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Atlantic Division Preview: Best Bets

Finishing as the tightest division in hockey last year, the Atlantic is once again ripe for stiff competition in the upcoming campaign. That said, the Lightning and Maple Leafs hold a vast advantage in the talent department and if things go right for them, they should finish in the top two spots with a thick cushion between themselves and the third-place finisher.

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

Best Bet to Win the Division: Tampa Bay Lightning (+220)

Tampa is the most well-rounded team in the Atlantic and is the favorite to win the division for good reason. They’ll start the year with a healthy Steven Stamkos paired up with Nikita Kucherov and they’ll hand the goaltending keys over to Andrei Vasilevskiy. Good seasons from those three give the Lightning an easy division win.

Best Stanley Cup Bet: Tampa Bay lightning (+1000)

Dangerously close to making it to the Cup final in 2015-16, the Lightning are primed for another run at Lord Stanley this season coming off a campaign where health played a major factor. Expect the Bolts to lean on an NHL-best power play and lead the league in scoring en route to an appearance in the Eastern Conference final.

Montreal Canadiens (47-26-9, 103 Points): Not to Make the Playoffs (+255) 

Despite being the only team in the Atlantic to crack 100 points last season, the Canadiens were lucky to win the division. They were horrible in the second half and they didn’t get any better in the offseason. A failure to improve an impotent offense combined with any sort of regression from Carey Price will lead to the Habs missing out on the postseason for the second time in three years.

Line available at Intertops.

Ottawa Senators (44-28-10, 98 Points): To Make the Playoffs (+125)

One thing we learned from the 2016-17 Stanley Cup playoffs is that the Ottawa Senators are a good hockey team and that Erik Karlsson is one of the best hockey players in the world. They could struggle until he rejoins the lineup after undergoing offseason surgery to repair his busted foot but the latest reports are saying he’ll be back sometime in October. The Sens will be one of three teams from the Atlantic that makes the postseason.

Line available at Intertops.

Boston Bruins (44-31-7, 95 Points): David Pastrnak to Win the Art Ross Trophy

Although they left it until late, the Bruins finally re-signed budding superstar David Pastrnak to a long-term deal and I’m expecting a big year from the Czech winger. The 21-year-old had a breakout season for the B’s last season, compiling 70 points in 75 games, but he’ll have to do a lot more if the Bruins are going to compete for a playoff spot in 2017-18. Don’t be surprised to see Pasta break into the 90s playing alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.

Toronto Maple Leafs (40-27-15, 95 Points): Matthews to win the Hart Trophy (+850)

The Maple Leafs are hands down the most interesting team heading into the new NHL season. They possess an immensely talented group of young forwards who took the league by storm last year and many people have this year’s team pegged as a Stanley Cup contender.

In order for a Stanley Cup run to be possible, Auston Matthews will have to be for the Leafs what Connor McDavid is for the Oilers and because of that, I like the value on him to hoist the Hart Memorial Trophy at +850.

Line available at Bovada.

Tampa Bay Lightning (42-30-10, 94 Points): Victor Hedman to win the Norris

Victor Hedman is one of the five best defensemen in the NHL. He finished last season with a career-high 72 points (29 on the power play) and he finished third in Norris Trophy voting. The Bolts blue-liner hasn’t posted a negative plus-minus since 2012 and he seems to be getting better every year. At 26 years of age, the Swede is entering the prime of his career and he has the fortune of starting the 2017-18 season without Erik Karlsson on the ice.

Florida Panthers (35-36-11, 81 Points): UNDER 86.5 Points (-115)

Losing Jonathan Marchessault to Las Vegas in the expansion draft, the Panthers got tangibly worse in the offseason and are a team without direction after an ugly breakup with Gerard Gallant. They added new head coach Bob Boughner to the ranks but this is a club that’s in a transitional period. 86.5 points seems like far too many for Florida and UNDER should be an easy cash.

Line available at Bovada.

Detroit Red Wings (33-36-13, 79 Points): UNDER 78 Points (-120) 

Ken Holland is quickly becoming a candidate to lose his job. He has essentially run the Red Wings into the ground and a last-place finish in the Atlantic this year will be the final nail in his coffin. There’s no way the Wings get to 78 points with their horrendous group of blue-liners and goaltenders. This prop goes well UNDER.

Line available at Bovada.

Buffalo Sabres (33-37-12, 78 Points): OVER 88 points (-120)

The Sabres have been on the come up for a while but this could be the year they finally make the leap out of the basement. There’s more than enough talent up front to make that happen and I like Buffalo to breach 88 points and just miss the playoffs. There’s still some work to do on defense for general manager Jason Botterill and I’m not totally sold on Robin Lehner between the pipes.

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.