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Best NHL Futures Bets Worth Looking Into

As we are almost halfway into the month of April, the clock is ticking on the condensed, 56-game season of the National Hockey League. For the first couple of months, we saw a lot of shuffling of the power rankings and a lot of talk about whether or not certain teams were legitimate contenders. We’ve seen an absolute battle between the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres over which team was deserving of dead last in the power rankings; the Sens appeared to have the title locked up early on but Buffalo began to run away with the competition by losing 18 straight games. Incredible! Now, we have a pretty good idea of where each team ranks and so it is time to make some predictions. Last year, I gave some similar predictions just before the NHL hit pause and I said take the Dallas Stars at +1200 to win the Stanley Cup…so close! As we get closer to the playoffs, I’ll have an even better idea of which teams to back; last year I was all over the New York Islanders and the Dallas Stars which worked out very well. So let’s get right into it. 

To Make Playoffs:

In the beginning of the season, I was able to take advantage of some valuable early odds on teams to make or not make the playoffs. To make the playoffs, I locked in the Maple Leafs (-310), the Lightning (-310), and the Hurricanes (-210). To miss the playoffs, I took the Senators (-310) and the Blackhawks (-250). The Blackhawks are up in the air as they have surpassed their expectations with limited weapons and little depth but the other four plays are basically guaranteed to cash. Now, I am feeling like being a little riskier. So let’s get to the picks you need to lock in right now!

1. Dallas Stars to make the playoffs (+140)

via. Sports Highlight’s / NHL (YouTube)

With the top 3 spots essentially secured by Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Florida, I am viewing this last playoff spot as a tight battle between Nashville, Columbus, Chicago, and Dallas. The Dallas Stars have been extremely disappointing as they currently sit at 7th place in their division, but there are a few reasons that I believe they will slip into that last playoff spot. First, they have only 34 games played compared to the other three teams’ 38, and getting 6 points out of these 4 games would put them in the playoff picture. Second, the return of Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop. I get that both Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger have been solid in net, but there is no denying the talent of a healthy Ben Bishop as a top 3 goaltender in the league. Dallas’ main struggles this year have been on the offensive end and the return of Tyler Seguin can make all of the difference in the world! Realistically, I don’t see the Predators having the talent to do it despite currently sitting as that fourth seed (I also like the Preds to miss the playoffs at +250). As much as I would love to back Columbus, there is a lot of inner turmoil building in that locker room as I don’t believe John Tortorella is using his weapons like Patrik Laine to the best of their abilities. However, I will be keeping my eyes on CBJ and their team chemistry. Dallas still gets to play four consecutive games against Detroit which should rack up some desperately needed points, and I believe their last two games of the season against Chicago will likely determine who gets that fourth spot. Give me Dallas at +140!

2. San Jose Sharks to make the playoffs (+900)

via. NHL / YouTube

Do I think the Sharks making the playoffs is the most likely scenario? No, but the value for me is too good to pass up. The Blues (+165), Coyotes(+165), Kings (+220), and Sharks (+900) are all battling for that fourth spot (or perhaps two spots if Minnesota were to fall into a slump). With the Sharks tied in points with the Kings and are within 4 points of getting that fourth spot. They still have 3 games left to play against Vegas and 5 against Colorado so that path would certainly be far from easy, but to me that gap is just too large. Coming off of two regulation wins against Minnesota, they are showing promise. For that reason, I think it’s worth a small gamble. With that being said, I also like the value for Arizona missing the playoffs (-220).

To win the Stanley Cup:

This is where we can get a little bit risky. Disclaimer, Colorado would be my personal preference to win it all but I think the value of taking them at +450 is absolute garbage as anyone can win the Stanley Cup! So let’s get into the teams where I think we can find proper value. Disclaimer number two, I will not be choosing any Canadian teams because I think they are all overhyped; each team is flawed in their own way and I will likely be fading whichever team makes it out alive. 

1. Carolina Hurricanes (+1300)

via. Danny9 / NHL (YouTube)

This division is likely up for grabs between Carolina and Tampa Bay and it is insanely difficult for an NHL team to win back to back Cups and I think Tampa at +600 is a bit too pricey. I also do not think that Florida is well suited for playoff hockey. Their goaltending is average, their defense is average, and I just don’t think having great offensive talent is enough to win it all. The Stanley Cup is the most difficult trophy to win in all of sports and I stand by that completely. The Hurricanes are a gritty team, they are well coached and show good discipline, they have a young and talented core, and they are one of the most well balanced teams in the National Hockey League. I love their celebrations and I am going to rally behind a team that knows how to rally themselves, so we’re backing Carolina! 

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (+2000)

Way too often I am hearing the Capitals are declining, the Penguins are declining. No, they really are not. The two teams that appeared to sort of fall off in the division are the Bruins (+1600) and the Flyers (+4100). For me, this division is between the Islanders (+1300)  the Capitals (+1200) and the Penguins (+2000). For me, it’s a toss up. There’s no real reason to go against Barry Trotz and his club, they are disciplined, well suited defensively, and have received incredible goaltending from Varlamov. However, for some reason I just don’t think Washington matches up great with either team and I think Pittsburgh being given longer odds than Boston and Washington is a mistake, so I will ride with them (and I am not opposed to the value on New York either).

Only time will tell how these predictions will age, but I am feeling pretty confident that we are getting good value here. In taking these underdog bets, there is really no shame in losing and even if these do not all cash, we might just get far enough to safely hedge our bets! Happy betting!!!

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