2018–19 NHL Season Odds
The NHL, short for National Hockey League, is the premier ice hockey league in North America. It currently has 31 teams with 7 coming from Canada and the majority (24) coming from the USA. The NHL is one of the major professional sports competitions in the USA and Canada and widely considered to be the world’s best ice hockey league.
The league was established a century ago (1917) after the suspension of its predecessor, the National Hockey Association. The NHL then took NHA’s spot as one of the leagues competing for the Stanley Cup – after a series of mergers, it eventually became the only league without competition for the Stanley Cup in 1926.
In the beginning, the league consisted of 4 Canadian teams only, with the Boston Bruins joining it as the first American team in 1924. Up until 1967, the league consisted of six teams only (“Original Six”) before it added six more teams that year, and another six in 1974. Five years later, the league expanded to 21 teams and gradually added new teams, last time in 2017 (Vegas Golden Knights) when the total number of teams reached 31.
The league is separated into two conferences (Eastern–15 teams and Western-16 teams) and two further divisions in each. After the regular season ends, the top teams play in the playoffs, with each conference winner advancing to the finals, also known as the Stanley Cup.
The Stanley Cup is one of the most prestigious trophies in the history of ice hockey. The NHL and Stanley Cup have drawn in top talent from around the world throughout the years. Legends such as Wayne Gretzky have graced the hockey rink for years, becoming some of the greatest athletes the world of sports has ever seen.
The most successful team in the history of the NHL are the Montreal Canadiens with 25 titles, while the Toronto Maple Leafs trail far behind in second place with 13. The most successful American team are the Detroit Red Wings with 11 titles and the Boston Bruins with 6.
The current champion of the NHL is the Washington Capitals team, who won its first Stanley Cup after defeating new NHL franchise Vegas Golden Knights in the final. The Vegas Golden Knights surprised everyone by dominating the league and playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup in their first season, where they lost to the Alex Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals.
And, while most would expect the Capitals to be favourites for the title again, bookies are not so sure, giving the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning the biggest chances for the title.
Can the Maple Leafs End Their Drought?
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the second most successful team in the history of the NHL with 13 titles. However, most of their titles came in the 1940s and 1960s, with the last one coming in the last season of the Original Six era (1966-67). That’s half a century of waiting for Toronto fans, who are eager for the title.
This year, however, Toronto’s fans have something to celebrate about. Although no one considered the Maple Leafs favourite for the Stanley Cup just two months ago, the team managed to sign John Tavares in the meantime, one of the best players in the league and the most sought-after free agent this year. The former Islanders star has instantly boosted the chances for the Canadian outfit, who are now favourites or joint-favourites for the title, pushing many teams down on the list. That’s what signing a star can do.
The Maple Leafs are main favourites for the 2018-19 NHL title at LV BET and EnergyBet with odds of 8/1. Fun88 and SportPesa have them at the top spot in front of Tampa Bay Lightning (8/1 vs. 9/1), while Genting Bet has them joint-favourites with the Lightning at 17/2.
If you ask us, all these odds are great from a punter’s point of view. Betting on the Maple Leafs now can get you a ton of money after the Stanley Cup ends if you believe the Toronto team has what it takes. If you ask experts, bookies are right – with Tavares in the fold, the Maple Leafs will be the team to beat.
Tampa Bay Lightning – a Legitimate Contender?
Last season didn’t end as Lightning fans hoped it would. Holding the #1 spot in the Eastern Conference and heading to the East finals, Tampa Bay was a favourite over eventual champions Capitals and held a 3-2 lead before succumbing to Ovechkin’s team in the last two games. It was a heart-breaking loss for Lightning fans who are waiting on a new title for more than a decade (the last one came 2003-04).
Still, bookies have recognized that this Tampa Bay team has the tools required to win the Stanley Cup. This is also the last contract season of Kucherov, McDonagh, Stralman, Point, and other players, so fans and bookies both are hoping that all of them are determined for a last hoorah together before they try their luck elsewhere.
Before the Maple Leafs signed Tavares, Tampa Bay Lightning were the favourites for the upcoming NHL season. Their odds currently stand at 8/1 at LV BET and EnergyBet, 9/1 at Fun88 and SportPesa, and a joint 17/2 with the Toronto Maple Leafs at Genting Bet. This makes the Lightning second favourite for the title, breathing down Toronto’s neck.
With players such as Nikita Kucherov in the team, everyone knows how dangerous Tampa Bay can be. The Florida team had a great run last season and were unlucky not to progress to the final. This year, however, fans are hoping things will be different. It’s been a long wait for the Lightning, and maybe it will strike lucky soon.
Where Do Last Year’s Finalists Stand?
The hockey world was rocked last year when new franchise Vegas Golden Knights managed to get to the Stanley Cup in their first season, beating competition such as the Kings, Sharks, and Jets in the playoffs. They met the Washington Capitals and even raced to a 1-0 lead in the Stanley Cup, but their inexperience was what ultimately prevented them from completing their fairy-tale season.
The Golden Knights are one of the top 5 favourites for the upcoming NHL season. The Vegas team is being given odds of 10/1 at LV BET, EnergyBet, SportPesa, and Fun88, and 11/1 at Genting Bet. That’s pretty close to the Maple Leafs’ and Lightning’s odds, meaning that bookies fully expect the Golden Knights to be just as dangerous as last season.
Last year’s champion Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup ever in a final against the Golden Knights which cemented Alex Ovechkin’s place among NHL legends. The Capitals will surely be a threat this year again, although they aren’t a heavy favourite for the title. Fun88 and SportPesa give the Capitals odds of 11/1, Genting Bet has them at 12/1, while LV BET and EnergyBet give them odds of 13/1.
This means that bookies believe the Capitals are among the top favourites, although not the main favourite for the 2018-19 NHL title. However, considering their spectacular season last year and the fact that they have Ovechkin in their side, we think punters should take a good look at the Washington team.