- Max Pacioretty was traded from the Canadiens to the Golden Knights in exchange for Tomas Tatar, grade-A prospect Nick Suzuki, and a 2019 2nd round pick
- The Knights’ odds have not shifted dramatically in the aftermath of the trade
- The rebuilding Canadiens remain irrelevant in futures betting and will almost certainly miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year
Ever since the puck dropped on their inaugural season in October of 2017, the Vegas Golden Knights haven’t been able to stay out of the headlines. Things are status quo on the eve of the 2018-19 NHL season, as Vegas’ bold General Manager George McPhee just pulled off the biggest (and longest rumored) trade of the offseason, acquiring first line winger and former Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty for depth winger Tomas Tatar, top prospect Nick Suzuki, and a 2nd round draft pick.
Despite a magical first season that culminated in a Stanley Cup final berth and an extremely impressive offseason that included acquiring steady two-way pivot Paul Statsny, oddsmakers don’t have the Vegas Golden Knights as bonafide favorites. Read on to find out why this is the case and how we recommend you bet.
2019 Stanley Cup Average Odds
Is Vegas Poised to Return to the Finals?
Even with the acquisition of Max Pacioretty, there’s no doubt that a ton of questions are still swirling around the Vegas Golden Knights roster. Many pundits are predicting Vegas will come crashing back down to earth like the Edmonton Oilers did after their impressive playoff run in 2017, while others are picking them to be among the class of the NHL again.
2018 Vegas Golden Knights Roster
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Jonathan Marchessault||William Karlsson||Reilly Smith|
|Max Pacioretty||Paul Stastny||Alex Tuch|
|Erik Haula||Cody Eakin||Ryan Carpenter|
|Tomas Nosek||Pierre-Edouard Bellemare||Ryan Reaves|
|Brandon Pirri||Oscar Lindberg||Stefan Matteau|
However, anyone with half a brain can tell you that their forward depth is extremely impressive. The Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith line was among the most dominant in the league during the regular season and four playoff rounds this year, and Vegas is hoping that they can continue to build on the chemistry they built last season.
The additions of Pacioretty and Stastny have given Vegas proven second line scoring, and when these two fresh faces are paired with breakout young stud Alex Tuch, there’s no doubt that they’ll be defensively sound on top of being able to burn their opponents on the scoresheet.
Despite Impressive Forward Depth, Questions Still Surround the Knights
There are numerous reasons to suspect Vegas will take a step back this season, but we they all center around one simple concept: regression. Last season, only Cody Eakin, James Neal (who has departed via free agency to the Calgary Flames) and Brayden McNabb didn’t have the statistically best season of their careers in 2017-18. That includes both the majority of the defense corps as well as Marc-Andre Fleury’s otherworldly goaltending, which formed the backbone of the team all of last season and throughout the playoffs.
Plus, #1 defenseman and breakout star Nate Schmidt, will miss the first 20 games of the season after violating the NHL’s PED rule. Vegas relied on his dynamic offensive and defensive capabilities heavily last season.
The questions don’t end at whether the defense and goaltending can continue to perform at such a high level. The numbers that each member of the Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith put up last season were astronomically better than their previous best season (William Karlsson went from scoring 6 goals to 43) that there’s legitimate skepticism about whether they’ll able to reassert the same level of dominance again.
The numbers that each member of the Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith put up last season were astronomically better than their previous best season.
Plus, despite the acquisitions Statsny and Pacioretty, Vegas lost two key veterans from last years roster in David Perron and James Neal. There’s definitely a chance that such drastic turnover in the locker room could negatively impact team chemistry and cohesion, especially for a team that operated essentially as a 5-man unit on the ice last season.
Top 2019 Stanley Cup Contenders
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+650|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+750|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+1200|
Oddsmakers reflected these concerns, as even despite the acquisition of Max Pacioretty, the Golden Knights didn’t get any shorter odds on average. The questions and risk around the Knights are being priced into futures bets.
Is Montreal Relevant, at all?
Without wasting any space being diplomatic, the short answer is no. The Canadiens are in the midst of a rebuild, and barring a miracle they won’t be making the playoffs this season.
Replacing Max Pacioretty and recently departed Alex Galchenyuk with Max Domi and Tomas Tatar makes an already bad team much worse.
Betting on the Vegas Golden Knights is a Risky Proposition
At an average of +1150 odds across online sportsbooks (an implied probability of 8%) the Golden Knights are a bit of a risky bet. There’s a ton of good teams in the West, and the Knights will need to surpass all expectations to get through either the Nashville Predators or Winnipeg Jets to even get back into the finals this spring, both of whom made significant improvements to their already impressive roster.
However, if the questions marks around Vegas don’t phase you and you’re a blue-blooded believer, lay your bets now. Because rest assured, if Vegas comes out swinging at the start of the season, there’s no way that the line is ever going to be much longer than +1150 for the remainder of the season.
For more on how oddsmakers are valuing each teams’ chance at the Stanley Cup, we track all 31 team’s Stanley Cup futures odds.