The bookies are betting on big things for Tampa Bay, Toronto, Winnipeg and Nashville this season, not so much for Detroit, Ottawa and Vancouver. The gambling site Bodog has released its over/under point projections for the NHL's 31 teams in 2018-19, with the Lightning, Leafs, Jets and Preds expected to battle for the Presidents' Trophy.
The over/under point projections have been broken down by conference, with my best guess on whether each team will be OVER or UNDER their anticipated total.
Tampa Bay Lightning: 107.5 points
OVER. They set a franchise record with 113 points last season, they're led by a young core that's still on the rise and they have trade-deadline pickups Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller for the entire season this time around. They're only getting better.
Toronto Maple Leafs: 106.5 points
OVER. They had 105 points last season and they added John Tavares. Enough said.
Pittsburgh Penguins: 103.5 points
OVER. But not by much. The Penguins will be one the best teams in the East again this season, but they're a veteran outfit that knows to save itself for the playoffs when things get real.
Boston Bruins: 102.5 points
UNDER. Boston put up a whopping 112 points last year, but were in the 95-point range in each of the three previous seasons. Get ready for a market correction.
Philadelphia Flyers: 98.5 points
UNDER. There's a lot to like about the Flyers up front, less so on defense and in net.
Washington Capitals: 98.5 points
OVER. The defending champions deserve 100-point respect.
Columbus Blue Jackets: 97.5 points
OVER. Two of their best players, pending UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, have signalled they might not stick around Columbus for the long term, and you never know when players will start tuning out John Tortorella's megaphone. So yes, there are warning signs, but the Blue Jackets also have an enviable depth of talent and this team is due, due, due.
Florida Panthers: 94.5 points
OVER. Young and talented lineup is poised to contend for playoff spot, and a healthy Roberto Luongo would go a long way towards making that a reality.
New Jersey Devils: 91.5 points
UNDER. Let's call it growing pains and a reality check on Cory Schneider.
Carolina Hurricanes: 84.5 points
OVER. The blueline is the bedrock, the forward corps is the question mark, the goaltending is the crockpot.
New York Islanders: 83.5 points
UNDER. They had 80 points last season and they lost John Tavares. Enough said.
Montreal Canadiens: 80.5 points
UNDER. Carey Price is coming off his worst season, captain Max Pacioretty is on the trade block and Shea Weber is out until December. That's a lot to overcome for a less-than-impressive roster.
Buffalo Sabres: 79.5 points
UNDER. They're better on paper, but I'm not taking the over on the Sabres until they prove it on the ice.
Detroit Red Wings: 75.5 points
UNDER. And maybe way under.
New York Rangers: 75.5 points
UNDER. New York wasn't rebuilt in a day.
Ottawa Senators: 71.5 points
UNDER. And maybe way under, especially if Erik Karlsson is traded early in the season.
Winnipeg Jets: 106.5 points
OVER. To pun it planely, it's all blue sky for the high-flying Jets as they're cleared for takeoff and ready to soar.
Nashville Predators: 105.5 points
OVER. Only Winnipeg stands in their way in the West.
San Jose Sharks: 97.5 points
OVER. Their past three seasons have produced 98, 99 and 100 points. Put 'em down for 101.
Anaheim Ducks: 96.5 points
OVER. There are questions up front, such as Ryan Kesler's long-term status and Corey Perry's plummeting goal totals, but there's star power, too, and young gunners on the way. The defense is full of promise and John Gibson has emerged as a frontline No. 1 in net.
St. Louis Blues: 96.5 points
OVER. They had 94 points last season and improved over the summer, specifically at forward with incoming veterans Ryan O'Reilly, Tyler Bozak, David Perron and Patrick Maroon.
Vegas Golden Knights: 96.5 points
UNDER. Sequels are never as good as the original.
Minnesota Wild: 95.5 points
UNDER. Someone's going to get pushed down the standings in the wild West, and it might be the Wild.
Dallas Stars: 94.5 points
OVER. These guys are all over the place. But they've got some high-end pieces. I'll take the bait and send the Stars to the playoffs.
Los Angeles Kings: 93.5 points
OVER. They added Ilya Kovalchuk and didn't lose anyone of significance. That should mean they won't be any worse than last season's 98-point output, right?
Calgary Flames 93.5 points
OVER. If the results match expectations, the revamped Flames are ready to leap up the standings.
Edmonton Oilers: 91.5 points
UNDER. They've missed the playoffs 11 times in the past 12 seasons, exceeding 88 points only once in that span. So, yeah, we're going to need to see the proof of purchase, please.
Colorado Avalanche: 90.5 points
UNDER. What goes up, must come down. Especially when you're an Avalanche.
Chicago Blackhawks: 84.5 points
UNDER. Toews and Kane and pray for rain.
Arizona Coyotes: 80.5 points
UNDER. They should more closely resemble the team that finished strongly than the one that started terribly last season. But they're also Buffalo West – or Edmonton South, if you prefer – so we need to see some winning results before buying in.
Vancouver Canucks: 77.5 points
UNDER. Incoming rookie Elias Pettersson won just about everything he could in Europe and on the international stage last season. He should get prepared for a very different experience in his first NHL go-around, although the Calder Trophy is within his grasp.