2018 NHL Stanley Cup Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Analysis
We are almost a quarter of the way through the NHL season. Some things have turned out as expected, and some make no sense at all. This is a good time to look at how things have gone so far, where the futures odds sit, and where the value could be found. Here is a look at the 10 most interesting teams so far this year (all future odds to win the Stanley Cup are from Bovada ):
Tampa Bay Lightning (+600): The Lightning missed the playoffs last year, but injuries had as much to do with that as anything. This year they have the top two scorers in the league, an elite goaltender, and real depth. And that has added up to a brilliant start. They have 30 points through 18 games. No other team in the East has better than 24. This team is very legitimately the favorite right now, and I have no problem with that. If I had to pick one team to ride in November then it would unquestionably been these Lightning. They are built to shine.
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Toronto Maple Leafs (+900): I am as skeptical about the Leafs as I am optimistic about the Lightning. They have scored the most goals in the league, yet they are just +9 - compared to +25 for the Lightning. They are fun to watch, but they rely far too much on their goal scoring, and that isn't a recipe for success. I don't trust the defense and would happily take bets from anyone who wants this price.
St. Louis Blues (+900): The Blues have the second-best record in the league, and they are playing very good hockey right now. The biggest knock against them, though, is that they are the Blues. They have lacked the mental toughness to reach their potential for years now, so why are we supposed to believe that this year is different? They could very easily be the best team in the West, but I'm not entirely convinced of that - not by the spring, anyway - and I'm not convinced that it will matter.
Pittsburgh Penguins (+1100): They have won it two years in a row, so they are obviously capable of winning it again. It has not been an entirely smooth year so far, but they obviously have upside. This is a very fair price, and I couldn't argue against anyone who wants this price.
L.A. Kings (+1200): The Kings have a three-point lead in the Pacific Division. And I'm not buying it for a second. They made a necessary coaching change, and that has had an impact so far, but they just aren't built to be the long-term contender. The Pacific has been a disappointment so far, but things will get back on track, and the Kings will fade.
Columbus Blue Jackets (+1600): Like Pittsburgh, Columbus has been a very good team that has felt like they have been stuck in neutral so far this year. They are a good team, and I respect them, but I don't view them as a top-tier contender, and so I don't see any value in this price.
Nashville Predators (+1600): Last year the Predators were a playoff Cinderella story. Now they have set out to prove that they were no fluke, and they have aggressively made a trade to prove their commitment to getting back to where they were - at least. They have heated up in their last five games after a rough start. They are absolutely a playoff team, but I don't see any value at this price.
Chicago Blackhawks (+1800): The Blackhawks can't stay at the top forever. A team can't be forced to dismiss so many solid players because of cap woes and stay at the top level of the sport. I think that all of the cuts have added up here, and I just can't justify them at this price.
Dallas Stars (+1800): The Stars have been a disappointment this year - 19 points in 18 games. I was very bullish on them heading into the season. If they were a stock, though, I would be buying them. They have offensive strength. The goaltending should be better than it is. The defense should be, too. I find it much easier to be optimistic about this team than many others, so I see some value here.
Edmonton Oilers (+2000): This is proof of how hard hockey is. Heading into the season the Oilers were the second choice in futures betting. They have the best player on the planet, and it seemed like their time. Right now they have 16 points - more than only the truly pathetic Coyotes in the West. They have had terrible defense, the offense beyond Connor McDavid has been spotty at best, and the coaching has felt directionless. They will get better, but they won't get nearly good enough. At this point missing the playoffs is very much a possibility - which seemed impossible before the season.
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