We are just about to drop the puck to kick off the 2015-16 season and it's the time of the year when all 30 NHL fanbases have some hope of seeing a Stanley Cup championship come to their city, even if the odds-makers say it won't happen. While hopes will quickly fade away as autumn wears on, we thought we should take advantage of this time of the year to let every fanbase know where their team stands in terms of Stanley Cup aspirations.
These odds aren't always right though. At this time last year, the Kings were favored to repeat as champions, but didn't even make it to the playoffs last year, losing the last playoff spot to the Winnipeg Jets. This year, we have the Stanley Cup odds and EA Sports even did a season simulation with NHL '16 that had the Anaheim Ducks winning the Stanley Cup over the Montreal Canadiens.
This list will change a lot as the season goes on, but by publishing a list like this now, it'll be very interesting to look back on in April, when we have our 16 playoff teams set and again in June when we have our Stanley Cup Final.
As expected, the Chicago Blackhawks are favored to repeat this year according to oddsmakers, with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a favorite in the Eastern Conference, but there are some teams who have jumped considerably from where they were last year. Let's take a look at the Stanley Cup odds in the NHL. The list will go from the longest shot to the current favorite. All odds are taken from vegasinsider.com.
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30 Arizona Coyotes - 500/1
The Coyotes were big sellers last year, but GM Don Maloney had some good foresight. He sent Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers for a package that included prospect Anthony Duclair and he got a first round pick for Antoine Vermette, only to re-sign Vermette in free agency in July. While the future looks promising for the Coyotes, the present is very bleak. Mike Smith is coming off a terrible year in nets and there are still heavy question marks as to how this team will score goals. They're rightfully listed as the longest shot at a Stanley Cup.
29 Toronto Maple Leafs - 200/1
Management and head coach Mike Babcock have admitted themselves that for the Leafs to rebuild the right way, they're going to be in for some very tough years. They traded their best player this past offseason to Pittsburgh and got a smaller return than many had anticipated. We'll see if Dion Phaneuf is still a Leaf come March and there haven't been many roster upgrades over who we saw last year in Toronto. This is the first year of a massive rebuilding project, so it's no surprise the Leafs are 200/1 longshots.
28 T26) New Jersey Devils - 100/1
An aging roster with a bright spot in nets in Cory Schneider, the Devils simply have a long way to go in reloading on young players and building around their goaltender. Ray Shero has now taken over in New Jersey, as longtime President and GM Lou Lamoriello moved on to an even tougher job in Toronto. The Devils have teams like the Rangers, Penguins, Islanders and Blue Jackets to deal with in the Metropolitan division, making a playoff appearance, let alone a Stanley Cup, very unlikely.
27 T26) Carolina Hurricanes - 100/1
Eric Staal's future with the team is in question, the young talent seems to have stagnated and the Hurricanes find themselves with tough competition. Their big offseason acquisition was Kris Versteeg, not exactly building high hopes in Carolina. Justin Faulk is the shining spot on this team and would likely work his way into talk of a Norris Trophy if he was on a competitive team, but this year looks like another lean one for the Hurricanes.
26 T26) Vancouver Canucks - 100/1
It's a little surprising that a playoff team from 2015 finds itself as a 100/1 shot for a Stanley Cup, but when you look at the Canucks' roster compared to last season, where did they improve? Also, teams around them improved tremendously, meaning that the complacent Canucks may find themselves behind the pack. The team got Brandon Prust, Brandon Sutter and Matt Bartkowski, but lost Nick Bonino, Kevin Bieksa (albeit aging and goaltender Eddie Lack. The team doesn't look improved, while those around them in the Pacific do.
25 Buffalo Sabres - 85/1
There is actually excitement in Buffalo for the first time in a while. While fans of the Sabres will acknowledge that their time as Cup contenders is still a thing of the future, they can at least be excited about the team they will watch this season. With new coach Dan Bylsma, whose teams have often shown offense first, the Sabres have Jack Eichel to build around. Evander Kane will finally make his debut in Buffalo after being traded from Winnipeg this past February. Ryan O'Reilly will also look to rebound from an ugly end in Colorado and an offseason arrest. Either way, the team definitely will be more fun to watch.
24 Colorado Avalanche - 80/1
The Avalanche fell a long way last season after winning their division the year before. The problem underlies in the poor defending and the fact that Semyon Varlamov had nowhere near the year he did in 2013-14. To address their defensive woes, the Avs added Francois Beauchemin. To be fair though, there were problems on offense, as an aging Jarome Iginla shouldn't be the leading goal scorer (29 goals) on a team with the firepower the Avalanche have. We'll see if Patrick Roy can steer the ship in pivotal third year behind the Colorado bench.
23 Philadelphia Flyers - 60/1
It's the same old story for the Philadelphia Flyers. A team with plenty of scoring prowess with question marks on the blueline, even bigger questions in nets and plagued by some bad contracts. The Flyers couldn't be as aggressive in free agency as they would have liked due to contracts like Vinny Lecavalier on their salary cap. Philly's problems are likely still a couple of years away from being fixed and there's no way they are surpassing New York (both NY teams) and the Penguins this year.
22 Florida Panthers - 45/1
They'll have the ageless Jaromir Jagr from the start of the season and Roberto Luongo made them a far more competitive team last year, but this is still a team that has trouble finding the back of the net. Jonathan Huberdeau led the team with 54 points last year, which is good for Huberdeau, but the leading scorer on a playoff team usually has more than 54 points. Aaron Ekblad should be even better in his second year, and should supplant Brian Campbell for the most ice time. The Panthers may just be able to squeak into the playoffs as a wild card team.
21 Boston Bruins - 45/1
It appears the oddsmakers weren't big fans of the Bruins' offseason moves. The Bruins' summer included firing Peter Chiarelli, trading Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton, Reilly Smith and several more depth players. Their acquisitions include Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Colin Miller. Also holding the Bruins down here is the fact that Zdeno Chara already looked old last year and presumably won't get any better this season. Dennis Seidenberg is injured to start the season, which will make things even tougher on Boston's back end.
20 T17) San Jose Sharks - 35/1
It wasn't so long ago that a team like the Sharks would be among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup going into the season, but years of playoff failures, and rifts between the players and front office have knocked the Sharks down a few pegs. Missing the playoffs last year led to next to no change on the roster this offseason. Coach Todd McLellan was made to be the scapegoat when the problem lies with management. The big fish they reeled in was Joel Ward, who is an excellent playoff performer and scored a lot on a high octane Capitals attack, but in his mid-30s, will Ward get any better? Niemi is out and now Martin Jones will have a chance to prove himself as a starting NHL goalie, but he'll be in tough on a San Jose team looking for a new identity.
19 T17) Ottawa Senators - 35/1
The Senators were the hottest team going into the playoffs last season, as the team responded well to interim coach Dave Cameron, who was promoted to full time coach in the offseason. They rode journeyman goalie Andrew Hammond, whose luck ran out in the postseason, getting benched for established veteran Craig Anderson midway through Ottawa's series with the Canadiens. The Sens lost in six, but there's a lot to like about this team, as Erik Karlsson just won his second Norris and Mark Stone was a breakout star last year. They didn't make a big splash in the offseasson, but this is a young Ottawa team building in the right direction.
18 T17) Edmonton Oilers - 35/1
Boy, perception sure can change in a hurry. The Edmonton Oilers were among the busiest teams this offseason, hiring a new general manager in Peter Chiarelli, a new coach in Todd McLellan and hitting the jackpot in the Draft Lottery, earning the right to draft Connor McDavid first overall. On top of that, the Oilers traded for Cam Talbot, who has shown promise as a starting goaltender, as well as acquiring young blueliner Griffin Reinhart and proven veteran Andrej Sekera to boost the blueline. While they are still far from being Stanley Cup contenders, Edmonton may finally make that playoff push many have been expecting for quite some time.
17 T17) Dallas Stars - 35/1
Scoring goals wasn't a problem for Dallas, as Jamie Benn won the Art Ross trophy last year, while Tyler Seguin again displayed how the Stars robbed the Bruins of a young star. However Kari Lehtonen failed to display consistency in goal and there are questions on the Stars' blueline. After pushing Anaheim in a tough first round series in 2014, the Stars disappointed last year.
The team added some pieces from the reigning Stanley Cup champions, signing Johnny Oduya and trading for Patrick Sharp. They can definitely make a return to the postseason.
16 Calgary Flames - 30/1
The Calgary Flames were a nice surprise last year, as new stars like Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett stepped up, while Dennis Wideman enjoyed a bounce back season. Mark Giordano was having a Norris caliber season before his season ended in February due to injury. The Flames weren't complacent and added Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik. The Flames won't be surprising people this year though, which will be their biggest challenge. Could they hold off the Kings for a second straight year?
15 Winnipeg Jets - 27/1
The Jets sent Winnipeg into a hockey frenzy last year, with the city's first taste of Stanley Cup playoff hockey in 19 years. Unfortunately it ended quickly, as the Jets were swept by the Ducks in a series in which the Jets constantly blew leads. The Jets had a quiet offseason, losing Frolik to Calgary and not adding any significant pieces. Their big moves came last winter, when they traded Evander Kane in a deal that got them Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford from Buffalo.
Can Ondrej Pavelec enjoy another great year? Will last year's playoff appearance build to something better?
14 T14) Detroit Red Wings - 25/1
The Red Wings are coming off a heartbreaking seven game loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a series many will argue they should have won. They also lost who is widely considered the best coach in the league in Mike Babcock. They have a 25-year playoff appearance streak on the line. They added Mike Green and Brad Richards in free agency and will presumably go with Petr Mrazek in nets more often. Still, the Wings are in a tough division and while they may again squeak into the playoffs, it's hard to see them going on a deep run.
13 T13) Columbus Blue Jackets - 25/1
Many may ask why the Blue Jackets are this high, despite missing the playoffs last year, but the 2014-15 Blue Jackets had just about the worst injury luck imaginable, with 508 man-games lost to injury. The team made a big splash this summer, landing Brandon Saad from Chicago, who was a force in the Hawks' Stanley Cup run. A healthy Blue Jackets team will mean a return to the playoffs and they can make some noise in the Eastern Conference.
12 New York Islanders - 22/1
The Islanders now begin a new era in Brooklyn and their new home will lead to greater success financially and on the ice. The Islanders made it to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, thanks to the additions of Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk last offseason, as well as signing Jaroslav Halak giving them some stability in the crease. The next step for the Islanders is to win a playoff series, something they haven't done since 1993.
11 Montreal Canadiens - 18/1
Speaking of wanting to do something they did in 1993, we come to the Canadiens, searching for their first Stanley Cup in what will be 23 years come June. The Habs have the reigning Vezina and Hart Trophy winner, which is a good start. The roster looks more potent than last year, with a motivated Alex Semin and a deep bottom six. The defense should also be better, as they will get a full year from Jeff Petry, who proved to be an amazing addition at last year's deadline.
10 Nashville Predators - 15/1
The change at head coach last year proved to be beneficial for the Predators, as Peter Laviolette began a new approach in Nashville, focused on pushing the pace and attacking the opposition. The Preds lost a hard fought six game series to the Blackhawks in the opening round. They chased Corey Crawford from the net, but Scott Darling kept the Hawks in the series. Nashville didn't chance much from last year, adding veteran Barrett Jackman and reclamation project Cody Hodgson.
9 T7) Washington Capitals - 14/1
Barry Trotz also benefitted from a new start, breathing life into Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately their history of playoff failures reared its ugly head, as the Caps blew a 3-1 series lead to the Rangers in the second round, losing in overtime of Game 7. Washington refused to get complacent, adding former Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams to the roster (Mr. Game 7) as well as acquiring T.J. Oshie from St. Louis, although they did lose Joel Ward and traded Troy Brouwer in that package for Oshie.
8 T7) St. Louis Blues - 14/1
Ken Hitchcock has to be on the hot seat in St. Louis, as the Blues have constantly failed to pass the first round in Hitchcock's tenure, despite constantly being touted as Stanley Cup contenders. The Blues added Troy Brouwer from the Caps in exchange for Oshie. The Blues should be a playoff team this season, but will they actually make a run in the spring? They still have doubts as to whether Brian Elliott or Jake Allen could be the man in the playoffs and they'll hope their offense doesn't dry out when they need it most.
7 T7) Minnesota Wild - 14/1
The Wild's season turned around last year when Devan Dubnyk had a breakout season after years of being shipped around the NHL. He landed a long-term deal after his Vezina nomination. We'll see if last season was a mirage or a sign of things to come. They'll again lean on Ryan Suter in the back end and they'll look for a balanced attack up front. The team added Mike Reilly, meaning they'll boast mostly the same roster as last year. It'll all start with Dubnyk.
6 Pittsburgh Penguins - 12/1
Crosby to Kessel. Expect to hear that a lot this season and that's why the Penguins find themselves in the top bunch. The Penguins had an extremely disappointing 2014-15 season, going out in the first round against the Rangers. Realizing they needed a real scoring threat to play with Sid, they acquired Kessel from Toronto, even getting the Leafs to eat a portion of his cap hit. It was arguably the biggest offseason move in the entire NHL and should make the Pens a force again. Will they return to the final though?
5 T4) New York Rangers - 11/1
When you have Henrik Lundqvist in goal, you'll always have a chance to win. The Rangers have that, plus the best blue line in the NHL. They'll now get a full year with Keith Yandle, which should make them even better than they were at the end of last season. The Rangers didn't make any sweeping changes, mostly adding guys on one-year deals in low risk high reward scenarios. They did trade speedster Carl Hagelin to Anaheim. The Rangers have to be feeling the heat, as their Cup window is now and can close in a hurry.
4 T4) Anaheim Ducks - 11/1
The Ducks were picked by EA Sports' simulation to win the Stanley Cup and it looked like they were going to do that last year, but were dismantled by the Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. The Ducks seem like a good bet to be the team that dethrones Chicago (if any team does). The Ducks added Hagelin up front and Kevin Bieksa in the back. Their firepower will surely carry them to another high seeding and they are bona fide Cup contenders.
3 Los Angeles Kings - 10/1
Even though the Kings missed the playoffs last year, they are expected to bounce back and once again contend for the Stanley Cup. As disappointing as they were last year, they only missed the playoffs by a few points and if they did make it, nobody would have wanted a piece of them in the playoffs. The Kings were busy this offseason, adding Milan Lucic. Their "losses" include Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll and Slava Voynov. Their most significant loss, in terms of their playoff aspirations is Justin Williams. Still, expect Darryl Sutter to right the ship.
2 Tampa Bay Lightning - 8/1
The Eastern Conference champions are an exciting young team and their deep playoff run will serve them well in the 2015-16 season. They can beat you with any line and their defensive corps keeps improving. Ben Bishop proved last year he can help a team to a long playoff run. Their big signing was a three-year deal for Eric Condra, so it's essentially the same roster. Expect some additions in March as the Lightning load up for another run at the Stanley Cup.
1 Chicago Blackhawks - 15/2
The Blackhawks have won three championships in six seasons, but have yet to go back-to-back as champions. We'll see if they can do that this year. The team lost many key pieces, including Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya andPatrick Sharp. The Hawks got Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano, while still keeping their core intact. Chicago will find it tough in the Western Conference with the Ducks and Kings gunning for them, but there's no reason why the Hawks shouldn't be favorites again. Patrick Kane's case with police is still ongoing, but it's looking like he'll be able to play this season.
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