Sleepers to Win the 2020 Stanley Cup
The last time the puck was dropped in the NHL came all the way back on March 11th.
Needless to say, it’s been quite some time since we’ve seen some hockey.
When play resumes August 1st, hockey fans and sports bettors alike will be treated to playoff hockey right from the jump, as the NHL elected to end the season upon the point the league was stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic and roll out a special 24-team playoff to decide the 2020 Stanley Cup Champion.
As play draws closer to arriving, here are the sleepers we believe deserve your attention to shock the hockey universe and possibly cash in a long shot futures winner.
Best Odds: +4200 FanDuel Sportsbook
Editors Note: Article updated July 27 to reflect recent injury report
Prior to the news of the injury sustained by Carolina Hurricanes’ defenceman Dougie Hamilton leading up to the Canes qualifying playoff series against the New York Rangers, we were a lot more bullish on the Canes chances to repeat their performance in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs when they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before being swept by the Boston Bruins.
Now, the Canes star defender’s status is very much in doubt for the qualifying round of the playoffs, and perhaps even further than that, making Carolina’s aspirations at a Cinderella-like run for a championship much more daunting.
When Carolina is at full strength however, they are arguably a Top 3 team in the Eastern Conference, offering tremendous value with their 42-to-1 odds to win the 2020 Stanley Cup.
Defensively the Canes play like a Stanley Cup contending team when Hamilton is in the lineup, but without him Carolina is a borderline disaster on that side of the ice.
For the time being, we would suggest holding off on the Carolina Hurricanes until we see how they fare against the Rangers in the qualifying round.
Should Carolina advance into the traditional 16-team playoff field, we envision their odds being roughly the same as they are now, and they will more than likely avoid seeing Eastern Conference heavyweights Boston or Tampa in the first-round.
Pair that with the fact we should have a much clearer idea of Hamilton’s status in the coming days, and pinning a futures bet for later on the Canes seems to be the most prudent idea going forward.
However, if the Canes advance and Hamilton does not return, we would probably steer clear of Carolina in that instance.
Best Odds: +4500 FanDuel Sportsbook
Consider the Minnesota Wild to be somewhat like the Oakland Athletics of the NHL.
Just like the Athletics, we know the Wild are good and young.. but are they able to navigate through the long trek that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Just like the Hurricanes, the Wild are a tremendous defensive team that plays a style of hockey that can stymie and frustrate the top-dogs in the tournament any given night. However, where the Wild begin to fall short comes with inconsistent play from their goaltending.
When you have poor goaltending, your fate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs typically is not one with a very long shelf life.
This is why you can get the Wild and all their defensive talent at the price of 45-to-1 to claim the 2020 Stanley Cup.
We know the Wild are a flawed team, so expectations to go on a long postseason run should be realistically low, but in the sport of hockey, chaos can reign supreme.
Should the Wild capture lightning in a bottle and have either Devan Dubnyk or Alex Stalock get on a hot streak, Minnesota suddenly becomes a very dangerous opponent in any playoff series.
And to us, that’s worth the dice roll of a 45-to-1 ticket.
Best Odds: +5000 PointsBet Sportbook & DraftKings Sportsbook
While the Minnesota Wild feature a rock-solid defense with a leaky goaltender, the Winnipeg Jets are the opposite of that.
The Jets are in this playoff position solely because of Vezina Award contender Connor Hellebuyck, who had willed this flawed Winnipeg team to wins all season long leading up to the league pause on March 12.
Entering the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, no other goalie in hockey did more for their team than Hellebuyck.
Without Hellebuyck’s absurd play, the Jets were very likely heading for the NHL Draft Lottery and not the Western Conference playoffs, but if there’s anything we have learned from the Stanley Cup Playoffs over the last 20 years or so is that a hot goalie can be all you need to go a long way in the postseason.
Why not take a 55-to-1 dart throw at the goalie that has shown he can carry a flawed team this far?
Our Favorite, Favorite: Colorado Avalanche
Best Odds: +900 DraftKings Sportsbook
If you’re looking for a favorite to also back over the next two months and change of Stanley Cup Playoffs hockey, we love the Colorado Avalanche (+900 at DraftKings as of this writing) to get the job done.
Simply put, the Avalanche have arguably the most complete roster in hockey, and while the NHL playoffs are never that of the predictable variety, if you’re looking to sprinkle a little bit on a hardened favorite to make a long run — the Avs are the team that can do it.
Prior to the season pause, the Avs were a scorching 17-5-3 in their last 25 games, and pulled themselves to just two points off the best record in the Western Conference. This despite having several key players out with injury through different stretches of the season.
The Avs will be playing for final seeding out West while the Qualifying Round is playing out. We suggest observing how the team is playing in these games, and if they are still showing the same form as they were before everything ground to a halt, pouncing on Colorado may prove to be a very wise investment.