by OddsShark (@OddsShark) –Sponsored Post
The sharps apparently believe that the Winnipeg Jets are moving out of their contending window heading into next season.
The Jets have opened at +4000 odds to win the Stanley Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Colorado Avalanche (+500), Vegas Golden Knights (+600), two-time champion Tampa Bay Lightning (+700), Carolina Hurricanes (+1100), Toronto Maple Leafs (+1400) and Boston Bruins (+1400) are also high up on the board at online betting sites.
The Florida Panthers (+1800), Montreal Canadiens (+2000) and New York Islanders (+2000) have been given an outside chance. All told, five of the top eight teams on the board are in the Atlantic Division
The Jets won a playoff round during the shortened 2020/21 season, before being swept 4-0 by the Canadiens in the second round. The considerable presence of former Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Connor Hellebuyck often means the Jets can outplay their possession metrics on a given night, but it gets harder to do that with each passing stage of the playoffs. Winnipeg was 23rd in the 31-team NHL in five-on-five expected-goals percentage last season (source: Natural Stat Trick), and that does not augur well for Mark Scheifele and Co. making a run deep into the spring.
The Avalanche, led by forward Nathan MacKinnon and defenseman Cale Makar, have had impressive regular seasons recently but have yet to make a deep playoff push. However, they will be back in a Central Division which is not teeming with competition, with the possible exception of the playoff success-starved Minnesota Wild (+2200). Colorado’s window to win is as wide open as it is going to get.
Vegas offers more of a playoff pedigree than Colorado after consecutive trips to the semifinal stage of the postseason. One variable with the Golden Knights is that they may move on from Vezina-winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in order to clear salary-cap space to add a top-end forward, such as disgruntled Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.
History is not on Tampa Bay’s side. No team has won three consecutive Cups in almost 40 years, and Tampa Bay will have to replace some components of their club in order to get under the salary cap.
The Atlantic Division seems stacked, with three different teams that have played in the Stanley Cup Final since 2019. Carolina has the lowest odds of any Metropolitan Division club, but the Hurricanes’ back end could be in a state of flux if star defenseman Dougie Hamilton leaves as a free agent.
The Bruins and the Maple Leafs have the same price, but could hardly be more dissimilar in the profile of their roster. The Bruins might be entering a transition, with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand entering their mid-30s. The Maple Leafs’ collapse against Montreal in May might have launched a million memes, but they are also a team whose elite forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander are all 25 years old or younger.
Montreal, of course, played perfect playoff hockey to make its first appearance in the final since 1993. Cornerstone defenseman Shea Weber’s chance of playing a full 2021-22 season may be in jeopardy due to foot and ankle ailments, but the Canadiens retain a nucleus built around goalie Carey Price. Montreal could be set up for another solid spring, but only one team in the last 35 seasons – the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins – has won the Stanley Cup after losing in the previous season’s final.
The NHL’s off-season carousel will be underway shortly, with the Seattle expansion draft slated for July 21.