The 2013-14 NHL season will be unique for a number of reasons. For starters, the 2013 season was lockout-shortened, which means the players and teams – especially the ones who played deep into the playoffs – should be fresher than usual. Secondly, the season will be broken up thanks to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi where many NHL players will represent their countries. Thirdly, the playoffs structure has changed as there are now just four divisions and playoff spots will be allotted to the top three teams in each division along with two wild card.
We’ve started our homework early and after perusing the NHL futures, we’ve circled some undervalued teams that could be worth a play on the Stanley Cup betting odds:
Detroit Red Wings (16/1)
The Red Wings could very well turn out to be the Stanley Cup champs at the end of the 2013-14 season, which makes their 16/1 price tag on the NHL odds quite enticing.
Look at it this way: they nearly knocked off the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 postseason (one of the few teams that challenged them) and they only got better in the offseason. They managed to acquire Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson via free agency, which already adds to a cast of forwards that includes Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary. Last season, their blue line was a little raw as a number of young players were being broken in. It was also a transition year after Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement. Now they have the experience and should be much stronger.
This a very underrated Red Wings team that has a very good chance to win the Cup.
Check out our Preseason NHL Betting Strategies~
Philadelphia Flyers (22/1)
The Flyers crashed and burned in the lockout-shortened season but that was an aberration. This is still a very good team.
Consider that they scored the third-most goals in the NHL in the 2011-12 season (3.22) only to drop down to ninth (2.77). While that might not seem like a huge drop, it’s significant because the Flyers are not a good defensive team. If they aren’t outscoring their opponents, they aren’t winning.
What also makes the Flyers a reasonable choice for your NHL picks is that they added goaltender Ray Emery in the offseason. It’s entirely possible that he’s just another one of these patented Philadelphia goaltender signings where they overpay a mediocre veteran but it’s hard to envision anyone being worse than Ilya Bryzgalov was for the Flyers.
With improved offense and defense, the Flyers should be back among the ranks of the contenders.
St. Louis Blues (12/1)
The Blues are among the better value sports picks to win the Stanley Cup as they are only one or two bricks short of a load. The Blues have probably the deepest crop of goaltenders in the NHL and the best blue line. All they need is a bit more offense.
Of course, there’s the hope that some of their young scorers continue to grow as Chris Stewart is only 25, Patrik Berglund is 25, T.J. Oshie is 26 and Vladimir Tarasenko is just 21. However, if the Blues were to pick up a couple of veteran pieces at the trade deadline to boost their offense, they’ll be one of the Cup front runners. The good news is that they have three NHL-caliber goaltenders in Brian Elliot, Jaroslav Halak and Jake Allen, which means they have the assets to move to get offensive pieces.
Anaheim Ducks (22/1)
It doesn’t look like the Ducks are getting much respect considering they are coming off a great year and appear to have addressed some of their chief concerns. Sure, they lost Bobby Ryan but Ryan did very little for them last season and they still finished second in the Western Conference.
The Ducks were a one-trick pony for much of the season with just one great line and little scoring depth. However, they added Dustin Penner and Jacob Silfverberg, and when you combine that with the growth of youngsters like Matt Beleskey, Kyle Palmieri and Andrew Cogliano, this Ducks team will have plenty of balance. With two good goaltenders in Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth, the Ducks will again be among the best teams in the league. Maybe this time they’ll venture further into the playoffs.
Check out the Eastern Confence Update~