NHL Stanley Cup Betting: Why the Golden Knights and Flames Are Values
Here we are, on the eve of puck drop for the 2021 NHL season, and the futures board at FanDuel Sportsbook is your oyster! There are some inefficiencies with the futures market, so it's important to have a strategy in place before you get started. Teams' odds to win it all rise and fall throughout the season, so sometimes patience is required to make sure you're getting the best part of the number. Sometimes, laying off teams and rolling over series' prices is the best way to proceed. My personal strategy is to look a little further down the futures board on undervalued teams. In that way, you give yourself more options to pad your futures portfolio (i.e. having more teams with longer odds). Additionally, having a team with longer odds at the start of the playoffs presents more hedging opportunities throughout the post-season.
With that in mind, here are a couple of teams worth betting on!
Vegas Golden Knights (+850)
The Golden Knights definitely aren't the team furthest down the futures board, but they are the team with the most upside. Vegas enters the season with the second-highest Stanley Cup odds at +850, tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and right behind the Colorado Avalanche (+650). But there's reason to believe that this will be the best price you get on the Knights all season.
In addition to bringing back their top-six scorers from last season, all of whom recorded 46 points or more; they also get to unveil major off-season acquisition, defensemen, Alex Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo will complement an impressive defensive corps that allowed the seventh-fewest shots and scoring chances-against last season. What's most impressive about the Golden Knights' metrics is how dominant they were relative to their opponents. They lead the league in nearly every advanced metric and return their most productive players, most of whom are in the prime years of their careers.
Next, we have to consider if this is the best time to enter the futures market with Vegas. Look no further than their new division for validation that now is the time to buy. FanDuel Sportsbook has points totals for NHL teams, and Vegas finds themselves in a division with some of the lowest totals this year. Colorado and Vegas lead the pack at 76.5 and 75.5, respectively, followed by the St. Louis Blues with 71.5. The next closest team is the Minnesota Wild at 57.5. That suggests that Vegas, Colorado, and St. Louis will feast on their intra-division opponents throughout the season and that Vegas is near the top of the division. That also means that there is likely no value in backing Vegas on the series' prices, particularly early in the intradivisional playoffs.
Goalie Robin Lehner proved his value last year, and he was rewarded handsomely with a new contract. With a complement of talented forwards and some gifted defencemen, Vegas is built to win now, and you may not get a better price than +850 all season.
Calgary Flames (+3200)
Bragging rights just got a lot more meaningful with the newly formed all-Canadian NHL North division. By winning the NHL North, not only do you get bragging rights over the rest of the country but it also comes with a pass to the semi-finals. And once we get past the Toronto Maple Leafs (+1200) on the futures board, there is some value to be had with the Canadian teams.
Edmonton Oilers are next on the list at +2200, followed by the Montreal Canadiens at +2600 and then the aforementioned Flames at +3200. Montreal and Edmonton have both moved up the board since odds were first released leaving Calgary with the most palatable odds. The Flames also have some metrics worth noting. Calgary had the third-highest expected goals-for percentage among Canadian hockey teams last season at 50.4%, where their actual goals-for percentage was ranked fifth at 47.7%. That implies that the Flames underachieved relative to their metrics and are poised for offensive progression this season.
Keep in mind that Calgary is just one season removed from having the best record in the Western Conference. That core, which includes John Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Matthew Tkachuk, are in their prime hockey years and have shown that they can win now. Calgary's defense is also flying under the radar before the season starts but has tremendous upside. Mark Giordano and Chris Tanev will be steadying defensive forces, allowing Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson to be more creative offensively. The Flames may have overpaid goalie Jacob Markstrom in the long-term, but he does help the team win now in the short term.
Geoff Ward grabbed the head coaching reins for the Flames partway through the season, leading them to a 24-15-3 record, or .607 win percentage. If we extrapolate that win percentage over the season and the Flames would have led the Pacific division. Calgary is another team built to win-now. The Flames get four of their first five games to start the season on home ice so if they can build a little momentum early in the season then +3200 will easily be the best number you get on them all year.