Who are the longshots to win the Stanley Cup in 2020?

Going into the Christmas season last year, picking the St. Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup would have been rendered outrageous. NHL betting enthusiasts that might have designed to make such a bet would have been a laughing stock. Why fritter away hard-earned money on a bet that was nothing more than a long shot. Totally improbable. The quintessential long shot bet in NHL Futures that had about as much chance of a payout as this article has of winning a Pulitzer Prize. Yet, that’s exactly what happened.

And nobody is laughing now.

The St. Louis Blues emerged champions after beating the Boston Bruins, ending a 52-year long wait for North American hockey’s top bragging rights.  Hoisting the coveted Stanley Cup. It was an inconceivable outcome that will forever be reflected upon by posterity – how fantastically improbable and sensationally miraculous it was. Simply the most impossible to believe title run that seemingly happened by chance.

But improbable things do happen. Of course, they do. And they happen often because what may be considered improbable is exactly that. It’s a perception that is misconstrued by preconceptions of what is acceptable and nothing to do with any kind of a fundamental statistical truth.

Simply put, the improbable doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

To drop some oxymorons to mull over…the probable improbable. The possible impossible. It’s the foundation of all lottery marketing that press home one simple truth: How can you win the lottery if you don’t play?

The same goes in sports betting. How can you win if you don’t bet? Or how can you cash on seemingly incredible odds on a team that’s deemed improbable to win the Stanley Cup according to NHL betting markets if you don’t take the chance.

Certainly, the one bettor that converted a $400 bet on the St. Louis Blues at 250-1 odds made in January into a whopping $100K did just that and reaped the rewards.

The parity in the NHL is unlike any other sport. The season is a tale of two halves, the regular season and the playoffs. All it takes is to clinch a playoff spot and…well…anything can happen. It’s a tabula rasa. How a team gets into the playoffs doesn’t predicate how it’s postseason campaign will run.

Why, in the very same season that the St. Louis Blues were crowned champions, all four No1 seeds failed to advance into the second round with no upset more stunning than the Columbus Blue Jackets’ jarring upset over the highly fancied Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. Doing so in stellar fashion by pulling off a series sweep no less and, in turn, becoming the first team in NHL history to sweep the Presidents’ Trophy winners.

Now, it’s important to point out that upsets aren’t the norm in the NHL. Never before had all four top seeds failed so miserably in the postseason. Yet, it wasn’t the first time in recent history that a Cinderella story emerged in the NHL. Only the year prior did the Las Vegas Golden Knights skate to an improbable Stanley Cup Final appearance in the first year of their franchise history.

Even then bookmakers were on the hook for some longshot odds. Several Vegas locals made bets at the start of the season when the Golden Knights were tipped on 300-1 odds and sportsbooks were left to sweat it out until eventual champions, Washington Capitals, saved their tush from what would have been a windfall for those bettors.

In 2011-2012, Los Angeles Kings became the first No. 8 conference seed to win the Stanley Cup since the league expanded to the 16-team playoff format. Previously, in 1967 the Toronto Maple Leafs surprised as did the Montreal Canadiens in 1986, rocking Stanley Cup betting markets in victory, amongst others.

So, in the 2019-2020 season that is already underway, gaily skating towards the Christmas season, the longshots in the mix include Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, and Los Angeles Kings, to name a few.  All teams found in the Eastern and Western Conference basements, all the while propping up their respective divisions and priced just around the same as the St. Louis Blues were at this very same juncture. That’s odds of 200-1 or higher depending on the preferred top-rated sportsbook.

Of these underachievers in the first half of the season, might there be a value proposition to consider as a viable longshot bet? Heady thought, indeed. The NHL odds say its improbable, but it’s not impossible. Whichever way NHL bets are sliced though, just don’t go betting the farm on it. Be sensible.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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