41-10 (72 points) record.
At the SuperBook, sharp bettors saw the offseason adjustment to 91.5 as an overreaction, pushing it back down to 90.5 with UNDER bets. New Jersey joins the Coyotes (91.5 to 89.5), Avalanche (100.5 to 97.5) and even the local Golden Knights (103.5 to 102.5) as teams bet UNDER by sharps.
“We actually haven’t seen any (respected) OVER money on the Knights,” Salmons said. “Part of it is setting a high number to avoid public onslaught, and part of it is Jeff (Sherman) and I think it’s a team that is going to dominate that (Pacific) division.
“San Jose is way down this year, Calgary is going to take a step back and the rest stink. Vancouver is the up-and-coming team, but it is so young I don’t know if they are ready to compete with the Knights. Arizona is kind of a non-descript team. Their division is complete opposite of the Blackhawks.”
Vegas is -125 to win the Pacific, while Chicago is 16/1 to win the Central.
Last season’s Stanley Cup champions, the Blues, are facing stiff odds to win the Central at 5/1 behind the Avs (3/1), Predators (7/2) and Stars (7/2).
St. Louis, with its amazing worst-to-first run at 300/1 odds to win the Cup, has given underdog teams hope for next season. Who is that team this upcoming season? Salmons says take your pick.
“The one thing about hockey is literally any team can win the Stanley Cup if you take out the rebuilding teams. Twenty teams could win,” he said. “If Nashville or Winnipeg start slow like the Blues did last season, they are more than capable of getting hot and sneaking into the playoffs and winning.”
2019-20 NHL season point totals
|Team||Open July 21||Current|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||82½||84½|
|Detroit Red Wings||76½||76½|
|Los Angeles Kings||74½||74½|
|New Jersey Devils||88½||90½|
|New York Islanders||94½||91½|
|New York Rangers||88½||88½|
|San Jose Sharks||94½||94½|
|St Louis Blues||96½||96½|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||108½||108½|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||102½||102½|
|Vegas Golden Knights||103½||102½|
Odds to win 2019-20 Stanley Cup
|Team||Open May 4||Current|
|Tampa Bay LIGHTNING||6/1||6/1|
|Toronto MAPLE LEAFS||10/1||10/1|
|Vegas GOLDEN KNIGHTS||10/1||7/1|
|San Jose SHARKS||14/1||25/1|
|St Louis BLUES||16/1||16/1|
|New York ISLANDERS||20/1||40/1|
|Columbus BLUE JACKETS||20/1||100/1|
|New York RANGERS||60/1||30/1|
|New Jersey DEVILS||60/1||25/1|
|Detroit RED WINGS||80/1||200/1|
|Los Angeles KINGS||80/1||200/1|