Our NHL handicapping professional shares his early futures bet on who will win the 2016 Stanley Cup. Read this insightful betting preview article which makes a compelling case for his selection.
Lightning Strikes in 2015-2016
The Tampa Bay Lightning hopes to return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second year in a row in 2016. Only this time, they want to finish the job after losing in six games to Chicago in last year’s finals. With their roster remaining virtually intact from the one that finished last season, their chances of attaining the franchise’s second ever Stanley Cup look very promising. According to current (August 26th) NHL betting odds, Tampa Bay is pirced at +1000 to win the 2016 Stanley Cup, and +450 to win the Eastern Conference Finals series (odds courtesy of Bovada). My early NHL picks will be on Tampa Bay to win the 2016 Stanley Cup and Eastern Conference Finals.
General Manager Steve Yzerman has done a terrific job in transforming the Lightning franchise back to elite status. The fruits of his labor resulted in Yzerman being named “General Manager of the Year” at the 2015 NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
A major contributor to the recent success in Tampa has come since John Cooper has taken over as head coach. In his first two full seasons as a NHL head coach, Cooper has gone a combined 96-51-17, and his teams topped the 100 point barrier on both occasions. They bounced back nicely from a disappointing first round playoff exit in 2014, and advanced it to the Stanley Cup Finals this past spring. Cooper is considered to be a head coaching star in the making, and rightfully so. He’s won at every level before getting an opportunity to be a NHL head coach. His teams won the Robertson Cup (NAHL/USA “Junior A” Tier 2) in both 2007 and 2008, the Clark Cup (USHL/USA “Junior A” Tier 1) in 2009, and the Calder Cup (AHL) in 2012. He was also voted the 2012 “American Hockey League Coach of the Year”.
Stamkos a Superstar and Leader
Steven Stamkos will be entering his 8th season in the NHL, and only at the current age of 25. Stamkos has scored 40 or more goals in four of the past six seasons, including 43 last year, and a career best 60 during the 2011-2012 campaign. The star center has also amassed 91 points or more in three of those past six seasons. Many considered him to have a subpar 2015 postseason, despite scoring 7 goals and adding 11 assists in 26 games. Barring major injury, or something unforeseen, Stamkos gives Tampa Bay a bona fide leader and superstar for many years to come, and gives us a reason to back them with NHL picks.
The Lightning goaltending situation is on solid ground. Ben Bishop has really blossomed into a #1 goaltender since coming to Tampa. During the past two seasons, Bishop has gone 77-27-12, posted 9 shutouts, and compiled a stellar .920 save percentage. His backup is highly touted 21 year old Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Russian born goaltender had a solid 2.36 GAA, .918 save percentage, and had one shutout in 16 regular season appearances during his first NHL season.