Offseason Moves Boost Bolts, Preds on 2017 Stanley Cup Odds

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The fates of stars Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban have effected change to the pecking order on the 2017 Stanley Cup futures board at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

While the Pittsburgh Penguins captured the silver chalice in June, the runner-up San Jose Sharks might have provided a lasting illustration during the playoffs. In an era with a hard salary cap and historically low scoring rates, any solid playoff team with a strong nucleus is bound to make a run at the Stanley Cup if it earns enough chances.

Thus it is not surprising to see the Stanley Cup odds on the Nashville Predators, who made a blockbuster trade with the Montreal Canadiens last week to get Subban, drop to +1400, from +1800.

Likewise, thanks to GM Steve Yzerman re-signing former 60-goal scorer Steven Stamkos as soon as free agency began on July 1, the Tampa Bay Lightning are at +1000 after opening at +1400. The Lightning are the only team which has reached their conference final in two consecutive seasons.

Although the NHL had not had a repeat champion since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings, the Pittsburgh Penguins maintain top odds at +900. With Sidney Crosby, Nick Bonino and Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh is as deep as any NHL team at center, and it could gain some roster flexibility by moving on from high-paid veteran G Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Chicago Blackhawks remain second favorite, albeit at +950. Salary-cap restrictions are not going to allow Chicago to add major pieces to complement league MVP Patrick Kane and two-way center Jonathan Toews, but they are nonetheless the organization that has won three of the last seven Cups.

Led by Alexander Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals have superior three-line scoring punch, especially after adding center Lars Eller via a trade with the Canadiens. That somewhat underrated addition could help Washington, which is listed at +1000, become more geared for the playoffs after years of being unable to get by Metropolitan Division rival Pittsburgh.

Getting out of the Central Division quadrant of the playoffs will almost be an accomplishment on its own this season. Along with the Blackhawks, the St. Louis Blues are listed at +1200 and the Dallas Stars are level with Nashville at +1400.

Speaking of the Sharks, their +1400 odds is the lowest among Pacific Division teams, with their state rivals, the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, each listed at +1600. Sharks GM Doug Wilson has quietly reloaded early this summer with the value signings of fleet-footed winger Mikkel Boedker and defenseman David Schlemko, who each have experience playing for San Jose coach Peter DeBoer.

The NHL is celebrating its centennial in 2017, but it is highly doubtful it will involve a Canadian team winning the Cup for the first time since 1993. Both Montreal and the Edmonton Oilers are listed at +3300. Montreal received star defenseman Shea Weber in return for Subban and also added hard-nosed RW Andrew Shaw in a trade with Chicago. Edmonton has also added a tough guy with a Stanley Cup pedigree, picking up Milan Lucic, but traded away Taylor Hall.

Pittsburgh Penguins only team below 10/1 on 2018 Stanley Cup odds

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Anyone confident that the Pittsburgh Penguins can three-peat as Stanley Cup champions should probably wait until their price increases. With NHL free agency beginning this weekend, Sidney Crosby and the two-time defending champion Penguins are listed as +750 favorites on the 2018 Stanley Cup futures at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Penguins have the luxury of almost $20 million in salary cap space to work with as they seek to upgrade the supporting cast around Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, so there’s a chance they could be in a position to make another Cup run. That being said, their price against the 31-team field is actually lower than it was at the outset of the recently completed playoffs.

Given the parity of hockey, it’s best to see if the Penguins’ price swells back up into the 10/1 range once the season is underway in October.

The Chicago Blackhawks (+1200) and Edmonton Oilers (+1200) share second spot on the board. Chicago’s price seems like a red herring, given that the Blackhawks have gone out in the first round of the playoffs two seasons in a row and still have salary-cap issues that forced them to jettison one of their best forwards, Artemi Panarin.

The Oilers, of course, are getting reigning MVP Connor McDavid locked down on an eight-year contract, but their rabid fanbase could be in for some nervous times amid rumors that teams might try to sign star center Leon Draisaitl, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet.

Five teams draw in at +1400: the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals. The Ducks are a bit on the old side, but the defending Western Conference champion Predators came within just two victories of a Stanley Cup despite losing two dangerous forwards, Kevin Fiala and Ryan Johansen.

The Rangers could be an interesting play if, indeed, they end up signing Kevin Shattenkirk, who is the only impact defenceman set to hit free agency.

The Lightning, provided they get a full season out of C Steven Stamkos, who’s complemented down the middle by Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point, could be in line for a bounce-back season. They missed the playoffs in 2017 after winning five playoff series over the previous two years. As for Washington, Alex Ovechkin and company had their best opportunity to win the Cup this past spring, and got shut out in Game 7 at home against Pittsburgh.

The Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs are each listed at +1600 on the Stanley Cup betting lines for 2018.

Some darkhorses at online gambling sites include the St. Louis Blues (+2800), who reached the second round last season before being ousted by Nashville and will have a new 1-2 punch next season with Vladimir Tarasenko being complemented by Brayden Schenn. While Edmonton is the highest Canadian team on the board, the Calgary Flames (+3000) look good on paper after dealing for veteran goalie Mike Smith and also adding D Travis Hamonic to support an impressive group of young forwards that includes Johnny Gaudreau.

 

 

Penguins home favorites against Predators for Game 5 of Stanley Cup final

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In what’s been a strictly home-ice Stanley Cup final, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been bet up into a heavy favorite against the Nashville Predators for the likely series-turning Game 5.

The Penguins are a -155 moneyline favorite against the +135 underdog Predators with a 5.5-goal total for Thursday’s matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Penguins opened at -139 on the moneyline, but they are also riding a trend of being 9-3 in their last 12 home playoff games.

That means there is betting value in taking the Predators, who are a respectable 5-5 SU on the road during the postseason. Nashville has topped Pittsburgh in five-on-five shot attempts in all four games of the series. The main pregame question revolving around the Predators involves the health of D P.K. Subban (ankle), who is part of the shutdown pair that has held Penguins C Evgeni Malkin without a goal for three consecutive games.

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne also allowed eight goals on 36 shots during the two previous games at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena.

The Predators have had the run of play during the series, largely by virtue of a blueline led by Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Subban. They also managed to win Game 5 on the road in the third round against Anaheim, although that came in a rink where they were 4-4 in their most recent eight games, which tops a 1-6 record in their last seven road games against the Penguins.

The Penguins are 8-3 at home in these playoffs heading into Thursday’s Game 5 matchup, but have been increasingly reliant on C Sidney Crosby as the final has unfolded. Reliable sources of offense such as RW Phil Kessel and RW Bryan Rust are on six-game goal droughts, while Pittsburgh’s power play has been powerless through the first five games.

However, any physical limitations with Subban could be a boon to Malkin. Left wing Jake Guentzel (playoff-most 13 goals, including four in as many games versus Nashville) will also be looking for a bounce-back after missing some top scoring chances during Game 4.

Pittsburgh’s defense is mostly a patchwork outfit; Crosby actually led the Penguins in ice time in Game 4, which is rare for a forward. While there’s been speculation about a goalie switch, Matt Murray is most likely to start.

The total has gone OVER in five of Nashville’s last seven games against Pittsburgh for totals bettors, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The Predators will host Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final on Sunday night.