Jun 28, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) during the 2013 Stanley Cup championship celebration at Grant Park in Chicago. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

From "Sure Things" to "Long Shots:" Grading the 2013-14 Stanley Cup Futures Odds

 

For New York Islanders fans, offseason momentum has slowed to an absolute crawl—at least, until news of Josh Bailey’s newly signed 5-year, $16.5 million deal hit the interwebs—so I thought it would be entertaining to look at each team’s odds to win the Stanley Cup for the 2013-14 NHL season.

We might as well get a head start on handicapping the regular season if only to distract ourselves now that New York and Long Island have seemingly been relocated to the surface of the sun.

(To cope, just think cool thoughts: ice, ice rinks, ice skating, that thing where the goalie squirts the entire contents of a water bottle into his face during a TV timeout, etc.)

Even if you’re not a gambler, the odds posted by Las Vegas casinos and various offshore sports betting websites give insight into how bookmakers think your favorite team will fare next season. (Spoiler: the St. Louis Blues are trending upwards. The Calgary Flames? Not so much.)

So whether you’re headed to Vegas looking to put a few bucks down on your team, or you “happen to know a guy who knows a guy in town,” here are each team’s odds to lift the Cup next June. (Purely for educational purposes, of course.)

Teams are listed from shortest to longest odds, with the exception of the Islanders, who lead the list. (For those wondering why I’d choose to do this: because this is an Islanders site and I’m the one writing this. That’s why.)

 

New York Islanders: 30/1

After opening last season as 85-to-1 long shots to win the Cup—I guess being picked to finish last in the Eastern Conference will do that to you—it seems like the Isles are making their way upwards in terms of league-wide and oddsmaker respectability. Last season’s playoff appearance and tough six-game series against the Pittsburgh Penguins proved that the future of the franchise is bright. With a core of young players like John Tavares (22 years old), Travis Hamonic (22), Michael Grabner (25), Kyle Okposo (25), Josh Bailey (23), Cal Clutterbuck (25) and Matt Martin (24) all locked up at least through 2015-16, the Islanders may see their preseason Stanley Cup odds shrink over the next few years as the team comes into its own. Once upon a time, the Isles had a dynastic team in a new arena; the current crop of players is aiming to make history for a second time in blue and orange as the team relocates to Brooklyn in the near future.

 

The Favorites

Pittsburgh Penguins: 5/1

The Pens are next year’s favorites for a reason: big-name superstars like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are all still on the roster, meaning teams will be in for a tough night when Pittsburgh is on the schedule. The betting public loves a recognizable team with marquee players, meaning the Penguins will draw a lot of money this season. 5-to-1 is a pretty standard price for the overall favorite, especially considering the overwhelming amount of talent in Pittsburgh’s lineup.

 

Chicago Blackhawks: 6/1

Another “public” team that, oh-by-the-way, currently owns the title of ‘Reigning Stanley Cup Champion,’ the Hawks are basically a co-favorite to win the Cup next year. The odds are a little longer on Chicago because the Western Conference is a bit deeper than its counterpart to the east, meaning it’s likely the Blackhawks will have to work harder to repeat last year’s title run. Similar to Pittsburgh, Chicago is a talented team with Cup credentials, making them a tough team to bet against.

 

St. Louis Blues: 8/1

A young team in the mold of the Islanders, the Blues have a bit of the “small-market sustainable franchise built from within” vibe to them, but with much shorter odds than their doppelganger in Uniondale, NY. (Side note: check out WFAN’s Jeff Capellini on the Islanders’ blueprint here. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/07/15/capellini-islanders-are-building-a-team-to-last-the-test-of-time/) St. Louis has high hopes for the future after playing the Western Conference-finalist Los Angeles Kings extremely close in their opening-round playoff series last season: two games went to overtime, and each game finished with a one-goal differential. The Blues might fly under the radar as they rely on defense and goaltending again next year. (But this time, with more experience.)

 

Boston Bruins: 9/1

The Stanley Cup finalists from a year ago are the Eastern Conference’s second preseason favorite to hoist the Cup in 2014, and with good reason. After re-upping cornerstone pieces Patrice Bergeron (8 years, $52 million) and Tuukka Rask (8 years, $56 million) for the foreseeable future, the Bruins have a roster built for the grind of a full NHL season. Even with the departures of grinder Nathan Horton and skilled backup goalie Anton Khudobin in free agency, Boston is a legit title threat.

 

Detroit Red Wings: 10/1

Why such short odds for a team that barely snuck into the playoffs last year? Oh, maybe because Detroit hasn’t missed the postseason since 1990; or maybe because Detroit came within a goal of beating the reigning Stanley Cup-champion Blackhawks last year; or maybe because head coach Mike Babcock owns a .731 regular-season winning percentage behind the Red Wings bench. Actually, I’d go with a combination of all three reasons as an answer for why the Wings are only listed at 10-to-1 odds this season.

 

 

The Sleepers

Vancouver Canucks: 12/1

Despite shipping starting netminder Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils and despite having to rely on Roberto Luongo—who played the 2012-13 season under the assumption that he’d be leaving Vancouver at season’s end—as their goalie to start the 2013-14 season, the Canucks are the third best team in the Western Conference according to the bookmakers. (I guess having the Sedin twins on a line really does count for something.)

 

Los Angeles Kings: 16/1

Los Angeles couldn’t repeat their Cinderella run to another Stanley Cup in 2013, but they’ve found themselves hanging around at season’s end for the past four years, which has made them an attractive preseason bet since 2010. The other thing that’s made them an attractive preseason bet since 2010? Jonathan Quick. He’s a decent goalie, or whatever.

 

San Jose Sharks: 16/1

A perennial Vezina candidate between the pipes? Check. Scoring options on multiple lines? Check. A top-ten power play unit? Check. A closet-phenomenal home ice advantage? Check. The San Jose Sharks can tick off all of those boxes on the “Dangerous Team,” checklist, which is what makes them a nice sleeper pick to win it all in 2014. As we saw this past season, this team doesn’t go down without a fight. If they had gotten one lucky bounce against the Kings, who knows how far the Sharks could’ve gone?

 

Anaheim Ducks: 20/1

20-to-1 seems like a good price (read: “a steal”) for a team that finished the 2012-13 season as the Western Conference’s no. 2 seed, until you remember that Bobby Ryan was shipped to Ottawa this offseason—taking his 60-point pace with him—and last year’s club flamed out in the first round of the playoffs. Long story short: there’s a reason the Ducks aren’t listed at lower odds for 2014.

 

Montreal Canadiens: 20/1

The second Canadian team on the board is, fittingly, the Montreal Canadiens. Les Habitants can score in bunches—they finished no. 5 in both goals-per-game and power play percentage—but finished last season in the middle of the pack in goals-against average. If you’re going to back the Habs with your hard-earned cash, remember that you’ll have to endure a sometimes-streaky Carey Price in net. When he’s on, he’s on. But when he’s not…

 

New York Rangers: 20/1

The Broadway Blueshirts round out this year’s crop of sleeper picks, also opening at 20-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup in 2014. New York swapped coaches with Vancouver, which was probably a sound personnel move by GM Glen Sather; cutting ties with embattled former head coach John Tortorella means the Rangers can get back to playing hockey instead of playing cat-and-mouse with the New York media. Yearly Vezina finalist Henrik Lundqvist will backstop the Rangers again this season, meaning a bet on the Rangers is basically a bet on Hank.

 

 

The Long Shots

Edmonton Oilers: 30/1

The Oilers are a young squad that has quietly grown into a formidable opponent night-in and night-out. With stars-in-the-making like Nail Yakupov, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton is deserving of more national attention than they receive as members of the NHL’s former Northwest Division. The organization has drafted well in recent years and cultivated the type of talent necessary to make a playoff push very soon. The signing of veteran defenseman Andrew Ference to potentially pair with D-man-of-the-future Justin Schultz might be just what the Oilers need to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006.

 

Ottawa Senators: 30/1

The Sens surprised everyone last year by not only surviving injuries to Milan Michalek, Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Craig Anderson, but by flourishing despite those key players each missing significant time. Assuming that injury luck will be on their side during the 2013-14 season, the Senators could prove dangerous in the Eastern Conference again, this time with prized trade acquisition Bobby Ryan joining the forward ranks. If Anderson can bounce back from an injury-shortened season and play to the level of what Ottawa knows he’s capable, don’t assume the Senators are a token preseason long shot.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs: 30/1

Toronto fans are probably still getting over their team’s epic Game 7 collapse against the Bruins, which I won’t go into here. (Suffice it to say that it’s a miracle there wasn’t a mass suicide outside Air Canada Centre after the Bruins scored in overtime to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.) That being said, the Leafs have the potential to reach the postseason again this season. Free-agent winger David Clarkson brings some goal scoring to the roster and free-agent goalie Jonathan Bernier is expected to compete for the starting job in net. Don’t lose hope, Leafs fans: 30-to-1 isn’t the longest of shots.

 

Washington Capitals: 30/1

The Caps made the postseason last year, but fell to the Rangers in the first round. Disappointing for the fans? Yes. But they still have this: Alex Ovechkin, 2013 Hart Trophy winner. When one of the league’s most talented players is on your roster, you always have a shot at winning games. Can Washington ride Ovie to a Stanley Cup though? That’s the real question. If you love goal scoring and over-the-top celebrations, 30-to-1 odds are practically calling your name here.

 

Carolina Hurricanes: 40/1

A middling goal-scoring average (2.6 GPG) and poor special teams (ranked 27th on the power play and 28th in penalty killing) had the Hurricanes looking up at all but two Eastern Conference teams at the end of the 2013 regular season. On the bright side, the 40-to-1 odds bookmakers have hung for them show some faith—or at least some respect—that Carolina will be a slightly improved team next year.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets: 40/1

It’s a little surprising to see Columbus listed this low, considering the reigning Vezina Trophy winner is on the Blue Jackets roster. Then again, Columbus missed the playoffs last year—despite a valiant late-season push—and finished among the league’s worst teams in goal scoring on a per-game basis. The Jackets have some serious work to do if they’re going to help their backers cash a Stanley Cup futures ticket next season.

 

Minnesota Wild: 40/1

A fringe playoff team in 2013, the Minnesota Wild are another long shot to win the Cup in 2014 for many of the same reasons the other teams listed at 40-to-1 are: a low scoring average, tepid special teams numbers and average goaltending. Perhaps the addition of ex-Islanders winger Nino Niederreiter can boost the Wild’s scoring numbers, but that too is a long shot. More likely is a heavy reliance on last summer’s high-priced free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in order to earn the team a second postseason berth in as many years.

 

New Jersey Devils: 40/1

The Devils are in full-on rebuild mode going into the 2013-14 NHL season. Martin Brodeur is on his last legs; Ryane Clowe is earning too much money (sorry, I had to); and Ilya Kovalchuk is not walking through that door. (At least, not until he’s done earning a reported $50 million in the KHL. Then he’ll be back. Probably.) The opening odds for New Jersey seem a little short considering the state of the franchise, but I guess that’s why I’m not a Vegas bookmaker.

 

Philadelphia Flyers: 40/1

The Flyers have made the biggest splash – or at least, the most noise – this offseason, announcing they’d use their two compliance buyouts on veteran forward Danny Briere and enigmatic goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, in addition to adding former Islanders defenseman Mark Streit, former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier and former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery to the roster. With all the new faces in Philly for the start of the season, the Flyers are an interesting preseason pick. Can the team turn their off-ice wheeling and dealing into on-ice success? At 40-to-1, the oddsmakers aren’t so sure that they can.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning: 40/1

Losing 14-year Tampa Bay mainstay Vinny Lecavalier via compliance buyout wasn’t how Lightning fans envisioned their captain’s tenure with the team ending, but GM Steve Yzerman’s needed to jettison Lecavalier’s monster contract to comply with next year’s lower salary cap. The Bolts still have scorers in Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, and they added former Red Wings centerman Valtteri Filppula to the mix via free agency. Goal scoring won’t be the question in Tampa Bay next year; whether Ben Bishop or Anders Lindback can become a true no. 1 goaltender will be the real story.

 

Winnipeg Jets: 40/1

Rounding out the teams listed at 40-to-1 odds to hoist the Cup are the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets were basically a .500 team last season, finishing second in the Southeast Division and missing the playoffs by four points in the standings. Next season, they’ll be without the services of Alexander Burmistrov who signed a two-deal contract with Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL. Not a huge loss per se, but those 20-to-30 points per season will have to be replaced somehow. You can chalk up Burmistrov’s departure to the organization’s mishandling of a young prospect, but losing a player to an international hockey league is becoming more prevalent around the NHL as other leagues’ pay scales have surpassed the NHL’s in some circumstances.

 

 

The LONGER Shots (And That’s Putting It Nicely)

Colorado Avalanche: 50/1

With hall-of-fame names like Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic in the mix, you’d think the Avalanche would be listed at lower than 50-to-1 to win the Cup. But then you remember that it’s not 1996 and Roy and Sakic will be at the Pepsi Center wearing suits during Colorado’s games this season. Still, that Nathan MacKinnon kid is supposed to be good., right? (Probably not good enough to risk money that he can carry an underachieving Avs team to a championship, though.)

 

Dallas Stars: 50/1

Aside from the Starbucks-meets-Star-Wars new uniforms, there isn’t much to get excited about in Dallas this season. Unless, of course, you’re into loose-cannon players who tend to make poor life decisions off the ice, in which case: the Stars are the team for you. I’d wager that you can get 50-to-1 odds that the team’s newest member Tyler Seguin won’t tweet again during the season. (And I’d suggest you bet on that instead of on the team winning the Cup. Thank me later.)

 

Nashville Predators: 50/1

So there’s Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber and David Legwand and some kid named Seth Jones—although since June 30, 2013 he’s been going by “BIGGEST DRAFT-DAY STEAL SINCE THE UNITED STATES DRAFTED CAPTAIN AMERICA DURING WORLD WAR II”—but those names probably aren’t enough to find Lord Stanley’s trophy a place in Nashville next year. (Bright side: between Weber, Jones, Kevin Klein and Roman Josi, the Predators have a solid corps of blueliners.)

 

Phoenix Coyotes: 60/1

Bright side: they’re still in Phoenix. Kind of. I guess? (Question mark?) With 60-to-1 odds to make a run all the way to the Stanley Cup, the Coyotes are the NHL equivalent of…well…that team in another sport with 60-to-1 odds to win it all, even though the odds should be more like 85- or 100-to-1. Speaking of which…

 

 

Light Your Money On Fire, It’ll Keep You Warm During the Winter

Buffalo Sabres: 100/1

The Sabres have a tough season ahead of them; there’s no sugarcoating it. Ryan Miller isn’t a happy camper. Lindy Ruff won’t be behind the bench. But at least Thomas Vanek will be in a contract year, unless he gets traded. So…there’s that.

 

Calgary Flames: 100/1

The Flames are in the midst of what amounts to a scorched-earth rebuild, much like what the Isles endured in 2007-08. The memo from the front office: everything must go. Burn it down. Burn it all down. (See what I did there? Because Calgary’s team name is…oh well. I tried.)

 

Florida Panthers: 100/1

Seriously, light your money on fire. (Make sure it’s in dollar bills though—it’s more entertaining that way. More time-consuming, too.)

 

 

The complete listing, lowest to highest odds…

Pittsburgh Penguins: 5/1

Chicago Blackhawks: 6/1

St. Louis Blues: 8/1

Boston Bruins: 9/1

Detroit Red Wings: 10/1

Vancouver Canucks: 12/1

Los Angeles Kings: 16/1

San Jose Sharks: 16/1

Anaheim Ducks: 20/1

Montreal Canadiens: 20/1

New York Rangers: 20/1

Edmonton Oilers: 30/1

New York Islanders 30/1

Ottawa Senators: 30/1

Toronto Maple Leafs: 30/1

Washington Capitals: 30/1

Carolina Hurricanes: 40/1

Columbus Blue Jackets: 40/1

Minnesota Wild: 40/1

New Jersey Devils: 40/1

Philadelphia Flyers: 40/1

Tampa Bay Lightning: 40/1

Winnipeg Jets: 40/1

Colorado Avalanche: 50/1

Dallas Stars: 50/1

Nashville Predators: 50/1

Phoenix Coyotes: 60/1

Buffalo Sabres: 100/1

Calgary Flames: 100/1

Florida Panthers: 100/1

 

Odds are courtesy of www.vegasinsider.com and are current as of July 15, 2013. Neither EyesOnIsles nor the FanSided Network condones illegal gambling. (Just making sure any young, impressionable readers are aware of our stance on back-room books and numbers runners and everything that goes with illicit gambling. See, lawyers? I told you I’d cover us.)

 

Have any preseason 100-star locks you want to share? Feel like your team’s odds aren’t reflective of their true potential? Think the Penguins are as annoying as I do? Sound off in the comments section. And, as always, thanks for reading EyesOnIsles.

 

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