Lightning, Predators, and Golden Knights Favourites to Win 2018 Stanley Cup
Down the Stretch: Lightning, Predators, and Golden Knights Favourites to Win 2018 Stanley Cup
With the league's March 3 trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the NHL's playoff-bound teams jockey for position in the standings as they head down the 2017-2018 regular season homestretch. As the season winds down, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the odds-on favourite to win the Stanley Cup with online betting site Bodog giving the 2007 Champs +550 odds. Meanwhile, in the desert of Nevada, the Las Vegas Golden Knights continue to be the sporting world's Cinderella story. With +300 odds to win it all, the city rallies around their squad of Expansion Draft misfits who are lifting the club to unprecedented on-ice success in their first year of existence.
Here's a closer look at the betting favourites to hoist hockey's most coveted prize heading into the 2018 NHL Playoffs, which kick off in April.
Tampa Bay Lightning (+550)
With an embarrassment of riches in offensive depth, the Lightning are storming through the regular season on pace to surpass the 50-win mark for the first time in franchise history. With RW Nikita Kucherov and C Steven Stamkos scoring left and right, the best team in the NHL's roster was bolstered at the trade deadline with the additions of D Ryan McDonagh and LW J.T. Miller. Between the pipes, the Lightning have a Vezina Trophy candidate in Andrei Vasilevskiy and a Norris Trophy favourite on the blue-line in D Victor Hedman. On paper, no team looks in better position to win the Cup than the Lightning.
Nashville Predators (+550)
The defending Western Conference Champions are neck-and-neck with the Lightning as Stanley Cup favourites. With depth that might just rival the Lightning's, the Preds are enjoying a historic season of their own thanks to their blue-collar work ethic and stellar goaltending by Vezina Trophy candidate G Pekka Rinne. The return of captain C Mike Fisher and the trade deadline acquisition of LW Ryan Hartman has lit a fire under the Predator's feet as they make a run at the franchise's first President's Trophy.
Las Vegas Golden Knights (+600)
Who would have thought we'd be sitting here in March uttering the expansion team Golden Knights and Stanley Cup in the same breath. Opening the season at +2000 to win the Stanley Cup, the Golden Knights have improved their odds exponentially throughout the season. As arguably the best-coached team in the league, Golden Knights bench boss Gerard Gallant have made the most of a solid roster of expansion draft castaways that includes former champions G Marc-Andre Fleury and RW James Neal.
Boston Bruins (+800)
By acquiring veteran forward LW Rick Nash from the rival New York Rangers at the trade deadline, the Bruins declared that they mean business heading into the playoffs. How the Bruins respond to the recent injury of offensive stalwart C Patrice Bergeron will serve as a big test of the club's ability to make a run at another Stanley Cup.
Pittsburgh Penguins (+850)
Even with star goaltender Matt Murray on the shelf, the defending Stanley Cup Champions have remained solid. Murray's scheduled return just in time for the playoffs should see the familiar faces of C Sidney Crosby, C Evgeni Malkin, and D Kris Letang defend their crown with vigour.
Winnipeg Jets (+1000)
Acquiring C Paul Stastny from the St. Louis Blues gives the Jets a massive offensive boost. Meanwhile, Finnish sophomore LW Patrick Laine continues to impress as he establishes himself as next in line to become one of the league's premier goal scorers.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+1500)
Initiating a "scorched earth" rebuild several years ago, the Maple Leafs have successfully risen from mediocrity with an explosive contingent of talented youth that include forwards RW Mitch Marner, RW/C William Nylander, and of course, coveted first overall draft pick C Auston Matthews. While slightly ahead of schedule in their quest to end the franchise's 50+ year Stanley Cup drought, oddsmakers aren't sleeping on the Maple Leafs, who are primed for a lengthy playoff run.