2013 NHL Predictions: Stanley Cup Odds for Every Team
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How do you know the NHL season is back in full?
Because bookmakers are offering odds on who is going to win the Stanley Cup.
For many fans, it's not enough to watch the games and the season unfold; you have to put your money where your mouth is.
For those who are inclined to wager, Bovada.lv has posted odds on which team will skate away with the Stanley Cup.
The 30 NHL teams can be divided into five specific wagering groups.
(Reminder: Sportsbooks determine their odds in an effort to maximize wagering opportunities for bettors. The odds are not necessarily predictions on how the season will turn out.)
The teams most likely to win the Stanley Cup in 2013 include the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
Oddsmakers have listed the Rangers as the favorite at 15-2, followed by the Penguins at 8-1, the Canucks at 10-1 and the Bruins and Kings at 12-1.
The Rangers have Vezina Trophy winning goalie Henrik Lundqvist and the best all-around lineup in the NHL. The Penguins have explosive scoring and superstar power in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Canucks are almost always at the top of the Western Conference.
The Bruins were champions two years ago and return a strong roster while the Kings came together and dominated in last year's playoffs.
The secondary group of contenders includes the Chicago Blackhawks (14-1), Philadelphia Flyers (14-1), St. Louis Blues (16-1), the Edmonton Oilers (18-1) and the Minnesota Wild (18-1).
The Hawks are loaded with talented scorers, but there are questions about their goaltending. The Flyers can put the puck in the net, but have defensive and netminding issues.
The Blues were one of the most improved teams in the league last season and are one of the best defensive teams in the league. They may have an issue putting the puck in the net.
The Oilers and Wild both appear to have stronger rosters than they did a year ago, but both are unproven.
Good, But Not Good Enough
It's not often that you can start an NHL season and the Detroit Red Wings (20-1) are considered just another team.
However, the Red Wings lost future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement and that's bound to have a huge impact.
Bovada.lv lists the Red Wings in a grouping with the Carolina Hurricanes (22-1), San Jose Sharks (22-1), Washington Capitals (25-1), Buffalo Sabres (28-1) and Tampa Bay Lightning (30-1).
The Hurricanes have added Jordan Staal to play with his brother Eric, while the Sharks still have a strong, veteran team that may be running out of opportunities. The Caps have plenty of offensive talent, but new coach Adam Oates may have a difficult time melding his players cohesively.
The Sabres are trying to inject toughness into their lineup with former Dallas Star Steve Ott. Tampa Bay got to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, but Guy Boucher's team has defensive issues.
A Long Way to Go
The Nashville Predators (33-1) have been one of the most consistent regular-season teams in recent years, but they have not won many playoff series.
The Preds may struggle to make the playoffs this year after losing Ryan Suter to free agency and barely hanging on to Shea Weber. They don't appear to have enough weapons to be a solid contender.
The Predators are joined by the New Jersey Devils (33-1), Montreal Canadiens (35-1), Toronto Maple Leafs (35-1), Dallas Stars (40-1), Florida Panthers (40-1) and Ottawa Senators (40-1).
The Devils made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, but they lost Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur may not be able to carry the load the way he has in the past.
The Canadiens were the last-place team in the Eastern Conference last year. The Maple Leafs have lacked consistency and defensive presence for years.
The Dallas Stars may be a live long shot after adding Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney, but both of those players are 40 and may have a hard time coping with a demanding schedule. The Panthers won the Southeast Division a year ago and are used to being overlooked.
The Senators were an up-and-coming team last year and should be able to continue their improvement.
Forget About It
The Phoenix Coyotes (45-1) made it to the Western Conference Finals before they were eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings.
However, they are not respected by the oddsmakers who doubt they can mount a serious charge at the Stanley Cup championship.
Other teams that don't appear to have a legitimate shot at the title include the Anaheim Ducks (45-1), Calgary Flames (50-1), Colorado Avalanche (50-1), Winnipeg Jets (66-1), New York Islanders (75-1) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (100-1).
The Ducks failed to make the playoffs last year and it seems doubtful that head coach Bruce Boudreau will rally this team. The Flames might be good enough to contend for a playoff spot, but they will likely fall short. The Avs have young talent but may not have the maturity to contend.
The Jets have some players with individual talent, but they lack cohesiveness. The Islanders are in way too tough as they compete with the Rangers, Flyers, Penguins and Devils. The Blue Jackets were the worst team in the league last year and they traded high scoring Rick Nash to the Rangers in the offseason.