by OddsShark (@OddsShark) – Sponsored Post
The Stanley Cup is considered the hardest trophy to win in major professional sports – or at least the hardest one to predict nearly a year in advance – but bettors can at least have a process when it comes to looking at early odds.
Just a week after the St. Louis Blues became one of the unlikeliest champions in the league’s modern history, going from dead last at the midpoint of the regular season to the last team standing, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been installed at +800 favorites (wager $100 to win $800) on the odds to win the 2020 Stanley Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Lightning, of course, steamrolled the league in the regular season with a record-tying 62 wins before face-planting with a four-game sweep in the first round.
That being said, an early exit does not predict the future. Four of the last eight Stanley Cup champions either lost in the first round or missed the playoffs the season prior. The Lightning remain a favorite since they have still been to at least the conference finals in three of the last five seasons.
The Boston Bruins (+900), Toronto Maple Leafs (+1000) and Vegas Golden Knights (+900) also rank high on the board at online betting sites. A long playoff run can leave fatigue and it might be best to fade the Bruins, but the Maple Leafs will not have such a problem and still hold value after a seven-game defeat against Boston might have shaken fans’ faith.
The Golden Knights would have a less difficult time reaching the Stanley Cup final out of the Western Conference than any Eastern heavyweight would, and with a full season of the likes of Mark Stone and Paul Stastny, could be dangerous.
The Colorado Avalanche (+1200), led by a legitimate superstar in Nathan MacKinnon, also hold great value on those NHL odds as a young team that was very close to playing in the third round this season. The Blues (+1200) have a hard act to follow, especially after a grueling 26-game playoff run.
Present-day Pacific Division teams have accounted for just three of the 14 Cup winners during the cap era. That, along with goaltending, seems like a reason to be wary of the Calgary Flames (+1800) and San Jose Sharks (+1600).
The Winnipeg Jets (+1600), Nashville Predators (+2200), Washington Capitals (+1600) and Pittsburgh Penguins (+1800) might be seeing their windows of opportunity coming to a close. A bettor casting about for a darkhorse can realize better potential value with a team such as the Columbus Blue Jackets (+2800).
The Blue Jackets’ price reflects the uncertainty over where center Matt Duchene, right wing Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, all pending unrestricted free agents, will sign, but the franchise did complete an important exercise this spring by winning its first playoff round.
The Ottawa Senators (+10000) have the longest odds, having finished dead last in the league last season.