Chicago Wins Total Looks Tasty
Despite losing a few good players because of a limiting salary cap, the Chicago Blackhawks still have the makings of the type of team that won the Stanley Cup in 2015. That's why the 45 wins oddsmakers have them pegged for stands out in NHL betting.
The Blackhawks had to dump payroll in the offseason, so they traded off third center Andrew Shaw and winger Teuvo Teravainen. In return, they picked up Brian Campbell, who led NHL defensemen with a plus-31 plus-minus rating last season with Florida. Shaw may be the toughest to replace, since he showed signs of being a major contributor by scoring four goals in their seven-game post season against St. Louis. Andrew Ladd, a key winger, was traded last year after 19 games.
What They Have
There are still plenty of good players left to rely on, including NHL MVP Patrick Kane, star center Jonathan Toews and Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin. The addition of Campbell gives the Blackhawks one of the best defensive lineups in the league, topped by two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith, along with Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Goaltender Corey Crawford is coming off of one of his best seasons. He set career highs with 35 wins in 58 starts and an NHL-best seven shutouts.
Betting on The Blackhawks
The 'Hawks have two long road trips that could give them trouble. One trip is seven straight in mid to late November that includes San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles. Another has them away in eight of nine in February with no one other than Dallas being a major contender. Chicago should still be .500 or better in both of those. The home schedule should be manageable, too, with their Central Division rivals from Dallas, St. Louis and Nashville, to deal with.
For coach Joel Quenneville, it will be simply a matter of plugging in a few pieces to make this team a winner again. While the Central Division could be as tough as last year, I picked the Blackhawks to win it. That will take more than the 45 wins projected in the NHL props betting. I figure 48 to 50 wins this year, so the -115 seems fair.
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