Sure, the 2018 Stanley Cup champions – the Washington Capitals – are less than two weeks removed from their unlikely victory, but it’s never too early to starting thinking about NHL futures and prop bets for next season! We’re all hockey obsessed, right?
As far as the Eastern Conference outlook for 2019 goes, the more things change (the Ottawa Senators are now an even bigger dumpster fire), the more they stay they same (Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Boston should still be the cream of the crop).
Here’s a look at how we think the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions are shaping up in terms of 2019 Stanley Cup futures odds:
Pre-Free Agency Atlantic Division 2019 Stanley Cup Futures Odds
After a season where an expansion team narrowly missed out on a Stanley Cup, many will be tempted to chase long shots for the 2018-2019 season. While there will be some worthy darkhorses to consider, it’s unlikely any will come from the Atlantic Division.
With three very good teams near the top of the betting board – Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto – it’s doubtful another team will be able to find their way into the division title conversation. I would even go as far as saying the three Atlantic Division playoff spots are spoken for and any surprises in the division will be fortunate to secure a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Here are the odds on each of the Atlantic Division teams to win the Stanley Cup in 2019, taken from Sports Interaction:
- Tampa Bay Lightning +900
- Toronto Maple Leafs +1000
- Boston Bruins +1100
- Florida Panthers +4000
- Montreal Canadiens +6000
- Buffalo Sabres +6600
- Detroit Red Wings +7500
- Ottawa Senators +8000
All three of the teams that laid claim to spots last year in the division are expected to return most of their key pieces. They are also in a position to improve in the off-season through internal promotion and through trade and unrestricted free agency.
The Toronto Maple Leafs promoted Kyle Dubas to GM, and a few weeks later he won the Calder Cup as his last act at the helm of the Toronto Marlies. The guy has won and had success everywhere he’s gone, and is no doubt one of the brightest hockey executives in the game. The Leafs are in great hands, have a roster full of skilled players, and have some cap space to play with. The only downside here is their odds – I was hoping we might see them open at +1500, but no dice.
Tampa Bay returns a very strong roster that quite frankly, I can’t believe lost to the Capitals. Chris Kunitz is an unrestricted free agent, but no harm in letting the soon-to-be 39 year-old walk instead of paying him 3 or 4 million dollars. There are definitely a lot of big names available in the trade market this offseason, and Steve Yzerman always seems to find a way into the conversation for impact players. But even failing a significant addition, the Lightning should once again be at or near the top of the Eastern Conference all season long.
The Boston Bruins return arguably the best line in hockey in Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak, so they’re always going to be a force to be reckoned with. Couple those guys with Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork and the extremely talented Ryan Donato all on entry level contracts, and the Bruins will once again be a very capable team.
Florida had a very strong finish to their season and narrowly missed a wild card spot. But recent mismanagement of assets makes me want to see how their season starts before committing to them, since I don’t believe their price reflects the strength of their division. The recent addition of Mike Hoffman is a step in the right direction for improving their offensive depth, but the off ice concerns should leave any bettors wary.
The four other teams in the division either have massive holes, or are working on blowing holes in their roster shortly (I’m looking at you Ottawa). Finding value in Montreal, Detroit, Ottawa or the Buffalo Sabres later in the season won’t be difficult if they manage to get off to a good start.
Check out the team previews in the coming weeks for more in depth analysis on roster construction and the path forward for each team.
Pre-Free Agency Metropolitan Division 2019 Stanley Cup Futures Odds
The Metropolitan division is decidedly less settled than their Eastern Conference counterparts in the Atlantic. Led by the aforementioned Washington Capitals, five of the divisions eight teams made the playoffs and the remaining three teams all had respectable seasons until the trade deadline in March.
It’s hard to be down on the Stanley Cup Champions. But until John Carlson officially puts pen to paper their defense is very uncertain and frankly unimpressive. It is also fairly likely they lose another important contributor in backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer. It might be tempting to blindly bet the champs, but consider the team that will take the ice in October, not the one that hoisted the Cup in June.
Here are the odds on each of the Metro Division teams to win the Stanley Cup in 2019:
- Washington Capitals +1100
- Pittsburgh Penguins +1200
- Philadelphia Flyers +2500
- Columbus Blue Jackets +2500
- New Jersey Devils +4000
- New York Islanders +6000
- New York Rangers +6000
- Carolina Hurricanes +6600
Pittsburgh is a force to be reckoned with until they prove otherwise. With no budget concerns or impactful players slated for unrestricted free agency they are right where they belong in the futures market. A team that boasts two first ballot hall of famers at centre in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is essentially a lock for a playoff spot.
In Philadelphia, the eternal search for a starting goalie continues. Carter Hart is the potential star in waiting, but his arrival date is uncertain. Up front they have Wayne Simmonds coming off an injury plagued season and entering a contract year. As a whole, the roster probably will look a lot like the team that made a first round exit vs the rival Penguins last year. A bet on the Flyers is a bet on them finally landing on a reliable goalie.
John Tortorella has always been a controversial figure. He has publicly tried to soften his image of the hardened task master, but the recent news of star winger Artemi Panarin not wanting to discuss a contract extension could be a window into what it’s actually like in that locker room. Uncertainty from Columbus’ best player regarding his long term future with the team isn’t a good sign.
There is word today that Artemi Panarin has told CLB that he is not ready to consider an extension “at this time.” (UFA July 2019.) As a result, the Blue Jackets are testing the market for him.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 19, 2018
The trade is one for one. Bob Mckenzie’s famous one sentence tweet clarifying the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson trade will always be remembered by hockey fans who are plugged into social media. The debate on who won the trade should have been settled long ago, but even the most stubborn supporters of Edmonton’s side would surely give in now that Taylor Hall is a Hart Trophy winner…right? The price on the New Jersey Devils is interesting; they’re a playoff team with the reigning NHL MVP, but an unsettled goaltending situation probably means they’ll once again be left fighting for an 8th seed.
Many New York Islanders will be making a trip to Walmart this summer to pick up a new razor before they report to training camp in September. Lou Lamoriello’s ancient ‘no facial hair’ policy will await them upon their arrival. A new coach – which increasingly looks like it’ll be Barry Trotz – will also be taking to the ice with the team, once they find somebody willing to take over a team that will be in a transitional period should franchise player John Tavares choose to leave in free agency. If the Islanders don’t sign Tavares their price could easily slip towards the bottom of the board – and triple digits isn’t out of the question.
Staying in the state of New York, the Rangers are one of the more intriguing longshots in the Eastern Conference. Whenever you have Henrik Lundqvist you have a chance at a playoff spot; he may be one of the most under appreciated superstars of his generation. They also have a boatload of salary cap space, and an organization with tremendous wealth to go along with tons of cap space is always dangerous.
While it might appear the New York Rangers are entering into a rebuild, a few free agent signings or trades could change their course dramatically. They have at least eight forwards that are third line or better on most NHL teams, and that’s without accounting for any of their prospects who showed flashes at the end of last year ( I’m thinking Chytil/Andersson). The back end is a bit more of a mystery, but after veterans Staal and Shattenkirk they have four d-men under 25 who played a significant amount down the stretch: Skjei/Gilmour/Pionk/Deangelo.
Finally, we end with Tom Dundon, the new owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, who promised changes when he took over. Some of the early comments he made indicated to me that he was interested in taking an approach in line with statistical analysis. After hiring Don Waddell and Rick Dudley, two executives with a decidedly old school approach, I’m less inclined to believe they’re a team on the rise.
However, if the Canes get anything better than the horrid goaltending Scott Darling provided last year, they may improve despite some mismanagement of assets. I think the play here is wait to see if they get a goalie, or if they trade Jeff Skinner and/or Justin Faulk, as has been rumored. You’re likely going to still be able to get +6600 as training camp approaches, regardless of any moves they make around the NHL Entry Draft.
What NHL futures bets do you guys like in the Easter Conference? Hit us up on Twitter and let’s start a debate!