More than any other North American professional sports league, the parity of the NHL is unmatched. Need some proof? At the all-star break of the 2018-19 season, the St. Louis Blues had the worst record in the NHL and were +250000 long shots to win the Stanley Cup. The Blues then went on a run for the ages, going 30-10-5 to finish the season while making the playoffs behind the stellar play of rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington. St. Louis went on to capture its first Stanley Cup in franchise history in a seven-game series against the Boston Bruins.
It’s highly unlikely any team can follow-up that performance this year, but stranger things have happened in the NHL. Here are my top three value teams to win the Stanley Cup at the halfway point of the 2019-20 season.
It’s hard to believe the Avalanche were a 22-win team only four seasons ago, but after making the playoffs in consecutive years and beating the Calgary Flames in the first round a year ago, Colorado has all the makings of a Stanley Cup contender. While the otherworldly Nathan MacKinnon (30 goals, 42 assists in 49 games) has continued to be the anchor up front, the emergence of Calder Trophy favorite Cale MaKar (11 goals, 26 assists in 41 games) has given the Avs a tremendous offensive boost on the blue line.
Colorado is sitting in second in the Central Division with 68 points at the all-star break, trailing the first-place Blues by six points. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer’s mediocre campaign has been overshadowed by Pavel Francouz, who owns a 12-4-2 record with a 2.45 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. The netminders are going to be the difference as to whether or not the Avalanche make a deep postseason run, yet this team is far too talented to count out in the Western Conference right now.
The Panthers were a trendy Stanley Cup pick at the beginning of the season, but they’re finally looking the part right now. Florida is entering the all-star break on a six-game winning streak to move into the third spot in the highly-competitive Atlantic Division. Florida leads the league in goals for (180) and boasts two players in the top 20 in scoring in Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov.
It’s hard to trust a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff series since 1996, but this year’s edition of the Panthers is severely different from the various teams that experienced playoff failures in the past. Joel Quenneville is one of the best coaches in the NHL, and even though he’s experienced an up-and-down first season in Sunrise, Sergei Bobrovsky’s track record speaks for itself in between the pipes. If Bobrovksy can turn it on come the spring and the Panthers continue their high-flying offensive ways, this club could be dangerous.
Coming off a disappointing 2018-19 season in which they failed to make the playoffs, the Flyers have rebounded in a big way this year. At 27-17-6 entering the break, the Flyers find themselves in a dog fight in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Philadelphia’s biggest issue so far has been playing on the road, as the Flyers are 17-4-4 at home compared to 10-13-2 away from the City of Brotherly Love.
Like the Panthers, the Flyers have an all-world goalie in Carter Hart who can steal a game on any given night. It’s been proven time and time again in the NHL that a hot goaltender can carry a team to a Stanley Cup, and Hart has what it takes to lead this team to the promised land. At 30-1, the Flyers are one of the best value bets on the odds board.
Luke Miller is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Luke, check out his archive.