By: Ryan Gilbert
Best Bets in the East: NHL Western Conference Champion Odds
Hockey is back. Exhibition games have taken place and the NHL is ready to resume with their 24-team playoff. That will begin this weekend, but before that, let’s take a look at the teams with the best chance to go all the way. That is, what teams are the best bets to win the Western Conference and the Stanley Cup?
With four teams in the round-robin tournament and eight teams playing in a qualifying series for a playoff spot, I’m going to look for the best bet of the four round-robin teams, as well as two teams playing in the qualifying round that could go all the way.
NHL Western Conference Best Bets: The Best of the Best Out West
The top four teams in the Western Conference are the top four teams for a reason. They have the best chance – and arguably the only realistic chance – of winning the West and taking home Lord Stanley’s Cup.
To win the Western Conference, the Vegas Golden Knights (+300), Colorado Avalanche (+350), and St. Louis Blues (+400) are all pretty heavy favorites, with the Dallas Stars (+650) rounding out the round-robin group.
It always seems like a cop-out to choose the favorite, but the Golden Knights may actually be the best bet in the West. They have a great goalie tandem in Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner, a deep offense with Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, and Reilly Smith leading the way, and a stellar defense headlined by Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt. If you want a safe, comfortable bet, go with the Vegas Golden Knights.
As expected, when it comes to Stanley Cup odds, Vegas (+800), Colorado (+900), St. Louis (+1000), and Dallas (+1500) are among the top nine teams.
The Golden Knights are still a good safe bet to win the Stanley Cup, but the Colorado Avalanche are worth a look as well. They have a fully healthy team – something they didn’t have during the season – and plenty of starpower to carry them, along with a good goalie in net.
The Vegas Golden Knights (+300 to win West, +800 to win Cup) are the best bet of these four.
Any NHL Western Conference Odds Worth a (Long) Shot?
Outside of the four round-robin teams, there are a few teams worth betting on in the long term.
Of the eight teams playing in the qualifying round, there are only a few with a chance of going from qualifying to champions. One of them is the Edmonton Oilers (+1100 to win Western Conference, +2300 to win Stanley Cup).
The Oilers have an easy draw in the qualifying round, which should give them a chance to find their game and ramp up for the playoffs. With Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl going at full speed, the Oilers are unstoppable. Their depth and defense may be their downfall against better teams, but the Oilers are a good bet at +2300 to win the Stanley Cup.
If you want a longshot, the Vancouver Canucks could surprise people. They are +1800 to win the Western Conference, and +3500 to win the Stanley Cup.
The Canucks have a strong offensive group and an underrated goalie in Jacob Markstrom. With Quinn Hughes helping improve their defense, they could make a run – especially in this unique season and format.
What to bet?
Depending on your risk tolerance, there are a few teams worth betting on.
The Golden Knights and Avalanche are two teams to look at if you want a safer bet, while the Oilers and Canucks are good value bets as riskier options.