Did any team do more with less last year than the Anaheim Ducks? They won the Pacific Division with very little opposition, but the Ducks also posted a +10 goal differential. That was only good enough for fourth in the Pacific, and ninth overall in the Western Conference; Anaheim wouldn't even have qualified for the playoffs if goal differential had been the determining factor.

Despite that, Anaheim has the shortest odds of any division favourite this year at +160. The Pacific isn't what it used to be, but it's going to be very difficult for the Ducks to replicate last year's results without a sharp increase in performance. Betting them on the puck line is not advisable, after they dropped 29.57 units last year at 30-52 ATS. The Ducks could still make noise in the playoffs; they've got the means to make aggressive moves at the trade deadline. Defending the Pacific crown is a much lesser priority.

The Contenders

Everyone is waiting for the Los Angeles Kings (+275 to win the Pacific) to make their inevitable comeback after missing last season’s playoffs. They've won two of the last four Stanley Cups under head coach Darryl Sutter, and they had a better goal differential than Anaheim last year at +15. The Kings went 13-9-15 in games decided by one goal, while the Ducks went 32-1-7. Maybe the new 3-on-3 overtime format will help Los Angeles make up the deficit.

There is a very steep decline in Pacific talent once you get past the two SoCal teams. The Calgary Flames (+600), Edmonton Oilers (+650), Vancouver Canucks (+700) and San Jose Sharks (+700) all leave plenty to be desired; the Canucks are particularly vulnerable, with the club engaged in a de facto rebuilding process after trading goaltender Eddie Lack and defenseman Kevin Bieksa for draft picks.

And then you have the Arizona Coyotes (+3500). This franchise is in limbo after finishing dead last in the West and losing out on both Connor McDavid (who went to Edmonton) and Jack Eichel at the draft, thanks to the lottery. Arizona still has some good prospects in the pipeline, but it's very likely the Coyotes will go in the tank and try their chances at next year's draft, where Scottsdale's own Auston Matthews projects as the No. 1 overall pick.

BET ON NHL FUTURES  

 

*Odds as of October 1, 2015