Gary A. Vasquez, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Alex Ovechkin
The NHL season begins on Wednesday, but there is still time to make some investments in the futures market. Our staffers weighed in on their favorite futures ranging from longshots to win the Stanley Cup to fading Alex Ovechkin.
Stanley Cup Longshots
Michael Leboff — Arizona Coyotes to Win the Stanley Cup (150-1)
I’m absolutely enamored with the Coyotes this season. Will they win the Stanley Cup? Almost certainly (the odds at Bookmaker imply a 0.66% chance) not. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a +EV bet.
The main reason I’m high on Arizona this season is because I think it has one of the league’s best goaltenders in Antti Raanta.
In 47 games last season, Raanta posted a .937 save percentage at 5v5 and finished with a +7.35 Goals Saved Above Average. If Raanta stays healthy, the Coyotes should be in the mix for a playoff spot as they have a sneaky-deep roster.
Stuckey — Carolina Hurricanes to Win the Stanley Cup (125-1)
The Hurricanes are always a trendy sleeper, but this number is just too high. They have oodles of skill up top and one of the best defenses in the league. They have a big weakness in goal, but that isn’t enough to keep me off this price.
Atlantic Division Musings
Steve Petrella — Toronto to Not Win the Atlantic Division
The Maple Leafs are the third-most complete team in their division, and the other two are listed at plus money to win it.
Tampa Bay is the best team on paper in the NHL, and that often bears out over 82 games (although not in the playoffs). And Boston has the best line in the league and an excellent top nine.
To me, there’s more to like about those two teams than a Toronto team that ranked in the bottom five in expected goals against last season. There are still major holes on defense, and Frederik Anderson’s 91.83 expected save percentage in 5v5 situations was 47th of goalies who played at least 10 games. He looked good last season, but he’s due to regress a little. John Tavares won’t solve any of their defensive woes.
Instead of laying a big price on Toronto to not win the Atlantic (-240 at 5Dimes), I’m taking the Lightning (+180) and Bruins (+300) to win it. I put 1 unit on the Bruins and 1.4 on the Bolts, creating a moneyline of about +150 if either wins. If Florida sneaks up and somehow wins this division, I’ll tip my cap.