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We're not sure if you've heard, but the St. Louis Blues went from last place in January to Stanley Cup champions in June last season.
It's a story that's been beaten to death, but for good reason. The NHL regular season is a seven-month grind filled with ups and downs, so when it comes to betting futures, the key is finding the right time to jump in.
More specifically, don't buy a team that just produced a 10-game winning streak, and don't sell a squad mired in a slump. The key is getting in or out before those runs begin. With that said, here are four teams that offer great value at their current Stanley Cup prices - prices that likely won't be available much longer.
After being considered Western Conference favorites at the start of this season, the Golden Knights currently sit fourth in the Pacific Division, seven points back of the first-place Edmonton Oilers. They've basically been playing .500 hockey through the first 27 games and they've seen their odds dip from 7-1 to 14-1 as a result. This is arguably the best buy-low spot you will get all season.
From an analytics perspective, Vegas ranks No. 1 overall in expected goals for (xGF) but is middle of the pack in terms of actually finding the back of the net. Meanwhile, the team's percentage of goals from scoring chances is just 10.85%, the second-worst rate in the league, while 14.77% of high-danger scoring chances against have resulted in goals (the fourth-worst mark). All three of these stats are due for positive regression.
This is a Stanley Cup-caliber team that's playing much better than its record indicates. With a legitimate stud goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury and a deep roster in front of him, Vegas will go on a run any time now. Once that happens, good luck finding 14-1 anywhere.
The fact that the Avalanche are still in a playoff spot speaks volumes about the quality of depth on their roster. This team has been without stars Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog since late October, but it has stayed afloat thanks to impressive contributions from Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi, and others.
When healthy, the Avalanche might have the best top line in hockey. They also feature excellent role players and some studs on the back end, including 20-year-old phenom Cale Makar.
You can expect a deep playoff run from this team, which began the season with 12-1 odds. Those odds will be a lot shorter come January, at the latest, so hop on at 16-1 while you still can.
Reality isn't awful either - the Hurricanes are sitting comfortably in a wild-card spot - but the numbers suggest it can get a lot better. Carolina has produced the third-most scoring chances this season and the third-fewest chances against. This team is also second in xGF and eighth in xGA - one of just two squads that rank top 10 in both along with the Pittsburgh Penguins). Additionally, opposing teams have scored on 12.35% of high-danger chances against the Hurricanes, which is the fourth-highest mark in the league.
All the underlying numbers suggest this is one of the league's best squads, which makes 20-1 a bargain.
The Panthers opened the year at 20-1. Getting them at 25-1 right now is a blessing, as they haven't done anything to deserve those longer odds. Florida can score with anyone (third-most goals in the league) and has been unlucky on the back end. Opposing teams have scored on 16.86% of chances, which is the fourth-highest rate in the league and is due for a correction.
Sergei Bobrovsky is too good of a goaltender for these issues to continue, and Joel Quenneville is a master behind the bench. The Panthers are loaded with talent at forward and they possess a strong top four in defense. All the ingredients for a Cup run are there. The Panthers currently sit second in the Atlantic Division behind Boston despite losing four of their first five games this season.
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.