This NHL season in review shares a similar theme with previous reviews: that the NHL's best bets continue to be shocking proving that this league remains unpredictably exciting. The Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup may not be as shocking, but there was a slew of other stunners that had everyone scratching their heads, pandemic or not as we eye the most lucrative bets that cashed big.
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NHL best bets: from the favourites to the complete shockers
Anything can happen in the NHL and it's why NHL betting constantly features big returns for props and futures bets. It's a crapshoot in many categories, but several bettors hit these bets and are laughing to the bank.
Here are some of the best NHL bets that cashed (odds via Bodog when they were at their highest):
Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Stanley Cup (+750)
Tampa Bay was again one of the favourites to win Lord Stanley's Mug this season despite an epic choke job last year. This time, the Lightning made good of their potential and went all the way rewarding several backers who continued to have faith in them.
The Lightning started the season slow and even had a sub-.500 record up to midway into the season. But they went on a tear and not even the half-year-long hiatus slowed them down.
Tampa Bay would open their Stanley Cup Playoffs run by beating the Blue Jackets to exorcise last season's demons. This series included a five-overtime game that saw Tampa Bay outlast the pesky Blue Jackets.
In the second round, the Lightning took out fellow Stanley Cup favourites Boston in just five games and punctuated their conference run by ousting the formidable Islanders in six.
In the Stanley Cup Finals, Tampa Bay would drop the first game against the Stars but would rally to win their first championship since 2004. Although they were favourites to start the season, this was a redemption story for Tampa Bay.
Dallas Stars win the Western Conference (+900)
Dallas came within two games of winning their first Stanley Cup this millennium, but they did cash as the Western Conference champions at 9-1 odds. The Stars were in the mid-tier of a loaded conference that saw them behind the likes of Colorado, Vegas, and last year's champions, St. Louis.
But just like last season, Dallas surpassed expectations. They entered the playoffs as the third-seed and handily eliminated the surging Flames. Then in the next two rounds, they took out the #2 and #1 seeds in Colorado and Las Vegas, respectively.
Although they came up short, signs point to this just being a beginning for the young and talented Stars. They will continue to contend in a deep conference for more seasons.
New York Rangers win the NHL Draft Lottery (+1250)
Just you wait. pic.twitter.com/gEaKtjZZlh
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) October 7, 2020
This came out of left field much to the elation of Rangers fans. Not only did the Blueshirts exceed expectations by finishing with a record above .500 and making the playoffs as a wild-card team, but they also stunned everyone by winning the Draft Lottery.
With the first overall pick, the Rangers took the French-Canadian phenom, Alexis Lafraniere out of Rimouski, the same team that produced former first overall picks Vincent Lecavalier and Sidney Crosby.
For a second consecutive offseason, the Rangers are off to an incredible start. They acquired defensive cornerstone Jacob Trouba and Hart Trophy-candidate Artemi Panarin on top of drafting Finnish wunderkind, Kaapo Kakko.
Now with Lafraniere, a franchise-changing forward, the Rangers have quickly established themselves as a new power in the Eastern Conference. They are a young and exciting team and will be a sexy pick among both fans and bettors.
David Pastrnak to win the Richard Trophy (+1700)
The ultra-talented Czech turned heads this season when he tied favourite Alex Ovechkin to share the Richard Trophy. Pastrnak scored 48 goals in 70 games and continues to reach new levels following his best point production last season.
Pastrnak was red-hot this season and had a stranglehold on the goalscoring race up to the final games when Ovechkin rallied to tie him up. Those who bet Ovechkin and/or Pastrnak may have cashed out big on this depending on the betting conditions of the books.
Leon Draisaitl to win the Hart Trophy (+2000*)
If you're one of a few sharps who bet on the field to win the Hart Trophy award before the season started, then hats off to you. But even most of these bettors who cashed out big couldn't predict that Leon Draisaitl would win the Hart Trophy.
It was a perfect storm for Draisaitl as he led Edmonton back to the postseason despite an injury to Connor McDavid. Draisaitl was on fire from start to finish scoring 43 goals and recording 110 points in 71 games. His 1.55 point-per-game pace is the most by an Oiler player since Mark Messier 30 seasons ago.
Finding and betting NHL props and futures
It may be strange times happening in the world today but fans can wait and check out NHL props and futures from online sportsbooks to get a sneak-peek of what is to come. Throw a little bit of cash on some predictions and you never know.
If this season proved anything, that even if there is a pandemic, the show will go on.