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NHL Futures Betting? Five 2016 Stanley Cup Sleepers To Bet

Time To Bet On Early NHL Odds!

The two tantalizing, franchise-altering prospects at the top of the 2015 food chain – Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Buffalo’s Jack Eichel – ratcheted up the interest for this year’s NHL entry draft and the flurry of trades that surrounded it.

NHL Futures Insight

Yet, it wasn’t just McDavid and Eichel that made this year’s draft special – there was an incredible amount of depth this year. There was real talent to be found in the top 10-12 picks in the first round and others, such as Dutch phenom Daniel Sprong, with upper-echelon talent but some red flags lowering their stock somewhat.

With that said, let’s look at five teams that – either because of re-modeling, drafting or maturation, are sleepers to make noise in the playoffs next NHL season.

Buffalo Sabres

Key Additions: Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly, Robin Lehner

There was such a flurry of activity around this franchise around Draft Day that many forgot that the Sabres jettisoned Tyler Myers to Winnipeg in exchange for mercurial goal-scorer Kane.

The best hockey-playing Kane not named Patrick should combine with the playmaking O’Reilly and the physically matured Eichel to give Buffalo lethal top-line talent for years. Generally, a team that finishes in the cellar a year before needs a couple of seasons to congeal, but Sabres GM Tim Murray upgraded the talent so significantly that Buffalo could contend as soon as next season.

Florida Panthers

Key Additions: Reilly Smith, Lawson Crowse

This team, which finished sixth in the Atlantic division last year and hosted this year’s Draft at the BB&T Center, is being built by GM Dale Tallon the right way.

The Panthers shipped out Massachusetts native Jimmy Hayes to Boston in exchange for Smith, who is a player (and not just in the puck-bunny way). Smith amassed 91 points with the Bruins in the past two seasons.

Crowse should mature into a useful power forward for the Cats, but it’s more about what Florida had to begin with. Nick Bjugstad is a bona-fide scorer in the NHL and Florida has a future Norris Trophy winner in this year’s Rookie of the Year, blueliner Aaron Ekblad.

Florida’s blueline is good and young and there are two other young guns – forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, that should prove their worth as top picks.

Florida will continue the path upward to respectability in 2015-16.

Colorado Avalanche

Key Additions: Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov

The Avs rather inexplicably fell off the map last season, when they looked destined for big things. It probably had something to do with their limp power play (29th in the NHL last year) despite the blazing speed of Nathan MacKinnon, the goal-scoring of Matt Duchene and the leadership of Gabriel Landeskog.

Losing talented Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo might hurt, but it also might be addition-by-subtraction, as O’Reilly was a perennial malcontent in the Rockies. Colorado got back high-ceilinged 21-year old Russian Mikhail Grigorenko, a big, smooth-skating center as well as fellow tantalizing Russian D-man Nikita Zadorov.

If things go a little more according to plan in the second year of head coach Patrick Roy’s tenure, the Avs should bounce back in the Western Conference.

Calgary Flames

Key Addition: Dougie Hamilton

It’s questionable whether you can call Calgary a sleeper this coming season considering the Flames made a run in the playoffs last year, but Calgary performed way beyond anyones (even their own fans’) expectations and were, truly, “playing with house money.”

Calgary were certain it was in a rebuild. Well guess what? The Flames aren’t going anywhere. Playmaking C Sean Monahan is a true gem, quietly leading by example, not unlike a young Joe Sakic. The addition of young stud Hamilton on the blueline, acquired from Boston for picks, just solidifies Calgary’s status.

The Flames are here right now and with Hamilton throwing thunderous hits and clappers from the blueline, they’ll be even better. This team isn’t a flash in the pan.

Philadelphia Flyers

Key Additions: Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Michal Neuvirth, Davis Drewiske

We all knew the Flyers had two elite scorers in Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, but a great draft had them fill out their roster admirably. New head coach Dave Hakstol has something to work with in the City of Brotherly Love.

The Flyers scored offensively-minded blueliner Provorov with the seventh overall pick, and then nabbed Konecny, over a point-per-game player for the Ottawa 67s, which was great value at the 24th pick.

If underrated goalie Steve Mason can just stay healthy, the Flyers could certainly be flying under the radar and dangerous in the East.

Honorable Mention: Pittsburgh Penguins

Key Additions: Phil Kessel

It’s weird to call the Pens, who possess the best player in the world, a sleeper. But for a franchise that has now underachieved for a long time, the acquisition of one of the best goal-scorers in the NHL in Kessel could be just what they need to get them over the hump.

As good as the Blackhawks, Kings, Bruins and Rangers have been lately, it’s easy to gloss over the Penguins. But after this off-season, do so at your peril. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the best depth, but with studs like that, who cares?

The concept of Sidney Crosby, Kessel and Evgeny Malkin on the same team, even spread over two lines, is mind-boggling. If he stays healthy, “Phil the Thrill” – who scored a ton in the toxic wasteland of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise – is a lock for 40 goals, and maybe even 50 with Crosby setting him up.

Pittsburgh gave up some good prospects to get Phil, but they still have young stud blueliners like Finn Olli Maata, from the pro prospect factory that is the OHL’s London Knights.

Just… can you imagine that power-play unit!?

ODDS TO WIN THE 2015-16 NHL STANLEY CUP FINALS

  • Chicago Blackhawks 13/2
  • Anaheim Ducks 8/1
  • Tampa Bay Lightning 17/2
  • Los Angeles Kings 10/1
  • New York Rangers 10/1
  • Minnesota Wild 12/1
  • Pittsburgh Penguins 12/1
  • Nashville Predators 14/1
  • St. Louis Blues 14/1
  • Montreal Canadiens 18/1
  • Washington Capitals 18/1
  • New York Islanders 22/1
  • Winnipeg Jets 22/1
  • Columbus Blue Jackets 25/1
  • Detroit Red Wings 28/1
  • Calgary Flames 30/1
  • Boston Bruins 35/1
  • Dallas Stars 40/1
  • Ottawa Senators 45/1
  • Edmonton Oilers 50/1
  • Florida Panthers 55/1
  • San Jose Sharks 60/1
  • Colorado Avalanche 85/1
  • Vancouver Canucks 85/1
  • Buffalo Sabres 100/1
  • Carolina Hurricanes 100/1
  • New Jersey Devils 100/1
  • Philadelphia Flyers 100/1
  • Arizona Coyotes 200/1
  • Toronto Maple Leafs 200/1

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