Hurricanes are a live longshot in Stanley Cup betting
While we await word on when the National Hockey League will officially return, a possible mid-summer dash for the Stanley Cup could become even more unpredictable than in past years, and that could open the door for an underdog.
Here are some of the longshots that may be worth a wager to win the Stanley Cup outright.
NHL 2019/20 – Winner
Sat, August 1 2020, 6:00 PM
Tampa Bay Lightning
Vegas Golden Knights
St. Louis Blues
Toronto Maple Leafs
Carolina Hurricanes (+4500)
The Carolina Hurricanes could produce a storm surge in the newly formatted Stanley Cup playoffs, and with their odds, it might be worth sprinkling a little something down on them to win it all.
The Hurricanes had the sixth best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference, a plus-29 goal differential, the third highest average of shots on goal per game in the entire league, and they average the second fewest shots against per game.
Statistically, there is a lot to like about this team, which made it to the Eastern Conference Final a year ago and is slated to face the New York Rangers in the upcoming qualifying round.
And the break should benefit them in terms of getting fully healthy for a sprint to the Cup.
The Hurricanes were forced to use five different goalies during the regular season – including emergency back-up David Ayres, who actually recorded the win after playing the entire second half of a game versus Toronto in late February – but they should get their prime duo of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer back for the qualifying round against the New York Rangers.
The Hurricanes should also get defenseman Dougie Hamilton back.
Hamilton suffered a broken fibula in January and very likely would not have been able to play at all in a typical spring playoff. This would be significant for the Hurricanes, who would get their top defenseman back into the lineup.
Before his injury, Hamilton had recorded 40 points in 47 games, and was fourth on the team in scoring.
Edmonton Oilers (+2400)
The Edmonton Oilers have taken a step in the right direction this season under veteran head coach Dave Tippett.
The Oilers had the fifth best winning percentage in the Western Conference and are favored to win their qualifying round series with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The addition of Tippett behind the bench has helped give the Oilers much needed structure to their game, but that hasn’t stifled the offensive output of their two best players, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Draisaitl was leading the league with 110 points when the NHL suspended play in March. McDavid was also on the verge of the 100-point mark, and the hardest challenge for any team in the postseason will be to contain that dynamic duo.
Mikko Koskinen is having a nice season in net (18-13-3 and .917 save percentage), as part of the goaltending duo with veteran Mike Smith. But it’s likely that one, if not both, of those goalies is going to have to be great in the playoffs.
The Oilers were busy at the trade deadline in February, acquiring Mike Green and Andreas Athanasiou from Detroit and Tyler Ennis from Ottawa – a sign that general manager Ken Holland liked what he saw in his group and wanted to add for a potential playoff run.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+2800)
Suffice it to say, the Toronto Maple Leafs underachieved in the regular season.
They fired their coach, Mike Babcock, in November. They were up and down just prior to the league suspending play, and had a three-game losing streak against the California teams, none of which made the qualifying round for a return to play.
The Maple Leafs average a healthy 3.39 goals-for per game, but they don't exactly play an air-tight defensive game, giving up 3.17 goals-against per game. Their goaltending can be suspect at times.
Facing the underdog Columbus Blue Jackets in the qualifying round will be no easy task, after what the Jackets did to the Lightning in the first round of the playoffs a year ago.
There are lots of reasons to be leery of the Maple Leafs, but they possess so much skill.
If they can get off to a fast start in the qualifying round, perhaps they can carry that into the next rounds of the playoffs. This team certainly is capable of getting hot and beating the best teams in the league.
The big question is: Can the Maple Leafs consistently put it together when it matters most? Those critical moments have not been kind to Toronto in recent years, even before Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander arrived on the scene.
If not now, when is the potential breakthrough for this core group going to happen? Salary cap implications could factor into how this team looks moving forward in the 2020-21 season.