Early 2017-18 NHL Odds: Did Someone Say Three-Peat?

The NHL got a swell of support this postseason from sports fans who grew tired of the NBA’s predictable and “boring” playoffs. Impartial fans glommed onto hockey after the endorsement of Charles Barkley and, as a result, the “unpredictable” Stanley Cup playoffs got great ratings in both Canada and the U.S.

However, despite all this newfound excitement for the game, the end result was almost as predictable as the NBA. In fact, it was the exact same finish as last season. The Pittsburgh Penguins won in six games over a team from a non-traditional hockey market making its first Stanley Cup appearance, and Sidney Crosby was awarded a Conn Smythe trophy that should’ve gone to someone else. The only difference is that this year’s Cup made the Pens the first team to go back to back since the ’97-’98 Red Wings.

So as we begin to look towards next season, the very first question that crosses one’s mind is: three-peat? The Pens will return the same core that led this team to its second straight cup, plus number one defenseman Kris Letang, who missed the entire postseason with an injury. They will likely part ways with now backup goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and could see some depth forwards like Nick Bonino go as well, but they enter the offseason as clear favorites to win it all in 2018.

As for the Pens’ potential next victim, it probably won’t be a team making its first finals. The NHL is adding another southern market team this year, but the expansion Vegas Golden Knights are going to be the furthest thing from a Cup contender next season, even if Fleury is holding down their crease.

However, their expansion draft could have a big effect on some other contenders. The depth of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks is going to take a hit, while teams like Dallas and Los Angeles could get a boost by getting a bad contract off their books.

But at this point, a repeat Stanley Cup final appears most likely. The Nashville Predators will return their loaded defensive corps and have plenty of cap space to add to a young team. With their longtime division tormentors, the Chicago Blackhawks, getting weaker due to salary cap restraints, the Preds path to the Cup should remain open for years to come.

The NHL doesn’t have nearly as many blockbuster deals as other sports, but setting odds for next season does come with some caveats. Obviously, we don’t yet know how the Capitals are going to react to another second-round loss, but dealing away pieces from a back to back President’s Trophy-winning team would obviously shift the balance of power.

We’ll revisit these odds in a month after the expansion draft, entry draft and free agency, but for now, here are our favorites for the 2017-18 NHL season.

2017-18 NHL ODDS

Stanley Cup Futures

  • Pittsburgh Penguins: 8/1
  • Nashville Predators: 10/1
  • Washington Capitals: 10/1
  • Anaheim Ducks: 12/1
  • Edmonton Oilers: 12/1
  • Tampa Bay Lightning: 12/1
  • Chicago Blackhawks: 14/1
  • Minnesota Wild: 16/1
  • Montreal Canadiens: 16/1
  • Dallas Stars: 18/1
  • New York Rangers: 18/1
  • Columbus Blue Jackets: 20/1
  • Calgary Flames: 22/1
  • San Jose Sharks: 22/1
  • Toronto Maple Leafs: 25/1
  • St Louis Blues: 25/1
  • Ottawa Senators: 30/1
  • Los Angeles Kings: 30/1
  • Boston Bruins: 35/1
  • Carolina Hurricanes: 40/1
  • New York Islanders: 40/1
  • Philadelphia Flyers: 45/1
  • Florida Panthers: 45/1
  • Winnipeg Jets: 50/1
  • Buffalo Sabres: 60/1
  • Arizona Coyotes: 75/1
  • Detroit Red Wings: 75/1
  • New Jersey Devils: 75/1
  • Vancouver Canucks: 100/1
  • Colorado Avalanche: 100/1
  • Vegas Golden Knights: 150/1

Hart Trophy Odds

McDavid dangles against the Sharks
Tommy LaPorte/Icon Sportswire
  • Connor McDavid, Oilers: 7/4
  • Sidney Crosby, Penguins: 5/2
  • Erik Karlsson, Senators: 7/1
  • Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs: 9/1
  • Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues: 14/1
  • Carey Price, Canadiens: 14/1
  • Nikita Kucherov, Lightning: 16/1
  • Patrick Kane, Blackhawks: 16/1
  • Alex Ovechkin, Capitals: 18/1
  • John Tavares, Islanders: 20/1

Barring injuries, Crosby vs McDavid should be the MVP battle for the next few years, with young Leafs stud Matthews occasionally making it a three-horse race. What can you say? Voters like giving it to North American skaters, and these guys will be at the top of the league in terms of points.

Of course, Ottawa’s deep playoff run seemed to finally wake the public up to the idea that not only is Karlsson the best defenseman in the game today, he may be the best player period. Riding that wave of support into next season, he should finally get some serious consideration for the Hart Trophy if he can duplicate his usual success and lead the Sens back to the playoffs.

Norris Trophy Odds

  • Erik Karlsson, Senators: 10/11
  • Victor Hedman, Lightning: 6/1
  • Drew Doughty, Kings: 9/1
  • Kris Letang, Penguins: 9/1
  • PK Subban, Predators: 12/1

It sounds like Brent Burns is going to win this year’s Norris, and if Karlsson is denied for a second straight year, the voters will feel the need to make it up to him next year. As stated previously, he’s the best defenseman in the game. Unless he gets injured, voters will run out of reasons to give it to someone else.

Vezina Trophy

  • Carey Price, Canadiens: 4/1
  • Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets: 9/2
  • Cam Talbot, Oilers: 5/1
  • Braden Holtby, Capitals: 6/1
  • Devan Dubnyk, Wild: 7/1

The Vezina is always a wide-open race, because apparently any goalie can be great in the regular season. Wake me up when one of these guys makes a Cup final.

First Coach Fired

  • Paul Maurice, Jets: 5/2
  • Bill Peters, Hurricanes: 4/1
  • Dave Tippett, Coyotes: 11/2
  • Alain Vigneault, Rangers: 7/1
  • Barry Trotz, Capitals: 8/1

The turnover in the NHL at head coach is dizzying. Only eight coaches have been with the same team since 2014, and it’s not like Peter Laviolette or Joel Quenneville is on the hot seat. So that leaves these guys as the most likely candidates. Maurice and Peters have young, talented rosters that need to take the next step forward, or they’ll be gone. Vigneault and Trotz are coming off another year of playoff disappointment, and management may be looking for any reason to shake things up if their teams start slow. Arizona’s management has been asleep for five years, so they may not even realize Tippett is still the coach.

Worst Record

  • Vegas Golden Knights: 7/3
  • Colorado Avalanche: 3/1
  • Vancouver Canucks: 5/1
  • Arizona Coyotes: 5/1
  • New Jersey Devils: 7/1

There is no McDavid or Matthews at the top of this year’s draft to help reverse any of the struggling teams’ fortunes, but that doesn’t really matter, since Philadelphia (no. 2 overall) and Dallas (no. 3) leapfrogged them into the top three. Only the Devils (no. 1) landed a good pick, meaning they should have at least one center to pair with Taylor Hall. Now all they need is three more lines and a few pairs of capable defensmen.

Boris

Hockey may be a wildly unpopular sport in the U.S., but where no one is paying attention, there's a ton of value for Boris to mine. An avid NHL fan of over 20 years, Malloy made his first bet against a friend during the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals (going against Ray Bourque) and has been hooked ever since. He has yet to pay off that debt of $2, but he's made plenty back since. In between worrying about the league's next lockout, he regularly contributes to MTS and is also fluent in football, basketball, baseball and French (sort of).