Sportsbooks have set their hockey odds to win the next Stanley Cup, how do last year's champs Chicago look?

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Using Will Hill as our primary reference, we see some favorites to win it all going into the 2010-2011 NHL season.  Be sure to shop around for odds though, as there are plenty of differences between hockey handicappers for the upcoming season.

The Top 3 – Pittsburgh, Washington, and Chicago

Marc-Andre FleuryThe Pittsburgh Penguins (+518) are a favorite for some oddsmakers.  Compare it to William Hill’s 13/2 odds for the 47-28 Penguins.  Last year marked the second straight season for Pittsburgh to finsih behind the New Jersey Devils.  The Penguins fell in the Eastern Conference semifinals, losing a 3-2 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Penguins have added veteran center Mike Comrie and are expected to move Jordan Staal to the wing to help the weaknesses in the lineup.  Look for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to lead the Penguins deep into the playoffs this season – they certainly have the talent to make a run, as predictions reveal.

The Washington Capitals (+621) are not far behind on most sportsbooks.  With 6/1 odds, William Hill has the Caps as their favorite to win the Stanley Cup.  During the regular season they smoked everyone else with 121 points and a 30-5-6 record at home.  They also met the Canadiens, losing in 7 games.

Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin look to capture the first title in Caps’ history.  If the Caps make it to their fourth consecutive playoff appearance, maybe Ovechkin will have a better chance at the Cup with one more year for the Caps to make it work.

The Chicago Blackhawks (+746) are the returning Stanley Cup championsWilliam Hill gives them 6/1, where some handicappers see the situation differently, such as the case with Pinnacle Sports.  With Antti Niemi gone and some other role players, some inevitably have their doubts.

With Marty Turco in goal now, there is no undermining the team’s nucleus.  Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are a lethal combination, and it wouldn’t be surprising for the historic franchise to add to last season’s standings and results.

The 4 “Next Tier” Contenders – Detroit, San Jose, Vancouver and Philadelphia

The Detroit Red Wings (+1134, 10/1 at William Hill) are a solid option with yet another impressive season.  Though losing to San Jose 4-1, they are a solid choice to take the Cup.  Sports Interaction has them at +150 to take the Central Division, behind their rivals the Blackhawks.  Perhaps Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and company can prove NHL oddsmakers wrong.

After getting swept by the champs, the San Jose Sharks (+1222, 14/1 at William Hill) look to rebound.  Well, perhaps taking their goaltender will help.  Joe Thronton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley could make a strong push for the Sharks, who are a dangerous team and could do some damage in the playoffs.

The Vancouver Canucks (+1021, 10/1 at William Hill) lost momentum against the Blackhawks in the playoffs last season.  Henrik Sedin and company could make for some trouble in this season.  Imagine how a good season from Roberto Luongo could carry the talented Vancouver team – possibly offering good odds for NHL handicapping.

The Philadelphia Flyers (+1499, 10/1 at William Hill) are yet another victim to the champs from last year.  With Chris Pronger’s status unknown as to the return date from offseason knee surgery, it remains to be seen whether the Flyers can return.  If you like the Flyers this year, take advantage of some great value bets at Pinnacle Sports and others.

Who do you like to make a run for the Stanley Cup this year?  Will it be one of the elite teams from the odds makers – or will one of these dark horses emerge from the pack?  At any rate, there are some great NHL odds here for the next crowned champion.