The next part in my NHL Futures series is here, as we take a look at the best bet to win the Presidents’ Trophy this year. The Presidents’ Trophy is awarded to the team that finishes with the most points (i.e. best record) during the regular season. In the event two teams tie, the award goes to the team with the most wins.
After a very impressive 62-16-4 record, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the 2018-19 Presidents’ Trophy. They put up 128 points, the most points in any NHL regular season since the 1996 Red Wings. This historical year was overshadowed by their early first-round exit in the playoffs, but the Lightning return with a very strong team and look like a solid bet to defend the trophy.
Best Bet: Tampa Bay Lightning (+300 on FanDuel Sportsbook)
The Lightning are the best team on paper and, in my opinion, it isn’t very close. Loaded with high-end talent, the Lightning boast a top-five that cannot be matched in the league. (F) Nikita Kucherov, (F) Steven Stamkos, (F) Brayden Point, (F) Victor Hedman, and (F) Andrei Vasilevskiy are the backbone of this team. They have young rising stars in second-year defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and skilled forward Anthony Cirelli ready to take the next step.
They had three players who set career highs in points last season. Nikita Kucherov had 128 points to help him win the Hart Trophy at the end of the year. Kucherov was the first player in 20 years to reach over 120 points in 75 games. Steven Stamkos had a career-high 98 points and Brayden Point had a career-high 92 points in just his third season. In fact, the Lightning are the first team since 2006-07 to have three 90-point scorers.
How deep is this Lightning team? Well, last year they had 12 players score over 30 points. They had a goal differential of plus-103 in 2018-19, the second-highest mark in the past 20 years. The Lightning finished first in goals last year with 319, first in power-play goals, first in power-play percentage, and first in power-play kill percentage. With no big names leaving the roster in the offseason, the special teams will certainly be near the top once again this year.
Getting swept in the first round of the playoffs last year should be a wake-up call for this team. I feel this Lightning squad will have a big chip on their shoulder and come back hungrier. Their eyes are on the ultimate prize of winning the Stanley Cup and they will not be content with the way their season ended. The majority of their players are still in their 20s and they will use this experience to help propel them up the standings again.