No matter what point you’re at during an NHL season, you’ll tend to hear plenty of opinions regarding which teams are overrated or underrated.
Analytics are useful in sussing this stuff out – eye tests less so. One reason I like to look at sports betting markets for this kind of thing is that, to a certain extent, they are quantifying fans and bookmakers’ opinions of teams’ abilities. Lines move around as teams go through ups and downs or sustain injuries, and you can start to get a sense of which teams have under or over-performed relative to those opinions.
HockeyMarkets.com team ROI is a measure of how overrated or underrated an NHL team is relative to market expectations. Using sportsbook lines and theoretical betting units of $100, team ROI shows the average per-game return for each squad. Teams that have a negative number are underperforming, teams that have a positive number are exceeding expectations, and teams floating around the $0 mark are about where we thought they’d be.
Some of these are going to seem counter-intuitive because we’re talking about some really bad teams here. The point isn’t to determine which teams met poor expectations, it’s to determine where teams are based on relative expectations. OK? So let’s get to second-most overrated team in the NHL this season.
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No. 2: Vegas Golden Knights
TEAM ROI: -$41.63
The Vegas Golden Knights entered the season as one of the absolute top favourites to win the Stanley Cup, and rightly so. With the addition of A+ winger Mark Stone late last season (and subsequent re-signing), it appeared an already buzzsaw-like offensive/possession team with elite goaltending would keep rolling into 2019/2020 and take down a fairly weak Pacific Division before the Christmas lights even went up.
Eep. Much like when everyone wrote them off in their first season and they rolled all the way to the Stanley Cup final, things haven’t exactly gone as planned.
And that’s part of the problem here. Vegas has faced some of the most oppressive betting lines of any team this season, matching pre-season prognostications and the fact they were the No. 2 futures bet prior to the start of the season at +900.
Travis Yost wrote a nice piece here about underperforming teams like the Knights and Leafs here, which I’d suggest you check out for more about underlying numbers that are actually pretty decent (side note: you better believe the Leafs were in our top-5 prior to canning Mike Babcock … a nice little run since has moved them out of the basement).
One of the main problems has been that, similar to our No. 1 team, the once-bulletproof goaltending was suddenly lost its flack jacket. Look, Malcolm Subban has never been *good* per se, but there was a time when Vegas could throw him out there and it wouldn’t be a schedule loss. Two seasons ago he went 13-4-2 with a .910 save percentage, and if you can get that from a backup goalie, you’re fine. Last year he fell off, but was still at 8-10-2 and .902. That sucks, but again, he’s a backup. This year? He’s been borderline unplayable at .888, with one win in seven tries. With Marc-Andre Fleury well into his mid-30s, something’s gotta give.
And I think it will, to be honest. Of all the teams in the bottom five, this is the one I’m least worried about. There’s just too much talent up front, MAF is still a beast, and the Knights just jumped into a wild card spot with a win last night against our most overrated team. I wouldn’t expect them to be on this list at the end of the season.