Metropolitan Division Preview: Best Bets

The Metropolitan Division was the best in hockey a year ago and it’s looking like it could be once again. Almost every team in the Metro has the ability to compete for a playoff berth and it wouldn’t be surprising if both the wild-card spots were grabbed by clubs in the division.

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

Best Bet to Win the Division: Pittsburgh Penguins +190

This is as easy as it gets in futures betting. The Penguins are once again stacked with high-end talent and they might have the best starting netminder in the division. If Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby can avoid long-term injuries, the Pens should easily win the Metro with the Capitals looking like regression candidates.

Best Stanley Cup Bet: Pittsburgh Penguins +800

It’s by no means a lock but the Pens are Stanley Cup faves for good reason – they’re the best hockey team in the NHL. Jake Guentzel is going to be a beast playing alongside the Cros on the top line and the second attack wave that features Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel is better than a lot of teams’ No. 1 set. A bet on the Penguins to win the Cup for a third straight year is a smart one – they’ll be making another deep run this season.

Washington Capitals (55-19-8, 118 Points): OVER 46.5 Wins (-130)

Yes, I think the Caps are due for a regression but this line is too low. Washington is still a deep hockey team that will make the playoffs and probably break 100 points. Braden Holtby is a Vezina-winning netminder and Alex Ovechkin is still one of the top three wingers in the sport. They won’t win the Presidents’ Trophy this year but they’ll be an extremely tough team to put away.

Line available at Sportsbook.

Pittsburgh Penguins (50-21-11, 111 Points): Matt Murray to win the Vezina Trophy

The keys to the crease in Pittsburgh have finally been handed over to Matt Murray with Marc-Andre Fleury’s departure to Las Vegas and I’m expecting the two-time Cup Sportsbook to flourish. In 62 career regular-season games, Murray owns a sparkling .925 save percentage and a 41-12 record. His career numbers look very much like the stat lines of a lot of past Vezina-winning seasons. The youngster is basically a lock for 40-plus wins barring injury so assuming he’s as good as we’ve seen so far, he’ll be a top Vezina candidate all season long.

Columbus Blue Jackets (50-24-8, 108 Points): Not to Make the Playoffs (+165)

Catching lightning in a bottle last season, the Blue Jackets challenged the top teams in the Metro in the regular season but they flamed out in the first round of the playoffs in an embarrassing effort against the Penguins. Sergei Bobrovsky won’t be as good as he was last season and the Jackets will miss the playoffs, with some teams that finished below them last campaign prepared to make a leap.

Line available at Sportsbook.

New York Rangers (48-28-6, 102 Points): Not to Make the Playoffs (+165)

The Rangers are another club that relies too heavily on its goalie and Henrik Lundqvist’s foundation is starting to crumble. He’s regressed in three straight seasons and 2017-18 could be the campaign where he falls off a cliff. The Blueshirts also saw the departure of Derek Stepan, their former first-line center. Stepan’s absence will be noticed in New York – especially when the Rangers miss the cut for the postseason.

Line available at Sportsbook.

New York Islanders (41-29-12, 94 Points): John Tavares to win the Art Ross Trophy

It’s a contract year for John Tavares and that means it’s time for the Isles’ best player to perform. He came within a point of winning the Art Ross in 2014-15 but his point total has gone down in two straight seasons. If he wants to get the big bucks in the offseason, he’ll have to put up a big total on a team that’s not great. If he and new addition Jordan Eberle can rekindle the connection they had at the 2009 world junior tournament, Tavares could easily break 90 points.

Philadelphia Flyers (39-33-10, 88 Points): OVER 90.5 Points (-115)

Philly wasn’t very good last season despite a vast amount of talent but I’m betting the addition of Brian Elliott helps them get back into the playoffs. The former Flame was incredible in the second half last year and he could be the missing puzzle piece for this club. The Flyers have also done an excellent job drafting the last few seasons and they have one of the best young cores in the NHL.

Line available at Sportsbook.

Carolina Hurricanes (36-31-15, 87 Points): To Make the Playoffs (-105)

The Hurricanes are a lot of people’s darlings this season and they’re mine too. While still relatively unproven, the Canes’ depth of young talent is impressive and the addition of Scott Darling finally gives them a legitimate No. 1 netminder. Carolina will be this year’s Columbus.

Line available at Sportsbook.

New Jersey Devils (28-40-14, 70 Points): Nico Hischier to win the Calder Trophy

There’s still not a lot to like about the Devils but first overall draft pick Nico Hischier is most of it. The Swiss star might be a little bit undersized but he’s an absolute monster. He’s scoring at will in the preseason and is projecting as New Jersey’s second-line center. This year’s crop of rooks is a good one but Nico is the cream. Adjusting to the NHL is tough for young centers but head coach John Hynes will most likely surround Hischier with veteran wingers who can help show him the ropes. Expect the Devs’ first-year pivot to be in the rookie of the year conversation all season.

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.