Though the NHL playoffs finished up only a little more than a month ago, the betting world has already turned their eyes on who will win the Stanley Cup next season. These are of course a very preliminary look at who the favorites are, and odds may change nearer to and during the NHL regular season. All odds courtesy of Bodava (America) and Bodog (Canada).
Pittsburgh Penguins 13/2: Despite the Penguins brilliant flameout to Boston in the playoffs last year, they are once again considered the front runners to win it all in 2014. I for one am always hesitant to take the Pens in the playoffs, especially with their shaky goaltending. That being said, it’s hard to image that with a healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup that they won’t be back in the Final again soon.
Chicago Blackhawks 15/2: Not much really needs to be said about the Hawks. They were quite simply the class of the league last season and have as good a chance as any to make it out of the West again this year. Be cautious though, they did lose a few valuable members of this year’s championship team to free agency. One fact that really worries me is that the Hawks may send more key players to the Sochi Olympics than any other NHL team, so fatigue may become a real factor.
Boston Bruins 9/1: The Bruins are in a very similar situation as their 2013 Final opponents. They dominated the Eastern Conference, but also lost some key players in free agency and may suffer from fatigue down the stretch. However, one thing the Bruins did which the Hawks didn’t, was manage to shore up those holes in the lineup. Bringing in Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson gives Boston a formidable top 6, while netmider Tuukka Rask is just entering his prime. If it were my choice, I’d give the Bruins a better chance to win the Cup next year than the Hawks.
St. Louis Blues 12/1: Some people might be a bit surprised to see St. Louis ranked with the second best odds in the Western Conference, but they shouldn’t be. While lacking a true superstar, the Blues have depth in all positions and play coach Ken Hitchcock’s systems perfectly. This is a team that has been on the cusp of becoming real contenders for a few years now, and they might just take that step next season, especially with Detroit out of their division. This is a bit of a long shot in my opinion, I don’t like the odds much, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they fooled me in 2014.
Los Angeles Kings – Vancouver Canucks 14/1: It’s no surprise to see either of these teams once again among the favorites. LA boasts a very similar team to the one that took home the Cup in 2012. Combine that with a roster built for the rigors of the playoffs and one of the best goalies in the world in Jonathan Quick, and we’ve got a real contender on our hands. Vancouver though, I’m not as confident about. There’s no doubt that the Canucks are an impressively skilled team, but they’re not getting any younger and their window may be closing. Making it even harder for them is the fact that divisional realignment arguably hurt them more than any other team. If I had to chose between the two, my money’s on the Kings.
New York Rangers 16/1: The Rangers were one of the favorites entering last season, but fell flat during the regular season before being eliminated by the Bruins in the second round. Don’t be decieved, this is still one of the best teams in the East, and with a new coach in Alain Vigneault that will push a more up-tempo style, they stand a very good chance of winning it all next year.
Detroit Red Wings 16/1: For years the refrain has been, “the Wings are too old, they can’t win the Cup again”. This couldn’t be more untrue, as Detroit has slowly evolved into one of the younger teams in the league. Adding Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss through free agency was a coup, and Mike Babcock is consistently one of the best coaches in hockey. If it were my money, I’d be putting it on the Wings for next season.
New York Islanders 33/1: Every year the Isles get overlooked, but I have a feeling that is going to come to an end very soon. The gave the heavily favored Penguins a real scare in the first round last year, and are very close to becoming an elite force in the East again. John Tavares, still only 22 years old, may be one of the top five forwards in the world. There’s some concerns about their goaltending and their relative inexperience, but it might just be worth it to take a flyer on the team from Long Island.
New Jersey Devils 40/1: Yes the Devils lost Ilya Kovalchuk, leaving a gaping hole in their forward corps that is likely unfillable. Still, this is nothing new for a Devils franchise that is built on the foundation of team defense and goaltending. They’re a longshot to be sure, they may not even make the playoffs. But if they do, Cory Schneider and Martin Broduer are both goalies capable of stealing a series or two and the Devils could cause some serious damage.
Phoenix Coyotes 50/1: How the Coyotes got worse odds than any team other than Florida is beyond me. Yes, they struggled and missed the playoffs last season, but this is a team only two years removed from a Western Conference Final appearance. Also, now that the ownership situation appears to finally be settled, the players can put all their focus back onto the ice. With Mike Ribiero coming in as a true number one center, and an expected bounce back season from goalie Mike Smith, the Coyotes could make someone look like a genius if they picked them to win the Cup.
Head over to Bodog.eu to check out the complete list of NHL Stanley Cup odds!