New York Sportsbooks May Be Underestimating Islanders Early in NHL Season

Posted on October 25, 2019 - Last Updated on January 15, 2020

The young 2019-20 season has been much more kind to the New York Islanders than the New York Rangers so far. Despite that, New York sportsbook NHL odds still put the two franchises in the same tier of contenders.

While there’s room for sportsbooks to adjust odds as the season goes along, the Islanders appear to be a good value pick if they can continue to play as they have been. So far, they’ve been exceeding expectations.

New York sportsbook NHL odds on both NY teams

Sportsbook operators who have partnered with New York casinos like DraftKings, FanDuel and Rivers have lines posted on futures for the Islanders and Rangers. Despite the Islanders’ good start and the Rangers’ slow beginning, there isn’t much separation between the teams yet.

Odds on the Islanders winning the Stanley Cup at these three books currently sit at:

  • DraftKings: +5000
  • FanDuel: +3200
  • Rivers: +5000

The same futures for the Rangers at those three books are:

  • DraftKings: +75000
  • FanDuel: +3600
  • Rivers: +7500

FanDuel also has the Islanders +1000 to win the Metropolitan Division, which both teams are a part of. The Rangers are +1400 on that bet.

The biggest space between the two teams at FanDuel is on futures for the Eastern Conference crown. The Islanders sit at +1600 while the Rangers are +2900 at that book. DraftKings and Rivers mirror that with a +3000 line on the Islanders and a +4000 on the Rangers.

While those odds may be well-warranted for the Rangers given what we’ve seen of them so far, it’s hard to argue the same for the Islanders. The Islanders look like a steal right now.

Why sportsbooks may have underestimated the Islanders

Currently sitting in wild-card position with 10 points through eight games, the Islanders might be one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season. That’s largely due to stalwart defense.

Only three teams have allowed fewer goals so far this season. Eight games may not be enough to argue that the Islanders have one of the best defensive units in the league in 2019-20, but the potential is certainly there.

Both of the Islanders’ options in goal, Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov, have played well so far. While their stats aren’t blowing anyone away, the 2.21 and 2.54 goals against averages are solid.

Perhaps most impressive, however, has been the Islanders’ power play. The Islanders have cashed in on a third of their chances so far, although they have had the fewest opportunities in the league.

The percentage is a dramatic turnaround from 2018-19, when the Islanders ranked 27th out of 31 teams in power-play percentage. If they can increase their opportunities, this can be a dangerous weapon to accompany their stifling blue line.

A player who has also experienced a turnaround from last season is center Anthony Beauvillier. Beauvillier has six points through eight games, an improvement on 2018-19 when it took him 18 games to reach the same level.

What the Islanders need to do to stay competitive

The priority for the Islanders has to be getting better at finding the back of the net at even strength and improving their penalty kill. If they can improve in those areas while staying healthy and building on their strengths, they are a contender in the Metropolitan Division.

None of the numbers look as good for the Rangers. They sit at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with seven points through five games.

If the Islanders can keep separating themselves from the Rangers in the standings, sportsbooks will eventually start to reflect that in their odds. The good price on the Islanders may not last long, so savvy bettors may want to get in on these futures bet while they can.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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