2018-19 Futures: Another First-Time Stanley Cup Winner?

Matthew Jordan

Friday, June 8, 2018 1:18 PM UTC

Friday, Jun. 8, 2018 1:18 PM UTC

The Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup champions for the first time in franchise history. Naturally, the sportsbooks already are looking ahead to 2018-19.

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A moment @ovi8 will never forget. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/EK9yad4NHt

— NHL (@NHL) June 8, 2018
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It was rather fitting that the Washington Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 on June 7 to win the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup. Why fitting? It was 40 years to the day that the NBA’s Washington Wizards finished off an upset of the heavily-favored Seattle SuperSonics in Game 7 of the NBA Finals in Seattle. That remains the Wizards’ only championship.

The Capitals’ title was the first in one of the four major professional sports for a Washington, D.C., franchise since the NFL’s Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI on Jan. 26, 1992. The Caps became the 19th active franchise to win a Cup.

Washington opened the 2017-18 season at +1000 to win the Cup and has opened at +1400 at Bovada for next season. Guys like Alex Ovechkin, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Braden Holtby are in the prime. The team’s biggest potential free agent is 28-year-old defenseman John Carlson, and he might be too expensive to re-sign.

The Capitals began play in the NHL in 1974-75, but they didn’t have the longest Stanley Cup drought. No, that belongs to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who last won it in 1967. They haven’t even been back to the Finals since. Toronto is +1000 for next season at Bovada. That’s certainly a franchise on the rise, setting franchise records for points (105) and wins (49) in the 2017-18 regular season, although Toronto was knocked out in seven games in its first-round playoff series this year by Boston.

That loss might have led to the team moving on from GM Lou Lamoriello. His contract had been up, but the team opted not to consider an extension. He held the post since July 2015, and under Lamoriello the Maple Leafs made back-to-back playoff appearances the past two seasons, something they hadn’t accomplished since a six-season run from 1999-2004. Toronto could have nearly $30 million in cap space and might be able to lure Toronto native and Islanders free-agent star John Tavares in free agency.

Of course, no team from Canada has won the Cup since Montreal in 1993. Winnipeg, which has never won the Cup, is +1000 for next season after losing to Vegas in five games in the West Finals. Four active franchises have yet to make a Stanley Cup Finals appearance: Winnipeg, Columbus (+2500), Minnesota (+3000) and Arizona (+8000).

Speaking of Minnesota, the Twin Cities now have the longest drought of cities with a team in the four major sports leagues without a championship. Baseball’s Twins were the last winner in the 1991 World Series. Minneapolis-St. Paul had been tied with Washington, D.C. in that regard.

Off its Cinderella run and the greatest expansion season in American sports history, Vegas is +1000 to finish the job next season. Boston is also +1000.

We’ve buried the lead here, though. The 2018-19 Stanley Cup favorites as of this writing are the Tampa Bay Lightning at +900. The Bolts were the East’s top seed this past season and led the Capitals 3-2 in the East Finals but lost Game 6 3-0 on the road and Game 7 4-0 at home. Shocking that team was shut out twice as Tampa Bay was the NHL’s highest-scoring club in the regular season. With the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde, Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Andrei Vasilevskiy and others, Tampa has arguably the best overall roster in the league.

Will The Capitals Visit The White House?
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