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Odds to Win the NHL Central Division: Jets are Primed for Takeoff

Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck #37 of the Winnipeg Jets looks on during the pre-game warm up prior to NHL action against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell MTS Place on May 12, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

When it comes to the odds on which NHL team will win the Central Division in the 2018-19 campaign, it’s strictly a two-team race at sportsbooks.

The Nashville Predators are the slight +150 favorites to claim the bragging rights at Bovada, with the Winnipeg Jets right behind them at +160. The St. Louis Blues (+850), Dallas Stars (+850), Minnesota Wild (+850), Colorado Avalanche (+1800) and Chicago Blackhawks (+2000) round things out at the shop.

Who has the edge: Preds or Jets?

While the Predators have been a perennial contender in the Central for quite some time, the Jets burst onto the scene in a big way in 2017-18 by posting a 52-20-10 record – a significant jump from their 40-35-7 showing two years ago. The emergence of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck provided Winnipeg with the franchise netminder it’s been missing since the team arrived in Manitoba in 2011. As a result, the Jets signed the Vezina Trophy runner-up to a six-year, $37-million deal in the offseason.

It’s hard to find many weak spots on the Jets roster, and a run to the Western Conference finals that resulted in a loss to the Vegas Golden Knights has convinced even the biggest non-believers that Winnipeg is the real deal. While the Predators remain an elite team, longtime goaltender Pekka Rinne is starting to show his age at 35, and I think Winnipeg is the better pick here to win the Central.

Blues spent the summer making moves

The Blues, who missed the playoffs by a single point in 2017-18, were in need of a shakeup, and general manager Doug Armstrong did exactly that in a dramatic roster overhaul that has his club poised to vastly improve on its 44-32-6 record.

Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Patrick Maroon and Tyler Bozak were brought in to jump-start an offense that already boasted Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. The goaltending remains a bit of a question mark, but if Jake Allen can return to form for the full season, expect St. Louis to get back to the postseason next spring.

What happened to the Blackhawks?

Considering the Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, their fall from grace is hard to believe, yet the +2000 price on them to win the Central speaks volumes. Last season was a nightmare for the ’Hawks, as an injury to starting goaltender Corey Crawford in December effectively ended any hope Chicago fans had of the team being competitive. What followed was a 33-39-10 record and a last-place showing in the Central.

It’s no secret Chicago has had its fair share of salary cap issues, yet general manager Stan Bowman has started to make some moves to free up some badly needed space. Barring a miracle, the Blackhawks won’t be in the conversation of Central contenders for the foreseeable future.

For a full breakdown of Stanley Cup odds, click here. OddsShark’s NHL page has all of the betting information you’ll need to put some extra cash in your pocket on the ice this season.

2018-19 Central Division Odds
TeamOdds
Nashville Predators+150
Winnipeg Jets+160
St. Louis Blues+850
Dallas Stars+850
Minnesota Wild+850
Colorado Avalanche+1800
Chicago Blackhawks+2000

Odds as of October 3 at Bovada

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