Last week, Metro suggested future wagers on the Penguins, Blues and Sharks. Here are three more NHL future plays to consider as the start of the 2018-’19 season draws closer.
New York Islanders Over 83.5 points (-110)
The departure of John Tavares was a heartbreaker, but there are still reasons for optimism for the Islanders this season.
New GM Lou Lamoriello, the mastermind behind three Stanley Cup Championships in New Jersey, and more recently the resurgent Maple Leafs, signed Barry Trotz as head coach after he left Washington due to a contract dispute. Lamoriello also inked former Sabre Robin Lehner to a one-year deal to replace the inconsistent Jaroslav Halak.
The Isles’ defense is still in work in progress, but the offense will be led by Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal. He should mesh nicely with Anders Lee, who potted 40 goals a season ago skating mainly with Tavares. Offseason pickup Valtteri Filppula adds to a deep forward unit that also features Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle.
New York will probably not make the playoffs, but 83.5 points is not too high a bar to clear for them.
Minnesota Wild Under 95.5 points (-110)
After the firing of nine-year GM Chuck Fletcher, the expectation was that the Wild would shake things up under Paul Fenton and try to avoid another early playoff exit. Instead, they merely bought out the disappointing Tyler Ennis and signed J.T. Brown and Greg Pateryn. That doesn’t cut the mustard in a division as competitive as the Central that features the Predators, Jets and Blues.
Minnesota can rely on great goaltending from Devan Dubnyk (2.52 GAA, .918 save percentage last season), but their defense is led by the aging Ryan Suter, who is fresh off a fractured ankle. Among the Wild’s fading forwards is 14-year veteran Eric Staal, who put up an eye-catching 42 goals last season, well above his career average. Expect him to take a step backward, along with some of his deteriorating teammates, as the Wild head toward an early exit in 2019.
Patrik Laine to win the “Rocket” Richard Trophy (7-1)
Patrik Laine is just 20 years old but already has two seasons of NHL experience under his belt as a Winnipeg Jet. He’s proven to be a dynamic scorer, registering 36 goals as a rookie (73 games) and 44 goals last year. Laine also has a staggering 18.3 shooting percentage, so he makes his opportunities count.
Among Laine’s competitors for the Richard Trophy is Alex Ovechkin, the 5-1 favorite. His team, and by proxy Ovechkin, may experience a Stanley Cup hangover, so he doesn’t look like as great a bet as Laine. The Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko (11-2) may have too many forwards to share the puck with this season, and Sidney Crosby (7-1) and the Penguins are due for regression.