There are some items that could move the needle betting wise for hockey fans this September. We spotlight five of them for this “Five Things” column.
First, the restricted free agent jam is going to have an impact
It has been made clear that most of these contracts will not get done before training camp starts in September. For some players that may take even longer. This will impact players and teams alike. Lines will not be able to gain that much valued chemistry and players may not be in game shape for the first few weeks.
In some cases, a player like Mitch Marner may not even open the season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The hope was that the Sebastian Aho offer sheet would spark the market a little, but it did not. If anything, the market has dug in its heels with Marner for better or for worse. Hopefully by the middle of September, there is better news here.
However, if players do not sign by then, do not be surprised if some futures are again altered before the start of the 2019-20 season.
Second, there are those pesky injuries
For every player that comes in camp in the “greatest shape of their life”, there are ones who unfortunately do not come in 100% or out of shape. Inevitably, the dreaded groin injuries seem to pop up for some while others wrench a shoulder or pull a hamstring. It never fails in the preseason and every so often the bad blocked shot happens.
Broken bones or torn ligaments are never ideal at any time but in the preseason especially. A player could miss weeks of the opening month which could impact an entire team’s point outlook or even playoff prospects.
Also, some players are coming back from injury like Taylor Hall. He should be fine, but it is worth watching to see what kind of hockey shape he is in. MVP-caliber Hall could mean an extra 10-15 points plus in the standings for New Jersey.
Third, inevitably there are roster position battles
This goes down every single year. Players create coaching nightmare scenarios as they have exceeded expectations in training camp. Sometimes, established starters play poorly and their position is put in jeopardy. It works both ways.
The bottom line is that every season, surprise breakouts and hot starts happen. These are rooted in training camps. It is always good to watch out for certain prospects as they enter their first or second camp. A Ty Smith from the New Jersey Devils is a great example of this.
Fourth, updated odds will come out
Inevitably, changes and tweaks are necessary. Like we mentioned above, odds are never set in stone. If they were, what fun would that be? Will there be dramatic shifts? At this time, there could be a couple but not too many. Again, it is the subtle shifts in value to take a look at more.
Numbers that show too much volatility will be ones to stay away from. So, Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres guaranteed the Sabres will make the playoffs. That should shift Buffalo’s odds at least enough to move the needle. That may be too much of a shift as opposed to looking at other teams like New Jersey, Dallas, etc. Dallas could shift again as a favorite to win the Central Division even.
Finally, when fantasy hockey meets preseason which meets bettors
That is correct. A lot of worlds collide before October starts. Fantasy hockey does help some when it comes to betting. During the preseason, both are predicated on keeping a tab on players who may perform unexpectedly well which could lead to surprise team success.
It is all about gaining that edge. The best bet is to read and watch all the preseason coverage one can. Absorb and immerse oneself in as much of it as humanly possible.
By Chris Wassel