English Premier League
We are right in the middle of the 2022-2023 NHL season, and with the All-Star break in the rearview mirror, there will be plenty of people looking to enter the futures market at the halfway point. There is almost always value on the board, it's just about finding where that value lies and getting the best number possible on a team or player that can improve on that number.
Today, we have a massive sleeper that could make a second half push for a playoff berth.
In the Eastern Conference, there are several teams you think of right away that are going to be massive favorites to make the playoffs. The Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers are all staples of the playoffs over the past few seasons, and they likely will be again barring some sort of second half collapse. While I don't see that happening for any of those teams listed above, there are a few teams right now that I think could fall apart in the second half of the season, which opens the gate for some other teams that aren't in position right now to swoop in and grab that final Wild Card berth for the 2023 NHL Playoffs. One of those teams is the Ottawa Senators, who I think a lot of people wrote off too early.
There are a lot of things to like about the Senators, but of course, there is a reason they haven't been in contention up to this point. One of their biggest issues has been puck luck, which they have had almost zero of so far this season. Ottawa is actually taking 33.6 shots on goal per game, which is one of the highest numbers in the NHL, and yet they are only scoring 3.00 goals per game. Most teams with that many shots are scoring at least 3.25 or more goals per game, but they have certainly gotten the short end of the stick up to this point. In terms of defense and goaltending, they have been solid enough to where there is reason to believe they can make a push. The Senators are allowing 31.8 shots per game, which definitely isn't an ideal number, but their goaltending has been doing a decent job at making stops. They allow 3.18 goals per game, just over NHL average, and they have a chance to improve both those numbers over the second half.
Taking a look at the rest of the teams that will be competing with them for this spot, I believe their biggest contender will be the Florida Panthers. Right now, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins hold the two Wild Card spots. I think Washington can hold on to one of those spots, but I'm not so sure about the Penguins. They allow a whopping 34.1 shots per game, one of the highest numbers allowed by any NHL team. That type of defense might come back to haunt them at some point, and I'm banking on it.
Besides them, the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, and Florida Panthers stand in the way as well. As I mentioned earlier, I think Florida stands as the biggest threat to them to possibly make a push for that spot. The Panthers are a fantastic offensive juggernaut, scoring 3.47 goals per game and getting 35.9 shots on goal on average, but have suffered by very poor defense and goaltending. If they can fix those issues, watch out for them to make a run as well, but the value with Ottawa is even greater.
No one is talking about the Senators, but they are one of just a few teams in the league that have a positive shot differential but is currently out of playoff contention. If some teams like the Penguins, Islanders and Sabres are somewhat fraudulent like I think they are, we could see Ottawa make a second-half push.
At 20/1 just for them to make the playoffs, I think that is a great value to sprinkle a little money on.