While the Kings receive a ticker tape parade in downtown Los Angles, NHL bettors are already prepping for next season. June's going to be hectic as the NHL draft approaches on the 22nd and 23rd, springboarding us into free agency on the first of July.
With that in mind, Bovada has already released their
2012-13 Stanley Cup futures, and I’ve been doing some perusing. Here is my look
at all of the teams on the menu and the picks that I’d make from the favorites,
the mid-tier and the longshots.
Expensive, But Worth A Shot
It’s hard not to like the Pittsburgh Penguins in any
shape or form…save for the price tag. With a full year from Sidney Crosby and
Evgeni Malkin together, it’s going to be tough to stop what many considered to
be the best team in the NHL this season. Unfortunately, at 7/1, the risk is not
worth the reward since they desperately need some help on the blue line, and
parity is at an all-time high in the league.
If you notice, the Pens are the only team on the futures
chart with smaller odds than 10/1, which is a bit surprising.
Next up are the Los Angeles Kings, who did the deed this
season but are only 11/1 to repeat. It’s a fair price for a team that will
likely return intact with more confidence next year. As we’ve seen with Boston
and Chicago in the last couple of seasons, though, repeating is quite the
arduous task. At this point, I like my odds on their not winning rather than them doing
Then we get into a big mix of teams that could and are
offering decent payouts. There’s the Chicago Blackhawks, who are probably a
good goaltender away from being a serious player. Maybe he’s already on the
roster (Corey Crawford) but what’s closer to the truth is that they’ll need
someone else and they may not be able to make that maneuver to get it done.
The Detroit Red Wings are perennial contenders but they
showed this year that they’re the old guard. With Nicklas Lidstrom retiring,
it’s not exactly a vote of confidence for a team that faded in the second half
of the 2012 season and flamed out in the first round of the playoffs.
There’s the New York Rangers, who are a few bricks short
of a load on offense, the St. Louis Blues, who impressed this season but are
still a question mark, the Vancouver Canucks, who probably need to trade away
Roberto Luongo for a good asset to have a realistic shot, the Boston Bruins,
who won’t have Tim Thomas next season after his surprise one-year hiatus, and
the Nashville Predators, who probably peaked this season.
Of this group, I like the Canucks at 12/1 if they can
move Luongo and get a power forward to bolster their top two units. I also like
the Rangers if they can sign a player like Zach Parise and boost their offense.
Other than that, most of these teams are interchangeable to me.
Pick: Canucks 12/1
& Rangers 12/1
The Mid-Tier: shopping For bargains
In the mid-tier, we’re looking at teams like the San Jose
Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington
Capitals, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado
Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes, Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators.
Teams I don’t like in this group are the following:
San Jose Sharks: expired.
Washington Capitals: no thank you.
New Jersey Devils: won’t be able to produce a repeat
performance and surpass it.
Florida Panthers: just not good enough.
Toronto Maple Leafs: can’t win without a top-notch
Ottawa Senators: overachieved in 2012.
Colorado Avalanche: second half slide in 2012 concerns
Phoenix Coyotes: overachieved in 2012.
Dallas Stars: sum of the parts is strong but not strong
That leaves the three teams that I do like: Anaheim,
Buffalo and Tampa Bay.
Buffalo and Anaheim played excellent hockey down the stretch of
the 2012 season but fell just short of the playoffs. For both teams, awful
starts caught up with them and both teams missed the playoffs. Overall, though,
the two teams have excellent goaltending and well-rounded teams. It wouldn’t
surprise me if either made a serious run at the Cup in 2013. After all, this is
a league filled with parity.
Meanwhile, the Lightning could be dangerous if they find
a goaltender. Tampa Bay with, say, Roberto Luongo, is not a team anyone in the
East would want to face come playoff time. Too bad they let go of Mike Smith
Pick: Sabres 25/1,
Ducks 25/1 & Lightning 25/1
The Longsots: You
Can’t Pay Me Enough To Bet You
Going from the bottom up, the New York Islanders,
Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames and
Winnipeg Jets won’t see any of my money. Not even if Wayne Gretzky came back
and joined any of these squads while recruiting Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby.
I can’t see any of these squads being one offseason away from competing for a
You’ll notice I omitted the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal
Canadiens from that list. The Oilers are still a crazy long shot, but you never
know when all of their youngsters will start to click. We saw a brief glimpse
of that at the start of the 2011-12 campaign, and they’re going to add even more
talent through the draft and offseason now. Even so, they’re best case scenario
is a St. Louis Blues-like growth spurt. I wouldn’t be on them to win the Cup
but I wouldn’t be surprised if they fought for a playoff spot.
The team with the best value here is easily the
Canadiens. At 60/1, I would actually recommend a small sprinkle. The reality
here is that Montreal took the 2011 Stanley Cup champs to a seventh-game in
Round 1 and then just mailed in their effort in 2012. They quit on their coach
very early and finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. But
don’t overlook them; they still have plenty of components that a Stanley Cup
contender might have.
Goaltender Carey Price is a stud, the blue line has some
good anchors with P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov and Tomas Kaberle, and the
offensive lines are decent too. Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Erik Cole,
Brian Gionta and David Desharnais are decent. They clearly need more – and
they’ll get more with a high draft pick – but with a new coach and plenty of
cap space, this team can add some quality players.
Montreal reminds me a lot of the Los Angeles Kings: they are
decent defensively and have a Vezina Trophy-type goaltender, but they vastly
underachieved and hardly put an effort into the 2011-12 season. If they found a
coach that can push the right buttons, this team can wake up and be a factor in
the Eastern Conference playoff race once again.
Pittsburgh Penguins 7/1
Los Angeles Kings 11/1
Chicago Blackhawks 12/1
Detroit Red Wings 12/1
New York Rangers 12/1
St. Louis Blues 12/1
Vancouver Canucks 12/1
Boston Bruins 14/1
Philadelphia Flyers 14/1
Nashville Predators 18/1
San Jose Sharks 22/1
Anaheim Ducks 25/1
Buffalo Sabres 25/1
Tampa Bay Lightning
Washington Capitals 25/1
New Jersey Devils 30/1
Florida Panthers 35/1
Toronto Maple Leafs 35/1
Colorado Avalanche 40/1
Dallas Stars 40/1
Ottawa Senators 40/1
Phoenix Coyotes 40/1
Winnipeg Jets 40/1
Calgary Flames 50/1
Carolina Hurricanes 50/1
Edmonton Oilers 60/1
Montreal Canadiens 60/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 75/1
Minnesota Wild 75/1
York Islanders 75/1