The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, meaning it’s time to once again check in on the updated Stanley Cup odds.
But first, a quick summary to bring you up to date. Back in the summer, shortly after Toronto had signed John Tavares, the betting public was plunking down its money on the Maple Leafs to win it all. By mid-season, though, Tampa Bay had broken from the pack and the Lightning had become the odds-on favorite. And at our last check-in a month ago, the Bolts were still riding high as the best bet to win it all.
One more thing to keep in mind before we dive into the latest Stanley Cup odds (courtesy of internet bookmaker BetOnline.ag): these odds don’t necessarily reflect a power ranking of the NHL’s best-to-worst teams; rather, they reflect who people are betting the most money on. For the most part, it’s close, but a team like, say, the Maple Leafs might have lower odds than they actually deserve because more money is being bet on them than is being placed on teams that are higher in the standings. (What’s my point? Please quit yelling at me in the comments because the Leafs have seemingly inflated odds, that’s my point…)
OK, let’s get to it, the latest odds for the 2019 Stanley Cup:
THE PROHIBITIVE FAVORITE
Tampa Bay Lightning4/1
The Lightning didn’t do anything at the trade deadline – because they didn’t have to. Tampa Bay has been resting comfortably atop the league standings virtually all season, and at this point they’re just putting in time until things get serious in the playoffs. We could go on and on about why the Bolts are the team to beat – the star power, the depth, the culture, the core, the motivation of several recent deep playoff runs that came up just short -- but why bother? You already know about all that stuff.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP FIVE
Toronto Maple Leafs 9/1
Winnipeg Jets 9/1
Calgary Flames 10/1
San Jose Sharks 10/1
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: there’s no way Toronto should be tied with Winnipeg for the second-best Cup odds. First of all, they’re not the second-best team in the league. Heck, according to the standings, they’re not even the second-best team in their division. Boston is. Which brings us to the next point: the Leafs reside in the same division as the Lightning and the Bruins (and the Montreal Canadiens, who have an outside shot at overtaking Toronto and pushing the Leafs down into a wild-card spot), so they’re going to face some stiff competition in the early going in the post-season. The most likely scenario sees Toronto take on Boston in the first round and Tampa Bay in the second, with the Bruins and the Lightning holding home-ice advantage. So, yeah, not an easy road. You could argue the Leafs would be wise to fall behind Montreal and enter the playoffs as the first wild-card, and thereby cross over into the Metropolitan Division bracket. They might even draw the New York Islanders in the first round – and wouldn’t that be fun (at least for everybody not named John Tavares).
Yet, despite all the things working against Toronto (I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, poor Toronto, they can never catch a break”), there’s a lot of money being wagered on the Leafs to win the Cup. Why? Because bettors be crazy, that’s why. Don’t get me wrong, the Leafs are a contender, but surely we can agree they don’t rate the best non-Lightning odds in the league.
As for the rest of the teams in the top five betting favorites, they seem to be slotted accordingly. The Jets, Flames and Sharks, along with the Nashville Predators, make up the best of the West and one them should survive the playoff gauntlet and emerge as a Cup finalist against, presumably, the Lightning.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP 10
Boston Bruins 12/1
Nashville Predators 12/1
New York Islanders 14/1
St. Louis Blues 16/1
Washington Capitals 16/1
The Bruins and Predators definitely deserve their almost-in-the-top-cut contending status, they’ve got as good a chance as any team that’s not Tampa Bay. The Islanders have been a revelation under Barry Trotz, but I’m still going to need to see some proof in the playoffs. The Blues are hard to argue considering they’ve been the best team in the league since the calendar flipped to 2019, but the jump from the AHL regular season to the NHL post-season is going to be a big one for breakout rookie goalie Jordan Binnington. Still, he’s passed every test with flying colors so far. As for the Capitals, they didn’t go into the playoffs last year as a popular pick to win it all, and this time they’re going in as the defending champions, so you’d be crazy to count them out.
GOTTA BE IN IT TO WIN IT
Vegas Golden Knights 18/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 20/1
Pittsburgh Penguins 22/1
Montreal Canadiens 28/1
Carolina Hurricanes 33/1
Colorado Avalanche 50/1
Dallas Stars 50/1
Arizona Coyotes 66/1
Minnesota Wild 66/1
Philadelphia Flyers 66/1
We learned last year to never bet against the house, and Vegas has a decided edge over the rest of the Western Conference teams in this grouping. The Knights are sitting in third place in the Pacific, several points ahead of the Avs, Stars, Coyotes and Wild, with those four teams battling tooth and nail for the two wild-card spots. But if you make the playoffs, you have a fighting chance to win the Cup, so feel free to pick an underdog and hope for a miracle on ice.
In the East, the Hurricanes have the best record since Jan. 1, climbing from outside the playoff picture to third place in the Metro. (And who knows, the way they’re playing they might ‘Storm Surge’ their way to the top of the division before all is said and done.) Columbus, who loaded up at the deadline, and Pittsburgh, who’s Pittsburgh, are in a dogfight with Carolina in the Metro, as well as dueling with Montreal for the two wild-card spots. Three of these teams will get in, one will not. Who will it be? Your guess is as good as mine.
SO YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE
Buffalo Sabres 100/1
Vancouver Canucks 100/1
Chicago Blackhawks 150/1
Edmonton Oilers 150/1
Florida Panthers 150/1
Anaheim Ducks 250/1
Mathematically, yes, there’s still a chance for these teams to make the playoffs and then go on to win the Stanley Cup. But don’t bet on it.
BETTER LUCK NEXT YEAR
Los Angeles Kings Off the board
New York Rangers Off the board
Detroit Red Wings Off the board
New Jersey Devils Off the board
Ottawa Senators Off the board
You know it’s over when even the bookies won’t take your money. Forget the post-season, these teams are playing for the draft lottery and a shot at No. 1 prospect Jack Hughes. Well, except for the Senators – their first-round pick belongs to Colorado as part of the Matt Duchene trade in 2017.