- The Maple Leafs and Lightning have the best odds to win the 2019 Stanley Cup.
- Last year’s finalists, the Capitals and Golden Knights, aren’t far behind.
- Are the odds-makers sleeping on Sidney Crosby and the Penguins?
After signing John Tavares, the biggest prize on the free-agent market, the Toronto Maple Leafs immediately became outright 2019 Stanley Cup favorites, even though they haven’t won a playoff series since 2004.
Eight weeks later, cooler heads have prevailed — to some extent — and the Leafs are no longer alone at the top of the odds. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who have averaged 102.6 points over the last five seasons and reached three of the last four Eastern Conference finals, are now even with Toronto at +750.
Neither bettors nor sportsbooks are as high on last year’s top-two finishers, with the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights both coming in at +1100 (T4th), which trails not only the Leafs and Lightning, but also the Winnipeg Jets (+950).
Before diving into the best and worst value bets for the 2018-19 season, here is the full slate of odds for all 31 NHL teams as of Aug. 27th at Bovada.lv.
2018-19 Stanley Cup Odds (Aug. 27th)
|Team||2019 Stanley Cup Odds|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+750|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+750|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+1100|
|San Jose Sharks||+1600|
|St. Louis Blues||+2000|
|Los Angeles Kings||+2500|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+3000|
|New Jersey Devils||+4000|
|New York Rangers||+8500|
|New York Islanders||+10000|
|Detroit Red Wings||+20000|
Don’t Bother With the Blues (+2000)
St. Louis is being lauded as one of the big winners of the offseason. Adding Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Bozak does give them nice depth behind Brayden Schenn down the middle. But here are the top-two centers on the last seven Stanley Cup winners, along with their playoff point totals:
|Year||Cup Winner||1st-Line Center||2nd-Line Center|
|2018||Washington Capitals||Evgeny Kuznetsov (32 points)||Nick Backstrom (23 points)|
|2017||Pittsburgh Penguins||Sidney Crosby (27 points)||Evgeni Malkin (28 points)|
|2016||Pittsburgh Penguins||Sidney Crosby (19 points)||Evgeni Malkin (18 points)|
|2015||Chicago Blackhawks||Jonathan Toews (21 points)||Brad Richards (13 points)|
|2014||Los Angeles Kings||Anze Kopitar (26 points)||Jeff Carter (25 points)|
|2013||Chicago Blackhawks||Jonathan Toews (14 points)||Patrick Sharp (16 points)|
|2012||Los Angeles Kings||Anze Kopitar (20 points)||Mike Richards (15 points)|
Every one of those combos is significantly better than Schenn/O’Reilly. The worst player on that list is a 34-year-old Brad Richards, who also happened to be a former Conn Smythe-winner with 90 career playoff points in 118 career playoff games at the time of Chicago’s 2015 run.
Between them, Schenn, O’Reilly, and Bozak have just 31 points in a scant 55 career playoff games.
Betting on the Blues to win the cup essentially means betting on two of those three taking big steps forward.
Pound the Penguins (+1200)
The Penguins got sub-par goaltending from two-time Stanley Cup champ Matt Murray during their second-round exit last year (2.43 GAA, .908 SV%). Playoff goaltending is an absolute crap-shoot, and there’s little rhyme or reason to who gets hot at the right time. It’s just as likely that Murray regains his prior playoff form as it is that he has another poor showing in 2019.
Aside from a potential question mark in net, there’s a lot to love about this team.
Jim Rutherford: “We’ll have a chance to win again. We have the nucleus to do that.”
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) August 23, 2018
The Penguins are better down the middle (Crosby, Malkin, Derick Brassard) than any team in the league, and they have plenty of other firepower in their top-nine (Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Jake Guentzel, Carl Hagelin).
Anchored by Kris Letang and the underrated Brian Dumoulin, who posted 55.1% and 53.7% Fenwicks, respectively, the defense corps is good enough. “Good enough” will be an understatement if former first-round pick Olli Maatta (52.5% Fenwick) can stay healthy and continue to develop.
Add in a whole heap of playoff experience from their back-to-back cup runs in 2016 and 2017 — plus a little extra rest from last year’s earlier-than-expected exit — and Pittsburgh adds up to a team worth betting on.
Before you do, make sure you’re getting the best price and picking the sportsbook that’s tailored to your needs.