On January 8, the St. Louis Blues were sitting in the last place in the NHL and literally no one believed this team was going anywhere but to the top of the NHL entry draft. Six months later, the team was hoisting the Stanley Cup in one of the most improbable seasons in sports history.
For many, it was one of the most exciting seasons ever. For bookmakers, it was a nightmare as some sportsbooks had to pay out huge returns on 25,000 to 1 odds.
This past season taught gamblers everywhere two important lessons: don’t count any team out until they are out, and believe the best team is the one who is going to win the Cup. St. Louis snuck into the playoffs and won it all, while the Tampa Bay Lightning were chasing the best regular-season record of all time, only to collapse in the first round.
Who Wins It All This Season?
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Despite the early ousting, the Tampa Bay Lightning enter the 2019-20 season as the prohibitive favorites to win the Stanley Cup. What is interesting is the Blues find themselves with the fifth-best odds, as oddsmakers seem to not be sold on St. Louis repeating.
Here are the top seven teams, their odds, and why they could win.
Tampa Bay Lightning (+700)
Tampa Bay finished last season with 128 points, 17 more than the next best team, then got swept in the first round of the playoffs. It made for the most bitter of off-seasons, but oddsmakers still believe that this is the team that has the best chance to go all the way. Some even have the team at +600.
This team is intact for the most part and has all the tools to make a big run. Last season’s historic collapse could be the right motivation to lead this team to winning their second Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Vegas Golden Knights (+1000)
A bad call by officials and a collapse against the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 denied this team a shot at a second straight Stanley Cup appearance. The Golden Knights are set at -105 to win the Pacific Division by one oddsmaker, which tells you that there is a lot of confidence in this team. They have the goaltending, the depth, and experience to make a serious run.
Boston Bruins (+1100)
The Bruins lost to St. Louis in one of the most exciting Finals in recent memory. This team is still a good one, especially considering that they have the goaltending. They keep most of their core intact as well. Their primary concern is how much Zdeno Chara has left at 42.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+1300)
Many expect Toronto to break through this season. They had a great team last year, one that narrowly lost out to the team that advanced to the Finals. The one thing they did address was their blueline, which looks solid with Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci. They will be a threat.
St. Louis Blues (+1500)
Talk about a lack of respect. The season will begin with the Blues looking almost identical to the team that won it all. Yet, they are given the fifth-best odds. Only one team has won back-to-back Cups in the salary cap era. Could there be two?
Nashville Predators (+1500)
The Predators adding some scoring This is going to be the toughest division in the league, plus it contains the defending champs. Only Minnesota is not given a serious chance to win this division. The team that wins this division comes out playoff-tested and has a real shot of winning it all.
Winnipeg Jets (+1500)
The same thing can be said of the Jets. They have a big-time goalie and will be tested in the Central.
A Dark Horse – Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars is one team you may want to keep your eye on. Most oddsmakers have them at somewhere between +1600 and +1800 to win the Stanley Cup, but it is interesting that two at NHL.com feel that this is the team that will go all the way.
A Real Dark Horse – Los Angeles Kings
The Kings come in at +5000 after finishing with the second-worst record in the league. The big reason to have hope in L.A. is that Jonathan Quick looks healthy. He was abysmal last year, but this is a guy who has two Stanley Cup championships under his belt and he has some talent in front of him.
Who Will Be the League MVP?
Here is one more futures bet you may want to get in on. Nikita Kucherov was the 2019 NHL MVP after scoring 41 goals and adding 87 assists in 82 games. It is not surprising that he is given good odds to repeat, placed at +550, but he is not the favorite.
Edmonton Oilers whiz kid Connor McDavid is viewed as the likely choice (+350). He won the award in 2016-17 and is coming off a 41 goal, 116 point season. The Oilers are expected to be better this season, which should add to his chances.
Many of the usual suspects follow. Sidney Crosby is third (+700), followed by the Maple Leafs Auston Matthews (+950), and the Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon (+1000).
MacKinnon is one you may find very interesting. He has jumped from a 16 goal scorer in 2016-17 to 39 goals two years ago, to 41 last season. He looks to be coming into his own and may be worth taking a chance on.
There is a lot to like about Matthews, but there are going to be two other MVP candidates in John Tavares (+2500) and Mitch Marner (+2800). This leaves you to decide if you believe that they bolster each other’s chances, or if they cancel them out.