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2018-19 NHL Odds Predict Vegas Will Regress, Ovechkin Will Impress

Alex Ovechkin shooting during pregame warmup.
After ending Vegas' Cinderella run and winning their first Stanley Cup, are Alex Ovechkin and the Caps poised to become a dynasty? Photo by Dan4th Nicholas (flickr) [CC License].
  • 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

Tampa Bay Lightning 11/1 113 2004
Nashville Predators 12/1 117 Never won
Winnipeg Jets 13/1 114 Never won
Washington Capitals 13/1 105 2018
Pittsburgh Penguins 14/1 100 2017
Boston Bruins 15/1 112 2011
Toronto Maple Leafs 16/1 105 1967
Vegas Golden Knights 16/1 109 Never won
Edmonton Oilers 22/1 78 1990
San Jose Sharks 25/1 100 Never won
Philadelphia Flyers 28/1 98 1975
Anaheim Ducks 30/1 101 2007
Columbus Blue Jackets 30/1 97 Never won
Calgary Flames 35/1 84 1989
Minnesota Wild 35/1 101 Never won
Chicago Blackhawks 40/1 76 2015
Dallas Stars 40/1 92 1999
Los Angeles Kings 45/1 98 2014
Colorado Avalanche 45/1 95 2001
Florida Panthers 50/1 96 Never won
New Jersey Devils 55/1 97 2003
St. Louis Blues 55/1 94 Never won
Montreal Canadiens 65/1 71 1993
Carolina Hurricanes 75/1 83 2006
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)

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)

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)

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)

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

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

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

Predators 6/1
Jets 7/1
Golden Knights 15/2
Panthers 9/1
Sharks 10/1
Blue Jackets 10/1
Wild 12/1
Blues 12/1
Sabres 18/1
Canucks 22/1
Coyotes 24/1
Senators 24/1

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.

Jets 7/2
Leafs 7/2
Oilers 9/2
Flames 6/1
Canadiens 10/1
Canucks 12/1
Senators 14/1

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

Cinderella Odds

NHL 1/1
NFL 7/3
MLB 13/2
NBA 15/1

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.

Author Image

Sascha has been a Number Cruncher, Editor, and Lead Oddsmaker for SBD for over four years, specializing in football, baseball, hockey, and basketball. He has been featured on USA Today's Draft Wire, Fansided, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and numerous additional local and national publications.