Favorites and Longshots: Looking at the NHL Stanley Cup Futures Market
The 2019-2020 NHL regular season is here, with the first games taking place on Wednesday, October 2, 2019. Last season, Scott Berry was able to grab the St. Louis Blues at 250-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, and they did, paying Berry $100,000 on his $400 wager. Let’s take a look at the NHL Stanley Cup futures market on the final day before the regular season begins.
Favorites in Vegas Compared To Elsewhere
Ever since the National Hockey League stuck a team in Las Vegas, the betting market has been skewed in favor of the hometown team, so let’s start there. At the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, which is arguably the most notable sportsbook in the entire world, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, listed with 6-1 (+600) odds. The next favorites that isn’t too far off is the hometown Vegas Golden Knights at 7-1 (+700).
The Lightning have an extremely good team and they return much of the same roster as they did last season. Last season was a record-setting one for Tampa Bay in many ways, but they were left with a very sour taste in their mouths after being bounced in the first round in incredible fashion by the Columbus Blue Jackets, who swept the top seed in four straight games.
Being bounced in the first round and in the fashion that it happened could certainly provide extra motivation for the Lightning. They’ve already got extensive firepower led by Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Brayden Point, and then Andrei Vasilevskiy is as good as they come between the pipes, so it’s understandable that the Lightning are the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup this season.
As for the Golden Knights, they’re good, but their price at the Westgate is indicative of the Vegas hometown juice. If we look over at DraftKings Sportsbook or FanDuel Sportsbook, both out of New Jersey, we see a very different price on this team. At DraftKings Sportsbook, the Lightning are 7.5-1 (+750) to win the Stanley Cup and then the Golden Knights are 11-1 (+1100). At FanDuel Sportsbook we see a similar difference with the Lightning at 7-1 (+700) and the Golden Knights at 10.5-1 (+1050).
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the third favorite, or second, depending on where you look. At Westgate, the Maple Leafs are 10-1 (+1000). At DraftKings, Toronto is 12-1 (+1200). At FanDuel, the Maple Leafs are 9.5-1 (+950).
What About the Defending Champs?
The St. Louis Blues are bunched up in the second tier of favorites. At Westgate, the Blues are priced at 16-1 (+1600) to win the Stanley Cup. They have a solid team entering the season, but their price could be a little less favorable simply because they won the Stanley Cup last season. The Blues play a not-so-modern style of hockey as compared to the rest of the league, but nonetheless it got the job done last season and could do well for them again.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Blues have a slightly worse price at 15-1 (+1500). At DraftKings Sportsbook, the Blues have a slightly better price at 18-1 (+1800).
The big question for the Blues involves their goalie, Jordan Binnington. Once he got the starting job last season, Binnington was very good. He posted a 1.89 goals against average (GAA) and a .927 save percentage in 32 games played in the regular season. When he started, the team had 24 wins and 5 losses. In the playoffs, Binnington posted a 2.46 GAA and .914 save percentage. Those numbers were a little down from his regular season numbers, but he was very much a backbone of the Blues en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
We’ve seen goalies, and teams for that matter, get on incredible hot streaks in hockey before. The question now will be whether or not Binnington is the real deal or if he was simply playing out of this world in the team’s run.
Other Not-So-Longshot Teams
Behind the Lightning, Golden Knights, and Maple Leafs is a group of very solid teams that could make a run at the Stanley Cup. At the Westgate, the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, and Dallas Stars are priced between 12-1 (+1200) and 16-1 (+1600), which is also where the Blues find themselves. At Westgate, it’s the Bruins and Avalanche at 12-1 (+1200) each, then the Stars are at 16-1 (+1600) alongside St. Louis.
In the NHL Stanley Cup futures market at DraftKings Sportsbook, we can get the Bruins and Stars at 13-1 (+1300), the Avalanche, Nashville Predators, and Washington Capitals at 17-1 (+1700), and then the Calgary Flames and Blues come in at 18-1 (+1800).
In the NHL Stanley Cup futures market at FanDuel Sportsbook, it’s the Bruins at 13-1 (+1300), the aforementioned Blues at 15-1 (+1500), the Predators at 16-1 (+1600), and then the Avalanche, Stars, San Jose Sharks, and Capitals at 18-1 (+1800).
Best Longshots To Bet On
Whether you’ve got the betting ticket for one of the favorites or are backing an underdog to take the title, winning is fun. It’s even more fun when you’re able to hit a big score like Berry did with his bet on the Blues. Although Berry famously placed his wager when the Blues were at the bottom of the league after the calendar turned from 2018 to 2019, so mid-season, there are a couple longshots who might be worth gambling on in the very early part of the season.
The two teams we’re looking at for longshots are the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders. They’re in different conferences and both are priced at 40-1 (+4000) at Westgate. In New Jersey at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Islanders are 37-1 (+3700) and the Blackhawks are 40-1 (+4000). Also in New Jersey but over at FanDuel Sportsbook, the Islanders are 31-1 (+3100) and the Blackhawks are 36-1 (+3600).
The price on the Islanders may be a little surprising, as they finished with 103 points in the regular season, which was good for fourth most in the Eastern Conference, and then swept Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. That said, it seems bettors are a little unwilling to back the Islanders because they didn’t do too much in the offseason in terms of acquisition. They even let one half of their two-headed goalie monster walk in free agency, Robin Lehner.
The bottom line is this, coaching matters in hockey and the Islanders have one of the best in the game in Barry Trotz. Trotz and the staff there feel they can get similar production by pairing Thomas Greiss, who was the other half of the monster alongside Lehner, with Semyon Varlamov for the 2019-2020 season. They’ll then look to win with a similar style of defense and goaltending. If the Islanders can get some increased production at the forward position with Mathew Barzal and company, 40-1 (+4000) is a great price to have. We’d much rather take a shot on the Islanders given their price than on the very hyped New Jersey Devils, who are 25-1 (+2500) at Westgate and then 26-1 (+2600) and 27-1 (+2700) at FanDuel and DraftKings sportsbooks in New Jersey.
The Blackhawks are also at 40-1 (+4000) at the Westgate SuperBook, and they’re the ones who brought in Lehner in free agency in hopes of giving themselves a solid goalie to help them on the defensive ends of things. The Blackhawks have missed the playoffs in the past two seasons, but there’s still potential with this squad when you roster the likes of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. They’ve also got Alex DeBrincat, who had a very nice campaign last season with 41 goals (tied for sixth in the league) and 35 assists.
The key for Chicago will be to improve on defense and with goaltending. They brought in Lehner on a one-year deal to help lock things down between the pipes and will now need the defense to step up. We expect a little regression for both Chicago’s offense and its defense this season, which makes us feel good about Westgate’s price of 40-1 (+4000) to win the Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks scored 267 goals last season, which ranked them eighth in the league. We could see this number go up to the 275-280 range so they hit top-5 levels of offensive production. On the other end, Chicago game up 291 goals last season, which was second most in the league behind only the Ottawa Senators. With Lehner in net and some better play on defense, this number can get more to the middle of the pack, with could be good enough to have the Blackhawks contending in the Western Conference and then anything can happen in the NHL Playoffs.