Alex Ovechkin and the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals weren’t even home from the clubs in Vegas yet, before oddsmakers went to work, looking ahead to next year.
The odds of winning the 2019 Stanley Cup are in, with the Eastern Conference finalists, the Tampa Bay Lightning, listed as 9-1 favourites by Bodog. Close behind them are the Toronto Maple Leafs, who along with the Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets, and Cup finalists Vegas Golden Knights, all have 10-1 odds of lifting hockey’s greatest prize next June.
Despite winning it all this year, the Capitals were given 14-1 odds, behind both Nashville and Pittsburgh, who were listed at 11-1.
Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers (18-1) have the best odds of winning among non-playoff teams. The Calgary Flames are at 28-1, while a bet on the Montreal Canadiens will get you 50-1 odds.
The Vancouver Canucks (80-1) were given the same odds as the Arizona Coyotes, which means they are one of the most unlikely teams in the NHL to win a championship next season. Only the Ottawa Senators (100-1) have longer odds.
Of course, all of these probabilities pale in comparison to the 500-1 odds some Las Vegas casinos gave the Golden Knights before their first season.
The odds can and will change before the puck drops on the 2018-19 season, with the draft, free agency, and a number of trades still to come. New Leafs GM Kyle Dubas made his first deal of the offseason today, for instance:
The @MapleLeafs announced today that the hockey club has acquired a conditional seventh-round draft pick in the 2020 NHL Draft from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for the rights to forward Nolan Vesey. #TMLtalk
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) June 8, 2018
Confidence in Toronto from oddsmakers has increased, up from 14-1 at the beginning of last season, given their 105-point performance in 2017-18. You can understand their optimism, despite the Leafs’ first-round loss to the Bruins this spring.
The Leafs have a glut of good young forwards with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander in the fold, to go with a proven No. 1 goalie in Frederik Andersen, and one of the league’s premier coaches in Mike Babcock. With all due respect to Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner, they need to upgrade their blueline, which should be one of the goals for the team this offseason.