2009 Stanley Cup Futures Odds and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 02/17/2009
We are well past halfway through the NHL season. The All-Star Game is over, and the true contenders have been separated from the real pretenders. Now is a very good time to look at the Stanley Cup futures for value. This year is still quite wide open as the top three teams - Detroit, San Jose, and Boston - have all shown signs of vulnerability at times. Here's a look at where that value might lie (all odds are from Bodog):
I'm ruling out the Sharks and the Red Wings. They are the two best teams in the conference, and are the most likely to represent the conference in the finals, but both are only 3/1 to hoist the hardware. At this point in the season that price is far from attractive. We'll look beyond them for a better price. There are only five teams that can represent the West in the Stanley Cup finals in my mind. Luckily, the other three offer better prices:
Calgary Flames (15/1) - The Flames can be tough to love - they are either red hot or ice cold. Despite those problems, they have several big things going for them. For the first time in at least 15 years the Flames don't really have to worry about secondary scoring. They have more offensive power than most teams, and that will be an asset. It also doesn't hurt that they have one of the biggest offensive assets in the league with Jarome Iginla. He's in a serious slump right now, but he's going to break out of it at some point, and that will be a big boost for this squad. The team also has a goalie that rises to the big occasion and leads the league in wins in Miikka Kiprusoff, and a coach in Mike Keenan who has a Cup and three runner-up performances. All in all, Calgary has more than enough to justify this price.
Chicago Blackhawks (12/1) - The Blackhawks came into a season with high hopes, and made an aggressive move to meet those hopes by changing their coaching staff just two weeks into the season. It was a risky move, but so far it has paid off handsomely. Chicago won't catch the Red Wings for the division title, but they are fairly secure in the fourth spot in the conference. That will earn them home ice advantage in at least one round. Chicago is young and very talented. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are two young superstars. Brian Campbell is turning into one of the top defensemen in the league. They have solid goaltending. Coach Joel Quenneville has made this team better as the season has progressed.
Dallas Stars (25/1) - Everyone likes a longshot, and at this price Dallas is a live one. That would have been a ridiculous statement two months ago. Back then they were in the tank and it would have been easy to write the season off. Since then they have been unstoppable. Goalie Marty Turco is red hot, and the team is 9-3 in their last 12. There are injury issues - Sergei Zubov and Brenden Morrow are out for the season, and Brad Richards just went down for 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist. Still, they had the potential to be a contender before the season, and they are playing like one now. That makes them a comparative bargain.
Maybe I'm not giving the conference enough respect, but at this point I see only two teams that stand a chance of making the Finals. I could make a case for New Jersey at 10/1, but not a strong enough one to make them worth a bet.
Washington Capitals (9/1) - There is little doubt in my mind that Alexander Ovechkin is the best offensive player in the league right now. He has a lot of help on this team, too - Nicklas Lidstrom and Alexander Semin are top-rate offensive talents, Mike Green is perhaps the best scoring defenseman in the league right now, and Sergei Federov is a wily veteran with piles of playoff experience. This team has excellent offense, solid defense, and acceptable goaltending. They are also extremely well coached.
Boston Bruins (11/2) - Part of me still thinks that these guys are overachieving a bit. They are unquestionably good, but they seem to be a year or so ahead of schedule. Still, there is no denying their success. Marc Savard is one of the most underrated players in the league. David Krejci is a guy most people have never heard of, but he scores a goal a game. Phil Kessel has found his health and his game. They have two goaltenders who share time and do it very effectively. There is a chance they will trade one away at the deadline. If they do then they will add more depth and talent. If they don't then their goaltending situation will be virtually slump-proof in the playoffs - the chances are low that both guys will be playing poorly at the same time.