With the upcoming NHL season set to begin on January 1, the odds to win the 2021 Stanley Cup are taking shape.
The defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning sit third on the NHL odds board, while the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights are first and second with odds of +700 and +850.
However, preseason underdogs have beaten the NHL futures odds in recent memory - from the Blues at +3000 last year to the Hurricanes at +6000 in 2006 - so don't count out the long shots.
With that in mind we dive into our value underdogs and sleeper picks to win the 2021 Stanley Cup:
New York Rangers +2,600
There aren't many teams that have rebuilt faster than the New York Rangers, who showed plenty of promise last season before falling to a playoff-hardened Carolina Hurricanes squad in the qualifying round.
Losing the play-in series may have actually been a blessing in disguise, as they ended up winning the lottery and selecting winger Alexis Lafrenière who looks like the best prospect to enter the NHL in years.
While it's difficult to expect too much from a 19-year-old, Lafrenière has the talent to contribute from Day 1 and he joins a talented young core led by Hart Trophy candidate Artemi Panarin along with Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, Tony DeAngelo and Kaapo Kakko.
The Henrik Lundqvist era is over in New York, but it was time to move on from the 38-year-old goalie anyway. And if 23-year-old Igor Shesterkin plays like he did during his rookie season, the Rangers could be a massive steal as a +2,600 longshot.
Washington Capitals +2,000
Nine of the last 11 Stanley Cup winners had NHL futures odds between +1,000 and +2,000 when the season began, so we're looking at that range to find our next sleeper. The Washington Capitals won the Cup two years ago and finished last season just two points behind the Lightning in the standings with one fewer game played.
Alexander Ovechkin is still one of the best wingers in the league and Washington's other Top-6 forwards can find the back of the net as well.
On the blueline, John Carlson is among the best offensive defensemen in the league, but the Caps needed more depth and experience and got both with the offseason additions of Justin Schultz and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
The biggest change comes between the pipes, where Braden Holtby was allowed to leave and Ilya Samsonov will take over as the workhorse. Samsonov went 16-6 with a 2.53 GAA as a rookie last season but was injured while riding his ATV during the COVID shutdown and subsequently missed the playoff restart.
Although their goaltending depth was hurt by the newly-signed Lundqvist opting to sit out the year due to open-heart surgery, young prospect Vitek Vanecek looks ready for backup duties after going 19-10-1 with a 2.26 GAA last season in the AHL.
A healthy Samsonov along with new head coach Peter Laviolette - who happened to be the Hurricanes bench boss when they won the Cup in 2006 - could be Washington's ticket back to the Holy Grail.
Vancouver Canucks +4,000
There's a common thread running through our dark horse picks for the 2021 Stanley Cup, from Lundqvist's old team in the Big Apple, to his current team where he replaces Holtby, and now to Holby's new club in Vancouver.
The Canucks are coming off an impressive playoff run where they showed their mettle by knocking off the defending champion St. Louis Blues before pushing the Vegas Golden Knights to seven games in the Western Conference semi-final.
While goalie Jacob Markstrom was crucial to that run and left via free agency, 24-year-old Thatcher Demko was also outstanding in the postseason, going 2-1 with a GAA of 0.64 and a save percentage of .985. Demko should platoon nicely with Holtby in nets while Nate Schmidt will shore up the defense.
Perhaps most importantly the Canucks young core of Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser will have another year of experience under their belt. The Canucks should be Stanley Cup contenders for a while and this might be the last time for the foreseeable future that you can get them at a price like this.
Where can I bet on NHL Stanley Cup odds?
With the 2019-2020 NHL season in the books, most sportsbooks and casinos will have Stanley Cup odds for the upcoming season posted. Check out the top sportsbooks in your region and see what they are offering for NHL futures odds.