Lightning, not Capitals, Open as 2019 Stanley Cup Favorites

Andrei Vasilevsky, goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning
Andrei Vasilevsky and the Lightning have +400 odds to repeat as President's Trophy winners in 2019-20, despite getting swept by Columbus in round one of the playoffs. Photo by Lisa Gansky (Wiki Commons).
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning open as the 2019 Stanley Cup favorites with average odds of +900
  • Despite being reigning champs for less than a week, the Washington Capitals are +1400 to repeat (eighth-shortest odds)
  • See who online sports betting sites believe to be the favorites for the 2019 Stanley Cup

Well, the Washington Capitals are 2018 Stanley Cup Champions and … that was one hell of a party.

But with the 2018 Stanley Cup in the books, instead of waiting for the champagne to dry in Alexander Ovechkin’s beard, it’s time to turn our attention to the early odds for 2019.

It’s typical that the defending champs get plenty of respect when futures odds open. You’ll usually find them as the favorite, or at least in the top three.

That’s not the case with Washington though.

2019 Stanley Cup Average Opening Odds

To find the Washington Capitals, you’ll have to flip to the “top 10 contenders” tab. The reigning champs surprisingly opened at an average of +1400 to win the 2019 Stanley Cup, not even sitting in the top seven.

Steven Stamkos and the Lightning Open as Favorites

The Lightning fell a game shy of reaching the Stanley Cup Final this season. If it wasn’t for Ovechkin striking early and pacing the Capitals to a Game 7 win, it could have been the Bolts facing off with the Golden Knights for the Cup.

But they fell short. So why are they the favorites?

Well for one, they’re returning a big chunk of their roster. Tampa already has 18 players under contract for next season, which is second among Eastern Conference playoff teams – Columbus is returning 19.

Meanwhile, other Eastern Conference contenders like the Penguins (17 under contract), Bruins (17), Capitals (16) and Maple Leafs (15) all face personnel questions, big and small.

Among those 18 names under contract are Steven Stamkos (27 goals, 86 points), Nikita Kucherov (39 goals, 100 points), and defenseman Victor Hedman.

Tampa is also fortunate enough to have two key contributors in Brayden Point (one year remaining) and Mikhail Sergachev (two years left) on entry-level deals.

While they only have a projected $6.8 million in cap space (fourth-lowest in the NHL), they have a year before they have to make any tough decisions. They also have the wiggle room to add if the price is right.

Who are the Lightning Losing in 2018-19?

The big name is 38-year-old Chris Kunitz, who brought his championship pedigree to town on a one-year deal last year. Joining Kunitz on the market is 27-year-old Andrej Sustr. Both had fine years, but can be replaced internally with prospects or through free agency.

Looking within, prospects like Alex Volkov, Taylor Raddysh, Boris Katchouk and Anthony Cirelli could all fill Kuntiz’s shoes. The blueline is a little less urgent, as they’ve got six one-way deals and Sergachev’s ELC.

Western Conference Cup Contenders

If this year was any indication, the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets are going to be fighting it out for the Campbell Bowl for a while.

The Preds are in the same spot as the Lightning, as they’re losing just two NHL-level bodies to unrestricted free agency: Scott Hartnell and Alexei Emelin.

Rumors are swirling that they’re in the market to make a big change, which could be pursuing Erik Karlsson or John Tavares. They’d need to shuffle some things around, but they can absorb that hit.

Winnipeg will be a little busier this off-season, but won’t see their odds shift that much. They have four RFA defensemen to deal with, headlined by Jacob Trouba.

Before signing his bridge deal, Trouba was the subject of trade rumours, so it’s no guarantee he’s still in the ‘Peg come September. Their biggest priority is locking up goalie Connor Hellebuyck.

2019 Stanley Cup Futures Betting

There are three teams in the Eastern Conference that stand out when thinking about next year’s Stanley Cup: the Tampa Bay Lightning (+900 average odds), Boston Bruins (+1000), and the Toronto Maple Leafs (+1000).

All three teams have cores who are either in their prime, or about to come into it. And the Bruins and Lightning have off-seasons free of hefty financial decisions.

Team 2019 Stanley Cup Odds
Tampa Bay Lightning +900
Boston Bruins +1000
Toronto Maple Leafs +1000

In the West it’s impossible to look past the Predators (+1100) and the Jets (+1000). Whether or not either make significant moves, they’re the favorites for good reason.

The Edmonton Oilers are an enticing buy at +1800 simply due to Connor McDavid. But if you really want to go deep, the Colorado Avalanche at +4000 would pay off in a big way if they found that Vegas magic next year.

Team 2019 Stanley Cup Odds
Nashville Predators +1100
Winnipeg Jets +1000
Edmonton Oilers +1800
Colorado Avalanche +4000
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