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Central Division Preview: Best Bets

Gearing up to be by far the most competitive division in hockey, the Central is a complete toss-up heading into the new campaign. Six teams have the talent to make the playoffs and four or five have what it takes to win the division. There’s plenty of value to be found for bettors if they know where to look.

Here are my best bets for every team in the Central Division for the 2017-18 season:

Best Bet to Win the Division: Dallas Stars (+325)

Finishing with just 79 points a year after winning the Central, the Stars were one of the biggest disappointments of the 2016-17 season. Instead of slinking away and licking their wounds, the Stars went out and added Ben Bishop, Marc Methot and Alexander Radulov to an already potent roster and they replaced Lindy Ruff with Ken Hitchcock. While it’s a strange fit, Hitch is great at getting teams to play for him. Dallas will challenge for the division again this season with the Blackhawks set for a regression.

Best Stanley Cup Bet: St. Louis Blues (+3300)

I’ve been harping about this Blues team for a long time and I made a lot of money off of them in last year’s playoffs. This is a deep hockey club that’s stacked top to bottom with competitors. I don’t think they’ll run away with the division or anything like that, but they’ll once again be an extremely tough out in the playoffs – assuming they get in – and 33/1 is an insane price for a team that has one of the best goal scorers in the National Hockey League.

Chicago Blackhawks (50-23-9, 109 Points): UNDER 100.5 Points (-115)

I could be misguided, but I’m praying that this is the year the Blackhawks finally regress after their no-show in the postseason. They’re putting a lot of faith in rookie Alex DeBrincat as it looks like he’ll play alongside Patrick Kane on the second line and the blue line is in shambles. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have both entered downward spirals and I have no faith in the soon-to-be 33-year-old Corey Crawford.

Line available at Bovada.

Minnesota Wild (49-25-8, 106 Points): OVER 96.5 Points (-115)

96.5 is much too low a total for a Bruce Boudreau-coached hockey team. Since entering the league as a head coach, Boudreau has failed to breach the 100-point mark exactly zero times when he’s been behind the bench for all 82 games. He’s got another good group in Minnesota this year and you can expect them to once again have a good showing in the regular season.

Line available at Bovada.

St. Louis Blues (46-29-7, 99 Points): Tarasenko for Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy

Vladimir Tarasenko is in the goal-scoring business and for the last three seasons, business has been good. His 116 goals in that span put him behind just Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead and for the most part, Tara’s played with a second-rate center in Jori Lehtera. He’ll play alongside Paul Stastny this season and team up with Brayden Schenn on the Blues power play. Vlad Dad scores 45-plus goals this season.

Nashville Predators (41-29-12, 94 Points): OVER 97.5 Points (-115)

Two games away from winning a Stanley Cup last season, the Preds should easily get over this total. They’ve got the best blue line in the NHL – despite the loss of Ryan Ellis – and they’ve got more than enough talent up front. They’ll have to avoid getting off to another slow start but if they do, 100 points will be no problem for the Mustard Tigers.

Line available at Bovada.

Winnipeg Jets (40-35-7, 87 Points): To Make the Playoffs (-105)

I’m taking a bit of flak around the office for this pick but I absolutely love the Jets and I think they’re due for a major leap forward. I made the same call last offseason but I think I was just one year too early. Connor Hellebuyck, who was baptized by fire in 56 2016-17 starts, will be much better this season and he’ll help lead the front-heavy Jets back into Lord Stanley’s playoffs.

Line available at Bovada.

Dallas Stars (34-37-11, 79 Points): Tyler Seguin to Win the Hart Trophy (+6000)

Tyler Seguin is one of the 10 best players in the NHL. He’s scored 72 or more points in all of his last four NHL seasons and he could be playing on the highest-scoring line of 2017-18. He’ll be paired up with Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov on a Stars top line that could combine for 300 total points. As the center of that line, Seguin is the easy choice when you consider that six of the last 12 Hart winners have all been pivots.

Line available at Bovada.

Colorado Avalanche (22-56-4, 48 Points): UNDER 69.5 Points (-115)

Colorado’s hockey team fell all the way down the mountain last season, amassing a pitiful 48 points, and it’s going to be a long climb back to base camp. The Avalanche didn’t get 22 points better in the offseason – this is an easy UNDER bet.

Line available at Bovada.

I’ll be previewing and making my best bets for every division so keep your eye on the NHL tab in the coming days in the lead-up to puck drop.

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