We’re in the dead of the NHL offseason, but there’s never a dead period when it comes to betting on hockey! There are always futures markets worth exploring, with more opening up as the summer moves along.
The Vegas Golden Knights flew a bit under the radar last season en route to their first Stanley Cup championship despite having a deep, talented team that had all the makings of a true contender — well, except goaltending, maybe.
Let’s take a look at three Western Conference teams that could be true contenders for the Stanley Cup. We’re not talking about a team that might get in the playoffs and win a round or two (or three — looking at you, Florida Panthers). We’re looking for a team that has what it takes to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2024.
NHL Western Conference Futures: Three Darkhorse Stanley Cup Contenders
Los Angeles Kings (+2200)
The Kings’ odds for the Stanley Cup vary from +1700 to +2200, but that’s still a bit short. Los Angeles has made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons but ran into Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in the first round. Now, the Kings have used this offseason to build a team that is ready for a playoff run.
Los Angeles landed Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets as its big move this offseason. Although they gave up a few solid pieces, Dubois gives the Kings a Holy Trinity of centers, with the newcomer joining Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault.
On the wings, Quinton Byfield could break out at any moment, while Adrian Kempe, Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson, Trevor Moore, and Arthur Kaliyev give the Kings a solid top-nine.
Drew Doughty is still around to anchor the blue line, with Vladislav Gavrikov signed for another two years now.
The question is in goal, much like it was for Vegas last year. The Kings are counting on an inexperienced Pheonix Copley and an aging Cam Talbot as a goalie tandem. If all else fails, maybe they make a move for a goalie (or two) before the deadline.
The Kings have a legitimate chance to make a run to the Stanley Cup next season, and a 22/1 ticket would be pretty sweet to cash in June.
Minnesota Wild (+3000)
The sportsbooks seem to think they have the Wild market nailed down, with not much variety between the odds (27/1 and 30/1).
The Wild were the 11th-best team in the league (6th-best in the West) last season and came in with the 13th-longest Stanley Cup odds. That may not seem like much of a difference, but there’s a bit of a drop after the top 11 (20/1) and even 12 (22/1). 30/1 is too long for the Wild.
Minnesota is returning most of its same roster as last season with a few minor changes. Kirill Kaprizov will still be the straw that stirs the drink, and it’s a Filip Gustavsson – Marc-Andre Fleury tandem in net. In between, it’s not really anything flashy, but the Wild are a team that is built to win in both the regular season and playoffs.
While I’m not sure if I can imagine the Wild actually lifting the Stanley Cup, these odds are too long. They’re clearly one of the best three or four teams in their division, and their odds will be much shorter then.
Seattle Kraken (+5000)
The Kraken were a win away from becoming one of the final four teams left standing last season. They’re now bringing back most of the same group — plus some additions — and are once again getting no respect at between +3500 and +5000 to win the Cup.
Reigning Calder Trophy winner Matthew Beniers is a year older and poised for another great season atop the lineup. Jared McCann and Jordan Eberle also proved to be very good options on the wing for Seattle.
Seattle is a deep team that may not have many superstars, although the aforementioned McCann scored 40 goals last season. The Kraken can run four lines and three pairs every single night.
Take a crack at Seattle at 50/1.