Who Are the 2020 Stanley Cup Favorites? Odds & Predictions
Back in June, WSN took a look at who the early favorites and underdogs to win the Stanley Cup in 2020 were. Now that the entry draft and free agency signing period are behind and we head into the second week of the NHL preseason, we’ll now take a closer look at how the betting landscape has changed over the past few weeks and which teams saw their chances go up and which saw their chances go down.
Who Has the Best Odds for the 2020 Season?
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
It will come as no surprise that the Tampa Bay Lightning went into the offseason as the 2020 favorites and that they came out of the offseason in the exact same position.
Not only were the Lightning able to resign several core players to contract extensions but the team also managed to improve via offseason trades and signings.
That’s right – this team got better. First of all, the Bolts managed to off-load the contract of forward Ryan Callahan, who is expected to retire next season due to medical concerns. This gave Tampa enough space to resign forwards Cedric Paquette and, most recently, Brayden Point. The team also signed defenseman Brayden Coburn and Vezina-winning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to contract extensions. And speaking of the backend, the Lightning pulled off incredible free agent signings such as defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Luke Schenn as well as back-up goaltender Curtis McElhinney.
Some may be concerned about the loss of both Dan Girardi (due to retirement) and defenseman Anton Stralman (due to signing with the Florida Panthers), but the addition of Schenn and Shattenkirk more than make up for those losses. Keep in mind that the Lightning also have Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh playing the blue line next season as well.
Final 2019 record: 62-16-4
Leading scorer: Nikita Kucherov (41 goals, 128 points)
Tampa Bay Lightning: Odds
2. Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights head into their third NHL season as a franchise and for the third season in a row they are one of the favorites to go the distance.
Since shocking the world and becoming the first expansion team to reach the Stanley Cup finals, the Vegas Golden Knights have remained a force to be reckoned with around the league.
Possibly the most exciting element heading into the 2020 season will be watching how Mark Stone, acquired at last season’s trade deadline from the Ottawa Senators, will perform in his first full season with a roster that has a lot more to offer him.
The Golden Knights head office brass also pulled off a monster of a deal when they managed to sign forward William Karlsson to an eight-year extension at only a $5.9-million annual average. Players who struggled last season also found success in the playoffs, such as other trade deadline acquisition Max Pacioretty. The prospect of a Pacioretty, Stone, and Paul Stasny line should have other teams on high alert.
Vegas also moves forward with a young but solid defensive core backstopped by multi-time Stanley Cup champion goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. In fact, this season we will most likely see the veteran goaltender reach the milestone of his 450th career win as he enters the 2019-20 NHL season with 439 wins.
Final 2019 record: 43-32-7
Leading scorer: Mark Stone (33 goals, 73 points)
Vegas Golden Knights: Odds
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs saw their odds change over the past week, bumping them up from the sixth-overall favorite to the third.
Definitely one of the more active teams this offseason, the Leafs saw several players come and go this summer.
This offseason saw a handful of former rivals join the team as the Leafs acquired former Ottawa Senators alumni Jason Spezza, Cody Ceci, and Ben Harpur.
The team was also able to shed a few players that brought a bit of negative energy with them in Nazem Kadri and Nikita Zaitsev.
Toronto did lose a couple of fan favorites such as Patrick Marleau and Connor Brown but given some of the contract negotiations headed their way, it was necessary to make the cap space. In the end, the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to come to terms with last season’s leader in team scoring, Mitch Marner.
The Leafs were also able to make a few under-the-radar moves that bolstered their depth and will ensure them a little insurance should anyone fall to injury next season.
Toronto also continued to beef up their blue line in the offseason. The team lost long-time mainstay Jake Gardiner but acquired young stud defender Tyson Barrie from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Kadri. They also added Jordan Schmaltz from the defending Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues.
These two join Ceci and Harpur as the newest additions to a team that still boasts solid, experienced defenders such as Morgan Reilly, Jake Muzzin, and Martin Marincin.
The Leafs will also have Frederik Andersen between the pipes and he will be backed-up by former Winnipeg Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson. In fact, the back end of the Toronto Maple Leafs could be the strongest its been since before the 2005-06 lockout.
Final 2019 record: 46-28-8
Leading scorer: Mitch Marner (26 goals, 94 points)
Toronto Maple Leafs: Odds
4. Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins saw their odds drop over the course of the offseason but not by much – dropping from third to fourth. This could simply be due to the fact that while other teams around them made significant roster changes heading into next season, the Boston Bruins opted to stick with what they had. And how could you blame them? The team made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals last season. As mentioned earlier, the Bruins spent most of their offseason focusing on resigning what they already had. The Bruins were able to come to terms on extensions for key players such as captain Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo. Even head coach Bruce Cassidy was signed to a contract extension during the offseason.
The Bruins are also one of the few teams that are coming into next season with a completely established goaltending tandem; essentially playing with two starting-quality goaltenders. Tuukka Rask had a great regular season, finishing with a GAA of 2.48 and a save percentage of .912. In the playoffs, he really shined, putting together a GAA of 2.02 and a save percentage of .934. He was surely a lock to win the Conn Smythe award should the Bruins have won the Cup. Backing Rask up is another elite caliber goaltender: Jaroslav Halak. Last season, Halak put up great numbers of his own, finishing with a save percentage of .922 and a goals against average of 2.34 with five shutouts.
Final 2019 record: 49-24-9
Leading scorer: Brad Marchand (36 goals, 100 points)
Boston Bruins: Odds
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5. Dallas Stars
The biggest jump in the odds this offseason was that of the Dallas Stars. The Stars bumped the Colorado Avalanche out of the top-five this offseason.
The team lost the likes of forwards Jason Spezza and Mats Zuccarello but more than made up for it with the signings of veteran superstars Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry. Pavelski, the former captain of the San Jose Sharks, brings a wealth of playoff experience to the team as well as a scoring touch that, regardless of his age, still saw him put up 64 points last season.
Perry, although plagued with injuries his past few seasons, also brings a plethora of playoff experience to the team including a Stanley Cup championship. Although ruled out of the remainder of the preseason with a hand injury, Perry is actually expected to play one of his longest seasons in recent years. Let’s not forget that the Dallas Stars boast one of the most talented starting lines in the entire league; that of captain Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov.
On the backend, Dallas has two of the most talented young defensemen in the league. John Klingberg and Esa Lindell are expected to get a lot of ice-time together as the top-pairing on the team’s blue line. Goaltender Ben Bishop is also coming off a 2019 season that saw him put together a regular-season record of 27-15-2. He finished with a save percentage of .943 and a staggering goals-against average of just 1.98. He also added ten shutouts.
Final 2019 record: 43-32-7
Leading scorer: Tyler Seguin (33 goals, 80 points)
Dallas Stars: Odds
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Who Has the Worst Odds for the 2020 Season?
Although we saw a lot of substantial changes at the front of the pack, the three teams expected to be in the basement of the league prior to the offseason remain the same heading into next season. If you want to place a $2 bet just to make things interesting, these are the teams for you.
1. Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators finished last season dead last in the entire NHL with a record of 29-47-6.
The pain and misery for Senators fans started before the 2018-19 season even began as the team traded team captain and legitimate generational player Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks.
They also parted ways with prolific goal scorer Mike Hoffman. That set the tone for the entire season. Highly-paid Bobby Ryan was once again consistently injured and at the trade deadline, the Sens shipped off any and all capable goal scorers including Ryan Dzingel, Matt Duchene, and team leader Mark Stone.
The Senators allowed the most shots on net last season (2,932) and the only other thing the team led the league in was goals scored against – allowing a combined 301 goals against.
The Sens had a few shining moments this offseason as they brought in new head coach D.J. Smith who has been touted for his experience working with young players.
The team also signed new defensive dynamo Thomas Chabot to a league-maximum eight-year contract extension. Prior to the offseason, the Senators were listed as a +12,500 underdog. One offseason can change a lot it seems…
Final 2019 record: 29-47-6
Leading scorer: Mark Stone (28 goals, 62 points prior to trade)
Ottawa Senators: Odds
2. Detroit Red Wings
Not too far behind the Ottawa Senators in the battle for last place are the Detroit Red Wings.
Last season was absolutely marred with injuries for the Detroit team and they finished in the bottom-ten in the league for fewest goals scored and fewest shots were taken on the net. They also allowed the fifth-most goals in the league and had the fourth-worst penalty kill.
Top defenders such as Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, and Trevor Daley all missed time due to injuries that combined to more than that of a full season of play between the three. Goaltending was equally a sore spot for the Red Wings as Jonathan Bernier had an abysmal year and Jimmy Howard struggled to stay consistent.
Like the Senators, there are a few shining lights for the Red Wings moving forward – namely the hiring of former team captain Steve Yzerman as the new general manager. Yzerman is mostly responsible for the current-day Tampa Bay Lightning and there are hopes he can do the same with the Red Wings in the future. But not right now. Even if the team manages to stay healthy, the Red Wings are a safe bet to miss the playoffs once again.
Final 2019 record: 32-40-10
Leading scorer: Dylan Larkin (32 goals, 73 points)
Detroit Red Wings: Odds
3. Los Angeles Kings
When your number-one defenseman is quoted by the media as saying, “We’re embarrassed with the last four seasons…since we won the last Cup, it’s been sh–,” you know things haven’t been going your way.
Those were the words of Norris-winning defenseman and Los Angeles mainstay defenseman Drew Doughty during an interview last week.
We seem years removed from when the Kings won two Stanley Cups in three years but as Doughty points out, that was only four short years ago.
Last season, captain and star forward Anze Kopitar finished with only 60 points. Doughty himself finished with only 45 points and was a minus-34. Goaltender Jonathan Quick finished with a losing record and the team bought out not one, but the two final years of Dion Phaneuf’s contract.
They finished dead-last in the Pacific division. The only thing the Kings had going for them heading into the offseason was a draft pick within the top-five.
The offseason brought a whole bunch of nothing to the team that finished dead last in the Western Conference and second-to-last in the league.
There is some hype about the future of the team as they were able to have respectable success at the entry-level draft, including the selection of Alex Turcotte.
But none of those picks will translate to the on-ice product next season. The team looks stagnant and their only option is to play better. Many of their players are, in fact, capable of playing better, but do they have the motivation? This seems like a mentally defeated team heading into 2020.
Final 2019 record: 31-42-9
Leading scorer: Anze Kopitar (22 goals, 60 points)
Los Angeles Kings: Odds
Who Are the 2020 Dark Horse Bets?
1. New Jersey Devils
Just the idea of New Jersey’s on-ice product next season is exciting.
There is no team poised to make a bigger jump in the standings from last season than the New Jersey Devils.
After a very rough 2019-18 season, mostly marred by the injury woes of star forward Taylor Hall which caused him to miss the entire second-half of the season, the Devils, on paper, now look like an entirely different team. The offseason improvements to the team began almost immediately after the season’s end as the New Jersey Devils won the draft lottery that would allow them to make the first-overall selection at this year’s NHL entry draft – one of the deepest drafts in the last five years.
It came as little surprise that the team would use the first-overall pick to select American prospect, Jack Hughes.
But that was only the start. Not long after, New Jersey general manager Ray Shero pulled off a blockbuster trade that saw all-star defenseman P.K. Subban join the team. And not long after that, the Devils signed forward Wayne Simmonds as a free agent to a low-risk, one-year contract. The New Jersey Devils also managed to acquire another top-six forward when they made a deal for Vegas Golden Knight top-prospect Nikita Gusev. New Jersey have definitely taken the offseason opportunities to equip themselves with what it takes to make the playoffs next year.
Final 2019 record: 31-41-10
Leading scorer: Kyle Palmieri (27 goals, 50 points)
New Jersey Devils: Odds
2. Buffalo Sabres
A lot was expected from the Buffalo Sabres last season as many expected them to finally break into the playoff race for the first time in years. Despite all their efforts, Buffalo’s 2018-19 season left much to be desired.
However, this offseason saw the Sabres continue to take giant strides in the right direction. During the offseason, the team signed forward Jeff Skinner to a multi-year deal and also acquired young talent, Jimmy Vesey, from the New York Rangers.
Veteran star Marcus Johansson also joined the team and the Sabres also used their first-round draft pick to select the highly sought after Dylan Cozens at the NHL entry draft.
Buffalo also added some key pieces on the backend as they dealt for Vegas Golden Knights; defenseman Colin Miller and Chicago Blackhawks top prospect Henri Jokiharju. Rasmus Ristolainen continues to rise to the occasion and the play of last year’s first-overall draft pick Rasmus Dahlin should only be improved entering the new season.
Final 2019 record: 33-39-10
Leading scorer: Jack Eichel (28 goals, 82 points)
Buffalo Sabres: Odds
3. St. Louis Blues
Despite winning Lord Stanley’s Cup last season, and retaining much of the same Cup-winning roster this offseason, the St. Louis Blues are only ranked as the tenth-overall favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2020.
It’s true that in today’s style of NHL, winning back-to-back Cups is an extreme challenge, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have proven that it’s not impossible.
And teams such as the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings have proven that two in three years ain’t a bad look either.
Like the Boston Bruins, the St. Louis Blues opted to remain much the same as last season. A few additions and subtractions were made during the offseason but the core of the team that won the Stanley Cup is intact heading into next season.
St. Louis managed to resign key players this offseason such as Ivan Barbashev, Oskar Sundqvist, and rookie goaltending sensation Jordan Binnington.
Really, the lone loss this offseason came in the form of Pat Maroon, who opted to sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. But the Blues struck a massive deal during the second week of preseason play when they announced that they had made a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, acquiring big-name defenseman Justin Faulk. A Stanley Cup repeat is most definitely not out of the cards for the St. Louis Blues in 2020.
Final 2019 record: 45-28-9
Leading scorer: Ryan O’Reilly (28 goals, 77 points)
St. Louis Blues: Odds
Championship Winner 2020: Odds
Be sure to also check out our comprehensive guide on How to Bet on the NHL.
|VGS Goolden Knights||+1000|
|TOR Maple Leafs||+2000|
|CBJ Blue Jackets||+6000|