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Edmonton, Toronto Announced as NHL Hub Cities; But Oilers, Leafs’ Stanley Cup Playoff Odds Get Worse

Oilers' forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl
The Edmonton Oilers have seen their odds to win the Western Conference worsen despite being named a hub city for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Photo from @NHL (Twitter).
  • The NHL has reportedly chosen Edmonton and Toronto as hub cities for the Stanley Cup playoffs
  • The Maple Leafs and Oilers have both seen their conference-title odds get longer over the last month
  • Is Toronto a a good bet to win the Eastern Conference? What are the Oilers’ chances in the West?

The NHL has reportedly chosen Edmonton and Toronto as the hub cities for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Las Vegas was previously a front-runner to be a hub, but the league is opting to go with two Canadian cities due to COVID-19 cases soaring in the United States.

According to reports, the Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto and the Western Conference teams will play in Edmonton. Edmonton will also reportedly play host to the Stanley Cup final and conference finals.

While the Maple Leafs and Oilers will get to play in the comfort of their own cities, the two teams have both actually seen their NHL Conference Champion Odds worsen since mid-June.

Are the Maple Leafs or Oilers worth betting on now that they have the advantage of being hub cities?

2020 NHL Conference Title Odds

Team Eastern Conference Odds Team Western Conference Odds
Tampa Bay Lightning +330 Vegas Golden Knights +344
Boston Bruins +329 Colorado Avalanche +348
Philadelphia Flyers +546 St Louis Blues +420
Washington Capitals +650 Dallas Stars +760
Pittsburgh Penguins +816 Edmonton Oilers +1120
Toronto Maple Leafs +1140 Nashville Predators +1680
Carolina Hurricanes +2300 Vancouver Canucks +1896
New York Rangers +2480 Arizona Coyotes +2190
New York  Islanders +2530 Calgary Flames +2350
Columbus Blue Jackets +2920 Minnesota Wild +2400
Florida Panthers +3080 Chicago Blackhawks +2520
Montreal Canadiens +3740 Winnipeg Jets +2720

Odds as of July 3rd.

Leafs Must Navigate Loaded East

The Maple Leafs may have the advantage of playing in their own city, but they’re going to be in tough to win the East. Even if they do defeat the Blue Jackets in the qualification round, the conference is loaded with elite powerhouses, including the Bruins, Lightning and Flyers.

Boston went 44-14-12 this season and will be very hungry this postseason after losing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final to the Blues last season. They’ve also eliminated the Leafs in back-to-back postseasons. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, appears due for a big playoff run after failing to live up to expectation in recent years. They are going to be very hard to beat this summer with captain Steven Stamkos back to full health.

The Leafs have the offense to matchup with some of these Eastern Conference powerhouse clubs, but they’re lacking when it comes to defense. It’s possible talented goalie Frederik Andersen stands on his head and helps lead the Leafs to the promised land, but his .909 save percentage doesn’t ooze much confidence.

If Toronto manages to put it all together and knocks off some of these elite teams, they’d probably have what it takes to also defeat whichever team comes out of the West. I’d rather take a flier on the Leafs in the Cup odds where the value is better instead of betting them to win the East.

The Lightning showed their dominance this season with seperate 10-game and 11-game winning streaks. A fully healthy Tampa Bay squad with something to prove is as lethal as it gets and my pick to come out of the East.

Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning to win Eastern Conference (+330)

Oilers Hungry to Return To Postseason

Edmonton has seen its Western Conference odds fall from +1092 to +1120 since mid-June despite being announced as a hub city for the playoffs. The Oilers will need to defeat Chicago in the play-in round, but the team and city are itching to get back into the playoffs after failing to qualify for the postseason in all but one of the last 13 years.

The reason to consider Edmonton in the Western Conference odds is superstars Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. The two finished first and second in the NHL scoring race this season and combined for 25 points in their lone playoff appearance back in 2017.

While there won’t be fans in the stands, there’s no denying that the Leafs and Oilers will have at least a slight advantage being in the comfort of their own city and playing on ice that they are familiar with. I’d argue that the Oilers will have the better advantage, as Toronto is already viewed as the “center of the hockey universe” and many players enjoy visiting the city. Edmonton isn’t viewed in that same regard, and news that Edmonton will likely host the conference finals and Stanley Cup final is an added bonus.

There are some strong contenders in the West, but no team dominated like the Bruins and Lightning did in the East. Goaltending is the wildcard for the Oilers, as Mike Smith has had an up-and-down season. Smith has been lights out in the playoffs, however, posting a .938 career postseason save percentage. I’ll take a hungry Edmonton team with two of the best players in the game and playing in their own city at +1120 to come out of the West.

Pick: Edmonton Oilers to win Western Conference (+1120)

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