As we all know sporting events are almost always unpredictable, let alone an entire season. The NHL seems to have the most parody amongst all four major sports leagues. With this reasoning, it might be a good idea to take a chance on some size-able futures bets before the season gets underway. Anyone who has wagered on sports before knows to expect the unexpected.
The Stanley Cup
Time certainly has flown by as the Chicago Blackhawks are six years removed from the tail end of their dynasty, winning their last Stanley Cup in 2015. Most of that team’s core is gone with the departures of Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Nicklas Hjalmarsson. It is never fun to lose beloved players like them but as long as Kane and Toews are still in town the Blackhawks have breathe. The team lost Toews last season to an undisclosed medical reason but managed to surprise fans by competing for a playoff spot anyway with help from new guys like Alex DeBrincat, Dominik Kubalik, Phillip Kurashev, and Dylan Strome. This offseason they acquired some veterans that are expected to be quite helpful. Some names you might of heard before: Tyler Johnson, Seth Jones, and oh not to mention reigning Vezina trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury. This Blackhawks team still has a potent offense, added a number one defenseman in Seth Jones, and acquired one of the best goalies to ever play the position in Fleury. The organization has made a statement this offseason and it’s that they are going for it all. FanDuel Sportsbook has them listed at 41/1 odds and it might be worth a try.
Longer Shot: The Vancouver Canucks at 70/1 odds. They notably brought in Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland to join the already young and talented roster. Braden Holtby left and the net is Thatcher Demko’s who has shown to be a very good young goalie.
The Vezina Trophy
The Florida Panthers put the league on notice last year, despite their early playoff exit, finishing with the fourth most points. Nobody can blame them for losing to the seemingly unstoppable force that is the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. Their issue last year was goaltending. Signing Sergei Bobrovsky to a massive deal has not worked out the way they thought it would. Chris Driedger was a breathe of fresh air for them in net sometimes. However during that playoff series neither goalie was up to the task. The 2019 draftee Spencer Knight stepped in for game five of the series and stole the show recording a win and holding the Lightning to one goal on 37 shots. They went on to lose game six in Tampa but still a sign of hope in net for the Panthers. If Knight can enter this season riding that confidence, make some saves, and let his offense go to work, then the kid could have a shot at being a finalist for the Vezina. At 22/1 odds, sprinkling a little something on it might not be a bad idea.
Longer Shot: Elvis Merzlikins is listed at 44/1 to take home the award. He has proved to be a really solid goalie capable of going on runs. He will enter this season with immense focus and determination after recently voicing he wants to win the Vezina this year for his late teammate Mattis Kivlenieks. With low expectations of the Jackets this year, Merzlikins can have all eyes on him if he stands on his head this year.
The Hart Trophy
This one could not be anymore of a tossup. You have player duos on teams that are so dominant and sometimes that takes away from either of them being considered the most valuable player to their team. Then you have somewhat less dominant players who really stand out on their team but still do not put up the amount of points other guys do. For this one we’ll cover a few guys briefly.
Nikita Kucherov 15/1: Kuch missed all of last season after hip surgery but returned for the playoffs on fire. He has skill that few can mirror and with the Lightning looking at another great season Kucherov has a chance. His last full season in 2018-2019 he put up 128 points.
Kirill Kaprizov 34/1: This young Russian was an exciting player to watch enter the league last year grabbing everyone’s attention with his controversial Calder Trophy. He had 51 points in 55 games. Entering his second season he just might take off and possibly will the Wild to a playoff berth.
Aleksander Barkov 48/1: The Panthers had a terrific regular season last year largely in part to this guy. The Finland native scored 58 points in 50 games, only outscored on his team by Huberdeau who played 5 more games than him. The center not only brings the offense but has a complete game getting the job done in the face-off circle as well as the defensive zone.
Jack Eichel 50/1: This is a little ridiculous considering the drama between him and the Sabres does not seem close to over and he would still need neck surgery before playing this year. By some miracle that business gets taken care of quickly and he ends up in a place like Anaheim, Calgary, or Minnesota without missing too much of the season, he could have a major impact on the team’s playoff push.Embed from Getty Images