If you are drawn to betting championship futures in major sports then you should really be looking at the NHL. Stanley Cup futures are as attractive as any other – and more attractive than most – when you are looking for profitable ways to invest your money. The reason for that is simple – hockey tends to be more predictable than other sports and less prone to shocking surprises. The heavy favorites don’t always hoist the Cup, but it is very rare that the winner is anything less than a talented team that has been on the rise or has been among the elite in the league. When hockey handicappers are looking for value in the Stanley Cup futures before the season starts here are six questions they should ask:
How strong are the favorites? – This is the starting point any time you bet championship futures in any sport. The favorites are where the public is going to look, so that’s where the majority of public money is going to be directed. That means that in most cases the odds for those teams will be lower than they probably should be. Your job as a NHL handicapper is to determine whether they are worthy of that attention or not. if they are strong favorites with no obvious holes who stand a very good chance of being the last team standing then you would need a particularly good reason to bet against them, and you might be interested in betting on them despite the deflated odds. If you don’t believe in the favorites, though, then you might be willing to accept a slightly lower price for other teams because their chances of winning are better than they could be.
How strong is the goaltending? – It is virtually impossible for a NHL team to win the Stanley Cup without very strong goaltending. That doesn’t mean that teams haven’t won without world class goalies. It just means that they have had goalies who got very hot at the right time. When you are considering betting on a team, then, you need to be sure that you have faith in the goaltending situation. Do they have a clear goaltending situation? Is their number one guy reliable and capable of being exceptional at times? If the answer here is no then it doesn’t mean that they can’t win – teams have often made changes late in the season that have led them deep in the playoffs. It just means that at the start of the season the team is too much of a risk to bet on.
How’s the depth? – Injuries are inevitable in the NHL. It’s a long, brutal season, and there are countless ways of getting hurt. Teams are going to lose players for significant amounts of time, and there is a good chance that they will lose key players for long periods. In order for a team to succeed, then, they need to be sure that they can handle the loss of a big time player without losing significant ground. If a team lacks depth then they are reliant on staying healthy, and that likely makes them too vulnerable to trust with a full season bet.
How strong is the division and the conference? – NHL teams are dependent on their divisions and their conferences because those are the teams they have to play most often during the season, and the teams they will have to beat to thrive in the playoffs. This should be logical, then – the tougher and more challenging the division is, the harder it will be for the team to shine, and the more cautious you need to be when betting on them. That doesn’t mean that you can’t back them. It just means that sports bettors need to be sure of the price and value when wagering.
How are they when it is not even strength? – Teams that succeed have to be competent both short-handed and on the power play. Almost all NHL teams that win it all will be elite in at least one of those areas. You would be well served, then, to look at how you can expect teams to perform in those two key areas. How has the team done in the past? What changes have they made coming into the season? Do they have the personnel they need? How is the coaching staff at preparing their special teams? How deep is the second unit? Oftentimes teams will have one strong penalty killing or power play unit, but that team can’t play all the minutes, so a much weaker second unit can be a liability.
Where would you stack them? – It’s important for NHL handicappers to remember what they are looking for when you are betting on championship futures. You are not trying to pick the one team that is certain to win the championship. What you are looking for is teams that are more likely to win the championship than their odds suggest. Over the long term if you make bets that pay more than the risk involved then you are going to come out on top. When it comes to these bets one effective way to look at them is to evaluate the teams, and stack them up based on their likelihood to win and their general strength. Once you have the teams in order you can assign basic odds that represent their chances in your mind. When NHL handicappers compare their odds to the posted odds they may be able to find attractive value.