- Edmonton Oilers are a +3750 longshot to win the Western Conference at one sportsbook, but +1700 at others
- Are Connor McDavid and company a good bet at longer odds?
- Or is there better value on Pacific Division-rival Arizona at +2500 to win the Western Conference?
The Edmonton Oilers have returned to the drawing board this summer following another lost season that left the club outside the NHL playoff picture for the 12th time in 13 years. With new general manager Ken Holland at the helm, the Oilers have taken steps to shore up an offense that ranked 20th in the NHL last season.
The club’s efforts to add veteran depth while avoiding an impending salary-cap crunch have produced some hopeful results in the 2020 Western Conference championship odds, most notably at MyBookie, where the Oilers currently sit as a strong +1700 wager, and BetOnline, where the they sit at +2000.
However, the oddsmakers at Bookmaker.eu have been unmoved by Holland’s offseason maneuvering, and continue to list the Oilers well back of the pack at a distant +3750 bet to claim their first conference title since 2006. Here’s how they compare to the other mid-level Pacific Division teams at this early stage.
Odds to Win NHL Western Conference
|Team||Odds at BookMaker.eu*||Odds at BetOnline||Odds at MyBookie|
*All odds as of Aug 9, 2019.
Reclamation Projects Highlight Oilers’ Offseason Moves
With such a wide delta between the competing sportsbooks, it is worth taking a second look at what steps Holland and the Oilers have taken to improve on last season’s disappointing 79-point campaign to determine whether there is value in the lengthy odds offered by Bookmaker.eu, or whether their pessimism is warranted.
Depending to some degree on contract retention, it's very difficult to see a Lucic-Neal trade as anything other than a clear win for Ken Holland, if for no other reason than Neal's contract is not buyout-proof.
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) July 19, 2019
Perhaps most notable among Holland’s offseason moves is the deal that shipped much-maligned winger Milan Lucic down the road to Calgary in exchange for veteran James Neal. Neal quickly emerged as a bust after signing a hefty five-year, $28.75 million deal with the Flames, netting career lows in goals and 12 assists in 2018/2019.
The 31-year-old does not offer the Oilers any cap relief, but Holland is counting on him to rediscover the touch that powered him to 10 straight 20-goal seasons. While a return to the form that netted him a career-high 40 goals in Pittsburgh is unlikely, Neal represents an improvement on Lucic, arguably with less risk.
Holland Rolls the Dice on Smith, Granlund
Holland has added another former Flame to the mix by signing veteran netminder Mike Smith. The 37-year-old posted middling numbers while platooning with David Rittich, going 23-16-2 with a 2.72 GAA and .898 save percentage, and was simply outgunned in Calgary’s stunning first-round playoff loss to Colorado. However, the 13-year-old veteran should fit in well as backup to Mikko Koskinen.
"After it settles in, it still stings."
Mike Smith talks about how the season came to a close for the Flames and his play throughout the 2018-19 campaign. pic.twitter.com/5QW2bnkyQx
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) April 22, 2019
The Oilers also cleared much needed cap space by buying out the final two years of oft-injured defenseman Andrej Sekera’s contract, and rolled the dice on another former Flame, signing Markus Granlund to a one-year deal after yet another disappointing year with the Vancouver Canucks last season.
The reclamation projects taken on by Holland are unlikely to lead the Oilers to the Promised Land in the upcoming NHL season
The reclamation projects taken on by Holland are unlikely to lead the Oilers to the Promised Land in the upcoming NHL season. Smith is unlikely to provide any dramatic improvement over what Cam Talbot offered between the pipes last season, and Neal and Granlund combined to score just 19 total goals last season. That means that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will once again have to carry the weight after combining to score over 39% of the club’s 232 goals last season.
Young Help on the Way … Eventually
Young help is on the way in Edmonton.
Rearguard Evan Bouchard will once again compete for a regular job on the Oilers blue line after the 19-year-old racked up 53 points in 45 games with the OHL London Knights last season. Rearguard Philip Broberg will also get a long look after being selected eighth overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. Another year of experience should benefit youngsters like Kailer Yamamoto and Juhair Khaira, while recently signed 27-year-old Gaetan Haas could emerge as a surprise up front following a pair of All-Star campaigns in Switzerland.
Estimated NHL Readiness
Could have anywhere from 7-10 D prospects NHL ready in the next 3 seasons. Will be interesting to see how the Oilers deal with this depth.
— Oiler Positives (@positives_oiler) August 1, 2019
However, it is tough to justify considering the Oilers as anything but a longshot to win the Western Conference, despite outpacing the rapidly improving Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks on the Western Conference odds at MyBookie.
Oilers Wager Not for the Faint of Heart, Coyotes Worth the Risk
The addition of Phil Kessel provides the Coyotes with the proven scorer they have been lacking to complement rising star Clayton Keller. In addition, a return to full health by forwards Christian Dvorak and Michael Grabner, and netminder Antti Raanta, as well as full seasons from forward Nick Schmaltz and blueliner Jakob Chychrun, place Arizona on a far faster track to respectability than the Oilers.
Arizona has an interesting mix of young and old forwards.
Veterans over 30:
Forwards under 24:
— CapFriendly Depth Charts (@CF_DepthCharts) July 2, 2019
The same is true in Vancouver, where the offseason acquisition of veterans JT Miller, Micheal Ferland, and Tyler Myers adds veteran depth to an impressive young core led by Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes.
Of course, the Oilers may be undervalued at +3750 – any team led by Connor McDavid would be.
But while taking Edmonton at that price does provide value , it is not a wager for the faint of heart. Indeed, the best value to be found among these three clubs, which finished just seven points apart in the standings last season, is with the Coyotes, who continue to sit near the bottom of the 2020 Western Conference odds at Bookmaker.eu as a lengthy +2500 bet.
Pick: Coyotes to win Western Conference (+2500 at Bookmaker.eu)
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