NHL Vegas props are up at Station Casinos

NHL Vegas props are up at Station Casinos

June 28, 2016 3:01 AM
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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman If you didn’t know better, you might think the hockey oddsmakers out here had gotten a little too caught up in the hoopla over Las Vegas’ new NHL team.

Not only did they quiet concerns over whether they would be able to book games involving Nevada’s first major pro sports franchise by immediately coming out with odds, they also made a statement as to the potential competitiveness of this expansion club in its inaugural season.

Almost faster than you could drop a puck, Station Casinos (Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch, Sunset Station, etc.) released an over-under bet on the total points this Vegas team will finish with over the 82-game schedule in 2017-18, its debut season.

That total: 72.5.

If you only looked back at the history of expansion teams in the National Hockey League, you probably would run to the counter and bet the under, assuming you didn’t mind tying up your money for the next, oh, 22 months or so.

After all, the average point total for the last nine expansion teams, going back to 1991, was 56.8 points.

Here’s the breakdown:

Columbus (2000): 71 points;

Minnesota (2000): 68;

Atlanta (1999): 39;

Nashville (1998): 63;

Florida (1993): 83;

Anaheim (1993): 71;

Ottawa (1992): 24;

Tampa Bay (1992): 53;

San Jose (1991): 39.

What’s more, consider that over the last 10 full seasons (dating back to 2005-06, the first year after a lockout forced the cancellation of an entire season, and not including 2012-13 when another work stoppage reduced the schedule to 48 games), there have been a total of 30 established teams that finished with fewer than 73 points.

Here’s that breakdown, which includes at least one every year:

2015-16: Toronto (69) and Edmonton (70);

2014-15: Buffalo (54), Arizona (56), Edmonton (62), Toronto (68) and Carolina (71);

2013-14: Buffalo (52), Florida (66) and Edmonton (67);

2011-12: Columbus (65);

2010-11: Edmonton (62), Colorado (68), Florida (72);

2009-10: Edmonton (62);

2008-09: New York Islanders (61), Tampa Bay (66) and Colorado (69);

2007-08: Tampa Bay (71) and Los Angeles (71);

2006-07: Philadelphia (56), Phoenix (67), Los Angeles (68), Washington (70), Edmonton (71) and Chicago (71);

2005-06: St. Louis (57), Pittsburgh (58), Chicago (65) and Washington (70).

In other words, Las Vegas is projected for more points in its first year than the Oilers have finished with in five of the last six seasons. That not only speaks to the ineptness in Edmonton but also how the NHL has put a system in place to give Las Vegas the ideal opportunity to at least be competitive from the very beginning, seemingly much more so than in the past with other expansion teams.

On June 21, 2017, Vegas’ selections in the expansion draft are scheduled to be revealed. Existing teams will have two options on protecting players: Either one goalie, seven forwards and three defensemen, or one goalie and eight skaters (either forwards or defensemen).

The option gives teams with four quality defensemen a chance to keep all of them but at the risk of being able to protect two fewer players overall.

Las Vegas, meanwhile, will end up with a total of 30 players, one from each existing team. They must draft three goalies, nine defensemen and 14 forwards of the 30. As a result, Vegas should end up with either a No. 4 or 5 defenseman, a No. 6 or 7 forward, or a decent goalie off the roster of every other team.

In past expansions, a new team was more likely to end up with a No. 5 or 6 defenseman or a fourth-line forward. This is why there’s so much optimism for Las Vegas’ team from Day 1.

It’s unlikely they will break the expansion record of those 83 points set by the Florida Panthers more than two decades ago. The Panthers missed the playoffs by only one point by implementing coach Roger Neilson’s trap defensive system, which was incredibly boring and widely criticized for ruining a good game but, obviously, also very effective.

The Vegas team undoubtedly will be built around the back line with the focus in the expansion draft expected to be on selecting the top No. 4 defensemen around.

It’s the best approach both long term and short term, and it’s why the season-point total has been set as high as it has been for a new team.

Call me a new-found homer, but I’m going OVER.

Dave Dye is a former sportswriter for the Detroit News and FoxSportsDetroit.com. He has covered six Stanley Cup Finals, five Final Fours, three NBA Finals, three Rose Bowls and one World Series. Twitter: @Dyedave Email: DaveDye@GamingToday.com