The Lightning are the top team in the NHL, but the best betting value to hoist the Stanley Cup resides in the Western Conference.
You have to go back six years to find the last time the NHL team with the most points as the winner of the Presidents’ Trophy went on to hoist the Stanley Cup, and that happened during a lockout-shortened season when the Chicago Blackhawks turned the trick.
The Tampa Bay Lightning (50-12-4) will be trying to end that drought this year as strong +225 betting favorites (bet $100 to win $225) to take home the Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise history, but they will have a lot of work to do just to get out of their own part of the playoff bracket when the postseason finally gets underway in mid-April.
Tampa Bay will play the worst of the two Eastern Conference Wild Card teams first, which could be the Carolina Hurricanes (36-23-6), Pittsburgh Penguins (34-22-9), Montreal Canadiens (35-24-7) or Columbus Blue Jackets (36-26-3). Then a second-round matchup awaits with the winner between the Boston Bruins (39-17-9) and Toronto Maple Leafs (40-21-4), two legitimate Stanley Cup contenders in their own right at +900 and +750, respectively.
The Hurricanes (+3000), Penguins (+1700), Canadiens (+2500) and Blue Jackets (+2000) would need to improve their positioning in their divisions to be considered as value bets.
That said, the Bruins are in great position to earn home-ice advantage against the Maple Leafs in the first round for the second year in a row, and they have also been one of the league’s hottest teams lately with wins in 12 of their last 14 games. Boston is the best bet to win the Stanley Cup from the East even though the defending champion Washington Capitals (38-21-7) have been performing well recently too with a four-game winning streak. The Capitals are listed at +2000 on the futures at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
A Western Conference team has not paid off on the Stanley Cup odds since the Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings alternated titles between 2012 and 2015. The West’s top two teams look to be the Pacific Division’s Calgary Flames (41-17-7) and San Jose Sharks (39-19-8). The Flames and Sharks are both +700 on those NHL odds, which also does not offer much value. Instead, the Vegas Golden Knights (36-26-5) are a solid play at +2200 based on their experience since they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup final a year ago.
However, the best bet to win the Stanley Cup from the West is the Winnipeg Jets (39-22-4) at +850 odds. The Jets continue to battle the Nashville Predators (38-25-5) for the Central Division crown and will try to avoid a first-round matchup with the St. Louis Blues (34-25-6). The Blues have some value at +1800 to win the Stanley Cup but may have peaked too early, and facing the Predators (+1200) in the first round would not be easy either.