Maple Leafs Are Stanley Cup Odds Darlings But Beware Backing
We’re a month away from the start of training camp, and the Toronto Maple Leafs still have the fourth-best odds of any NHL team to win the Stanley Cup at +1250 with 888Sport.
That’s without 94-point scorer Mitch Marner’s signature on a new contract, mind you.
While Marner’s contractual situation remains mired in muck, with reports he could sit out training camp if he doesn’t have a deal by then, the Maple Leafs still are a darling of the oddsmakers.
But should they?
Best Odds to Win 2020 Stanley Cup:— John Sabol (@John_Sabol) June 13, 2019
Golden Knights 9-1
Maple Leafs 12-1
Per Caesars Sportsbook
I can go either way on this, but let’s take a look at why the Maple Leafs might be a bit overvalued right now as a Cup contender bet. Then, we’ll take a look at why the oddsmakers might be on to something.
Marner Contract Gives No Cap Flexibility Either Way
No matter what kind of contract Marner gets, the Maple Leafs are going to have all the flexibility of a brick with their overall cap situation. They already have ZERO cap space as it is, and that’s with Marner unsigned. However, they can get Long Term Injury Reserve with two players already on the books (David Clarkson at $5.25 million and Nathan Horton at $5.3 million) and use that space to still sign Marner.
The Maple Leafs’ cap situation made them just bit players on the free-agent scene this summer, with 36-year-old Jason Spezza and his rapidly declining skills one of the biggest they could afford.
This is going to be the team the Maple Leafs most likely go to war with (assuming Marner signs at some point) and, while it’s a fine team, we already saw in the playoffs that there still was something missing - with Toronto blowing a 3-2 series lead and losing to Boston in the first round for the second straight year.
On The Other Hand...
The Maple Leafs did acquire two quality players over the summer from Colorado in offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie and young forward Alexander Kerfoot. Barrie has been a proven point producer for years and, added to a blueline already with 72-point producer Morgan Rielly, that’s an awful lot of offense from the back end. Kerfoot played mostly on the wing with the Avalanche but prefers to play center more and it appears he’ll get the first crack at a third-line center role under Mike Babcock
We could nitpick about the rest of the Maple Leafs’ depth on their bottom-six forwards and bottom defense, but you can do that with most teams. Goaltender Fredrik Andersen has yet to prove he can win the big postseason games with Toronto, so that remains something of a worry.
But this is a good team that, at -625 with 888Sport on the question of “to make the playoffs”, is a sure bet to make them again.
Toronto also is at +275 to win the Atlantic Division, with only Tampa Bay (+105) rated higher by the bookmakers.
I can see this team at least getting past that pesky first round this time, and with all that firepower upfront (Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Marner - assuming he signs) there’s a good chance they’d go further.
But the Stanley Cup? I think they’re a bit overpriced at the moment on that one.