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NHL Futures: Best Bets for Western Conference Champion (2020)

by June 5, 2020

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After previewing the potential Stanley Cup and Eastern Conference winners, let’s complete our NHL postseason series by discussing which teams have the best chance of succeeding in the West.

Using Draftkings’ odds, let’s discuss the favorites and value plays whom have a chance to come out of the west on top.

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The Favorites

Vegas Golden Knights (+300)

The Golden Knights find themselves in the playoffs for the third straight year and will look to return to the Stanley Cup Finals after losing to the Washington Capitals in their inaugural 2017-2018 season.

With 86 points, Vegas clinched their second Pacific Division title and a top-4 playoff seed. Offensively, they’re led by Mark Stone, Reilly Smith, and leading scorer – Max Pacioretty. They have a great mix of skill and physicality amongst their four lines that provide the necessary depth to succeed in the postseason.

This team has an underrated defensive unit but where their true strength and success lies is within the goaltending. The tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and trade deadline acquisition, Robin Lehner, is disputably the best in the NHL.

Both Fleury and Lehner posted a GAA (Goals Against Average) under 2.90 along with solid save percentages. Lehner was stellar in his three games played for the Knights after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at the deadline; and his numbers should only improve in front of a much stronger defensive unit. Fleury’s play was a bit uneven throughout the year, but much of that can be attributed to personal struggles after the unfortunate passing of his father. I believe we can expect the three-time Stanley Cup winner to be rejuvenated after this break in the action and return to championship form – as I hope all of us will be rooting for him.

St. Louis Blues (+400)

After finishing the abbreviated regular season with the most points in the Western Conference, the Blues look to return and defend their 2019 Stanley Cup Championship.

By returning a majority of their roster from last season, the Blues’ experience is already well-spoken for. Offensively, they’re led by veterans Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn, and David Perron; while they also got breakout campaigns from youngsters Robert Thomas and Zach Sanford.

Captain, Alex Pietrangelo, leads the defense and is supported by fellow stalwarts Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn.

Much like Vegas, their goaltending is a strength with Jordan Binnington patrolling the blue paint. The owner of 30 wins and a 2.56 GAA this season, Mr. Binnington was largely the factor in the Blues turning their season around in 2019, and in his composed fashion, will look to lead his team back to the finals yet again – just don’t ask him if he’s nervous.

Best Values

Nashville Predators (+1700)

It seems that every season we discuss Nashville as a potential Stanley Cup contender, only for them to come up short. However, there’s no denying the talent this roster possesses. After the mid-season firing of Head Coach, Peter Laviolette, they brought in John Hynes in hopes he can help this team obtain the success so many have projected throughout the years.

Filip Forsberg and Victor Arvidsson lead the charge up front, along with the enigmas that are Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. The defensive group is this team’s best asset; led by Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, and leading scorer, Roman Josi.

The glaring weakness of this team lies within their goaltending. Perennial All-Star, Pekke Rinne, was brutal this season after posting a sub-.900 Save% and has seemingly been displaced as the Predators NO.1 by backup Juuse Saros.

However, with the postseason essentially being a brand-new season, anything is possible, and this team certainly possesses the upside to best all competitors in the west.

Calgary Flames (+1700)

I’m a big believer in the Flames – check out my preview of them here.

Best Longshot

Chicago Blackhawks (+3000)

Chicago is the only true longshot in the West but they’re worth mentioning due to their Original Six popularity – they’re also a big liability according to reports out of Vegas as an outright.

While the Blackhawks had a dynasty earlier in the decade, all good runs come to an end. They’ve been rebuilding the last few years and haven’t seen much success. However, their veteran core of Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Kane know what it takes to succeed which will provide priceless leadership to future stars Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat.

Their defense is less than inspiring and star goalie, Corey Crawford, seems to be consistently battling injuries. But anytime Patrick Kane is on your roster, there’s a chance. If nothing else, Chicago fans can hope for the return of Kane’s playoff mullet – which only he can pull off, despite looking like a Monster Truck enthusiast.

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Jordan Anderson is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Jordan, check out his archive and follow him @Jordan_A03.

DraftKings, Hockey