Don’t look now, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are the leading candidate to win the Stanley Cup in 2019, according to oddsmaker Bodog.
Suffice to say, it probably has something to do with that guy they signed on July 1. He’s good – real good – and he joins a team that was already on the cusp of contention before his arrival.
Here’s a team-by-team look at the favorites and long shots for the 2018-19 Stanley Cup.
STANLEY OR BUST
Eight teams have broken from the NHL pack and look like they’ll be the class of the league in 2018-19. Leading the way, as mentioned, are the Leafs. The Vegas Golden Knights, the expansion team that began the 2017-18 season as 200-to-1 afterthoughts and ended up in the Cup final, face much different expectations in Year 2.
Toronto Maple Leafs 7/1
The Leafs as the presumptive 2019 Cup favorite might be a little over the top. They’re young, their defense is questionable and they haven’t won a playoff round since 2004. Then again, John Tavares. Anything’s possible.
Tampa Bay Lightning 9/1
The road to the Cup final in the East has gone through Tampa Bay the past four seasons, and from this vantage point, the Bolts look like the team to beat next season, too.
Boston Bruins 19/2
Just when it seemed like the Bruins might take a step back, they stepped up and finished fourth overall in the NHL in 2017-18. Their biggest problem is that they reside in the same division as the two teams ahead of them on this list. They knocked off one in the first round this past season, but fell to the other in Round 2. It’s not going to get any easier.
Nashville Predators 11/1
You know you’re in a good place when your biggest X-factor is your goalie, and he’s coming off a Vezina Trophy-winning campaign.
Vegas Golden Knights 11/1
What can the best expansion team in the history of major pro sports possibly do for an encore?
Pittsburgh Penguins 12/1
With all due respect to Tampa Bay, the road to the Cup final in the East has gone through Pittsburgh the past decade. And it will next season, too.
Washington Capitals 12/1
Now that Alex Ovechkin has the Stanley Cup, he doesn’t want to give it back. Seriously. He’s walking around with it singing “We Are The Champions” right now as you read this.
Winnipeg Jets 14/1
Back in 2016, The Hockey News picked the Jets to win the Cup in 2019. And since we’ve never been wrong about anything ever – never ever – well, congratulations, Winnipeg. You finally did it.
SO YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE
Welcome to the mushy middle. Of these 14 teams, maybe a half-dozen have a realistic shot at competing for the Cup if everything falls into the place. Specifically: Anaheim, Calgary, Columbus, Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Jose.
San Jose Sharks 22/1
Washington finally won it all after everybody gave up on them. Why not San Jose?
Edmonton Oilers 25/1
Betting against Connor McDavid is dumb. Betting on the Oilers to win the Stanley Cup is dumb. Don’t be dumb.
Los Angeles Kings 25/1
The NHL is getting younger and faster. The Kings are not. The math doesn’t add up.
Philadelphia Flyers 25/1
They made the Cup final in 2010 with Michael Leighton as their starting goalie. Your move, Brian Elliott and/or Michal Neuvirth.
St. Louis Blues 25/1
Everyone knows the Leafs haven’t won the Cup since 1967. But neither have the Blues, one of the NHL’s original 1967-68 expansion teams. They should make the playoffs, so they’ve got a chance, but the Central Division is brutally tough.
Minnesota Wild 26/1
Did we mention that the Central Division is brutally tough?
Anaheim Ducks 28/1
Thirty-three-year-olds Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler have logged a lot of hard miles and it’s starting to show. In Perry’s case, the former 50-goal man has dropped into the teens in each of the past two seasons.
Calgary Flames 28/1
At these odds, put a fiver on the Flames.
Dallas Stars 28/1
They have high-end talent and a decent supporting cast, but failed to make the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. And even if they do make the playoffs, they have to get out of the (brutally tough) Central Division.
Chicago Blackhawks 30/1
Mini-dynasty is mega-over.
Columbus Blue Jackets 30/1
One of these days, they’re going to win a playoff round. Maybe even two or three. Or four.
Colorado Avalanche 35/1
They’re more likely to take a step back and miss the playoffs.
New Jersey Devils 35/1
Florida Panthers 40/1
They’re due to make the post-season and they’re overdue to win a round. That’s about the best they can hope for, though.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?
We might see an Arizona-Buffalo Cup final one day. I mean, it could happen. It’s theoretically possible. But don’t bet the house on it – and definitely don’t bet the house on it in 2019.
Buffalo Sabres 66/1
They’re getting better. Then again, it can’t get much worse.
Detroit Red Wings 66/1
Perilously close to Dead Things territory.
Montreal Canadiens 66/1
Carey Price needs to stop all the shots – and maybe score a few goals, too.
New York Rangers 66/1
Thin up front, thinner on defense. And the handsome goalie is getting wrinkles.
Carolina Hurricanes 70/1
This feels like a great value bet. Nobody’s saying the Canes are going to win the Cup, but they might make the playoffs. And if they get in, they got a shot.
Vancouver Canucks 70/1
No twins, no wins.
New York Islanders 80/1
They won a grand total of one playoff round in nine seasons with Tavares. It’s not going to get any better without him.
Arizona Coyotes 80/1
Maybe, just maybe, the Coyotes break through and make the post-season for the time since 2012. Maybe.
Ottawa Senators 150/1