Best Stanley Cup value bets

Ben Arledge

The 2018-19 NHL season is months away, and Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals are still celebrating the franchise's first championship. No matter. There are a handful of teams worth considering making an early futures wager on to win the Stanley Cup next season.

Keep in mind, when looking for value this early, it is smart to seek out the longer shots rather than focus on the more likely champions. Those short odds aren't likely to improve greatly, so there is no value to making a bet now, with the exact level of a team's prowess still unclear. Instead, look for the teams that are likely to be much better than the current offseason odds given to them.

With that said, the Tampa Bay Lightning currently sit at 7-1 and have a strong chance at still landing Erik Karlsson via trade to improve an already stacked roster. If you can get the Bolts at that number, do it. Karlsson would make the Cup favorites even better, and you won't see odds that low on Tampa Bay for the rest of the season. You could do worse than the Winnipeg Jets at 10-1 as well. If you are looking for real value, however, here are three teams that are a good bet now.

Note: All odds are via Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as of July 10.

Boston Bruins (12-1)

The Bruins' main reason for concern is the fact that they play in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay is a Cup favorite that might yet add a former Norris Trophy winner to its blue line, and Toronto signed the biggest free agent available in John Tavares. Even still, it's impossible to ignore the talent on this team. David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand lead a skillful and deep forward group, while Charlie McAvoy headlines the blue line. Tuukka Rask seems to be on the decline, but he's still an adequate playoff goalie. What's more, there's good youth in this group, with the likes of Jake DeBrusk, Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen in the mix. Boston has its work cut out for it in that division, but the team is very good. There is value at 12-1.

Philadelphia Flyers (25-1)

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James van Riemsdyk is back in orange, signing with the Flyers to add to a stacked
offensive group. He joins two 30-goal scorers in Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, along with grinder Wayne Simmonds and playmaker Jakub Voracek. The defense has improved with Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere each contributing at least 40 points last season. Yes, goaltending remains a concern, but Brian Elliott has shown bursts of great play (we won't be seeing top prospect Carter Hart this season). Unlike the Atlantic Division, the Metropolitan has leveled back off in the past year, even after producing the Cup winner. Philadelphia has a chance to make some noise this season if it sees consistent play in the crease -- but that's a big if.

St. Louis Blues (30-1)

Much like the Flyers, goaltending might be the biggest concern for the Blues with Jake Allen. Otherwise, St. Louis added Ryan O'Reilly via trade, and signed Tyler Bozak and David Perron in free agency. Prospects Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou and Klim Kostin might able to contribute soon, and Robby Fabbri should be healthy again. And that's all before you remember Vladimir Tarasenko's 33 goals and Brayden Schenn's 70 points last season. The Central Division is tough, but the Blues are an improved hockey team that is equipped to make a run. The 30-1 odds make this group the best longshot Cup bet at the midsummer mark.