by OddsShark (@OddsShark) – Sponsored Post
The less known about how well Connor McDavid’s knee is healing, the lower the projections are for this season’s iteration of the Edmonton Oilers.
That might well end up being a positive development for points OVER/UNDER bettors who are confident the superstar will be back to full speed eventually, if not necessarily by opening night . McDavid, in a crowning touch to a 2018/19 season where the Oilers finished with just 79 points, suffered a small tear of the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the regular-season finale on April 6 when he crashed into a goalpost at full speed after being poke-checked by the Calgary Flames’ Mark Giordano.
The 22-year-old captain, who had 116 points last season despite playing on a team that was 20th in the 31-team NHL in goals scored, has begun skating with teammates but it’s not clear if he’ll appear in the pre-season at all.
2018/19 Points Total: 79
2019/20 Points OVER/UNDER: 85.5
Odds to Win Division: +1000
Odds to Win Conference: +2000
Odds to Win Stanley Cup: +4000
The McDavid drama, combined with the general consensus that the Oilers are doing more of a remodeling than a total rebuilding under new GM Ken Holland and new coach Dave Tippett, likely explains the low OVER/UNDER total on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Only six teams have a lower break-even point, but two of them, the Anaheim Ducks (79.5) and Los Angeles Kings (73.5), are also in the Pacific Division.
And it doesn’t take a radical change for a mediocre team to make a modest gain in its point total. Tippett is inheriting a team whose poor goal differential last season owed to having the NHL’s second-worst penalty kill. Coincidentally, 10 seasons ago when Tippett took over the then-Phoenix Coyotes, their penalty kill improved from third-worst before his arrival to sixth. Just going from bad to average in some key areas would help.
Over the last six seasons, it has taken an average of 92.33 points to claim the final Western Conference wild card playoff berth. Getting to that level, to say nothing of the Oilers making good on their +1000 odds to win the Pacific Division, likely will take across-the-board improvements from their depth forwards, defence and goaltending. Edmonton is counting on young wing Tyler Benson to become a key piece who can play in their top six with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. James Neal, acquired from Calgary for Milan Lucic in a swap of veteran wings, is trying to recover the form that saw him put up at least 20 goals in 10 of the last 11 seasons.
As far as the defensive zone is concerned, the Oilers were the fifth-most porous team last season with 271 goals against and have retained largely the same personnel on the blue line. Top-pairing defenceman Oscar Klefbom was limited to 61 games last season by injuries and Edmonton can ill-afford to have him suffer another extended absence.
The Oilers are committed to Mikko Koskinen, who had a 2.93 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in 55 games last season, as their No. 1 goalie.
Edmonton begins the regular season when they host the Vancouver Canucks on October 2.