The NHL season is quickly approaching, and as we’ve seen in plenty of playoff runs: anything can happen. That means there is tremendous value in finding a hidden gem in the Stanley Cup futures odds. And with the puck dropping on the 2019-20 NHL campaign soon.
Here are some live underdogs to consider when Handicapping Sports futures odds.
Calgary Flames (+1,700 to win Stanley Cup)
The Flames finished last season with 107 points and the top spot in a very competitive Pacific Division. Calgary boasted one of the top offenses in the Western Conference with 289 goals for. Defensively, the Flames are sound, ranked ninth in goals allowed, but need to improve on special teams with both the power play and penalty kill under performing.
They added goaltender Cam Talbot this season – one of their few moves over the summer – adding some depth in the crease and taking the place of former netminder Mike Smith. David Rittich showed flashes of brilliance between the pipes in 2018-19 but the team needs consistent efforts from the young goaltender.
Calgary got bounced from the playoffs in the opening round against a streaking and savvy Colorado team. This young core can learn from that and now knows what it takes to get the job done during playoff hockey. At 14/1 odds, there’s great value in Calgary to build on what was a breakout year in 2018-19.
Dallas Stars (+1,300 to win Stanley Cup)
Dallas made waves in the postseason, knocking off Nashville in six games before losing to the eventual Cup Champion St. Louis Blues in seven games in the second round. The Stars rode a strong finish to the regular season into that playoff success and looks to be among the top contenders in the Central Division once again.
Dallas’ defense was among the NHL elite last season, allowing only 2.4 goals against backed behind the solid net-minding of Ben Bishop, who won 43 games and posted a GAA of 1.98. The Stars also had a strong penalty kill, ranked No. 5 in the NHL after allowing goals on just over 17% of their opponents’ man advantages.
Scoring was the biggest weakness with this club in 2018-19, averaging only 2.5 goals a night. Dallas looks to remedy that with the additions of big-name snipers in Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry. Perry could miss the start of the season after injuring his foot this fall but should he stay healthy, he could give the Stars the secondary scoring they so desperately need.
Chicago Blackhawks (+3,100)
This is a long shot. But Chicago is a great organization that has been down for a few years and is due for a resurgence. The Blackhawks were actually solid in the second half of the NHL season in 2018-19, as they adjusted to head coach Jeremy Colliton, who took over for the fired Joel Quenneville in early November. They won 19 games from January 20 on and had three losses in overtime during that span – all the while making a mint for Over bettors.
Chicago scored 3.3 goals per game on an average of 32.5 shots an outing but also ranked third-last in the NHL in goals against, watching foes light the lamp an average of 3.5 times per contest. The penalty kill was terrible, erasing on 72.8% of opponents’ power plays. So what’s different about 2019-20?
The Blackhawks went out and directly remedied those woes, adding goaltender and Vezina finalist Robin Lehner from the Islanders to play ahead of veteran (and often injured) puck stopper Corey Crawford. As for the defense and special teams, Chicago brought in blueliners Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan via trades, giving some depth to the defensive lines. The Blackhawks will still score a ton of goals and could be one of those sleeper teams come playoff time.