If you are looking for a brief summary of what you need to know today to make informed betting choices, you’ve come to the right place!
1. Miles Bridges leaning towards return
It seemed odd that Tom Izzo was getting into the “one-and-done” business with a top prospect like Bridges, but perhaps he knew more than all of us? The latest reports from Adrian Wojnarowski are that the Spartan freshman has cancelled meetings with agents and could finalize a return to MSU after a meeting with his coach. Not only would Bridges’ return have a huge impact on the Big Ten and National Championship odds, but coming off a season where he averaged nearly 17, 8 and 2, he’ll be one of the favorites for Player of the Year in 2018.
2. Hitchcock back with Stars
This was supposed to be the final season in a legendary coaching career that lasted over 20 years and left Ken Hitchcock fourth on the all-time wins list. But getting fired by the Blues midseason seemed to only get “Hitch” fired up, and now he’s returning to the place he won his only Stanley Cup, Dallas.
Dallas has been one of the NHL’s most disappointing franchises over the past three seasons, failing to make the playoffs twice despite having one of the top collections of offensive talent in the league: Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp to name a few. The Stars’ shortcomings are in goal prevention, and while a lot of that falls on their terrible goaltending situation — neither Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi has been good, yet the two combine to make over $10 million a year — the team as a whole plays awful defense in front of its netminders.
If there’s one thing Hitchcock has done well in his career (which has made stops in Dallas, Philly, Columbus and St. Louis) it’s implement a conservative defensive philosophy. In their first full seasons under Hitchcock, the Stars, Flyers, Jackets and Blues allowed an average of roughly 50 fewer goals than the previous season. And he’s been able to achieve this success with guys like Pascal Leclaire, Roman Cechmanek and a very old Andy Moog in net, so the Stars could find success even if they can’t upgrade their goalies this offseason.
Next season, Dallas will be a great bet to return to the playoffs, and perhaps even win the Central Division. But fair warning Stars fans: your team will be infinitely less fun to watch.
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Somers Steelman/Released