Is the baton about to be passed in the NHL? Connor McDavid has already taken over from Sidney Crosby as the league’s alpha player, but Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins remain two-time and defending Stanley Cup champions. At press time, the Penguins are +800 to make it three straight on the 2018 Stanley Cup odds list – but McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers are tied as co-favorites.

The Penguins are certainly the more established team of the two. They thrived last year despite a rash of injuries, and they’ll bring most of their key players back for another run at the Cup; goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft, but Matt Murray has already taken over the No. 1 job between the pipes. The Oilers, meanwhile, are a rising force in the Western Conference. McDavid is one of several high draft picks Edmonton has collected over the years, and at some point, this collection should overtake the Penguins. Will it be this year?


Down By the Bay

It’s difficult enough for any one team in this league to stand out from the rest. There isn’t much room for error on the NHL Stanley Cup futures market; the Tampa Bay Lightning are very close behind in third at +1100, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks at +1200 and five different teams tied at +1400. That parity is a product of the league’s salary cap structure, their rule awarding a single point for an overtime loss, and the grueling Stanley Cup playoffs themselves.

The Lightning and Blackhawks have won the Cup before, but this could be another case where the grizzled veterans are about to be overtaken by the young guns. Chicago’s future odds may be a bit generous after the team scrambled to win the Central Division last year. While the Lightning barely missed the playoffs, this franchise is in its ascendancy under GM Steve Yzerman. Getting a full season from top scorer Steven Stamkos (17 games last year) will be key to Tampa Bay’s NHL betting status.


Capital Defense

But what about the No. 1 team from last year’s regular season? The Washington Capitals are one of those half-dozen clubs at +1400 on the NHL futures market, and after yet another playoff loss to Pittsburgh, the Capitals have gone for an extreme makeover. They lost defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk (now with the New York Rangers) and Karl Alzner (now with the Montreal Canadiens), leaving rookies like Madison Bowey to fill the void.

The Canadiens (+2500) always have a shot at the Cup if former Hart Trophy winner Carey Price plays a full season between the pipes. Bringing in Alzner from the Capitals and LW Jonathan Drouin from the Lightning will certainly help the Habs within their own conference. But they’re still feeling the effects of the 2016 trade that sent PK Subban to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Shea Weber. That trade helped Nashville make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last year. At +1400 on the NHL betting lines, the Predators might be the best of this year’s second-tier contenders – but like everyone else, their Stanley Cup odds are a step or two below Pittsburgh and Edmonton.


*Odds as of October 2, 2017