Western Conference Future - Picks & Preview

We take a look at the standouts to win this year's Western Conference
Thu, March 21, 10:16 AM EDT

The playoffs start 20 days from today. It seems hard to believe but the second season is so close. There are going to be a lot of numbers tossed around over the next few weeks. Worse, some teams will see their bubbles burst. Ultimately, there will be eight teams battling for the Western Conference.

Here is a look at some possible value and risks to take perhaps. Be warned! The West is wild. The cutoff point total seems to be heading downward again. Anyway, let’s get into some of the values.

When is a favorite err co-favorites not favorites?

What? Calgary and San Jose are the tentative co-favorites to come out of the West. There is one problem with each team, and it is major. Goaltending. Neither team has consistent goaltending right now and worse, both teams are hemorrhaging goals. The Flames and Sharks did nothing at the deadline to address the hole and now they are caught hoping for the best. It is not exactly the playoff recipe to victory.

Further complicating matters for San Jose, is the progress of Erik Karlsson. The expectation is that the All-Star defenseman will return by the playoffs. However, no one can be truly certain of that just yet. Both teams can score and light the score sheet up. Calgary averages 4.25 goals per game at home, for example. It is that goaltending issue.

Currently Calgary comes in at +340 and San Jose rolls in at +375 to win the Western Conference. When teams like this have one glaring and fatal flaw, other teams sneak right into the picture. That is no exception with the West this season as at least. If one looks at the teams knocking on the door, there is a team in the Pacific that may be the best of them all once again.

Finding Value – Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas sits currently third in the Pacific with little to play for. With winning nine of their last ten, the Vegas futures climbed to +550. This team was at +750 just ten days ago and around +2500 just a month or so ago. Even with Marc-Andre Fleury day to day right now, new acquisition Mark Stone and the Golden Knights keep on scoring and winning. They look like the team most remember from last season. Stone has invigorated the second line and has even lit a fire under the top line also. This team goes as far as Marc-Andre Fleury will take them.

If the top line can look as good as they did on Tuesday night, then look out. Vegas found a groove last year then just rode it right through the playoffs. The team is one to watch and should be favored but won’t against the loser of the Pacific Division. Teams like the Nashville Predators could get it together for the playoffs, but their futures are cost prohibitive. Vegas may slide into the top-3 as far as conference futures. If they do not, Vegas will close rather close.

Taking A Dark Horse – Dallas Stars

Oh, now this is a risk! Remember, the horse manure comments from Dallas management? It turns out that the +1600 number is better than the +2500 seen just a couple weeks ago. Dallas has more offensive capabilities than they lead on and the Stars have one of the best goaltenders in the league in Ben Bishop. Bishop’s home marks rank second in the league. Dallas will not be an easy out come Round 1 as well. It will be vital to see who the Stars draw in Round 1 of the playoffs as that will determine a shift or two in strategy. With Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn contributing on the Stars roster, it makes sense to bet a few dollars on the Dallas Stars.

Some final observations are important here. With not all the teams set in stone or any seeding, there is an understandable hesitation to bet. However, value is almost as peak for some and for others, expect a drop. Gauging the trends will help one extract value from the West come the start of the playoffs.


By Chris Wassel


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