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$FML's NHL Playoffs Futures Pick - 4/17

NHL Playoffs kick off tonight and FastMoneyLabs is calling the Western Conference with these futures!

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Western Conference Futures Pick

The best NHL talent since Gretzky carried his club to the Western Conference Finals last year. It was glorious. Then Colorado drizzled wet snow on the fire, stomping Edmonton in 4 straight games. The rest is history (Colorado won the finals). Fast forward to now, and it’s a completely different ballgame. The West is wide open, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and Connor McDavid must be foaming at the mouth. He’s been waiting nine months for this moment, and I’m convinced he’s ready to seize it. Here’s why:

Scoring Depth

For the 1st time since drafting #97 1st Overall — the Oilers scored 261 goals by players not named Connor McDavid this year. That’s 2.63 per game of depth scoring. Layer on McDavid’s 0.78 per contest, and they’ve finally struck what feels like consistent, sustainable balance in the scoring department.

Goaltending

Edmonton signed Jack Campbell to stop the bleeding. It didn’t work, but the way Stuart Skinner’s playing lately, it might not matter. He’s been superior between the pipes all season, saving +0.141 goals above expected per 60 minutes (19th best). He enters tonight red hot in playoff form, posting a 14-1-1 record since March 1st, holding 5 straight opponents to 2 goals or less.

1st Round Health Advantage

The Kings signed standout winger Kevin Fiala last offseason to support their scoring efforts. It worked, as he ranked 2nd on the team in points (72) despite missing 13 games. Unfortunately for LA, Fiala missed the last 6 regular season games with a lower-body injury and has officially been ruled OUT for Game 1. It’s a significant loss, and it’s unclear when (or if) he’ll return. The Kings won just 7 of 13 games without Fiala this year. Against playoff teams, they were 1-4 without Fiala including 0-2 vs. Edmonton.

Home Ice Advantage

Edmonton secured the #2 seed in the West — effectively guaranteeing home ice advantage in Rounds 1-2. The only scenario where they lose home ice is a hypothetical Conference Finals vs. Vegas (#1 seed), and I’m not too worried about that. Edmonton’s been dominant in Sin City, posting a 5-1 record when visiting Vegas since 2019. In the last 2 seasons, they’re a perfect 4-0.

Final Thoughts

I think McDavid smells blood in the water. He’s coming off the best single season performance we’ve seen since 1989 (150 points) and finally has the supporting cast to make a run at a time when the West is wiiiide open. I’m not fully convinced they can win the Cup — the East is stacked — but I’m pretty damn confident they can make a run.

The data supports this pick, but I’m also following my gut. The best player on the planet will eventually make the Finals right?! And the path has never been clearer. I’m sprinkling accordingly with 2 different futures tickets!

The Picks:

Risk 0.50U: Edmonton Oilers to Win the West (+350)

Risk 0.25U: Connor McDavid Conn Smyth Trophy Winner* (+1100) *awarded to the MVP of the playoffs

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook

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