NHL Futures – Grading the Eastern Conference Contenders

15. Florida Panthers (+6000 to win Eastern Conference)
Talk to me in five years when Dave Tallon has built a great team and gets fired again for no apparent reason.

14. New York Islanders (+5000 to win Eastern Conference)
Rick DiPietro should be the poster boy for why you don’t sign players for 736 year contracts. Double Penetration has managed to play in 138 games out of a possible 328 since signing his mammoth contract in 2006. Talk about value!

13. Carolina Hurricanes (+4000 to win Eastern Conference)
I know nothing about this team, nor do I care about hockey in this neck of the country. That’s about the only thing I have in common with the six Hurricanes fans who bet on this team.

12. New York Rangers (+4000 to win Eastern Conference)
Henrik Lundqvist is wasting away with the Rangers, and the only reason I don’t feel sorry for him is because he gets to live in the Manhatten area. The Rangers won’t be an Eastern Conference contender in NHL futures until Chris Drury and Wade Redden’s deals expire.

11. Atlanta Thrashers (+4000 to win Eastern Conference)
Usually we have a vague idea about what a team is capable of based on their identity as a team. Either they’re a finesse first team, a brutally physical roster or a defensively minded stalwart. I have no idea which group the Thrashers fall in to. That about sums up their NHL future.

10. Toronto Maple Leafs (+2500)
Brian Burke refusing to do up his tie is just as annoying as a 30-year old Tony Romo wearing a backwards hat. Didn’t think I could sneak in a Romosexual bashing opportunity in a hockey column did you?

9. Buffalo Sabres (+1800)
The Sabres are the epitome of a no-name team performing admirably because they never have a number-one guy. They’re a matchup nightmare for teams because they make lineup assignments difficult for opposing coaches. A worthy bet if you really hate the Capitals and Penguins.

8. Tampa Bay Lightning (+1800)
There’s everything to love about this offense with St. Louis, Stamkos and Lecavlier but this defense is horrendous. You can’t win in the NHL as an offensively-heavy team, which makes them a “no-no” in NHL futures betting.

7. Ottawa Senators (+1500)
Daniel Alfredsson and Alexei Kovalev both turn 38-years old this year. It’s ok though. Sergei Gonchar is a spry 37-year old in comparison.

6. Montreal Canadiens (+1400)
You know what a bad sign for your hockey team is? Letting go of the horse you rode through last year’s playoffs (Halak) and seeing your fans boo the guy you replaced him with (Price) in preseason. It’s preseason and Montreal already hates their team! I’d love for a preseason riot. C’mon, Montreal. Sack up!

5. New Jersey Devils (+800)
Now that they’ve secured Ilya Kovalchuk through they year 2076, the Devils can focus on what they do best – letting down their fans. The high-flying Kovalchuk doesn’t fit in with what the Devils do defensively, and the rest of the team depends on him far too much to win games. I would expect nothing more and nothing less than a semi-finals loss this season from the Devils. Kovalchuk also cost a boat load of draft picks and prospects, and considering that the Devils are a team that builds through the draft better than anyone in the NHL, I’d say they’re dead in the water moving forward.

4. Boston Bruins (+800)
Boston’s hopes to be the upstart Eastern Conference champions will be bolstered when the Leafs hit the panic button this season and send all of their best assets to Bean Town. It’s already happened with Tyler Seguin and Tuukka Rask.

3. Philadelphia Flyers (+700)
Fantastically deep offense, physical defense and a hard-hitting fore-check make the Flyers a super attractive bet to edge the Capitals and Penguins. They were miracle workers last year when they burst in to the Stanley Cup Finals as a seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, so there’s nothing to suggest they can’t do it again. Well, aside from those that think Michael Leighton is a suspect goal tender.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (+325)
My favorite pick for the Eastern Conference in the NHL futures for all the reasons we’ve known for years (hint: the first reason starts with an “S” and ends with “idney Crosby”).

1. Washington Capitals (+250)
They’re built to win in the regular season, not the playoffs. That makes them an NHL futures death bringer.

Bet on the Eastern Conference NHL Futures here!