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Odds on the Next Team to Win Its 1st Stanley Cup

Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko lines up for a face-off.
Vladimir Tarasenko and the St Louis Blues won the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 2019, reducing the number of teams that have never won to 11. Photo by Twitter user @joshhymanNHL.
  • The St. Louis Blues just brought home their first Stanley Cup in franchise history
  • There are still 11 teams in the NHL that have never won hockey’s ultimate prize
  • Which Stanley Cup virgin has the best chance to end its drought in 2020?

With the 2019 Stanley Cup in the bookscongratulations to the St. Louis Blues — the number of NHL teams that have never lifted the Stanley Cup has gone from 12 to 11.

Looking ahead to 2020, the early odds indicate there’s a very good chance the number gets trimmed to ten next season. Of the top-ten favorites, 3 have never won a Cup before (see table below; teams that have never won are listed in bold).

2020 Stanley Cup Favorites

Team Odds
Tampa Bay Lightning +600
Vegas Golden Knights +800
Boston Bruins +1000
Toronto Maple Leafs +1000
Colorado Avalanche +1200
St. Louis Blues +1400
San Jose Sharks +1600
Winnipeg Jets +1600
Calgary Flames +2000
Washington Capitals +2000
Pittsburgh Penguins +2000
Nashville Predators +2500
Florida Panthers  +2800
Arizona Coyotes +3000
Columbus Blue Jackets +3000
Minnesota Wild +4000
Vancouver Canucks +4000
Buffalo Sabres +6000
Ottawa Senators +30000

Vegas, San Jose, and Winnipeg are all considered strong contenders, while Nashville is just outside the top-ten and Columbus will see its odds get shorter if the team manages to retain key pieces in the offseason. (More on this below.)

Adding up the implied probability for all 31 teams in the odds, we get 130.3%. (Yes, that’s a lot of juice, but now is not the time to address that issue.) The 11 teams that have yet to hoist the Cup comprise 43.2% of that. So the oddsmakers believe there is a 33.1% chance of a first-time winner in 2020.

Our in-house calculations result in some significantly different odds to win the 2020 Stanley Cup. Though we do think the online oddsmakers are correct about one thing, in particular.

Teams That Have Never Won the Stanley Cup

Team SBD’s odds  to win the 2020 Stanley Cup 2018-19 Reg. Season Pts 2018-19 Goal Diff. 2019 Playoffs
Vegas Golden Knights 9/1 93 +19 Lost in round one (4-3 vs Sharks)
Nashville Predators 22/1 100 +26 Lost in round one (4-3 vs Stars)
Winnipeg Jets 24/1 99 +28 Lost in round one (4-2 vs Blues)
San Jose Sharks 28/1 101 +28 Lost in round two (4-2 vs Blues)
Columbus Blue Jackets 34/1 98 +26 Lost in round two (4-2 vs Bruins)
Florida Panthers 38/1 86 -13 Did not qualify
Arizona Coyotes 49/1 86 -10 Did not qualify
Minnesota Wild 55/1 83 -26 Did not qualify
Vancouver Canucks 59/1 81 -29 Did not qualify
Buffalo Sabres 82/1 76 -45 Did not qualify
Ottawa Senators 275/1 64 -60 Did not qualify

Bright Knights Ahead

The oddsmakers are correct that Vegas should have the best odds of the Cup virgins, though not quite as short as +800.

Not only do they play in the less-top-heavy Western Conference, they were dominant after acquiring Mark Stone at the trade deadline last year. They will be icing basically the same squad that went 11-6-2 after the deadline and was robbed of a first-round playoff win by some awful refereeing. See video below.

The bulk of their roster has valuable playoff experience from 2018’s Stanley Cup final run. Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t the most reliable playoff performer, but the 2009 Cup-winner has the upside to carry a team on his back.

But he likely won’t have to, since the team playing in front of him finished second in the NHL in Fenwick % at 54.49%, meaning they generated nearly 10% more shot attempts than their opponents.

Toothless Shark Attack

Our assessment is down on the Sharks. This team likely to lose Erik Karlsson, who was kind of terrible in the playoffs anyway, and could be seeing the end of the Joe Pavelski era.

While they reached the Western Conference finals last year, they needed a lot of breaks to go their way.

As good as the offense is, the defense is almost as bad.

Martin Jones is not a goaltender I want to bet on in April and beyond. He was one of, if not the worst, starting goalie in the NHL last year, posting a -22.87 Goals Saved Above Average. Only Jonathan Quick (-29.21) was worse in that stat.

But goaltending was only part of the problem. San Jose’s defensive systems were incoherent and Jones was regularly hung out to dry. The team gave up the second-most goals on High Danger Chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.

Next Year’s Blue Jackets May Be Much Greener

In many ways, last year was the most successful season in the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets. They won their first playoff series and did so by pulling off one of the biggest playoff upsets ever, sweeping the President’s Trophy-winning Lightning in four games.

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen went all-in at the deadline, acquiring impending free agents Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from Ottawa, along with depth defenseman Adam McQuaid from the Rangers, in exchange for a host of prospects and draft picks.

Many questioned the wisdom of those moves as the team already knew it was likely to lose leading scorer Artemi Panarin and starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency this summer. With Duchene and Dzingel hitting the open market, as well, the team that ousted the Lightning in four may have been a fleeting phenom.

There is still much to like about the Jackets’ roster, even if all four of their key UFA’s suit-up elsewhere next year. Seth Jones is a Norris-caliber defenseman; Cam Atkinson has averaged over 30 goals during the last four years; and Pierre-Luc Dubois (27 G, 67 P) progressed nicely in his sophomore season and projects as a true first-line center in the years to come.

But the likely departure of Panarin, by far their most talented offensive weapon, and Bobrovsky will heap a ton of pressure on Atkinson, Dubois, and backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo. Unless Kekalainen effectively replaces what the Jackets are about to lose, they are not a good bet at this price. Safer to take a wait-and-see approach rather than tying up money early on a team with massive question marks.


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