- Tampa Bay’s addition by subtraction keeps them the Stanley Cup favorite
- Devils and Rangers made moves that grabbed attention of oddsmakers
- Avalanche’s odds unchanged but they’re in a good position to improve
A hectic few days of free-agent signings and major trades capped a frenzied few weeks of wheeling and dealing that upended many rosters around the NHL.
Using the current champion St. Louis Blues as an example, there’s a good chance that the moves made in June and July will greatly shape the next Stanley Cup winner.
A year ago the Blues traded for Ryan O’Reilly and signed free agents Tyler Bozak, David Perron, and Patrick Maroon, who were key parts of the Blues’ playoff run. More changes were to come, but the core group that would hoist the Cup was set.
Which teams have set themselves up in the best position to win it all in 2020? First, let’s look at how the oddsmakers reacted to the many transactions and how much each team’s odds changed from a few weeks ago.
|Team||Odds (July 5)||Change since June 18|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+700||↑ from +800|
|Boston Bruins||+1000||↓ from +900|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+1000||↓ from +900|
|Colorado Avalanche||+1200||↔ No change|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+1200||↓ from +1000|
|St. Louis Blues||+1400||↓ from +1200|
|Nashville Predators||+1600||↑ from +2200|
|San Jose Sharks||+1600||↔ No change|
|Washington Capitals||+1600||↔ No change|
|Winnipeg Jets||+1600||↔ No change|
|Calgary Flames||+1800||↔ No change|
|Dallas Stars||+2000||↑ from +2800|
|Florida Panthers||+2000||↑ from +2500|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||+2000||↓ from +1800|
|Montreal Canadiens||+2500||↑ from +5000|
|New Jersey Devils||+2500||↑ from +6600|
|New York Rangers||+2500||↑ from +6600|
|Carolina Hurricanes||+2800||↑ from +3300|
|Philadelphia Flyers||+2800||↓ from +2500|
|Arizona Coyotes||+3300||↔ No change|
|Chicago Blackhawks||+3300||↔ No change|
|New York Islanders||+3300||↓ from +2800|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+4000||↓ from +2800|
|Edmonton Oilers||+4000||↔ No change|
|Vancouver Canucks||+4000||↔ No change|
|Buffalo Sabres||+5000||↓ from +3300|
|Minnesota Wild||+5000||↓ from +3300|
|Anaheim Ducks||+6600||↔ No change|
|Los Angeles Kings||+6600||↓ from +5000|
|Detroit Red Wings||+8000||↓ from +6600|
|Ottawa Senators||+10000||↔ No change|
Despite losing more significant players than they added (defenseman Anton Stralman signed with Florida and forward J.T. Miller was traded to Vancouver), the Tampa Bay Lightning remain the favorite to win the Cup in 2020 and would actually bring a worse return than the same bet before July 1. Signing UFA defensemen Luke Schenn and Luke Witkowski and goalie Curtis McElhinney likely didn’t impress the oddsmakers as much as the Bolts’ continued depth and how the freed-up cap space will enable them to re-sign RFA Brayden Point.
Oddsmakers lost a little confidence in the next favorites — Boston, Vegas, and Toronto.
While the Bruins and Golden Knights didn’t add any significant names by trade or free agency, the Maple Leafs were busy trading away Nazem Kadri, Patrick Marleau, Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown and obtaining Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot, Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur and much-needed salary cap space with which to re-sign restricted free agent Mitch Marner.
If you long-suffering Leafs fans believe that next season will finally be the end of your team’s drought, you might want to jump on this bet before the odds change again.
Drafting forward Jack Hughes first overall, trading for defenseman P.K. Subban and signing free agent forward Wayne Simmonds made a big impression on oddsmakers, propelling the New Jersey Devils from longshots to the middle of the pack.
The New York Rangers tied the Devils for the biggest jump up the chart after drafting Finnish phenom Kaapo Kakko second overall, landing the top free agent forward, Artemi Panarin with a seven-year, $81.5 million contract and trading for former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba. Suddenly the Rangers rebuild has been fast-tracked and it’s gotten the attention of gamblers and sports books.
Though they dealt Subban away for prospects and draft picks, the Nashville Predators also made a significant jump because they landed Matt Duchene, one of the top free agent forwards available. That acquisition has fellow center Kyle Turris on the trade block. A good return will see Nashville’s odds get worse, so bettors should consider jumping on that +1600 because it’s probably not going to get better.
[The Canadiens] have plenty of cap space to make a significant acquisition and GM Marc Bergevin showed he’s willing to take chances.
Montreal also moved up considerably, despite having the Carolina Hurricanes match the Canadiens’ offer sheet to restricted free-agent forward Sebastian Aho. No other Habs moves have warranted such betting confidence, but they still have plenty of cap space to make a significant acquisition and GM Marc Bergevin showed he’s willing to take chances.
Could another offer sheet be coming soon for one of the tantalizing RFAs still out there, such as Point, Marner, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk or Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor?
Many teams’ odds remain unchanged, but that doesn’t mean they are all in the same class.
Colorado stays at +1200, but actually moved up the chart because of St. Louis and Toronto’s slight drops. The addition of Kadri to improve their top-six forward group and the fact the Avalanche still have a ton of cap space are keeping them among the league’s five betting favorites.
San Jose re-signed superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson to prevent him from free agency, and Sharks general manager Doug Wilson always manages to load up his roster to keep it a strong Cup contender.
The Washington Capitals got tougher and meaner by trading for defenseman Radko Gudas from the Philadelphia Flyers, and Winnipeg has to remake its defensive group after losing Tyler Myers and Brandon Tanev to free agency and trading Trouba.
No amount of changes managed to budge the likes of the Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks, nor the longest of longshots the Ottawa Senators.
A handful of teams – Columbus, Buffalo, Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Detroit – dropped significantly in oddsmakers’ opinions since the end of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Columbus Blue Jackets understandably fell out of favor after losing Duchene, Panarin, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to free agency. The Blue Jackets filled a spot reasonably well with forward Gustav Nyquist and are still a playoff contender with a lot of cap space for gutsy GM Jarmo Kekäläinen to work with.
The Columbus Blue Jackets … fell out of favor after losing Duchene, Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to free agency.
Buffalo’s fall is surprising because the Sabres didn’t lose any significant pieces through free agency, and they traded for defenseman Colin Miller and forward Jimmy Vesey. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s signing of free agent Mats Zuccarello and Detroit bringing back Valtteri Filippula failed to impress oddsmakers and gamblers.