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The Winnipeg Jets are West Favorites and Canada’s Best Hope for a Cup

  • Online sportsbooks have released odds on Stanley Cup favorites in both conferences
  • After a breakout season that saw them reach the Conference Finals, the Jets are the Cup favorite in the West
  • With no discernible weaknesses at any position, the Jets are poised to build on last season’s success 

Online sportsbooks have set their Stanley Cup futures odds for the final time before the puck officially drops on the 2018-19 NHL season. In the Western Conference, the upstart Winnipeg Jets are favorited over the Erik Karlsson-led San Jose Sharks, the deep and improved Vegas Golden Knights, and their perennial Central Division foes in the Nashville Predators.

Average 2019 Stanley Cup Odds

Is the Jets’ status as the top favorites in the West warranted? Despite being the favorite, do the Jets deserve to have shorter average odds than both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning? For all this and more, read on!

2019 Stanley Cup Odds at Bovada

Team Bovada Odds (10/02/2018)
Toronto Maple Leafs +700
Tampa Bay Lightning +850
Winnipeg Jets +850
Nashville Predators +1100
Vegas Golden Knights +1100

Are The Jets Worthy Favorites?

The short answer is yes, we think so.  With a dynamic top-6 that can score in many different ways, a top-flight defense that features a blend of young, high-end skill with the presence of established veterans, and one of the best goaltenders in the league in Connor Hellebuyck, the Jets’ floor is extremely high, while their ceiling is unlimited. You can’t say the same for any other team in the West. At average odds of +930 across online sportsbooks, they’re a great pick to come home with the Cup this season.

What’s more, is that the Jets are a big team. You might hear conjecture that size isn’t important in the NHL anymore, and but we’d take issue with that. Sure, being big and heavy isn’t as important as speed and skill in today’s NHL, but that doesn’t mean that size isn’t an asset anymore. What makes the Jets such a unique dangerous team is that they’re lightning fast, have tremendous skill on all four forward lines and all three defense pairings, and they can outmatch any team in the league physically.

What makes the Jets such a unique dangerous team is that they’re lightning fast, have tremendous skill on all four forward lines and all three defense pairings, and they can outmatch any team in the league physically.

There are no indications that the Jets have positional weaknesses on their team, and they don’t have any players primed for major regression (with the sole exception of Blake Wheeler, who may come down slightly from his 92 points from last season).

We would expect a breakout season from Patrick Laine (especially with his planned increase in ice-time this season), as well as Kyle Connor. Plus we’ve been touting our theory that Mark Scheifele is one of the most underrated forwards in the NHL for a while now.

It’s difficult for any team to play a burly and bruising style for all 82 regular season games, but once the playoffs come around, the Jets physical brand of hockey gives them a unique advantage over their competitors. We saw the Jets’ unrelenting forecheck lead them past both the Minnesota Wild and the Stanley Cup favorites Nashville Predators last season; its difficult for opposing teams to dictate the pace of the game when they’re up against the Jets.

When the Jets are physically dominating a game, opponents can’t sustain puck possession, or successfully counter the Jets’ attack. The ability to play this style so effectively makes the Jets one of the most uniquely structured teams in the league, and it’s a big reason why they’re the favorites in the West.

The Jets fell short in the Conference finals last year to the Vegas Golden Knights, but we don’t think that should be a reason to be bearish on them this coming year. The Jets’ core is still extremely young, and history has shown that it takes young superstars a season to learn how to succeed in the rigors of playoff hockey.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see the young core of Scheifele, Laine, Ehlers, Connor and Hellebuyck perform significantly better this post-season.

Crosby and Malkin (both of whom entered the league in 2005-06) lost to the Wings in Stanley Cup finals in 2008 before leading the Pens past them in 2009, and Toews and Kane’s Blackhawks lost to the Wings in the 2009 conference finals before winning the cup in 2010. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the young core of Scheifele, Laine, Ehlers, Connor and Hellebuyck perform significantly better this post-season, now that they’ve all got one long playoff run under their belt.

Patrick Laine only put up 12 points in 17 games; Kyle Connor only put up 10; Nikolaj Ehlers put up 7, with no goals; Connor Hellebuyck put up a .922, but struggled mightily in the Conference finals against Vegas. You know what’s a bet we’d definitely take, at any odds? That a cast of characters this talented isn’t going to underperform in the playoffs for two consecutive years.

2018-19 Winnipeg Jets Roster

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Nikolaj Ehlers Bryan Little Patrik Laine
Mathieu Perreault Jack Roslovic Marko Dano
Andrew Copp Adam Lowry Brandon Tanev
Left Defense Right Defense
Josh Morrissey Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Chiarot Jacob Trouba
Joe Morrow Tyler Myers

Gone from 2017-18 are Paul Stastny, Steve Mason, Joel Armia, and Tobias Enstrom; in comes the rookie phenom Jack Roslovic, who has both the skill and pedigree (plus, he put up 14 points in 31 games last season) to usurp Bryan Little from the second line center position and play between Laine and Ehlers.

If we’re being honest, the quality of the above roster really speaks for itself. It’s little wonder that incredibly well-rounded Jets have the shortest cup odds in the West.

The Jets Provide Better Value than the Bolts or the Leafs

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs have shorter odds than the Winnipeg Jets, but we think that the best value lies with the Jets for the simple reason that they have the highest floor. A worst-case scenario for the Jets still puts them as one of the better teams in the league, thanks to their well-rounded roster, sharp management, and organizational depth.

A worst-case scenario for the Jets still puts them as one of the better teams in the league, thanks to their well-rounded roster, sharp management, and organizational depth.

You simply can’t say the same about the Lightning and Leafs, who still have some question marks surrounding their rosters. The Leafs, for example, have a decidedly average defense core, and they’re coming back with essentially the same top-6 that was brutally exposed in their first-round loss to the Boston Bruins last spring.

Tampa has come close to winning the Cup since 2015, but they’ve consistently shown that they lack the mettle to get over the hump. Most recently, they choked away Game 6 and 7 to Washington in the Eastern Conference finals last season after going up 3-2 in the series.

Sprinkle in the off-season tumult associated with Steve Yzerman’s surprise departure, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to have to show an ability to surmount adversity that they haven’t yet demonstrated.

Are the Leafs and Bolts great hockey teams? Yes, absolutely no question. Are they a safer bet to win the Cup than the Jets? Absolutely not, at least in our eyes.

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