The NHL trade deadline is around the corner on Monday, Feb. 25.
So, now is the time when the league’s top teams act as buyers and try to bolster their rosters for the stretch run to the playoffs. Plus, the NHL cellar dwellers become sellers attempting to turn their best assets into prospects.
After deadline day comes and goes, most teams will have played at least 60 of the 82 games on the regular season schedule. Whether they make a deadline day deal or not, most will also have a solid idea of what the team is going to look like when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in early April.
That means if you’re in or planning to visit Nevada, New Jersey or any one of the five other states that have launched legal sports betting since June 2018, now is the best time to lock in an NHL futures bet.
Identify the teams you think have a chance to win the Stanley Cup in 2019. Then, shop around for a good price and book the bet because the odds on the favorites to win in the NHL this year are never going to be better than they are right now.
Essentially, NHL futures bets are wagers where the outcome will not be determined until sometime in the future. That usually means picking a team to win the Stanley Cup before the season starts. However, legal sportsbooks in the US will allow you to book NHL futures bets throughout the regular season and into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Basic NHL futures bets
You can bet on who will win:
- Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central or Pacific divisions
- NHL’s Eastern Conference
- NHL’s Western Conference
- Stanley Cup Finals
Ride the Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are having an outstanding season so far. In fact, the Lightning are up over 90 points already, and no other team in the league has 80 yet. The team is almost a lock to win the Atlantic Division. Plus, sportsbooks across the US are all making the Tampa Bay Lightning the favorite to win the Eastern Conference and even the Stanley Cup Finals.
For example, BetStars NJ has the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Atlantic Division at -10,000. That means you’d have to bet $10,000 to win $100 plus your bet back. At -6,000, its a better bet at FanDuel Sportsbook, but you see the point: Sportsbooks are making Tampa Bay a massive favorite to lock up the Atlantic Division already.
Beasts in the East
Winning the Eastern Conference represents a much tougher proposition, even for a powerhouse like the Lightning. To do so, the team will have to complete the daunting task of winning three consecutive seven-game NHL playoff series.
At this point in the season, sportsbooks don’t consider any team a true favorite to become conference champs. Although, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the closest thing to it at +200 on Caesars Casino & Sports or +150 on SugarHouse Online Casino & Sportsbook. That means a $100 bet will win $150 or $200 plus your bet back if the Lightning strikes Eastern Conference gold.
Of course, winning the Eastern Conference will mean a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals for Tampa Bay.
There are no true Stanley Cup favorites
The Lightning’s performance so far this season has had a significant impact on the odds. You could have locked up Tampa Bay to win it all at +900 on DraftKings Sportsbook in October. All the winning has driven the odds down since then. That trend will more than likely continue as the season progresses.
When the Lightning locks up the Atlantic Division or wins a first-round playoff series, the updated odds on Tampa Bay to win the Stanley Cup Finals is suddenly going to make +275 look a whole lot bigger. Which is exactly why now is the best time to lock in an NHL futures bet.
Anything can happen in the NHL playoffs
Of course, anything can happen in the NHL playoffs. Which means you don’t have to put all your money on a favorite like Tampa Bay. You can get +800 or better on any other team in the league to win the cup on PointsBet. Plus, you’ll find all the other teams at +850 or better on FanDuel Sportsbook.
No matter where you bet, you’re likely to find a similar price on Western Conference leaders like the Calgary Flames, the San Jose Sharks or the Winnipeg Jets. These teams will not have to face Tampa Bay until the Stanley Cup Finals at the earliest.
Just remember, no matter what team you think can win it all in the NHL this year, shop around at local legal sportsbooks, online and off, to find the best price you can on the bet. Then book it as soon as possible because the odds aren’t going to get any better. Of course, unless the team’s chances of winning take a real turn for the worse.