12 fearless value bets for the 2019-20 NHL season

What even is a bold prediction? Given the unpredictable nature of the NHL these days, there really isn't a whole lot outside of the realm of possibility.

Last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning were one win short of an NHL regular-season record before being swept in the first round of the playoffs, the St. Louis Blues went from last place midway through the campaign to hoisting the Stanley Cup by the end of it, and Robin Lehner was nominated for the Vezina Trophy!

I have a feeling we're in for some more chaos this year, so let's get wild with these fearless value bets for the 2019-20 NHL season:

1. The Sharks win the Stanley Cup (25-1)

Erik Karlsson is healthy, players are taking discount deals to stay with the team, and the Sharks bring back pretty much the entirety of the core that reached the conference finals last season. So why is everyone writing them off? This is the year it all comes together for San Jose. They win the franchise's first Stanley Cup as Joe Thornton sails off into the sunset.

2. The Panthers win the Eastern Conference (9-1)

The Panthers already had an excellent core in place led by Hart Trophy candidate Aleksander Barkov, and now they finally have the goaltending after signing two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky. Brett Connolly, Noel Acciari, and Anton Stralman provide excellent depth, but the greatest offseason acquisition was that of Joel Quenneville. The three-time Stanley Cup-winning coach is the man to finally put it all together for the perennially underachieving Panthers.

3. The Hurricanes win the Metro Division (4-1)

One of the best teams over the second half of last season, the Hurricanes are incredibly deep on the back end, and the Jake Gardiner signing proves to be a bargain. Andrei Svechnikov doubles his goal tally in his sophomore season, while Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen take another leap forward in their development. Rod Brind'Amour is an excellent coach, and I think Carolina gets a strong season out of Petr Mrazek.

Gregg Forwerck / National Hockey League / Getty

4. The Canucks make the playoffs (9-5), Flames miss the playoffs (2-1), Jets miss the playoffs (10-13)

The future is incredibly bright for the Canucks with Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes, but so is their present. Jacob Markstrom holds down the fort before Thatcher Demko takes over with a monster second half between the pipes to sneak Vancouver into the playoffs for the first time since 2014-15, becoming the only Canadian team in the Western Conference to make the playoffs.

The Flames regress after getting career years from Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, and Mark Giordano, while neither Cam Talbot nor David Rittich take the reigns in net.

Dustin Byfuglien will likely suit up at some point this season, but the Jets need every minute they can get from him after losing Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot this offseason. Defensive depth is a massive issue for Winnipeg, which struggled down the stretch last season. That's a harbinger of things to come in 2019-20.

5. The Penguins miss the playoffs (8-5)

While many teams around them improved, the Penguins have to rely on an erratic Alex Galchenyuk and an overpaid Brandon Tanev to replace the offensively gifted Phil Kessel. Depth is lacking on the Penguins, which is even more concerning given the recent injury history of ageing stars Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. They barely made the postseason last year. This time around, for the first time since 2005-06 - Sidney Crosby's rookie season - Pittsburgh misses the playoffs. The Flyers finish third in the Metro, behind the Hurricanes and Capitals.

6. The Coyotes make the playoffs (6-5)

The Coyotes would've made the playoffs last year if not for injuries. Things are different this season: Phil Kessel brings his penchant for goals to the desert, Clayton Keller takes another step forward, they get a full season from Nick Schmaltz and Jason Demers, and Antti Raanta's return to health gives them a significantly underrated goalie tandem with Darcy Kuemper. With Rick Tocchet coaching up a storm, Arizona gets back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12, ending the league's second-longest playoff drought.

7. The Devils miss the playoffs (10-11), Islanders miss the playoffs (1-1), Rangers miss the playoffs (2-3)

New York and offseason hype go together better than Evgeny Kuznetsov and ... never mind. The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers are moving in the right direction, and they'll be playoff teams again in a New York minute, but it's too soon for them. Goaltending holds the Devils back, while the Rangers are too weak down the middle to be taken seriously. Regression is inevitable for the New York Islanders, who deserve to miss the playoffs for kicking Robin Lehner to the curb. For the first time since 1965-66, no New York area team makes the NHL playoffs.

8. The Blues miss the playoffs (5-2)

I have nothing but respect and admiration for Blues coach Craig Berube. But in a tough Central Division, with a target on their backs, I don't see how Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington is able to sustain anything close to a 1.89 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. He didn't even manage those numbers in the AHL. The Richmond Hill, Ontario native takes a step back as St. Louis struggles to find the consistency that got them to the playoffs last year, and finish fifth in the strongest division in hockey.

9. Nathan MacKinnon wins the Hart (14-1)

I can't say enough great things about MacKinnon. From his attitude to his ability, he's exactly the guy you want leading your team. McKinnon goes scorched earth on the NHL, finishing with a career-best 111 points, and the Avalanche, armed with their best roster in over 15 years, finish atop the Central Division.

Michael Martin / National Hockey League / Getty

10. Erik Karlsson wins the Norris (8-1)

Finally healthy, Karlsson finishes the season with a career-high 84 points and helps the Sharks finish atop the NHL, winning the award for the third time in his career. In doing so, he edges out compatriots Victor Hedman and John Klingberg, as three Swedish-born players are nominated for the Norris for the first time ever.

11. John Gibson wins the Vezina (26-1)

I'm higher on the Anaheim Ducks than most. They won't make the playoffs, but they'll be competitive. John Gibson is a big reason why, posting a career-best 2.05 GAA and .936 SV%. Gibson joins Bobrovsky (2012-13) as the only other goalie in the NHL's modern era to win the Vezina despite their team missing the playoffs.

12. Matthews wins the Rocket Richard (14-1)

In one of the most fascinating Rocket Richard races in years, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews narrowly edges out Alex Ovechkin and Alex DeBrincat, as three players score 50 goals for the first time since 2009-10. Matthews plays 80 games for the first time since his rookie season and hits the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career. Matthews pots two in the final game of the season to finish with 52 goals, while Ovechkin tallies 51 for a second consecutive season, and DeBrincat reaches the landmark for the first time in his young career.

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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Boeser cleared for Canucks’ season opener

Brock Boeser is good to go.

The young Vancouver Canucks forward and teammate Oscar Fantenberg have been cleared to play in the team's season opener Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers, Canucks general manager Jim Benning told reporters Monday.

Both players were injured on hits in a preseason win over the Ottawa Senators on Sept. 23. Boeser entered concussion protocol after being checked from behind by Senators forward Chris Tierney.

The American winger returned to practice Saturday.

Boeser signed a three-year, $17.63-million contract with the Canucks as a restricted free agent on Sept. 16.

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NHL Power Rankings: Lightning, Bruins hungry for redemption

This is the first edition of theScore's NHL Power Rankings for 2019-20. Check back for updated rankings every second Monday during the regular season.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning

Last year's infamous first-round sweep was a massive disappointment, but the Lightning remain as deep and dangerous as they were during a historically dominant 2018-19 regular season. Tampa Bay still boasts the NHL's most potent roster, and thus begins the season as the prohibitive Stanley Cup favorite.

2. Boston Bruins

The Bruins came within one win of the Stanley Cup in June and return for 2019-20 with the core intact. After extending blue-liners Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, the reigning Eastern Conference champions are well-positioned for another deep run.

3. St. Louis Blues

Though few expect the Blues to repeat, the defending champs also enter the new campaign with virtually the same core that won a title this past spring. The acquisition of Justin Faulk raises some questions, but it does give the team even more defensive depth. St. Louis remains a well-rounded club with strength in all three positional groups.

4. San Jose Sharks

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San Jose lost some firepower over the summer but still has plenty of it. With Erik Karlsson now signed for the long haul and Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc both inked at reasonable rates, the Sharks are once again poised to be one of the NHL's top clubs.

5. Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights will be as motivated as any team in 2019-20 after last season's controversial first-round exit. Trading away cap casualties Nikita Gusev and Colin Miller might sting, but Vegas still boasts a dangerous top six, a solid top four on the blue line, and the ever-dependable Marc-Andre Fleury in the crease.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs

With Mitch Marner's contract situation resolved, the Maple Leafs again enter the season with one of the league's most talented stables of forwards. Will the defense-bolstering addition of Tyson Barrie and continued development of the young core be enough to get them over the first-round hump this spring?

7. Calgary Flames

The Flames got their own high-profile restricted free agent, Matthew Tkachuk, signed to a new deal last week, but a few questions loom large: Can David Rittich shoulder a starter's workload in net? Can Mark Giordano avoid a big regression? Will Milan Lucic make a positive impact following the worst season of his NHL career?

8. Nashville Predators

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Matt Duchene should help improve the league's worst powerplay of 2018-19. P.K. Subban is gone, but Predators general manager David Poile felt comfortable making that trade partly because of what he's seen from Dante Fabbro. Nashville's vaunted blue line likely won't be significantly worse this season.

9. Colorado Avalanche

An utterly fearsome top line, a potential Calder Trophy candidate in Cale Makar, and some new depth up front have the Avalanche poised to take a big step forward in 2019-20. Philipp Grubauer is going to exceed last season's career-high 37 appearances; if he can provide stability over the course of a full schedule, Colorado should be one of the NHL's most dangerous teams.

10. Carolina Hurricanes

There's been some turnover for the Hurricanes following their run to the Eastern Conference Final. The team will still ice one of the NHL's deepest defensive groups, however, as well as a trio of promising young forwards. "Storm Surge" or not, Carolina will be a tough out once again.

11. Washington Capitals

A first-round playoff exit followed by a fairly uneventful offseason in D.C. has cast some doubt on the Capitals' chances of returning to their 2017-2018 championship form. They'll be more intimidating, with Radko Gudas joining a team that already features Tom Wilson, but will that ultimately matter?

12. Dallas Stars

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Stars could be legitimate contenders in 2019-20. If Jamie Benn can get back on track and Miro Heiskanen takes another step forward in his development, Dallas should improve on last season's wild-card finish and make some noise come playoff time.

13. Florida Panthers

What a difference an offseason makes. Sure, the Panthers didn't get Artemi Panarin, but Sergei Bobrovsky and new head coach Joel Quenneville should turn Florida into a quasi-contender before long, especially considering the talent already on the roster.

14. Pittsburgh Penguins

Changes were clearly coming for the Penguins after they were swept out of the first round in the spring, but general manager Jim Rutherford raised eyebrows when he traded Phil Kessel for Alex Galchenyuk and signed Brandon Tanev to a six-year deal. The Penguins' window isn't closed yet, but it's starting to slide shut.

15. New Jersey Devils

The Devils already possessed a solid collection of talent before putting together an incredible offseason. Adding P.K. Subban, Jack Hughes, and Nikita Gusev to a group that includes Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and Kyle Palmieri all but ensures this New Jersey squad will be much better than the one that finished with the NHL's third-worst record in 2018-19.

16. Winnipeg Jets

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Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor are back in the fold, but Dustin Byfuglien's future is still up in the air and the Jets' defense is depleted regardless of whether the hulking blue-liner returns. Winnipeg has the talent to remain competitive, but this team will be in tough keeping pace in the ultra-tight Central Division.

17. Montreal Canadiens

Montreal only missed the playoffs by two points and had incredible underlying numbers throughout the year. An infusion of new young talent in Nick Suzuki and Ryan Poehling combined with healthy seasons from Carey Price and Shea Weber could be enough to get the Habs over the hump this time around.

18. New York Islanders

The Islanders had a relatively quiet summer - aside from losing their best player from a season ago. Is Semyon Varlamov reliable enough to mask New York's deficiencies as effectively as Robin Lehner did? Time will tell.

19. New York Rangers

Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko, Jacob Trouba, and Adam Fox. How the Rangers' new players impact their playoff chances remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Things just got way more entertaining on Broadway.

20. Philadelphia Flyers

Len Redkoles / National Hockey League / Getty

It was a busy offseason in Philly. The Flyers hired a new coach, signed Kevin Hayes to one of the summer's most lucrative free-agent contracts, and made a pair of trades to shore up the blue line. Most importantly, though, goaltender Carter Hart had a .982 save percentage in the preseason and remains this squad's best hope for a postseason appearance.

21. Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks will be an interesting team to watch this year. Jeremy Colliton has a full season to make his mark and a few new pieces at his disposal. That said, he has his work cut out for him as this aging roster eyes a playoff berth in the stacked Central.

22. Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes came within four points of the playoffs in 2018-19 despite being ravaged by injuries. With a healthy roster and Phil Kessel in the mix, Arizona might be good enough to squeak in this time.

23. Vancouver Canucks

Expectations are high in Vancouver as the Canucks look to take a step forward this season. The young core is talented, and the front office added J.T. Miller, Micheal Ferland, and Tyler Myers to help build a more complete roster. Anything less than a stake in the wild-card race will be a disappointment.

24. Buffalo Sabres

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General manager Jason Botterill has made a series of shrewd moves to bolster the Sabres' blue line, but offensive depth remains a serious concern. It's tough to see how this club makes noise in the Atlantic relying solely on the contributions of Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner.

25. Edmonton Oilers

Speaking of lackluster offensive depth, the Oilers seemed destined to repeat last year's playoff miss unless Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl (once again) put together some truly stellar numbers.

26. Minnesota Wild

Minnesota is a team stuck in the middle, but with good health, the Wild could be sneaky. The club's veteran forwards are still quietly productive and the blue line remains solid. The lack of star power might be an issue, though, especially in the Central.

27. Columbus Blue Jackets

If the Blue Jackets are to make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year, they'll have to do so through hard work and grit. Columbus lost too much talent this summer to be considered a true threat, but it'd be unwise to discount John Tortorella's ability to rally his troops.

28. Anaheim Ducks

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The Ducks are in the midst of a retool but still have a handful of quality pieces. If Dallas Eakins is the right fit behind the bench and John Gibson does what John Gibson does in goal, maybe Anaheim can surprise.

29. Los Angeles Kings

Outside of Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, the Kings are running seriously low on talent. Another high draft pick is the best-case scenario in Hollywood this season.

30. Detroit Red Wings

Steve Yzerman's first year back in Motown is likely to be a long one as the Red Wings' rebuild is still in its infancy. At least Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha should be fun to watch.

31. Ottawa Senators

The Senators sold all their veterans last season and enter the 2019-20 campaign in true scorched-earth form. The wins will be few and far between, but there are some nice pieces to develop this year. Brady Tkachuk, Erik Brannstrom, Thomas Chabot, and Drake Batherson comprise a genuinely promising young core in Ottawa.

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Laine betting on himself with new deal: ‘I’m going to score a lot of goals’

Patrik Laine is ready to get back to filling opponents' nets over the next two years.

After settling for a two-year, $13.5-million bridge deal with the Winnipeg Jets last week, the Finnish forward is betting on himself to return to his scoring ways.

"I know I'll be good for the next two years," Laine told reporters Monday. "I'm going to score a lot of goals, that's for sure.

"I've always trusted myself ... I'm gonna be betting on myself these two years."

Despite scoring 30 goals last season, Laine's year was widely seen as a disappointment. Eighteen of those tallies came in the month of November, and issues with his 200-foot game became more clear during the season.

"You can always be better, always room to improve," Laine added. "Just play better five-on-five and help my team to win."

The 21-year-old has scored 110 goals in 237 games since being taken second overall in the 2016 NHL Draft.

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Sprong, Gagner, Baertschi among 39 waived players

Daniel Sprong, Sam Gagner, and Sven Baertschi were among a slew of NHLers placed on waivers Monday, the penultimate day before the start of the 2019-20 regular season.

Here's the list of all 39 players waived by their respective clubs:

Team Player Position
ANA Sam Carrick F
ANA Daniel Sprong F
BOS Peter Cehlarik F
BUF Remi Elie F
BUF Curtis Lazar F
BUF Casey Nelson D
BUF Scott Wilson F
CAR Clark Bishop F
CAR Anton Forsberg G
CAR Gustav Forsling D
CBJ Marko Dano F
CGY Alan Quine F
CHI Carl Dahlstrom D
COL Jayson Megna F
EDM Sam Gagner F
EDM Brandon Manning D
MIN J.T. Brown F
NJ Matt Tennyson D
NSH Miikka Salomaki F
NSH Steven Santini D
NYI Tanner Fritz F
NYI Thomas Hickey D
NYI Josh Ho-Sang F
NYR Cristoval Nieves F
PIT Casey DeSmith G
TB Luke Schenn D
TOR Kenny Agostino F
TOR Kevin Gravel D
TOR Nicolas Petan F
TOR Garrett Wilson F
VAN Sven Baertschi F
VAN Alex Biega D
VAN Nikolay Goldobin F
WPG Eric Comrie G
WPG JC Lipon F
WPG Nelson Nogier D
WSH Christian Djoos D
WSH Liam O'Brien F
WSH Michael Sgarbossa F

Sprong tallied 14 goals in only 47 games for the Anaheim Ducks last season.

Gagner, the Edmonton Oilers' sixth overall pick in 2007, collected 10 points in 25 contests for the club in 2018-19 after being acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

Baertschi produced nine goals and 14 points in 26 games with the Canucks in 2018-19. He's spent parts of five seasons with Vancouver after beginning his career with the Calgary Flames.

The New York Islanders raised eyebrows earlier Monday when general manager Lou Lamoriello revealed Josh Ho-Sang and Thomas Hickey would be placed on waivers.

Casey DeSmith was the Pittsburgh Penguins' backup goaltender last season and posted a .916 save percentage in 36 contests.

The Tampa Bay Lightning waived Luke Schenn on Monday after signing him to a one-year, $700,000 contract on July 1.

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Seattle’s AHL team to play in Palm Springs

Seattle has found a home for its AHL team.

The newest NHL team has been awarded an AHL expansion franchise that will be located in Palm Springs, California, the league announced on Monday.

"Palm Springs has all the makings of an outstanding hockey market, and will further strengthen the growing base of our sport in California," AHL CEO David Andrews said.

The AHL's 32nd team will begin play in fall 2021.

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NHL partners with Green Day

The NHL is entering a two-year, cross-platform marketing and promotional partnership with the band Green Day, the league announced Monday.

Green Day's new song, "Fire, Ready, Aim," will serve as the opening theme for NBCSN's Wednesday Night Hockey, which debuts on Oct. 9 when the New Jersey Devils take on Philadelphia Flyers.

The song will also be featured on NHL on NBC broadcasts throughout the 2019-20 season.

Green Day will have music from their upcoming album "Father Of All ..." featured throughout the NHL, including game highlights, in-arena content, and on television partners' platforms.

The league also announced that the group will perform at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis on Jan. 25.

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Islanders placing Ho-Sang on waivers

Josh Ho-Sang couldn't crack the New York Islanders' opening-day roster.

The Islanders are placing Ho-Sang, Thomas Hickey, and Tanner Fritz on waivers, general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters Monday.

Ho-Sang, the 28th overall pick in the 2014 draft, made his NHL debut in 2017 and has appeared in just 53 games for the Islanders, recording 24 points.

The 23-year-old has spent the majority of his pro career in the AHL, where he's appeared in 156 games and racked up 26 goals and 110 points.

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Sharks’ Kane calls linesman’s actions ‘an absolute joke’

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane made it clear he wasn't happy with how he was treated by the officials in Sunday night's heated preseason contest against the Vegas Golden Knights.

"It's funny how, if you look at the way I get treated out there when it comes to the scrums or whatever it may be, what the other team's trying to do to me, there's a massive difference compared to everybody else on the ice," Kane said postgame, according to the Mercury News' Curtis Pashelka. "I've never seen, I get kicked out of the game for getting jumped from behind by a referee (Kiel Murchison)."

Kane was ejected following an altercation Sunday with Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland and linesman Murchison.

With about eight minutes remaining in the third period, Kane slashed Murchison in an apparent attempt to whack Engelland. Moments later, Murchison skated over to further separate the two players and brought Kane down to the ice.

"I've never seen the refs take five strides and if you look at his face, he's getting all his power and trying to drive me into the ice, which is what he did," Kane said. "That's unbelievable. Talk about abuse of an official, what about abuse of a player? It's an absolute joke."

The San Jose forward added that he wasn't given an adequate explanation for why he was ejected.

"I have no idea, and then I got kicked out of the game," he said. "I was just skating up the ice. Whistle went, minding my own business, and next thing you know, I'm driven into the ice by the official for doing nothing. I wasn't even engaged with one of their players. So you have to explain that to me how that makes any sense, how I get kicked out of the game for that. Baffling."

Kane's abuse of official penalty generally carries an automatic 10-game suspension, but that would need to be enforced by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who's unlikely to do so before Tuesday, TSN's Darren Dreger reports.

Sunday's 5-1 win by the Golden Knights featured 114 penalty minutes.

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