If they keep playing like this, it's only a matter of time before the New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup. They made deep runs into the playoffs in each of Alain Vigneault's two years as head coach, and this year, the Rangers are one of two teams tied at +1200 to win the Cup. Four teams have shorter odds: the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks (+650), the Tampa Bay Lightning (+900), the Anaheim Ducks (also +900) and the Los Angeles Kings (+1100).

Winning the Metropolitan Division again would be a good start. New York was the cream of the crop last year with 53 wins and 113 points, posting the best winning margin in the NHL at +0.74 goals per game. That was good enough to hammer the puck line for 14.12 betting units at 44-38 ATS. The Rangers are favoured at +240 to take the Metro again this year, but it won't be easy.

The Contenders

There are three teams with legitimate claims to the Metro crown. The Pittsburgh Penguins are the second-favourites at +325; they've got all the talent in the world, including Sidney Crosby, but good health has evaded the Penguins the past four seasons. The Washington Capitals are making a push at +450 after signing Justin Williams and trading for TJ Oshie. And the New York Islanders (+475) hope their move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn will pay off.

It's harder to tell whether the Columbus Blue Jackets (+650) are ready to take the next step and join the Metropolitan elite. They've got one of the league's more enigmatic goalies in Sergei Bobrovsky, who has declined gradually since winning the Vezina Trophy in 2012-2013, his first year in Columbus. The Jackets have re-stocked their system in two years under new GM Jarmo Kekalainen, so if Bobrovsky holds up, this could be a very profitable sleeper pick.

The talent level in the Metro drops off quickly from there. The Philadelphia Flyers (+1200), New Jersey Devils (+1400) and Carolina Hurricanes (+2200) are all in some stage of rebuilding, with the Flyers and Devils hiring new head coaches in Dave Hakstol and John Hynes, respectively. Carolina appears to be in the best position of these three teams as they enter Year Two under Bill Peters. They might not win the Metro, but the 'Canes could win more games than they lose this season.



*Odds as of October 1, 2015