The NHL is not a dynasty league, but having won a Stanley Cup can create an image with oddsmakers.
On the cusp of the playoffs, captain Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks are the +400 favorites on the 2017 Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Chicago has won the Cup in three of the last seven seasons and played well down the stretch to earn home-ice advantage through the first three rounds, at least.
However, it’s the Metropolitan Division that dominates the top of the futures board with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (+450), Sidney Crosby and the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins (+800), the pesky Columbus Blue Jackets (+1000) and the New York Rangers (+1400), who are a cross-over team.
Playing out of the weaker Atlantic Division, the Montreal Canadiens (+1400) may stand a good chance of getting to the third round unscathed, and of course goalie Carey Price can steal games.
The Minnesota Wild (+800) faded badly in the last quarter of the regular season. The San Jose Sharks (+1400) were two wins from the Cup in 2016, but the lingering effect of a deep playoff run has been borne out with the injuries to centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture.
The Capitals are listed at +225 on the odds to win the Eastern Conference, followed by the Penguins (+350). The rest of the field would need a lot of breaks and lights-out goaltending to win, which means Montreal (+650) has the most tangible value.
The Blackhawks are a +180 favorite to win the West. Minnesota (+400) has a lot of red flags. With Pacific Division teams, there’s always a question about travel lag, so perhaps the young Edmonton Oilers (+800) and Connor McDavid are worth a play. The St. Louis Blues (+1400) could pose a problem for the Blackhawks if each moves on to the Central Division final.
No No. 1 seed has been eliminated in the first round since the NHL re-introduced a division-based playoff format in 2013-14. In the first-round series prices, Montreal (-125) has the worst odds of any first-place team, but they dominated New York (+105) during the season and sit at a 57.2% chance to win the series according to the numbers at PredictionMachine.com.
The Anaheim Ducks (-165) face the up-and-coming Calgary Flames (+145). Calgary goes into the series with an 0-27 SU streak in their last 27 road games against Anaheim, and will have to win there at least once to take the series.
It’s probably better to focus on 2 vs. 3 matchups when trying to pick a betting underdog. In the Central bracket, St. Louis (+123) is a classic case of a team reborn after a coaching change and their bench boss, Mike Yeo, used to be employed by their opponent, Minnesota (-143).
And the Ottawa Senators (+155) are a much more consistent team than the Boston Bruins (-175) and won in all four regular-season matchups.