- The Golden Knights and Capitals just concluded one of the most memorable seasons in NHL history.
- Can Vegas finish what it started next year or will the young franchise come crashing back to earth?
- Who are the early favorites for the Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Norris Trophy, and all the major 2019 NHL awards?
The 2018 Stanley Cup is in the books and the Washington Capitals have, for the first time in franchise history, etched their name onto the storied trophy, putting a devastating end to the storybook run of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
As we look to 2019, the central question on everyone’s mind is whether Vegas was a fluke or whether they will be contenders for years to come.
Partial answers lie below, as our NHL number crunchers tabulate the early odds for the 2018-19 NHL season, including Stanley Cup futures, player-award odds, and more.
2019 Stanley Cup Futures
|TEAM||2019 STANLEY CUP ODDS||2017-18 POINTS||LAST STANLEY CUP|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||11/1||113||2004|
|Nashville Predators||12/1||117||Never won|
|Winnipeg Jets||13/1||114||Never won|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||16/1||105||1967|
|Vegas Golden Knights||16/1||109||Never won|
|San Jose Sharks||25/1||100||Never won|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||30/1||97||Never won|
|Minnesota Wild||35/1||101||Never won|
|Los Angeles Kings||45/1||98||2014|
|Florida Panthers||50/1||96||Never won|
|New Jersey Devils||55/1||97||2003|
|St. Louis Blues||55/1||94||Never won|
|New York Islanders||90/1||80||1983|
|New York Rangers||90/1||77||1994|
|Buffalo Sabres||95/1||62||Never won|
|Arizona Coyotes||100/1||70||Never won|
|Detroit Red Wings||110/1||73||2008|
|Ottawa Senators||125/1||67||Never won|
|Vancouver Canucks||125/1||73||Never won|
The Stanley Cup playoffs are a crapshoot. Dominant regular-season teams often find themselves bounced by Wild Cards that barely squeaked in. Case in point: only one team has captured both the Presidents’ Trophy (most points in the regular season) and the cup in the last decade (2012-13 Blackhawks), and it’s only happened eight times in the 32-year history of the Presidents’ Trophy.
[O]nly one team … has captured both the Presidents’ Trophy (most points in the regular season) and the cup in the last decade.
Case in point #2: the Capitals were by far the best team in the regular season in both 2015-16 and 2016-17, but it wasn’t until this year — when they finished with the sixth-best record in the NHL and the tenth-best goal difference — that they finally attained the ultimate prize.
That said, there’s definitely a top tier of eight teams when it comes to the 2019 Stanley Cup, which ends with Vegas in the list above. By our calculations, there’s a 55% chance that a team from that octet wins the cup.
2018-19 Player Awards Odds
Hart Trophy (MVP)
|PLAYER (TEAM)||HART TROPHY ODDS||2017-18 STATS|
|Conor McDavid (Oilers)||4/1||108 PTS (82 GP, 41 G, 67 A)|
|Sidney Crosby (Penguins)||6/1||89 PTS (82 GP, 29 G, 60 A)|
|Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche)||8/1||97 PTS (74 GP, 39 G, 58 A)|
|Nikita Kucherov (Lightning)||9/1||100 PTS (80 GP, 39 G, 61 A)|
|Taylor Hall (Devils)||12/1||93 PTS (76 GP, 39 G, 54 A)|
Hall is going to win the 2018 Hart, by virtue of almost single handedly leading the Devils (who finished last in the league in 2016-17) to a playoff appearance. The former Oiler had 40 more points than the next highest scorer on his team and did stuff like this on a nightly basis. (Note the lack of other Devils in the following clip.)
McDavid is the favorite for a couple reasons. First and foremost, he’s the best hockey player on the planet, and he’s in his absolute prime. Second, Edmonton is likely to bounce back from a dreadful season, and that will create a Hall-like narrative for their captain and undisputed leader.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie)
|PLAYER (TEAM)||VEZINA TROPHY ODDS||2017-18 STATS|
|Marc-Andre Fleury (Golden Knights)||8/1||46 GP, 2.24 GAA, .927 SV%|
|Sergei Bobrovsky (Blue Jackets)||9/1||65 GP, 2.42 GAA, .921 SV%|
|Corey Crawford (Blackhawks)||9/1||28 GP, 2.27 GAA, .929 SV%|
|Tuukka Rask (Bruins)||10/1||54 GP, 2.36 GAA, .917 SV%|
|Carey Price (Canadiens)||12/1||49 GP, 3.11 GAA, .900 SV%|
Pekka Rinne is likely going to win the 2018 Vezina. But the 35-year-old’s performance this season came out of nowhere after trending down the last few years. Plus, no one has repeated as Vezina winner since Marty Brodeur in 2007/2008.
The most consistently dominant tenders over the last few seasons have been Bobrovsky and Crawford, though Crawford missed significant time last year.
Fleury was the best goalie in 2017-18 when healthy — until the Stanley Cup finals, anyway — and Carey Price still has the potential to return to best-in-the-game status, despite a horrendous 2017-18 season, typified in the “highlights” below.
Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman)
|PLAYER (TEAM)||NORRIS TROPHY ODDS||2017-18 STATS|
|Victor Hedman (Lightning)||5/1||77 GP, 63 PTS, +32, 25:51 TOI|
|Drew Doughty (Kings)||8/1||82 GP, 60 PTS, +23, 26:50 TOI|
|Aaron Ekblad (Panthers)||8/1||82 GP, 38 PTS, +9, 23:23 TOI|
|Ryan Suter (Wild)||10/1||78 GP, 51 PTS, -1, 26:47 TOI|
|John Klingberg (Stars)||12/1||82 GP, 67 PTS, +10, 24:04 TOI|
Hedman was head and shoulders above everyone this season, save Doughty. His impact at both ends was palpable on a nightly basis. Still just 27 years of age, there’s no reason to think he won’t be equally good next year. Same goes for Doughty, who is somehow just 28 years old still.
Rocket Richard Trophy (Most Goals)
|PLAYER (TEAM)||ROCKET RICHARD TROPHY ODDS||2017-18 STATS|
|Alex Ovechkin (Capitals)||5/1||82 GP, 49 G, 13.8 SH%|
|Tyler Seguin (Stars)||10/1||82 GP, 40 G, 11.9 SH%|
|Patrik Laine (Jets) )||10/1||82 GP, 44 G, 18.3 SH%|
|Conor McDavid (Oilers)||11/1||82 GP, 41 G, 15.0 SH%|
|Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche)||13/1||74 GP, 39 G, 13.7 SH%|
Surprised that William Karlsson isn’t on the list after notching 43 goals last year in his breakout season? He had a completely unsustainable 23.1% shooting percentage. He’ll be lucky to crack 30 next year.
Seguin, on the other hand, had 40 goals while shooting just 11.9%. He was second in the league in shots, trailing only Ovechkin.
Vegas Golden Knights Props
|PROP||ODDS / OVER/UNDER|
|O/U Golden Knights 2018-19 point total||101.5|
|Odds Golden Knights make the 2019 playoffs||1/4|
|Odds Golden Knights reach the 2019 Stanley Cup finals||7/1|
|O/U years until Golden Knights reach the finals again||6.5|
|Odds the next NHL expansion team (Seattle) reaches the finals in year one||65/1|
Just like we’re predicting regression from their leading scorer, William Karlsson, we see Vegas taking a step back as a team next year, largely because the Pacific Division figures to be tougher.
Down years from the Oilers and Flames should be one-offs, given the vast amounts of talent on both rosters, and the Sharks, Kings, and Ducks will continue to be tough outs. As for the Canucks and Coyotes, they can’t be worse, can they?
But regression doesn’t mean missing the playoffs, in this case. While they overachieved last year, their Cup run was far from a fluke. They have solid depth, great team speed, an underrated D corps, and (usually) phenomenal goaltending. They’ll remain a legitimate threat.
Washington Capitals Props
|PROP||ODDS / OVER/UNDER|
|O/U Capitals 2018-19 point total||103.5|
|Odds Capitals make the 2019 playoffs||2/9|
|Odds Capitals reach the 2019 Stanley Cup finals||7/1|
|Odds Capitals visit the White House in 2018||3/7|
|Odds Alex Ovechkin retires a Capital||1/2|
|O/U career Stanley Cups for Alex Ovechkin||1.5|
|O/U career (regular-season) goals for Alex Ovechkin||786.5|
Ovechkin is getting older, yes, and John Carlson is set to hit free agency and is due a big payday, but odds are he’s not going anywhere after just winning the cup, and neither are the Caps. Ovie is still the most dominant goal scorer in the league, even if he’s losing a step, and Evgeny Kuznetsov is a Hart Trophy dark-horse after notching 83 points in 79 games last year.
As for Ovie’s longterm prospects, he’s not going to break Wayne Gretzky’s career goal record (894), but other legends (Gordie Howe, 801; Jaromir Jagr, 766; Brett Hull, 741) are well within reach. To hit the over (787) he would need five more seasons of 36 goals. Considering he scored 49 last year at age 32, that’s doable.
Stanley Cup Drought Props
|NEXT FRANCHISE TO WIN ITS FIRST STANLEY CUP||ODDS|
If the Preds’ goaltending doesn’t implode in Game 7 against the Jets, they may be lifting the cup right now. With Jussi Saros likely logging more minutes next year, Nashville remains the favorites in the West.
|NEXT CANADIAN TEAM TO WIN THE STANLEY CUP||ODDS|
The Jets and Leafs are the best positioned right now, but if they don’t get the job done in the next five or so years, all bets are off, so to speak. There’s no telling what the Canucks and Senators’ rebuilds will look like by that point. Elias Pettersson may be leading the league in goals.
But with seven teams getting a crack at winning the cup each year, the current drought for Canadian teams (which dates back to 1993) can’t last much longer.
|Years before a Canadian team wins the Stanley Cup||5.5|
|NEXT LEAGUE TO HAVE A CHAMPION WITH PRESEASON ODDS OF 75/1 OR HIGHER||ODDS|
The NHL has the most parity and is the least predictable league. As such, there are fewer teams that start the year as 75/1 Stanley Cup longshots, but it’s still the most likely league to see such a team win it all.
The NFL is next because (a) it has a bigger playoff field than the MLB (12 teams, and likely counting, vs 10), and (b) it’s harder to figure out how the talent on a football roster will coalesce. Barring significant injury, the MLB is much more susceptible to accurate season-long projections.
The NBA is at the bottom because (a) the Warriors and (b) LeBron James. If anyone else is allowed to make the finals in the next decade, it will be a welcome respite from the Association’s monotony.