Oilers', Leafs' Room for Improvement
Oh Canada! Where have ye been? Well, the song may not go like that, but we wonder why a country with the best hockey players in the world has had horrible NHL teams in recent years. Bad management, unrealized talent and a weak Canadian dollar (hockey players are paid in U.S. dollars) all have something to do with that.
But the more pertinent question is, will it get better north of the border? Let's look at last year's bottom-of-the-barrel teams, Edmonton and Toronto. They're only two of the six NHL teams in Canada, but they obviously have more room for improvement than the rest of the league. Their additions offer a guide for NHL game betting in the coming year.
This team worked hard during the offseason to improve their stock of young prospects. Of course this rebuild has been going on for a few years now, and the excuse of working from the ground floor is getting old. The good news is that the Oilmen actually won more games last year than they did the previous two. The bad news is that it still left them in the cellar of the Pacific Division.
The Oilers' big score on the draft board was when Jesse Puljujarvi fell into their lap. They weren't expecting him to be left when their pick came, but they'll take a guy who can make an impression right away. Some experts see Puljujarvi contributing as many as 20 goals and 40 points as a rookie. On the trade front, Edmonton made some interesting deals to change the team's complexion if not effectiveness. They shipped out Taylor Hall, last year's team leader in everything. They brought in defenseman Adam Larsson from New Jersey, who didn't score much, but carried a healthy 15 in plus/minus. They also landed Milan Lucic, a strong and skilled forward who has averaged 50 points a game in his years with Boston and LA. This leaves the Oilers with an offense that features Leon Draisaitl, who contributed 51 points last year, Connor McDavid, who put up 48 points in 45 games, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has potential but played just 12 games last year, and Lucic. Their defense will feature Larsson and second-year man Brandon Davidson, another with potential who was injured through much of the season. If the Oilers stay relatively healthy, they should win at least 10 more games in 2016-17. Don't treat them as automatic underdogs in NHL betting games.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Hoping to trade into improvement last year, nothing transpired, and the Leafs slumped into one of their worst seasons yet, winning just 29 games. So this franchise is truly rebuilding from the ground floor. They went out and got eight top 100 prospects, led by overall No. 1 Auston Matthews, who should reach a top-line center at some point. He'll give the Maple Leafs some depth at center, with Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak and Peter Holland anchoring the other lines. Defensively they grabbed up Roman Polak from the Sharks and goal keeper Frederick Anderson of Anaheim. Does this put the Leafs in Florida-Tampa Bay air in the Atlantic? No. But this is a start, and they should be weighed early in the year.
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