2019-2020 NHL Conference Championship Odds Betting Preview:
Parity reigns supreme in the NHL. As far as the major pro sports leagues in the United States go, the NHL is probably at the top of the current list. Major League Baseball is as top-heavy as it has ever been. We all know about the NBA. The NFL has some surprises from time to time, but usually the teams we expect to be there are the ones in the running at the end.
The NHL’s unique playoff format also creates some futures betting value. Unlike the NBA, where 1 plays 8 and usually has no chance, the gap between 1 and 8 in the NHL isn’t as big. Furthermore, teams play within division before the conference finals. One division can and has been much weaker than the other in a conference and sometimes a Wild Card from a better division or a team that gets a favorable draw has an easier than expected path.
Those are the considerations you have to keep in mind when it comes to betting NHL conference futures. For example, the Eastern Conference favorite Tampa Bay Lightning is very likely to have to beat the second favorite Toronto Maple Leafs or the third favorite Boston Bruins. For teams like the Florida Panthers or even Buffalo Sabres, winning the Eastern Conference would mean having to beat two of those three teams in all likelihood.
As a result, it makes the most sense in the Eastern Conference to look at the Metropolitan Division, where the teams are closer to equal footing and may not have to go through a grueling seven-game series to advance. The Washington Capitals are among the favorites there at +800 at PointsBet and +700 at DraftKings. As always, those in the state of New Jersey or those in bordering states should gain access to multiple apps in order to shop around for the best prices that are out there. That is especially true of futures, where your hedging margin can change dramatically based on the sportsbook you use to bet.
The Capitals, Penguins, and Hurricanes are interchangeable to some degree in the lines at both DraftKings and PointsBet, but the Hurricanes could very well finish ahead of the Capitals and Penguins. As a result, they are a great futures bet to win the Eastern Conference at +800 at PointsBet and DraftKings.
Carolina made it to the conference finals last season and barely scratched the surface of what many people were expecting from them. They’ve been an analytics darling for the last several years and it finally translated to wins with the help of better goaltending and maybe a new coach in Rod Brind’Amour.
As far as the Eastern Conference goes, Carolina is unquestionably the best bet on the board, especially with that PointsBet line. The Bruins are a decent bet at +400 at DraftKings, largely because the Lightning have playoff questions and the Maple Leafs do struggle in their own zone, which is magnified in the postseason.
Over in the Western Conference, the picture isn’t nearly as clear. Interestingly, the Vegas Golden Knights, at least by the conference futures odds, are a big favorite in the Pacific Division. That may be the division to attack in the West. A young upstart like the Arizona Coyotes has the chance to step up and challenge teams like the Calgary Flames and the San Jose Sharks, so the +1400 price at PointsBet isn’t too out of control.
Getting San Jose at +1600 at PointsBet is a pretty attractive play. Goaltending is usually the question with the Sharks and that question won’t go away anytime soon, but this is a team that has a ton of talent among the nightly 18 skaters. Erik Karlsson suffered through an injury-filled season and he should be in line for better health fortunes this year.
If you do want to attempt to make sense of the Central Division, the Dallas Stars are +1000 at DraftKings, but +1100 at PointsBet. With Ben Bishop coming off of a stellar season, Dallas could very well have the best goaltending by a decent margin in the division. Colorado, St. Louis, and Nashville are all formidable foes, but Dallas was a good team last year with a first-time head coach in Jim Montgomery. They have talent at all three levels and should see better offensive results in Year 2 with the mobile, puck-moving defensemen they have and some of last season’s forwards regressing back to the mean.
As always, keep in mind the possibility of hedging down the line. You want to get the best price possible for both your profit on that bet, but also for your hedging margin when the playoffs actually roll around. When betting in New Jersey, that means checking out our sportsbook reviews and finding the odds that are the best out there.