Golden Knights team to beat in Western Conference?
The Las Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season before falling in the first round last season. Can Las Vegas return to the Stanley Cup Finals this season as the favorites to do so in the Western Conference?
According to oddsmakers, the Golden Knights are favored to win the Western Conference at current odds of 7/2. The Colorado Avalanche come in next at 5/1, while three teams - the Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues - have odds of 8/1. A full list of teams can be found at our NHL Future Odds Page.
Las Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights took a step back last season as they finished the regular season 43-32-7 before bowing out in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs against San Jose as they blew a 3-1 series lead with a 5-4 overtime road loss in Game 7. Las Vegas returns a strong core that was balanced offensively with Jonathan Marchessault (25G, 34A), William Karlsson 24G, 32A), Reilly Smith (19G, 34A) and Alex Tuch (20G, 32A) leading the way. Back at goaltender will be veteran Marc-Andre Fleury after he finished 35-21-5 last season with a 2.51 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.
After finishing the regular season with a 38-30-14 record, the Avs took a major step forward in the playoffs as they downed top seed Calgary in five games before falling to San Jose in seven games in the semifinals with a 3-2 road loss in Game 7. Colorado boasts one of the NHL's best young players in Nathan MacKinnon as he will hope to build off a regular season in which he tallied 41 goals and 58 assists. Mikko Rantanen, who just agreed to a long-term extension is coming off a season with 31 goals and 56 assists. Gabriel Landeskog added 34 goals and 41 assists. Philipp Grubauer will handle No. 1 goalie duties after going 18-9-5 with a 2.64 GAA and .917 save percentage last season.
The Stars went 43-32-7 last season and won its first round playoff matchup in six games over Nashville. Dallas took eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis to seven games in the conference semifinals before losing a 2-1 heartbreaker in double overtime on the road to end its season. Tyler Seguin led the Stars in scoring last season with 33 goals and 47 assists, while Alexander Radulov accounted for 29 goals and 43 assists. Ben Bishop will return as starting goalie after a stellar 2018-19 campaign in which he went 27-15-2 with a 1.98 GAA and .934 save percentage.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks always seem to be on the brink but fall a bit short once the postseason comes around. Last year was no different as they went 46-27-9 during the regular season before rallying from a 3-1 deficit to down Las Vegas in seven games in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs. San Jose proceeded to top Colorado in seven games in the semifinals before losing in seven games to eventual champion St. Louis. Defenseman Brent Burns paced San Jose in the scoring department as he notched 16 goals and 67 assists, while Tomas Hertl tallied 35 goals and 39 assists. Logan Couture added 27 goals and 43 assists. Martin Jones resumes his role as starting goaltender after notching a 39-19-5 record, 2.94 GAA and .986 save percentage.
After a rough start to the season, the Blues called up rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington more than two months in and the rest was history. St. Louis ended up going 45-28-9 in the regular season and downed Winnipeg in six games in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs. The Blues then topped Dallas in seven games with a 2-1 double OT home win in Game 7 capping it off, while they then proceeded to best San Jose in six games in the conference finals. St. Louis finished it off by downing Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals, winning Game 7 by a count of 4-1 on the road. Binnington ended his regular season last year with a 24-5-1 record, 1.89 GAA and .927 save percentage and will get the majority of the starts between the pipes in 2019-20. Ryan O'Reilly led the Blues' offense with 28 goals and 49 assists before enjoying a fantastic postseason, while Vladimir Tarasenko contributed 33 goals and 35 assists.