The long wait is over and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally here. While the NHL regular season is a lot of fun to bet and to follow along with, there is really nothing like the NHL playoffs. There is a lot of money to be made on a nightly basis when betting the playoffs, and I will have a lot of daily wagers. That being said, betting futures in the playoffs is a great way to maximize profit. I will be breaking down a few of the series prices that I think are worth a wager in the first round of the playoffs.
For starters, here are my leans in all 8 first round series.
Of my 8 series prices leans, I would deem BOS and COL as unplayable at those odds. If you are interested in playing either one of these series in the futures market, I would look towards taking them -1.5 games in the series. Of the other 6, there are 3 plays that I really like a lot and will be playing myself.
New York Rangers +115 vs New Jersey Devils
The New York Rangers are the first team that I am going to look at in the series futures. At a +115 price tag, this is my favorite future on the board. I really like the Rangers chances to get past the Devils and make a run in this year's postseason. The Rangers are coming off of a run to the Eastern Conference Finals in last years playoffs and will be facing a revamped Devils team who missed the postseason altogether in 2022. The Rangers were led last year by their all star goalie Igor Shesterkin, while getting nice production from players such as Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Adam Fox. They were able to enter the 2023 season with that core intact before making 2 blockbuster trades at the deadline to acquire Vlad Tarasenko from the Blues and future Hall of Famer Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks. The Rangers are completely loaded with a well rounded group of vets, young guns, goal scorers, defensemen, and a top notch goaltender. The Devils, on the other hand, put it all together in a great regular season, going 52-22-8 on the year. New Jersey will be looking to goalie Vitek Vanecek to stop the high octane attack of the Rangers. While Vanecek is a fine goaltender, I think he will ultimately struggle against New York's weapons. On the offensive side, the Devils get production from a lot of lesser known players such as Jack Hughes, Timo Meier, and Ondrej Palat. Like I mentioned, the Devils had a really nice regular season but I think they are ultimately outmatched across the board vs the Rangers. At +115, I love taking the Rangers to advance.
Toronto Maple Leafs -155 vs Tampa Bay Lightning
This one is gross and I can't believe I am putting my money on it, but I think this is the year that the Maple Leafs finally get out of the first round of the Playoffs. The Leafs have failed to win a playoff series since 2004, but I think the drought ends in 2023. The Leafs will once again matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, as they did last season where they lost to the eventual Eastern Conference Champions in 7 games. Despite the history of both of these teams, I believe the Leafs will oust the Lightning dynasty in 6 games. The Leafs are due for a playoff run after years of disappointment. After building a core of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner a few years ago, Toronto looked poised to make a run at the Cup. After failing multiple years in a row, this feels like the year that it could happen as the stars seem to be aligning for them. As much as this is a play on Toronto, it is also a play against Tampa Bay. The Lightning have dominated the hockey landscape over the last 10 years or so, especially as of late. They are coming off of their 3rd straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final, including 2 Stanley Cup Championships. After so many years of success, I believe this will be the start of the downslide for the Lightning. Tampa had a lot of success with their core of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman, all while having the best goalie in the league over the last couple of years in Andrei Vasilevskiy. While these key pieces are still together, all are aging and have taken a step backwards. The lightning have gotten help from Alex Killorn and Brayden Point, but they have also lost a lot of key pieces that helped them hoist the Cup twice in the last 3 years. I think Tampa will struggle keeping up with Toronto's pace and I don't think Vasilevskiy will be able to keep his team in games as he has in the past. I believe -155 is nice value on a surging team like the Leafs, despite their history.
New York Islanders +170 vs Carolina Hurricanes
The New York Islanders are live dogs in their series against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Islanders managed to squeak into the playoffs in the closing games of the season behind great play behind one of the best goalies in the league, Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin is the sole reason why I like the value on the Islanders. I think it is fair to say that the Hurricanes are the better team, but the better team does not always win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We see it every year where a goalie carries their team to a deep playoff run. Jake Oettinger did it for the Stars last season, Carey Price took the Canadians all the way to the Stanley Cup Final two years ago, etc. This season, I am betting Sorokin will be that guy. I have been high on Sorokin and the Islanders over the last few years and think they are live to make some noise yet again in the postseason. The Islanders have had success in this position before. In both 2020 and 2021, New York entered the playoffs as one of the last teams to make it in and was able to reach to conference finals in both of those seasons, as well as making it out of the first round in 2019 as well. The Islanders have made it out of the first round in 4 of their last 5 playoff appearances, all of which where they were the lower seed. This team is built for the playoffs. They are able to win low scoring, knock down drag out games, but also have the ability to put up goals if needed. They should be getting Mat Barzal back during this series which should be a spark for this team. I love the plus price with the Islanders and expect them to give the Hurricanes all they've got in a great first round series.
Best of luck with your bets in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL has the best postseason in all pro sports and I can't wait to indulge in the action. I will leave you with one last tip. If the Stars lose game one, I will have a big wager on them to win the series at a + price. Stay profitable friends.