Stanley Cup playoff betting: NHL Odds, futures and picks

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

The Boston Bruins set new NHL single-season records for wins and points, so naturally they’re the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins are the +320 choice to raise the Cup, per Caesars Sportsbook. The Colorado Avalanche, last season’s Stanley Cup champion, are the second choice at +700.

BetMGM notes that 26.5% of the tickets for Stanley Cup champion have the Bruins’ name on them. Boston also has close to 40% of the handle.

But history doesn’t favor the Bruins. There have been 36 Presidents’ Trophy winners for having the league’s best record. Only 11 of them advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, and only eight of those teams hoisted the Cup. Only three teams in the salary cap era (since 2005-06) have won the Presidents’ Trophy and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. Since the NHL went to the wild-card format in 2013-14, there hasn’t been a single Presidents’ Trophy winner that has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

So fading the Bruins isn’t out of the question. The question is where to turn for other wagers? Here are a few Stanley Cup playoffs picks on futures, series wins and MVP.

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Odds from Caesars Sportsbook as of April 14 unless otherwise noted.

Western Conference to win Stanley Cup (+150)

(per DraftKings Sportsbook)

This is way too much juice to pass up. I get the logic, the Bruins are record-setting juggernaut the likes that the NHL regular season has never seen before. Any team that runs that wagon off the road will either become a Stanley Cup favorite or clear the way for another elite Eastern Conference team.

But the Western Conference isn’t simply going to be a bunch of NPCs going through the motions while the East beats the video game.

Those inside the NHL believe in the Dallas Stars’ depth and goaltending. The Colorado Avalanche won’t have Gabriel Landeskog, but then they didn’t have him all season and still looked like a steamroller. I picked the Edmonton Oilers to win the Stanley Cup before the season and they could do it if they get past the Los Angeles Kings, who could win it themselves. All the Golden Knights did was set new franchise records in wins and points while winning the Pacific and should get captain Mark Stone back for the playoffs.

Dallas Stars to win Stanley Cup (+1500)

This is why they call it gambling. As we just noted, fading the East is a value play. The value play within that value play is the Dallas Stars to win the Stanley Cup. Let’s get the hockey voodoo out of the way first: Coach Peter DeBoer has led two different teams to the Stanley Cup Final in his first seasons there, with New Jersey and San Jose. He got the Golden Knights to the conference final in the pandemic postseason, too. So it’s in keeping with that tradition if the Stars win the West.

Why could they win the Cup?

Their scoring depth has been tremendous this season. Their top line of Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz can win a series on its own, but resurgent seasons from Jamie Benn (33 goals) and Tyler Seguin (50 points) have helped. So has rookie Wyatt Johnson’s 24 goals. They have an incredible goalie in Jake Oettinger as the backbone for the third best defensive team in the NHL. A solid longshot play.

New Jersey Devils to win the Eastern Conference (+650)

The Devils are by no means a favorite to win the East. The Boston Bruins have the shortest odds at +200, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs (+550) and Carolina Hurricanes (+550).

But don’t sleep on the Devils. They’re favored in their opening-round series against the Rangers (-120). They were one of the best 5-on-5 teams in the NHL this season: second in expected goals and fourth in expected goals against. They have a legitimate star in Jack Hughes making his playoff debut, and veterans like Ondrej Palat and Timo Meier that have been through playoff wars. If Vítek Vanecek is as consistent in the playoffs in goal has he was in the regular season, the Devils are dangerous – even against Boston, to whom they lost three times but twice by only a goal.

New York Islanders +1.5 games vs. Carolina Hurricanes (-130)

(per DraftKings Sportsbook)

The Islanders head into the Stanley Cup playoffs with a lot of momentum, having outlasted the Pittsburgh Penguins for a playoff berth in the last week of the season. Since March 1, the Islanders (.639 points percentage) have been a more successful team than the Hurricanes (.563). An upset here is not out of the question, with the Islanders likely getting star Mathew Barzal back while the Hurricanes will be missing injured scorers Andrei Svechnikov and Max Pacioretty. If the Hurricanes do prevail, it could be at the end of a grinding seven games series. Both of their playoff rounds went seven games last season.

David Pastrnak to win the Conn Smythe (+700)

(per DraftKings Sportsbook)

Let’s end with some chalk. The Boston Bruins winger scored 61 goals this season and tallied 113 points. He’s going to be a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. If the Bruins break the Presidents’ Trophy curse and win the Stanley Cup, there are a handful of likely Conn Smythe Trophy winners for playoff MVP: Pastrnak, goalie Linus Ullmark (+900), Brad Marchand (+2500), Patrice Bergeron (+2500) and Charlie McAvoy (+4500). Ullmark is a logical choice… but there’s always the chance that No. 1-A Jeremy Swayman could take some of his starts.

Bergeron is the sentimental choice as the heart and soul of the team. But Pastrnak has 74 points in 70 career playoff games. He’s a well-liked player and if the stats case is there in a Bruins’ Stanley Cup win, I think the voters get him his flowers.

Greg Wyshynski is a senior NHL writer and you can catch his betting insight on “Daily Wager,” which airs weeknights at 6 on ESPN2.

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