NHL Futures Betting Guide: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for the 2019-20 Season
Kevin Hoffman, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Mike Hoffman, Keith Yandle
- The 2019-20 NHL season begins on Wednesday, October 2.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning are the Stanley Cup favorite at 7-1, while the Ottawa Senators are the biggest longshot at 250-1.
- Our staff details their favorite Over/Unders, Stanley Cup futures and more:
Longshots have been the story in the NHL the past two seasons. In 2017-18, the Vegas Golden Knights famously made it to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Last year, the St. Louis Blues touched 250-1 midseason before going on a historic run to hoist Lord Stanley.
The oddsboard looks a little different this season — there there are only five with odds longer than 50-1 at PointsBet — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some value floating around the board heading into Opening Night.
From Stanley Cup futures to season point totals to divisional winners, our staff shares their favorite bets for the brand new season of The Coolest Game on Earth:
Looking to bet on the NHL this season? Check out PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
The Bet(s): Florida Panthers 20-1, Dallas Stars 20-1 to Win Stanley Cup
The top of the Atlantic Division is brutal with Boston, Toronto and Tampa Bay but I think the Panthers have a chance at making a run at the top three spots in the division. If they can’t crash the gates atop the Atlantic, I think the Cats can grab a Wild Card spot and all you need to do in hockey is qualify for the postseason and hope your goalie gets white hot.
The Panthers certainly are built for that with the signing of Sergei Bobrovsky. The contract may come back to bite them down the road, but we are just looking at this season to find futures value and the arrival of Bob certainly makes Florida an appealing play.
The Panthers should also benefit from a change behind the bench as three-time Stanley Cup winner Joel Quenneville takes over a team that’s bursting with young talent.
The Panthers have an elite top line, scoring depth, terrific goaltending and a proven head coach. The big question is whether the defense will improve. Hopefully the addition of Anton Stralman helps steady things on the back-end.
My only other preseason future is the Dallas Stars at 20-1.
Dallas has a goaltending tandem that can carry them deep into the spring and the addition of Joe Pavelski should help provide some balance to its top-six. The Stars already had a deadly top line, so Pavelski’s arrival will take some heat off Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov and Jamie Benn.
I’ll take these odds on a great defensive team with top-notch scoring talent and great goaltending.
The Bet: Chicago Blackhawks Under 90.5 Points
Chicago closed on a heater last season and I think that is inflating this number. The Blackhawks probably aren’t as bad as they started or as good as they finished a year ago. The truth lies somewhere in between.
They’re in the deepest division in the league as well with no real bottom dwellers to pad the points against. It’s also hard to imagine Patrick Kane producing anymore than he did last season. If he has a slight dip or misses a few games, I don’t think Chicago can defend well enough to pick up the slack.
The Bet: Montreal Canadiens Over 89.5 Points
This is simple.
Montreal’s core is still young and should improve on an impressive 2018-19 campaign.
Carey Price looked like he was back to form last season, posting a .918 save percentage, and if stays healthy, this team should crack 90 points, even in a tough division.
The Bet: Carolina Hurricanes Over 94.5 Points
By most metrics, the Carolina Hurricanes were the best regular-season team last year, leading the NHL (5v5 score and venue adjusted) in shot differential (54.8%) and expected goal differential (55.5%), while finishing in the top two in both possession metrics (Corsi and Fenwick), and ranking third in scoring chance differential (54.4%).
However, they ranked 11th in actual goal differential (51.97%), but still finished with 99 standings points. That followed a 2017-2018 season where the Hurricanes ranked in the top four by all possession metrics, shot differential, expected goal differential, and scoring chance differential, but finished 25th (46.6%) in actual goal differential. Carolina has one of the youngest teams and the league, and they play a run and gun style.
They have a signature group of puck-moving defensemen and upgraded their third forward line in the offseason. I like the divisional odds (+475) and Stanley Cup odds (+3300) for this team, but I also have them projected for 105 points; 10.5 points clear of their listed total and a six-point improvement upon last season. With a bit more puck luck, I think that the Hurricanes are the team to beat in the Metropolitan division.
The Bet(s): Winnipeg to Miss the Playoffs +150, Carolina Hurricanes to win the Metro +400
About 15 months ago, it looked like the Jets’ conference finals exit to Nashville would be their first of many cracks at a Stanley Cup. Now, I’m banking on Winnipeg to miss the playoffs entirely after flopping down the stretch last season.
They ranked 28th in expected goal share (xG%) in the second half of last year and the offseason was not kind to them.
The Jets lost defensemen Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot this summer, and replaced them with replacement-level players. Dustin Byfuglien isn’t getting any younger and will not start the season with the team as he tends to some personal issues.
Goaltending regressed in a big way last season. No centers can drive play except Mark Scheifele. Oh, and everyone in the loaded Central Division seemingly got better. The Jets’ point total (around 94) is juiced to the under everywhere, so I’ll take a stab on the Jets at +120 or better to miss the big dance.
I’ll head to the Metro Division for my other future. We not-so-jokingly refer to Carolina as the xCanes, an ode to its ability to lead the league in every advanced metric while still somehow flying under the radar in the national landscape.
Sean pretty much summed it up above, but this team dominates shot share and has probably my favorite group of defensemen in the league thanks to their ability to move the puck in every zone; to say I’m in love with their back six would be a disservice to love. It feels like I’ve been betting Canes futures yearly for the last decade, and this might be the year things come together fully during the regular season as their stars hit their primes.
I like Carolina’s chances to compete for a Stanley Cup, but this let’s you avoid Boston, Tampa and Toronto all together and count on the Canes to best an aging Penguins core, the Capitals and Islanders, and improved-but-flawed Rangers, Devils and Flyers teams.
The Bet: Minnesota Wild to Win the Central Division 50-1
The Wild are coming off a disappointing season and the narrative around the team is that they will be near the basement of the Central in 2019-20. That’s fine — off-ice hoopla often drives up betting value and I think that is what’s happening here.
In fact, I was talking about this bet with a few hockey fans and bettors earlier in the offseason and they began to poke holes in it. The Central is a brutal division. There’s no star power. Devan Dubnyk hasn’t been great in goal. The Wild averaged 2.12 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in 2018-19, the fifth-worst mark in the league. The list is long, but so are the odds.
If you’re betting a longshot, you should be well aware that the bet will almost certainly lose. In fact, at 50-1 you just need the Wild to have above a 2% chance of winning the Central to see value in this bet.
The Wild aren’t dripping with name-brand talent, but Minnesota has depth up front and on the blue line. Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Jason Zucker, Kevin Fiala and Mats Zuccarello won’t set the world on fire, but they are positive-impact players who can carry a scoring load.
It will certainly be a production-by-committee approach for the Wild, but that strategy can work especially with the group Minnesota has on the back-end. Ryan Suter, Matt Dumba, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin give the Wild two of the strongest defense pairs in the league and that, in theory, should help lighten the load on the offense. I say “in theory” because we need to talk about the goaltending.
Despite playing behind one of the best defenses in the league, Devan Dubnyk has been pretty poor for Minnesota over the past two seasons. The 33-year-old has -26.7 Goals Saved Above Average since the beginning of the 2017-18 season and his backup, Alex Stalock, hasn’t shown he can handle the load if Dubnyk falters.
Dubnyk had the highest expected save perecentage (xSV%) at 5-on-5 last season, so the Wild made life easy on him. If the veteran goaltender can produce at an average level, the Wild are live.
In fact, backing Minnesota to win the Central Division at 50-1 is my favorite future still in the market heading into the season.
It’s also worth noting that the price on the Wild varies from sportsbook to sportsbook, so please shop around. There are some shops that have the Wild as low as 14-1 (FanDuel) to win the Central. Others (PointsBet, William Hill) have them as high as 50-1. I’d be comfortable betting this prop at any number better than 40-1 (2.5% implied probability).