PHOTO CREDIT: © PERRY NELSON-USA TODAY SPORTS
The 2017-18 NHL season is right around the corner. With the off-season — loaded with an interesting wrinkle with an expansion team from Las Vegas joining the fold — all wrapped up, we can start to make predictions as to how this season is going to unfold.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will enter the year looking to become the first team to win the Stanley Cup three times in a row since the New York Islanders dynasty of the late 1970s. Those Islanders teams were dethroned by a young Edmonton Oilers squad, much like how Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s group will aim to take down the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin juggernaut.
So, who’s going win it all this year? With the dust of the off-season settled, reviewing a trusted sportsbook like Bodog can give us some insight into the future.
The aforementioned Penguins and Oilers — despite having quiet off-seasons in which they weren’t aggressive in the free agent market — enter the year with the best odds to win the Stanley Cup. Bodog has the Penguins at +750, the best odds, then the Oilers at +800, a close second. Both the Penguins and Oilers, unsurprisingly then, are the odds-on-favourites to make it out of their respective conferences come playoff time.
At the bottom of the pile are four teams tied with +15000 odds to win the Stanley Cup. The Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings, Arizona Coyotes, and New Jersey Devils. This is particularly interesting because the Wings and Canucks seem to be actively avoiding a rebuild by having aggressive summers in which they added major free agents like Trevor Daley and Michael Del Zotto respectively. The Coyotes and Devils also actively tried to improve this summer. Arizona made major deals to acquire Derek Stepan and Nik Hjalmarsson from teams in salary cap binds, while the Devils grabbed Marcus Johansson from the Capitals. These four basement teams each come in with lower odds than the brand-new Vegas Golden Knights and the 22-win Colorado Avalanche, who have +7500 and +10000 odds respectively.
The Dallas Stars were likely the winners of this summer’s free agent frenzy. The Stars went nuts and signed a proven goaltender in Ben Bishop, an elite offensive talent in Alex Radulov to go along with their already potent attack, and added smart and reliable Martin Hanzal to replace Cody Eakin, who they let go in the expansion draft. After all of that, the Stars have +1400 odds to win the Cup, putting them in a tie with the Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, and Anaheim Ducks.
Speaking of the Capitals, it was assumed their contention window had slammed shut after last spring’s disappointing loss to the Penguins. The Caps had to wave goodbye to a large chunk of players, including Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt, and Marcus Johansson, which aren’t going to be easy shoes to fill. Still, they managed to keep T.J. Oshie around after his career-best 33-goal season. They aren’t odds-on-favourites like in past years, but the Caps still head into 2017-18 towards the top of the pack.
The New York Rangers also had an interesting off-season, unloading Derek Stepan’s cap hit on the Coyotes in order to sign highly-coveted defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk. Despite this, the good-but-not-good enough Rangers are ranked in the middle of the pack with with +1800 odds to win it all. The Montreal Canadiens shuffled their roster again this summer, signing Karl Alzner and trading for Jonathan Drouin to add a dynamic punch up front. Still, like the Rangers, the Habs are slammed in the middle of the pack with +1800 odds.
Still, it seems that despite the big off-seasons in Dallas and elsewhere, the oddsmakers like the league’s superstars. If this all pans out, we’ll get the epic Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid showdown in the Stanley Cup Final, something we never had with Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.