By: Jacob Abenante | Follow me on Twitter @Jacobabenante
With free agency starting to simmer down, it’s time to begin to shift gears towards the new NHL season, which hopefully will be quickly upon us. As we sit back and dream about how our favorite teams’ rosters will be constructed, Vegas has released its betting odds for who will bring home the cup in the 2021 season. Today we will review the top four teams and how I feel their value stacks up with the odds they have been given.
Per oddsshark.com, the top four teams currently sit at number one Colorado Avalanche (+650), two Tampa Bay Lightning (+700), three Vegas Golden Knights (+700), and fourth our beloved Boston Bruins (+1200). A little background for anyone new to betting the number shown after the plus sign is what you would get as a return if you were to bet $100 on the line indicated. For example, if you were to put $100 on the Bruins to win the cup, your return would be $1200, we will get deeper into positive and negative lines in future pieces, but today we are only dealing with positive odds. Next quick tip, you will see me talk about units. Units are whatever you want them to be, and they will be different for every person. One unit should be whatever you are comfortable losing on your average bet.
Colorado Avalanche (+650)
The Colorado Avalanche are listed as the early favorites for the 2021 Stanley Cup; they are coming off a disappointing second-round exit of the playoffs, in which many had them penciled in to win the West. I feel this loss will motivate this team, especially Nathan MacKinnon, who is one of the true superstars and top competitors in today’s NHL. The Avalanche has also made some great offseason moves highlighted by Brandon Saad and Devon Toews while not giving up many future assets. With all of that being said, I don’t feel they have a great value at +650; they do not have the goaltending or postseason success to be a cup favorite, in my opinion. If you can find them for a price around +1000, I would feel more comfortable placing the action on them, but as they stand, I would still have both Vegas and St. Louis over them to win the West.
Tampa Bay Lightning (+700)
The reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning will again be a force in the East and the league when the 2021 season starts. The Lightning not being the favorite was surprising to me, especially with how they ran through the playoffs and our President’s trophy-winning Bruins. Things will most definitely not be as easy as it was this year due to the changes; they are being forced to make with their impending cap situation.
Kevin Shattenkirk is gone, Tyler Johnson is most likely gone; even though he cleared waivers, I can’t see him back with the Lightning next year. These losses will affect this team, how big? Well, for that answer we will have to wait and see. Either way, I feel their price of (+700) is an excellent value because they could easily repeat with their core. I will even contemplate putting half a unit on them due to their value, as much it pains me to do so as a die-hard Bruins fan.
Vegas Golden Knights (+700)
The Vegas Golden Knights were my favorites out of the West in the 2019-2020 season; that has not changed going into the 2021 season. With the addition of Alex Pietrangelo, the Golden Knights just got even better. It is mind-blowing to think about how deep they are with only three seasons under their belt as an organization. From top-six scoring to some of the league’s top defenseman and goalies, Vegas has it all and is primed for yet another deep run. I like Vegas better than Tampa at the same price of +700; they will have no Stanley cup hangover and have gotten better since last season. As long as they can keep the controversies to a minimum surrounding their two number one goaltenders, I would feel comfortable putting a unit on Vegas with their value.
Boston Bruins (+1200)
The Boston Bruins being listed at +1200 is the best value I can find regarding any team listed here to win the Stanley cup. Now to be transparent, I am a lifelong Bruins fan who every year feels they have great odds to win the cup, but +1200, all biases aside, is excellent value for this team. If we take a step back from all the madness and negativity created by the Boston media surrounding the Bruins offseason, we are left looking at a tremendously deep hockey club. The Bruins lost Torey Krug this offseason, and that will hurt; there is no denying that, but it is time for the young guns to step up.
The Bruins have a wealth of young defensemen ready to step up and help fill this void by a committee; that is what I feel will happen. The Bruins also didn’t just stand still this offseason as many are making it seem. The signing of Craig Smith will prove to be a great move by this current management group. Smith is a play driver who will help bolster the Bruins goal deprived middle six. The Bruins also are returning the top line in hockey, which barring any setbacks, will be healthy and ready to go after the first month or two of the season.
Finally, they have one of the top goalie tandems in today’s NHL. Jaroslav Halak is one of the best backups in the league, and Tuukka Rask is coming off a Vezina nominated season; he will be primed to repeat this with all of the bubble drama in his rear-view mirror. At +1200, I would be comfortable putting a unit or two on the Bruins this year, even with the question marks surrounding Chara and their young d core. I think Bruce Cassidy and the core group will have next season’s team ready to go no matter who’s in the lineup to take another run at the cup in 2021.