The NHL season just ended last week and yet here we are looking at the 2020 campaign already. The St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup but they are not the backed to repeat next season.
Tampa Bay lead the way again
Like last season, Tampa Bay opened as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. There has been a subtle shift though. The Lightning started at 6/1 in May but are now 8/1 (opened at +600, now +700). That inching downward is not a surprise, but a trend not expected to continue. Tampa Bay ran into a hot team that figured them out in Columbus. The expectation is that lessons were learned.
The hope is that the Lightning are healthier than they were entering the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sometimes, these are things that cannot be controlled. With most of the same team returning, Tampa Bay figures to make a deeper playoff run next time around.
Some intrigue among the next tier
It looks like Boston and Vegas are there again. Both teams are +1000 but Vegas offers a slightly more intriguing +1100. Then, there is a team like the Colorado Avalanche. They were inches from advancing to the Western Conference Final. With the fourth overall draft pick and ample cap space, they are a team to keep an eye on. Their range spans from +1100 to +1700 for a reason. Colorado is one of those teams which carries that kind of intrigue.
San Jose is another team at +1700 which could surprise, and the Erik Karlsson extension could entice some money to come their way. Though, they are a team, which has flaws in net, the Sharks did make a deep run, nonetheless. Nashville is another team hovering at +1700. A few additions in the summer could vault them up the crowded Western Conference. Of course, a working power play might do that too.
For a few teams more
The Dallas Stars were close to advancing to the Western Conference Final before they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion. If Mats Zuccarello returns and Dallas finds a little defensive help, they could easily make that +2200 look quite good. Dallas was closer than most think last season. Again, the drawback is that crowded Western Conference. Quite a few teams are packed far too close.
Next, the Carolina Hurricanes are another team which could go on a deep playoff run once more. Their odds are as high as +2800 which creates some good value. The big concerns they have are in net (who will return?) and how to fix those god-awful special teams. Their special teams’ percentage was the worst in the NHL playoffs. If those problems can be rectified, Carolina could easily vault up the pecking order in the East.
Finally, there exists the Arizona Coyotes at +4000. Yes, there are a long shot, at best. However, the Coyotes featured one of the best special teams in the league and goaltending which was Vezina Trophy caliber throughout most of the 2018-19 season. If Antti Raanta can stay healthy and Darcy Kuemper keeps his form from last season, then Arizona has a chance. One thing they will need to do is increase their scoring. No Arizona players hit the 20-goal mark. Simply, a little offense could get this team into the playoffs where they would be a little dangerous.
This is what makes early “Futures” so much fun. Finding value is vital to the bottom line always along with a little luck too.