A few weeks ago, I took a very early look at NHL Stanley Cup futures, prior to the free agency period. If you bet on teams like the Dallas Stars or New Jersey Devils between then and now you are probably very happy, as both made huge pickups and saw their odds deservedly go down quite a bit. Now that some of the biggest free agency signings have taken place, let’s take a look at an updated list of the best bets to win the Stanley Cup.
Tampa Bay Lightning +700
They were +700 before and they are +700 now. The good news for the Lightning is that their workhorses are still on the roster. Until something drastic happens, this team is my pick. I guess it’s boring to pick a favorite, but they’re out for blood this year. The sting of what happened in 2019 will not wear off easily.
New Jersey Devils +2600
When I initially wrote this up a few weeks ago, I struggled to come up with a really good longshot who had a chance to take home the cup. I originally landed on the Blue Jackets, but they lost Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin just like everyone expected (we’ll get to their new homes in just a second) and so despite their great coach John Tortorella, they have a huge hill to climb in 2020. While the Devils don’t benefit from the Blue Jackets’ losses, they went out and signed Wayne Simmonds and acquired P.K. Subban in a trade with the Predators. These are two great pickups for a team that feels like it’s on the right track toward a playoff berth and maybe even more. If they’re able to get a goalie, or just find a way to solve their woes, between now and the start of the season, there is no reason this team can’t mix it up come playoff time.
New York Rangers +2600
The Rangers secured Artemi Panarin for a huge chunk of change and now look like a team ready to contend. They were certainly far from even sniffing the playoffs last season, but Panarin can make a huge difference for them on the offensive end. Last season he recorded a career-high 87 points for the Blue Jackets. Throw him into the mix with a lot of young talent that had a year to develop their skills, and the Rangers could be a surprise team to watch in the East.
Florida Panthers +2100
The Panthers finished 10th in the East last season giving up the third-most goals in the Eastern Conference and fourth-most in the entire NHL. They also scored the fifth-most goals in the East and finished eighth in the league. What I’m saying is the offense wasn’t the problem for Florida last year. Unlike the Devils, the Panthers went out and got their guy, signing Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven-year deal and securing their goalie of the future. The Panthers look like they will now be in the hunt for years to come, and with Bobrovsky in net, it should begin this season.
Dallas Stars +2100
What about the Western Conference? I give the Stars the edge over the Predators who signed Matt Duchene, just because they did more without having to give much up. First, they made a huge signing in Joe Pavelski, a playoff beast, which fills a hole the Stars desperately wanted to fill. Then they went out and got Corey Perry, who hopes to be his normal self after a knee injury, and Andrej Sekera, who should play a decent role on the defensive end. The Stars were one game away from sending the eventual champion St. Louis Blue home last season. These signings, especially Pavelski, show they are thinking Stanley Cup or bust right now. Those +2100 odds may be way too good to pass up.