2019 Stanley Cup Odds: Two Teams Stand Out As Good Value

  • The 2019 Stanley Cup futures are already out and there’s a log-jam at the top in the somewhat unpredictable NHL.
  • Sportsbooks learned their lesson from last year and have positioned the Vegas Golden Knights near the top.
  • The defending champion Washington Capitals aren’t expected to repeat, sitting behind six other teams.
  • Two squads — one in the West and one in the East — stand out as good betting value based on the common traits of past champs.

Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals stunned the hockey world by blitzing the 2018 playoffs with an offensive outburst reminiscent of the late-80s Oilers. Scoring 84 goals in just 24 games, the Caps captured their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, capping their dominant run with a 4-1 series win over the Vegas Golden Knights in the finals.

Washington’s jubilation was Vegas’ heartbreak as it put a swift halt to the Golden Knights’ dream expansion season.

Yet hope abounds in Sin City. Sportsbooks don’t seem to think the Knights were a fluke and have Gerrard Gallant’s overachievers among the favorites to win the 2019 Stanley Cup. The odds — set out below — do expect a few teams to regress, however, and a couple others to rebound from down years.

2019 Stanley Cup Odds (June 15)

*Odds from Bovada.lv

  • Tampa Bay Lightning: +900
  • Toronto Maple Leafs: +1000
  • Winnipeg Jets: +1000
  • Boston Bruins: +1100
  • Nashville Predators: +1100
  • Vegas Golden Knights: +1100
  • Pittsburgh Penguins: +1200
  • Washington Capitals: +1200
  • Edmonton Oilers: +1800
  • Anaheim Ducks: +2200
  • Chicago Blackhawks: +2200
  • San Jose Sharks: +2200
  • Columbus Blue Jackets: +2500
  • Philadelphia Flyers: +2500
  • Dallas Stars: +2800
  • St. Louis Blues: +2800
  • Calgary Flames: +3000
  • Los Angeles Kings: +3000
  • Minnesota Wild: +3000
  • Colorado Avalanche: +4000
  • Florida Panthers: +4000
  • New Jersey Devils: +4000
  • New York Islanders: +6000
  • Carolina Hurricanes: +6600
  • Montreal Canadiens: +6600
  • New York Rangers: +7000
  • Detroit Red Wings: +7500
  • Arizona Coyotes: +8000
  • Buffalo Sabres: +8000
  • Vancouver Canucks: +8000
  • Ottawa Senators: +10000

The odds are based on current rosters, obviously. As free agency and, to a lesser extent, the draft come and go, those rosters will change and the odds will change with them. But there’s enough solid information to make informed betting choices even at this early stage.

Which NHL teams are offering betting value in mid June?

Perhaps the best way to answer that is by figuring out the essential elements of cup-winning teams and eliminating the ones with fatal flaws.

To start, let’s cross off the teams that are (likely to be) in some stage of a rebuild:

  • New York Islanders: +6600
  • New York Rangers: +7000
  • Detroit Red Wings: +7500
  • Arizona Coyotes: +8000
  • Buffalo Sabres: +8000
  • Vancouver Canucks: +8000
  • Ottawa Senators: +10000

Stanley Cup-winning trait #1: a goalie who can get hot

Despite what the Caps did last year, goal-scoring tends to be at a premium in the postseason, and cup-winners are generally back-stopped by a hot goalie. It’s not necessarily the goalie that had the best regular season — or even a good regular season — but it’s a guy who has the potential to be lights out for six weeks.

While no one will put Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray among the Vezina favorites, he posted a .923 SV% and 2.08 GAA during the Penguins’ 2016 run, and was even better when they repeated the next year: .937 SV%, 1.70 GAA.

Braden Holtby continued the trend in 2018. After losing his starting job to Philipp Grubauer during the regular season, he got it back two games into the playoffs and proceeded to go 16-7 with a .922 SV% and 2.16 GAA.

Most of the teams that were bounced early, on the other hand, received below-average tending:

  • Devan Dubnyk (Wild): .908 SV%
  • Sergei Bobrovsky (Blue Jackets): .900 SV%
  • Frederik Andersen (Maple Leafs): .896 SV%
  • John Gibson (Ducks): .889 SV%
  • Jonathan Bernier (Avalanche): .883 SV%
  • Brian Elliott/Petr Mrazek/Michal Neuvirth (Flyers): .852 SV% combined

Which teams should you feel comfortable crossing off based on this trait?

  • Carolina Hurricanes (+6600): .893 SV% (2017-18)
  • Calgary Flames (+3000): .905 SV% (2017-18)
  • Philadelphia Flyers (+2500): .904 SV% (2017-18)
  • Edmonton Oilers (+1800): .901 SV% (2017-18)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (+1000): .917 SV% (2017-18)

Note: the Leafs received decent regular-season goaltending from Frederik Andersen, but he’s never shown the flashes of brilliance required to carry a team to the finals. Cross them off until they upgrade their situation in net.

Stanley Cup-winning trait #2: great depth

Both the Capitals and Knights showed the importance of being able to play all four lines throughout the postseason. Before them, the Penguins won back-to-back cups with arguably the best center depth since the Red Wings were rolling out Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Datsyuk, and Kris Draper in 2002.

Quick pause for a trip down memory lane

Given the grind that is the NHL season, which runs from early October to June for the winning team, it’s no surprise that the champs tend to be able to split up the minutes.

Which teams are lacking the depth necessary to make a deep run?

  • Montreal Canadiens: +6600
  • New Jersey Devils: +4000
  • Florida Panthers: +4000
  • Dallas Stars: +2800
  • St. Louis Blues: +2800
  • Chicago Blackhawks: +2200
  • Boston Bruins: +1100

Note: Many will be surprised to see the Bruins on this list, but their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak accounted for 99 of the team’s 267 goals, and no other forward had more than 17. Meanwhile, their defense corps is still relying on 41-year-old Zdeno Chara to log over 22 minutes per game.

Stanley Cup-winning trait #3: a solid Fenwick %

Fenwick compares a team’s shots-on-goal + missed shots (excluding blocked shots) to the shots-on-goal + missed shots of the team’s opponents. The higher the Fenwick %, the more shots a team is generating in comparison to their opponents. It is not a perfect predictor of results, especially in limited time-frames, but there is a definite correlation between winning and having a high Fenwick.

In the 2018 playoffs, the eight teams with the worst Fenwicks were, not coincidentally, the eight teams that were eliminated in the first round:

  • 9th Blue Jackets: 49.58%
  • 10th Ducks: 49.22%
  • 11th Devils: 47.83%
  • 12th Kings: 46.79%
  • 13th Leafs: 46.30%
  • 14th Flyers: 45.73%
  • 15th Avalanche: 43.44%
  • 16th Wild: 42.04%

It should be noted that regular-season performance won’t necessarily lineup with playoff performance. The Capitals went from one of the worst Fenwick teams during the regular season (28th) to one of the best in the postseason (4th). But you should still feel comfortable crossing off a few teams based on their 2017-18 numbers, regular season and playoffs combined:

  • Colorado Avalanche: +4000
  • Minnesota Wild: +3000
  • Los Angeles Kings: +3000
  • Anaheim Ducks: +2200

Note: the Kings could have gone either way on both Fenwick and Depth. Taking both in conjunction, they are definitely worthy of being axed.

Who’s left?

So far, 23 teams have been crossed off, leaving us with the following octet. Unsurprisingly, the list features most of the top-ten favorites. (Sportsbooks like them for much the same reason as we like them.)

  • Tampa Bay Lightning: +900
  • Winnipeg Jets: +1000
  • Nashville Predators: +1100
  • Vegas Golden Knights: +1100
  • Pittsburgh Penguins: +1200
  • Washington Capitals: +1200
  • San Jose Sharks: +2200
  • Columbus Blue Jackets: +2500

But two obvious choices stand out for their comparatively long odds: the Sharks in the West and the Blue Jackets in the East.

Despite poor Fenwicks in the playoffs, both were top-ten in the regular season (San Jose: 6th; Columbus: 7th). Both also gave their respective conference champions arguably their biggest test before the finals: after sweeping the Ducks in the first round, the Sharks pushed the Knights to six games and outshot them in the series as a whole; the Jackets, meanwhile, were up 2-0 on the Caps before dropping four straight (including a pair of OT games).

In goal, Martin Jones and Sergei Bobrovsky are reasonably good bets to get hot, Bobrovsky’s playoff inconsistencies aside.

Bettors looking for good value at this very early stage should strongly consider that pair, especially San Jose. Their re-signing of Evander Kane is good evidence that management is all-in on the 2018-19 season.

AlexanderP

Alexander is the MTS editor-in-chief. Frank, Alex, and Geoff brought him in when they realized that their betting expertise far surpassed their grammatical abilities. He loves overanalyzing college basketball trends. Talking to him during the first weekend of March Madness is like talking to a wall. A very focused wall, but a wall nonetheless.