When Marc-Andre Fleury slid across the crease to rob Nicklas Lidstrom in the dying seconds of Game 7 in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, it looked to be the beginning of the NHL’s newest dynasty. Surprisingly, it would take the Penguins seven years to get back to the Finals, and while Pittsburgh stumbled in the years that followed, and the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings passed them for the title of pseudo-dynasty.
But finally, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the Penguins have captured their second Cup in this era, and next year will set out to accomplish something neither the powerhouse Hawks or Kings could: repeat as champions.
The Penguins are set up better than most to repeat, with no major players headed for free agency, and Fleury now representing an interesting trade chip thanks to the emergence of rookie goalie Matt Murray. But with the salary cap potentially headed down and the league loaded with strong teams, it won’t be an easy road back.
Looking ahead to this offseason, no free agent has the potential to move the needle from also-ran to contender more than Steven Stamkos. The Lightning star is in the prime of his career, and given the number of players due for a big payday in Tampa (Victor Hedman, Ben Bishop, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov), “Stammer” could be the sacrificial lamb.
A lot of teams north of the border are praying for that to be the case, especially after Canadian clubs were frozen out of the playoffs for just the second time in modern NHL history. Montreal and Toronto both have their checkbooks open to sign a superstar, and hopefully lift their teams to new heights.
Mathematically, we couldn’t be any further from knowing who the next Stanley Cup champions will be, but that’s what makes the predictions game fun. Here are our odds for how next year’s season will shake down.
Odds to win the 2017 Stanley Cup:
Pittsburgh Penguins: 20/3
Chicago Blackhawks: 7/1
Washington Capitals: 15/2
Anaheim Ducks: 10/1
San Jose Sharks: 10/1
St. Louis Blues: 10/1
Dallas Stars: 12/1
Los Angeles Kings: 12/1
Tampa Bay Lightning: 14/1
Nashville Predators: 16/1
New York Islanders: 16/1
Florida Panthers: 20/1
Minnesota Wild: 20/1
Montreal Canadiens: 20/1
Philadelphia Flyers: 22/1
Boston Bruins: 26/1
New York Rangers: 30/1
Detroit Red Wings: 35/1
New Jersey Devils: 35/1
Colorado Avalanche: 40/1
Winnipeg Jets: 40/1
Calgary Flames: 50/1
Ottawa Senators: 50/1
Columbus Blue Jackets: 60/1
Edmonton Oilers: 60/1
Carolina Hurricanes: 80/1
Buffalo Sabres: 80/1
Toronto Maple Leafs: 100/1
Arizona Coyotes: 200/1
Vancouver Canucks: 200/1
Odds on a repeat finals matchup (Pittsburgh vs San Jose): 19/1
Odds to be the first coach fired:
Michel Therrien (Montreal): 5/3
Patrick Roy (Colorado): 7/2
Dave Tippett (Arizona): 6/1
Claude Julien (Boston): 7/1
Alain Vigneault (New York Rangers): 9/1
Willie Desjardins (Vancouver): 11/1
After guiding the Canadiens to 13th place in the East, Therrien pulled off the greatest magic trick of the offseason when he somehow escaped the guillotine he was deservedly under. You can blame the absence of Carey Price for a lot of things, but the lack of production on offense is not one. The real reason he’ll be behind the Habs bench next season was the lack of viable French-speaking coaches on the market. But if Therrien isn’t the first to go next year, the firing of Roy, Julien, or Vigneault would likely set off a domino effect in Montreal.
Odds at least one Canadian team makes the playoffs: 1/8
Odds the 2017 President’s Trophy winner also wins the 2017 Stanley Cup: 11/4
Odds on which team signs Steven Stamkos:
Tampa Bay: 2/1
At this point, it seems like a total toss up where “Stammer” will end up, but wherever it is, he’ll be getting a ton of money. If he wants to stay with teams in a playoff hunt, Montreal or Detroit would be intriguing options. The Red Wings will have a ton of cap space and a need for a top line center with Pavel Datsyuk headed to the KHL. If Stamkos doesn’t care about winning now, just proximity to home, then Buffalo or Toronto makes sense.
Over/under on total value of Stamkos’ contract: $80.5 million
Odds to receive the biggest free agent contract (aside from Stamkos):
Milan Lucic: 5/4
Kyle Okposo: 7/5
Louis Eriksson: 9/1
David Backes: 9/1
Odds Alex Ovechkin wins a Stanley Cup in his career: 5/8
Over/under on career Stanley Cups for Sidney Crosby: 3
Odds to win the Stanley Cup first:
Connor McDavid (Edmonton): 9/10
Jack Eichel (Buffalo): 5/4
Neither ever wins: 33/1
Chill out Edmonton; this race will not be decided in the near future. Both the Oilers and Sabres are far away from June hockey, but McDavid is such a transcendent talent, he’s the more likely candidate to bring a Cup to Edmonton (or somewhere else) first.
Odds Las Vegas is awarded an NHL franchise: 1/12
It sounds like it will be made official at the NHL awards on the 22nd, coincidentally held in Las Vegas.
Odds on what a new Las Vegas franchise would be called:
Black Knights: 2/1
Penn and Tellers: 50/1
Soon-to-be-Coyotes (when someone finally takes a hint): 100/1
Odds on other cities getting an NHL franchise by 2020:
Quebec City: 4/1
Kansas City: 16/1
The low Canadian dollar hasn’t helped Quebec City find a potential ownership group yet, meaning they won’t be ready to join Vegas as an expansion team in 2017. That opens the door for Seattle to get an ownership group together and make a hard push to be the 32nd team in the NHL.
(Top photo credit: Andy from Pittsburgh, United States (hoisting the cup) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)
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