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These 10 Teams Opened as Favorites to Make 2020 NHL Eastern Conference Playoffs

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos celebrate
The Tampa Bay Lighting led the NHL's Eastern Conference last season and are again favorites to make the Stanley Cup playoffs from the East. Photo By @TSN_Sports (Twitter)
  • Sportsbooks are offering realistic odds to 10 NHL teams of earning one of the eight Eastern Conference playoff positions during the 2019-20 season
  • Six of eight teams that were 2017-18 playoff clubs repeated in 2018-19
  • The New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes were playoff newcomers last spring

When it comes to the NHL Eastern Conference, there hasn’t been a significant amount of movement in terms of playoff positions the past two seasons.

Six of eight teams who were postseason participants in 2017-18 earned a trip back to the dance in 2018-19. The Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils were the two teams that fell out of playoff spots last season.

Both the Flyers and Devils are included among sportsbooks’ top 10 contenders to earn a 2019-20 Eastern Conference postseason position in their NHL playoff odds.

NHL Eastern Conference Odds to Make Playoffs

Team Odds To Make Playoffs Odds To Miss Playoffs
Boston Bruins -300 +250
Florida Panthers -250 +210
New Jersey Devils -170 +150
New York Islanders -170 +150
New York Rangers -165 +145
Phildelphia Flyers -125 +105
Pittsburgh Penguins -200 +170
Tampa Bay Lightning -400 +320
Toronto Maple Leafs -300 +250
Washington Capitals -200 -170

*Odds taken 8/27/19. 

The New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes were the newcomers to the playoffs in the East last season. But the Hurricanes aren’t even among the top 10 contenders to make this season’s playoffs.

Eastern Conference Playoff Certainties

The Tampa Bay Lightning posted the best record in the NHL last season and won a record-tying 62 games. They flamed out in the playoffs, though.

Tampa Bay was swept in the opening round by the Columbus Blue Jackets but they’ll be back for more. Newcomers Kevin Shattenkirk and Patrick Maroon only deepened an already talented club.

The veteran-laden Boston Bruins can be counted on for a return visit after getting to Game 7 of last spring’s Stanley Cup final. The young, up-and-coming Toronto Maple Leafs are also destined for a postseason return.

The Washington Capitals have Alex Ovechkin. They’ve won the Metropolitan Division title four seasons running and remain the cream of the crop among that group. After the Caps, the Metro could be a very interesting divisional race. Any of six teams could grab the other two guaranteed playoff spots and be in the race for the two wild card positions.

On The Eastern Bubble

The Pittsburgh Penguins still suit up Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin but defensive and depth deficiencies make it difficult to lock the Pens in as playoff certainties.

The Devils now include three first overall selections in the lineup with Taylor Hall (2010), Nico Hischier (2017) and Jack Hughes (2019). They also traded for former Norris Trophy winner PK Subban. New Jersey should be a playoff club.

After a one-season hiatus, the Flyers look to be a postseason team again. Carter Hart may finally be the netminder they’ve been searching for since Ron Hextall left. Philly’s young core is mixed in with solid vets like Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk.

Though sportsdbooks don’t see them as a top-10 contender, it’s hard to look beyond the stellar defensive depth of the Hurricanes. The team seemed to really find an identity last season under first-year coach Rod Brind’Amour and are a great play at +100 to reach the playoffs.

NHL Playoff Outsiders

The Florida Panthers made some big splashes, signing three-time Stanley Cup-winning coach Joel Quenneville and two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. The Panthers can finish but they remain dreadfully thin on the back end.

The New York Rangers added scoring sensation Kappo Kaako with the second pick of the draft, their seventh first-round choice in four years. But the Rangers are still at least a year away from moving into playoff contention.

Their crosstown rivals the New York Islanders were the story of last season, going from worst to first in goals-against average. Then they let goalie Robin Lehner walk as a free agent.

The Blue Jackets went all in last season at the NHL trade deadline but paid a horrific price. They lost Sergei Bobrovsky and 85 goals in Matt Duchene (31), Artemi Panarin (28) and Ryan Dzingel (26) to free agency. It’s going to be a long year in C-Bus.

NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Picks: Boston Bruins (-300), Carolina Hurricanes (+100), New Jersey Devils (-170), Philadelphia Flyers (-125), Pittsburgh Penguins (-200), Tampa Bay Lightning (-400), Toronto Maple Leafs (-300), Washington Capitals (-200).

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