2018 Stanley Cup Favorites After Free Agent Frenzy

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 07: A general view of the ice inside T-Mobile Arena during the national anthem for Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Thursday, June 7, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It’s now been a few days since the free agent frenzy of July 1st and teams are starting to take shape heading into the 2018 NHL season.  James Neal is a Flame, James van Riemsdyk is a Flyer, and of course John Tavares will be joining the Maple Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Favourites?

After the Tavares signing it was expected that the Leafs odds to win the Stanley Cup this year would shorten, but I did not expect to see them as the favourites to win the Stanley Cup.  One of the top NHL betting sites online, Bet365, has the Maple Leafs listed at odds of 7/1 to win the Cup.  That has the Leafs pegged as the lone favorites heading into the season.

Atlantic Division Dominance?

The next favourites according to Bet365 are two other Atlantic division teams.  The Bruins and Lightning are both listed at 9/1.  It’s a fairly safe bet that these three teams will make the playoffs considering they are in a division with the likes of the Red Wings, Senators, Sabres and Canadiens.  But with the way the league works nowadays only 1 of these 3 teams will even be able to make it to the Conference Finals and they will still need to win 2 series after winning the division.  Two of these teams will also have to battle in the first round, which makes them likely have the most difficult road to the finals.  That fact alone leads me to believe that these 3 teams betting lines are too short.

Value Bets

The Penguins at 12/1 and Capitals at 13/1 seem way too long to me.  They aren’t even the next favourites after the 3 Atlantic Division teams, with both the Predators (10/1) and Golden Knights (10/1) having shorter odds than these teams.  There must not be as many American sports bettors in the Metropolitan region or something.  Let’s not forget that the Metropolitan Division winner has won the past 3 Stanley Cups with the Pens winning two straight in 2016 and 2017, and then the Caps winning this past season.  The division is not stacked so it will likely come down to Caps vs Pens for the Metropolitan division title again, yet these two teams have longer odds than the Atlantic Division teams.

Longshots with a Shot

I believe the Pacific Division is by far the worst division in the NHL.  Vegas was able to advance from the Pacific this past year without breaking much of a sweat and I believe this allowed them to get past Winnipeg, who just squeaked out a tight 7 game win over the Cup favourite Predators.  I think this year a similar phenomenon could happen, but I do not see the Golden Knights as the most likely team to advance from the Pacific.

The Sharks at 22/1, Ducks at 25/1 and Oilers at 25/1 are all teams who I think have a great shot at being one of the last four remaining.  If any of these teams can roll through their division in the playoffs, then they will have just as good a shot as the other 3 teams to win the Cup.  If you’re high on any of these Pacific teams I think they are solid long shot bets to win the Stanley Cup next year.

There are still plenty of more roster changes to come before the season begins and it will be interesting to see how the odds shake out as we head into the season.

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