NHL analyst Ross Benjamin shares some of his updated Stanley Cup futures predictions. How does a New York Rangers-Minnesota Wild Finals sound?
All 30 teams are now into their second half of their regular-season schedules. It's a good time to make midseason NHL predictions on who will win the 2017 Stanley Cup. All NHL betting odds used in this article are courtesy of Bovada.
New York Rangers (+1000): The Rangers have cooled off a bit since getting off to fantastic start. As a matter of fact, if the season were to end today they would be an Eastern Conference wild-card team and No. 7 seed. Nevertheless, I look for the Blueshirts to make a strong 2nd-half push and shake off the inconsistent play that has plagued them of late. At 10-1 betting odds, you can do a lot worse with your NHL futures picks than the Rangers at this juncture.
Minnesota Wild (+8000): At the time of this writing, Minnesota has gone 17-2 in its past 19 games. Despite the state of Minnesota being a hockey hotbed for potential NHL prospects, this is still considered to be a small-market franchise. In my humble opinion, the Wild don't receive the respect they truly deserve in national media circles. Although their current odds are less than inspiring considering there's still a little less than 3 months to play in the regular season, I feel strong about Minnesota's chances come spring. Devan Dubnyk has developed into one of the world's most underrated goaltenders and is full capable of carrying his team when playoff time arrives.
On The Periphery
Pittsburgh Penguins (+700): The defending Stanley Cup champions may be even better than they were a season ago. However, considering that no team has been repeat champions since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings, I'm a bit hesitant to pull the trigger at this juncture -- particularly at these short odds.
Chicago Blackhawks (+700): Chicago has been part of these types of discussions for the past 8 seasons. After all, the Blackhawks have won Lord Stanley's Cup 3 times since 2010. They're currently battling with Minnesota atop the Western Conference standings and once again are a legitimate threat. Nonetheless, I have concerns about the Hawks' depth in comparison to their past Stanley Cup-winning teams.
San Jose Sharks (+1400): The Sharks finally got the monkey off their back last season, and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time. They're presently sitting 3rd in the Pacific Division standings, and I don't see them falling lower than that position. Last year's experience will serve them well come postseason time.
Anaheim Ducks (+2000): Despite being the Pacific Division leaders, the Ducks are at an extremely enticing 20-1 odds to win it all. They last hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2007 and this current team may give the Ducks their best chance to do so again since.