For those who love to gamble and love odds, this ones for you. Bodog has officially come out with its list of odds concerning all 30 NHL teams and their respective chances in making the 2014-2015 post season. If you’re looking to take a risk for a high reward, there are a couple of teams in the bottom 10 you can take a risk on, and potentially make a big pay day in return. The top 10 teams most likely to make the playoffs include:
17 Chicago Blackhawks (-1100)
16 Boston Bruins (-1000)
15 Pittsburgh Penguins (-850)
14 T4) Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues (-800)
13 San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning (-300)
12 Minnesota Wild (-280)
11 New York Rangers (-275)
Very difficult to take a risk on any of these teams not making it, but if you would want to take a risky reward, the Lightning are the favorites to select not making the playoffs, barring Bishop has another injury, the team can go south in a hurry as we saw last season. For now, let’s check out the teams with the worst odds of making the playoffs and which teams can make people some money and overcome their odds.
10 Vancouver Canucks (+120)
If you’re looking to take a risk, the Canucks may be your best bet. The Canuck’s are desperate for a fresh season to get under way, as well as are hungry for improvement. With lowering expectations, the Canucks can possibly upset many teams this season. The unpredictability of this team makes Vancouver a steamy bet; so many new comers and fresh faces who can have a big impact on this team, such as Ryan Miller (who is looking to bounce back after a horrible playoff run), Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino, Derek Dorsett, Shawn Matthias and top prospect, Bo Horvat. Undoubtedly, the West is filled with top tear teams, but the Canucks may surprise many people with lowered expectations and somehow squeeze into the playoffs. Keep an eye on the Canucks as an interesting underdog this season.
9 Edmonton Oilers (+170)
After eight long and grueling seasons, is this finally the year the Oiler’s get back into the playoffs? Well, according to the odds, it’s not likely, but can Edmonton be a possible team worth your bet this season? In net, the Oilers will be relying on Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth to push each other throughout the course of the year, and for one of these goaltenders to break out and grab the number one position. Up front, the Oilers have brought some help to aid its youngsters with the additions of Teddy Purcell, Boyd Gordon and Benoit Pouliot. Additionally, The Oilers have picked up via free agency, some much needed help at the back end by signing coveted free agent Mark Fayne, who will surely log some serious minutes this season. Although, the biggest key for the Oilers will be for their youngsters to take the next step and finally be able to compete with the big boys. It’ll be interesting to see if the Oilers can turn the odds around this season and end a horrible eight year playoff drought.
8 T.5) Carolina Hurricanes (+190)
After finishing the 2013-2014 regular season 10 points out of a playoff spot, the standard in Carolina has been lowered quite a bit. The problems began with the team's leader, Eric Staal having a disappointing start to the season. The Canes' captain picked up towards the end of the season, but still managed to finish amongst the teams worse in the plus minus category. To make matters worse that season, Staal was not selected to represent Canada in Sochi, so we could all agree that it was a pretty tough year for Eric. Other expectations from other players weren’t met as well. New Hurricanes, Alex Semin and Jordan Staal also had some difficulties in their first season, and goaltender Cam Ward was below average to add insult to the season. The Hurricanes can potentially make noise and overcome these odds with these four pieces stepping up.
7 T.5) Ottawa Senators (+190)
The Senators' season took a drastic turn in 2013-2014, going from a team full of potential in the previous year, to completely bombing it the next. The Sens finished the season in the 5th wild card spot, leaving room for big time improvements. Like the Canucks, the Sens hope a fresh new start with some new faces will aid the team immensely. With the departures of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, the Sens look to rely on some new faces which include, veteran David Legwand and Alex Chiasson. Ottawa will also need to rely heavily on its core players to take that next step, and Karlsson, Ryan, Turris and Zibanejad will definitely all have their time under the spot light this season. Although the Senators believe this season is a rebuild, and don't really have the expectations of making the playoffs, some may suggest taking a risk on Ottawa may result in a high reward.
6 T.4) Nashville Predators (+250)
For years, the Preds have been an interesting team to select when it comes to odds, and their new coach, Peter Laviolette will look to continue that trend by getting them back into the playoffs. Despite a lack of depth, the Preds managed to almost squeeze into the final wild card spot, they fell short by only 3 points, in what was a very difficult Western Conference. Nashville had some difficulties putting the puck in back of the net last season and this season, they did their best to address this problem by adding some important pieces to that area, with the nearly acquired: James Neal, Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy. With a healthy Pekka Rinne and more experienced Seth Jones, the Predators can cause some serious noise this season. Nashville may perhaps be a team worth the risk.
5 T.4) Winnipeg Jets (+250)
Paul Maurice and the Jets finally look to turn the corner and earn a spot into the playoffs, although, this definitely won’t be an easy task for the coach and the team. The Jets face a similar problem as the Oilers face, and that’s a problem at the back end. The team can score goals upfront, but the problems remains keeping goals out. The Jets will look for Ondrej Pavelec to have a major bounce back season and will also look for Jacob Trouba to burst out at the back. Evander Kane as well must take matters into his own hands and be the leader this team desperately wants him to be. Picking the Jets as a playoff team will be incredibly risky, and the odds may be correct on this team, unless they finally clean up their defensive play.
4 T.3) Arizona Coyotes (+275)
Like the Predators, the Coyotes always seem to be such a mouth-watering bet, and this year more than ever, with their odds being the 3rd lowest in the entire league. Like Nashville, the newly named Arizona Coyotes always seem to be in the mix. Last season, the Coyotes made it interesting till the final day of the regular season, missing the playoffs by a mere 2 points. The Coyotes feel as though their team is much improved from last season, adding the speedy Sam Gagner, as well as adding some true character to the locker room with B.J. Crombeen, Joe Vitale and goalie, Devan Dubnyk. Max Domi also looks to make his debut for the team, this can definitely add some further depth to the lineup. Dave Tippett and the Coyotes compete hard every year and rely on strong structure to win games, with some new key additions, Arizona can be one of the best picks one can make to get into the playoffs. If you’re feeling brave, Arizona can be a bold choice.
3 T.3) Florida Panthers (+275)
New coach, new players and new expectations seems to be the new motto for the 2014-2015 Florida Panthers. The Panthers hope their new depth additions, blended in with their youth and new coach, former Montreal assistant Gerard Gallant, can cause a change in Florida this season and get them back into the playoffs. Their new additions create depth, as well as character in the room, and Dave Bolland, Shawn Thornton, Derek MacKenzie, Jussie Jokinen and Willie Mitchell look to aid the team in that department. Solidifying Roberto Luongo as their number one goaltender, and the debut of Aaron Ekblad at the back-end, the team can cause some noise in the east this season. There is no doubt it will be a tough year in Florida, but if young guys like Huberdeau, Barkov and Bjugstad can mesh well with the veterans, you never know. The Panthers will certainly be an interesting team to follow this season.
2 Calgary Flames (+300)
You have to admire what the Flames have done; they realized it was time to rebuild and wasted no time doing so. As the odds suggest, this team making the playoff is an absolute long shot, but despite the thought of them missing the playoffs, they are on the right track towards building a solid team. Sean Monahan enjoyed a terrific first season, finishing second on the team in goals, with 22. Look for Monahan to be a stand out player this season with the added minutes. The Flames will rely heavily on youth and structure, as well as goal-tending, with the addition of Jonas Hiller. The playoffs are a long shot for Hartley’s team this season, but expect them to scratch and claw for points every night.
1 Buffalo Sabres (+400)
Finishing dead last and having no team near them (within 14 points), it’s no secret the Sabres have the worst odds of making the 2015 playoffs. The Sabres are certainly in for another tough season, but they have brought in some help in various areas, picking up Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges for a leadership role, and Matt Moulson to add depth in the team's scoring department. Buffalo’s one hope is that young goaltender, Matt Hackett has a sensational Hasek-like year in Buffalo, but even that is way too much to ask of the young 24 year old. Many believe Buffalo’s best option would be to tank, in order to have a better shot at getting Connor McDavid in the upcoming draft. I look forward to seeing which one of these 10 dark horses will overcome the odds this season, stay tuned.