Stanley Cup Final: Will Oilers End Canada’s Cup Drought?

Evan Bouchard #2, Zach Hyman #18, Connor McDavid #97, Mattias Ekholm #14 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers stand for the playing of the national anthem before the game against the Florida Panthers at Rogers Place on December 16, 2023, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The wait is almost over as the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers prepare to face off in the Stanley Cup Final. Edmonton aims to become the first Canadian team to hoist the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens did so in 1993. Over the past 30 years, six Canadian teams have come within four wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

Florida is only the second team in the last 40 years to lose in the Cup Final one season and return the next. NorthStar Bets currently lists the Panthers as a -150 favourite in the Cup Final, suggesting that Canada’s Cup drought is likely to continue in 2024. The favourite has won 14 of the last 18 Cup Finals dating back to 2006, with 12 victories going to the team with home-ice advantage. Edmonton is listed as a +128 underdog.

2023Vegas-125Florida+105VGK 4-1
2022Colorado-170Tampa Bay+150COL 4-2
2021Tampa Bay-280Montreal+240TBL 4-1
2020Tampa Bay-180Dallas+160TBL 4-2
2019Boston-160St. Louis+140STL 4-3
2018Vegas-153Washington+133WSH 4-1
2017Pittsburgh-165Nashville+145PIT 4-2
2016Pittsburgh-135San Jose+115PIT 4-2
2015Tampa Bay+115Chicago-135CHI 4-2
2014Los Angeles-165New York+145LAK 4-1
2013Chicago-155Boston+135CHI 4-2
2012New Jersey+150Los Angeles-170LAK 4-2
2011Vancouver-240Boston+200BOS 4-3
2010Chicago-250Philadelphia+210CHI 4-2
2009Detroit-150Pittsburgh+130PIT 4-3
2008Detroit-160Pittsburgh+140DET 4-2
2007Anaheim-120Ottawa+100ANA 4-1
2006Carolina-140Edmonton+120CAR 4-3
Odds courtesy of Sports Odds History

Handicapping the Florida Panthers (12-5 SU, 5-12 ATS, 7-10 o/u)

Florida is back after losing 4-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2023 Cup Final. The Panthers squeaked in as the eighth seed last season, but this year, they finished with 110 points and won the Atlantic Division. So far in the playoffs, they’ve defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning (five games), the Boston Bruins (six games), and the New York Rangers (six games).

Only one team allowed fewer goals than Florida during the regular season, and so far in the playoffs, the Panthers have allowed two or fewer goals in 13 out of 17 games. No other team that made it out of the opening round has been better defensively, but the Panthers are far from one dimensional. Florida is packed with star power and scoring depth, and they are only two seasons removed from scoring the most goals in the NHL.

However, eight of Florida’s last nine games have been low-scoring affairs, decided by one goal, and the penalty kill is going to have its work cut out for itself in the Cup Final. Florida has been called for more minor penalties than any other team this season, and they’re about to go up against the best power play in hockey. Aleksander Barkov and Gustav Forsling have done a phenomenal job shutting down the opposition’s best players, but stopping Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is going to be a unique challenge. If the Panthers send the Oilers to the power play more than Dallas did, which seems likely, it’s going to be virtually impossible to shut down the most prolific scoring duo in hockey.

Handicapping the Edmonton Oilers (12-6 SU, 6-12 ATS, 9-9 o/u)

The Oilers were a Stanley Cup favourite coming into the season but they had to come back from the dead after starting 2-9-1. Edmonton was tied for last place on November 9th, but went 46-18-5 following a coaching change. Edmonton defeated the Los Angeles Kings (five games), Vancouver Canucks (seven games), and Dallas Stars (six games) to get to this point.

Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Evan Bouchard lead the way with 31, 28, and 27 points, respectively. McDavid (+175) is the current favourite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (6-14-20) and Zach Hyman (14-4-18) are also among the top scorers in the playoffs, but the Oilers could really use a big showing from a player like Evander Kane. According to head coach Kris Knoblauch, Kane is expected to play in Game 1 on Saturday.

The Oilers have scored three or more goals in 14 out of 18 games this postseason, but they’ve also established themselves as a team that can defend. Edmonton has held opponents to 25 shots on goal or fewer in 11 out of 18 games. However, Florida has generated at least 25 shots on goal in all 17 games, and therefore, the Panthers are going to generate more shots and chances than any of Edmonton’s previous opponents. Stuart Skinner has been solid in goal, going 6-2 with a .920 save percentage and a 1.88 goals-against average since he was benched in round two, but we’ve also seen him at his worst. Skinner posted a 3.22 goals-against average and an .877 save percentage prior to his benching.

Stanley Cup Final Prediction

There hasn’t been a sweep in the Stanley Cup Final since 1998, when they were a lot more common, but the series hasn’t gone the distance very often, either, with only four Game 7s since 2006. The Panthers have a slight edge, but they haven’t faced off against a possession monster like Edmonton and it should come as a shock to their system. There are a lot of similarities between this series and the Western Conference Final, and I’ve learned enough about the Oilers throughout the course of this playoff run to know that they’ve got a better shot than most people are giving them credit for.

a bar plot of the oilers and panthers Stanley cup final probability distribution.

Best Stanley Cup Final Bets

There will be no hesitation on my part when it comes to betting against the Oilers during a game, should they stop playing against the Panthers. Florida has the second-most comeback wins over the past three seasons, including six this postseason, while Edmonton has lost four games after leading so far postseason. Not to mention, the Oilers are coming off a game in which they tied the record for the lowest shot total in a playoff win in NHL history. However, since Florida’s Stanley Cup odds have shifted to -150 at NorthStar Bets after they originally opened at -134, Edmonton is now a +128 underdog to win the Cup. Based on my prediction above, Edmonton should be priced at +105, therefore, I’m betting on Edmonton to win the Stanley Cup at +128 odds.

Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup Winner


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Best Bet for Game of the Stanley Cup Final

According to Action Labs, which compiles historical betting data, betting on the over in the first four games of a series has been a blindly profitable strategy. Since 2022, the over has hit at a 57.1 percent clip, going 60-45-2. The Panthers have been involved in a lot of low-scoring affairs (eight out of their last nine games have featured five goals or fewer), but don’t expect that to be the case in the Cup Final. Only four of Edmonton’s 18 games have featured fewer than five goals. Bet Game 1 to go over the total of 5.5 goals at -117 odds.

EDM/FLA Game 1 Over 5.5 Goals


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