Betting hockey is never easy. The Tampa Bay Lightning had a historic regular season in 2019, yet got swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets, a franchise that had never before won a playoff series. But that wasn’t even the craziest thing to happen in the 2019 season. On January 3, the St. Louis Blues had the worst record in the NHL, then began their journey from worst to first and ended the season vanquishing the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals. The Blues aren’t favored to repeat, and there isn’t a clear-cut favorite in the whole bunch. With a lot yet to be determined through the NHL Draft and free agency, it’s even harder to predict the future of hockey than usual. But Vegas has released the odds for the 2019-2020 Stanley Cup finals, and it is my duty to guide you toward the best bets to raise Lord Stanley’s trophy next June.
Tampa Bay Lightning +700
This is a great bet. +700 is great odds for the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. After recording 128 points in the regular season, their run was cut short in the first round of the playoffs. While that might scare some people away, I believe the Lightning will be out for blood next season. The Lightning fully expect to keep their core group of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy in 2020. If that’s the case, there is no reason to believe that this team isn’t ready to make a run at the title.
Vegas Golden Knights +1000
This is a team that I will always consider betting until they give me a solid reason to doubt them. While their second season success wasn’t as great as their first season, it’s hard to fault a team that wildly overachieved in their first season. The fact remains, the Golden Knights have yet to miss the playoffs. It’s a small sample size, but this is a team that believes they belong. They held a 3-2 lead on the Sharks in the first round of last year’s playoffs before losing back-to-back overtime games to get eliminated. They are currently the favorites to win the West, and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be.
Colorado Avalanche +1100
The Avalanche had a surprising 2019 season, managing to sneak into the playoffs and take care of the Calgary Flames before falling in a very entertaining, back-and-forth series with the Sharks. They had one of the youngest rosters in the league and will continue to be led by Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog in 2020. They were just one game away from making the Western Conference Finals last season, and with a solid roster for 2020, I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t improve this year.
Washington Capitals +1700
If there is one thing that seems to be a lock in the NHL it’s the Washington Capitals going to the playoffs. They have made it to the playoffs in 11 of the last 12 seasons and have won the Metropolitan division four straight times. While their playoff history has always been shaky, they did lift the weight off their shoulders with their Stanley Cup victory in 2018. I will never trust this franchise completely, but with Alexander Ovechkin on their team and a number like +1700 on the board, it’s impossible not to give them a look.
Columbus Blue Jackets +3300
This may just be that I have so much belief in John Tortorella as a coach, but if you’re looking for a long shot this is your team. They fought their way into the playoffs in 2019, edging out the Montreal Canadiens for the final Wild Card spot in the East, and this time took advantage of their postseason opportunity when they swept the Lightning. It looks like Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin are going to be lost to free agency, which will be a huge blow to the roster. I’m not saying it will be easy in 2020, but it could happen.
San Jose Sharks +1600
I really thought 2019 was their year. The Flames, Predators, and Jets all went down in the first round leaving the Sharks as the clear favorite to come out of the Western Conference. Yet, just like every season since their 2016 finals loss, the Sharks fell short of returning to the promised land. San Jose recently signed Erik Karlsson to an eight-year, $11.5M deal, which lets me know that the Sharks mean business now. If anyone is going to upset Vegas or Colorado this year, it is going to be San Jose. If they get to the Cup, they can compete with anyone.