The NHL, more than any other major professional sports league, is built in a way that a team can come out of nowhere — sometimes quite literally — to become a championship contender. The Vegas Golden Knights went to the Stanley Cup Finals as an expansion team last year. The Carolina Hurricanes are into the Eastern Conference finals this season after finishing 14 points out of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2018.
If someone can make a run from outside the postseason in 2019 to championship contention in 2020, why not the Florida Panthers?
The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas already has its Stanley Cup odds for next season and the Nevada sportsbook gives the Panthers 25-1 odds to win the 2020 title — tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for best odds among non-playoff teams in 2019.
In Joel Quenneville they trust.
Florida and the Flyers share a few things in common. Both teams were borderline playoff squads in 2018, then crashed out of the postseason picture in 2019, finishing 10th and 11th in the East, respectively. After disappointing seasons, both teams fired their coaches and hired splashy replacements. Philadelphia hired Alain Vigneault. The Panthers grabbed Quenneville, who won three Stanley Cups as the coach of the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this decade.
Florida’s odds, however, are still longer than all 16 teams which qualified for the 2019 postseason. The Tampa Bay Lighting, which won the President’s Trophy, still lead the way with 6-1 odds despite its stunning first-round upset loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Golden Knights make up the next group with 10-1 odds, while the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks both have 14-1 odds. Every other playoff team has 20-1 odds or better to win the title with the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames among those bringing up the rear.