The Washington Capitals captured their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, closing the chapter on the Cinderella story that was the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Let’s check out what the oddsmakers are dealing on next season and discuss the top contenders.
Stanley Cup Destinations
Tampa Bay Lightning (+1000) – The Lightning lit it up last season as evidenced by their top finish in wins, goals scored, and +/- differential leading them to their third appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals over the last four seasons. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay fans, they fell to the eventual Stanley Cup champions in seven games, but the Bolts should be locked and loaded for the 2018-19 and little wonder why they are the odds-on-favorites to drink from the Cup next June.
Nashville Predators (+1100) – Ah, finally our beloved Preds getting some love from the boys in Vegas and offshore. And why not? The Lightning may have had one more regular-season win but the Predators garnered the most points (117) of any team in the league. Factor in a steel curtain between the pipes in Pekka Rinne and a rock solid understudy in 23-year-old Juuse Saros, the Predators will be illustrative of their name this coming season and prey easily on the rest of the quarry in the league.
Vegas Golden Knights (+1200) – We’ve run out of superlatives to describe the juggernaut that was Vegas in its inaugural season. Sportsbook Review, a website featuring among other things odds from the best online sportsbooks, revealed that many of the biggest offshore oddsmakers tagged the Knights at 500-1 to win the Cup before the season began and most chuckled, dismissing Vegas as a novelty wager that would make good scrapbook fodder. Well, think again because this band of castoffs coalesced into one of the most dangerous teams in the NHL. Anything but a Stanley Cup victory in 2019 would be anticlimactic, but the Knights won’t be sneaking up on any team this season and expectations may exceed reality in Sin City.
Washington Capitals (+1200) – All the Caps did was win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history and yet they’re still not slated as the favorites for next season. With so many teams log-jammed at the top and the parity which governs the league, it’s not a given that the Capitals will return to the Stanley Cup Finals but another deep playoff run is inevitable.
Boston Bruins (+1200) – Boston may have been just a point away from Eastern Conference regular-season supremacy, trailing only Tampa Bay, but the disparity in talent between the two was clear when the Lightning eliminated the Bruins in five games of the second round to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against Washington. The B’s are a young team that defied the odds but they lack depth on the defensive end particularly when you consider that Zdeno Chara is 41 years old and the clock is ticking.
Pittsburgh Penguins (+1200) – The previously defending Stanley Cup champs proved to be another postseason casualty on Washington’s road to the finals, but the Penguins were one of the top scoring threats in the league and owned the No. 1 power play unit during the regular season. However, defense and keeping pucks out of the net was an issue but starting netminder Matt Murray is entrenched as the Pens’ backstop yet he will need a capable backup and a better group of blueliners in front of him if Pittsburgh is to vie for the championship again.
Best of the Rest
The Winnipeg Jets (+1200), Toronto Maple Leafs (+1200), and the Edmonton Oilers (+1800) are the remaining teams that are being offered by the NHL oddsmakers at under 20-1. The second tier involves the Anaheim Ducks (+2200), Chicago Blackhawks (+2200), and San Jose Sharks (+2200) while the cellar dwellers include Arizona, Ottawa and Vancouver all being dealt at +7500.