Vegas Among Cup Favorites
The NHL has never seen anything like the first-year miracle of the Vegas Golden Knights.
The expansion team was the longest shot in NHL futures before the 82-game schedule began in 2017. They proceeded to shock the hockey world by winning the Pacific Division and Western Conference before losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season.
Now, oddsmakers have them listed among the favorites for the 2018-19 campaign (NHL future odds provided by Bovada). The Golden Knights are +1500 or 15-1 to win the Cup. Last year at this time, Vegas was 200-1.
There was a huge power shift in the NHL offseason with one trade and a free agency signing.
The San Jose Sharks, now listed at +1100 or 11-1 to win the championship, dealt for two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, arguably the best defenseman in the league.
The Toronto Maple Leads, now the favorites in the betting odds at +700 or 7-1, signed John Tavares to a seven-year, $77-million contract. The former captain of the New York Islanders returns to his hometown and the team he grew up cheering for.
The Tampa Bay Lightning (+850 or 17-2 odds), Winnipeg Jets (+850 or 17-2) and Nashville Predators (+1000 or 10-1) round out the Top 5 picks to hoist the Stanley Cup next June.
NHL Future Odds Explained
Betting on a hockey team at any time before the Stanley Cup Finals is commonly referred to as a future wager. Bettors must correctly select a team to win an event that takes place at a later time — in this case the Stanley Cup, which ends in June.
The money wagered will be tied up until there is an outcome and bettors will receive fixed odds when they place the wager. The future odds are normally updated on a weekly basis on Bovada and wagers can be placed throughout the season.
To figure out your payoff, take the odds and multiply by the amount wagered. For example, Vegas is 15-1 to win the Stanley Cup. If you wager $100 on the Golden Knights and they win the championship, then you would win $1,500 (15 ÷ 1 x 100). You would collect $1,600 in total, which includes your win and original bet ($100).
Top 5 Cup Contenders
Vegas Golden Knights (+1500)
How about another run for the Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup? Why not, they fooled everyone last year.
The Knights will follow up their incredible inaugural season with some added depth on offense, courtesy of free-agent signing Paul Stastny and trade acquisition Max Pacioretty.
A determining factor for this season will be how many players build upon breakout seasons. Twelve returning players set NHL career highs for points last season, including the top line of William Karlsson (78), Jonathan Marchessault (75) and Reilly Smith (60).
“Because of what we’ve done, teams are going to know we’re not an expansion team. They’re going to be ready for us,” head coach Gerard Gallant told NHL.com.
The Knights, 51-24-7 and 109 points, will have to continue their spectacular play at home again this season. They were 29-10-2 at T-Mobile Arena last year.
San Jose Sharks (+1100)
The San Jose Sharks have only missed the playoffs once in the last 14 seasons and twice in the last 20, which included a loss in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015-16.
The Sharks already had a ton of talent of their roster. Now, they’re all-in this season after trading for Karlsson and signing Evander Kane to a long-term deal.
San Jose, which has posted 100, 99 and 98 points in the last three seasons, is loaded throughout the roster with the likes of Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Joe Thornton.
Some solid goaltending by Martin Jones should make San Jose a dominant force well into the postseason.
Winnipeg Jets (+850)
The Winnipeg Jets had the second-most points of all 31 teams last season, and yet they didn’t even win their division. The season ended with Nashville (117), Winnipeg (114) and Tampa Bay (113) as the top three point-getters.
Fast-forward to the start of this season and the Jets are ready for takeoff. Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine power this talented offense. Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers take care of business on defense, while goalie Connor Hellebuyck is a Vezina candidate.
Before last year, the Jets had never won a playoff game in franchise history. Look for Winnipeg to continue to build on its success after winning a team-record 52 games last season before losing the Western Conference final.
Tampa Bay Lightning (+850)
The Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning are stealing all the attention away from the reigning Stanley Cup champions in the East.
It’s easy to forget that the Lightning were just one victory away from the NHL final as the Capitals won the last two games in the Eastern Conference final to oust Tampa.
Still, it was a dream season for many players on the Lightning. And they still stack up well against any team — Andrei Vasilevskiy is among the best goalies in the NHL, Victor Hedman would be a welcome addition on any blueline, and Steve Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov make up the best one-two punch in the league.
The Lightning have averaged 102.6 points a season over the last five years. This season will be no different.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+700)
Toronto Maple Leaf fans have been planning a parade for decades — five of them, to be exact. That’s the last time (1966-67) this Original Six team won the Stanley Cup. And yet, here we are, with the Leafs as the favorites in the NHL betting lines.
Even though the Leafs have only made it into playoffs in three of the last 13 seasons, this might be their best opportunity yet to send their faithful into a frenzy.
The biggest reason is the addition of Tavares. The former captain in Long Island puts up all-star numbers every season. Throw in young guns Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and you can see why the spotlight is on Toronto.
Don’t be surprised if the Leafs deal for a top blueliner sometime this season. It’s not like these opportunities come around every season for this team.
VGB’s pick — Winnipeg (+850). The Jets, who gained some invaluable playoff experience last season, are loaded with firepower at every position.
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you: