For the past eight seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks have been postseason regulars and have even captured three Stanley Cups over that stretch. The nucleus of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford are firmly established stars in the league and the expectations are deservedly sky-high year in and year out.
The upcoming 2016-17 season is certainly no different.
Sure, the team lost quality players in Andrew Ladd and Andrew Shaw, and, to a lesser extent, Teuvo Teravainen. But the Hawks just keep bringing up fresh, new talent like we saw last season with the arrival of Artemi Panarin, and we could see more depth come up through the ranks this season in guys like Vincent Hinostroza and Michal Kempny.
The moral of the story is this: The Hawks are always going to be a safe wager when it comes to season futures or as a bet on a daily basis, so if you’re a dedicated Hawks fan and/or backer, you can rest easy at night. After all, Chicago is on the top of the futures board in virtually every category.
Stanley Cup +750
Considering the quality and depth on this team, that’s still a pretty good price for the Cup faves. As all of us hockey bettors know, however, the Cup is the hardest of all sports championships to win. Whether you’re the Presidents’ Trophy Sportsbook or you snuck into the playoffs as the eighth seed, you are all basically on equal footing come playoff time.
The nucleus here is battle-tested and knows what it takes to win the Stanley Cup and a wager on the Blackhawks, whether you make that bet in October or whether you make it in April, is one you can make with confidence.
Western Conference +500
The West is deep. Very deep. So deep, in fact, that six of the top nine teams on the Stanley Cup futures board are from the West. Hockey’s holy grail is not a conference championship, however, so there is little to no stock in winning the conference.
Now, that isn’t to say a club doesn’t want home ice during their run to the Cup, but conference championships are of such little significance that the Blackhawks have more Cup wins (six) than conference titles (four) in their storied history. That said, the last three times that they won the Cup (2009-10, 2012-13, 2014-15), they also won the conference, so if you’re in the market for the Hawks to win the Cup, why not sprinkle some cash on the +500 price tag to win the West?
Central Division +290
If you can find a division across the four major North American professional sports that features a more balanced group from top to bottom than the NHL’s Central Division, I’ll be impressed.
Five of the division’s seven teams reached the postseason while the two teams that missed out (Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets) were within striking distance. Winning the Central might be as difficult as winning the West and the Blackhawks know that first-hand after finishing third in the group last year – six points behind the Dallas Stars and four points behind the St. Louis Blues.
As good as the Hawks are and have been, they only have two division titles since the 1992-93 season when they won the old Norris Division. The Central is a talented group and this futures wager is potentially more avoidable than Cup or conference futures.
Season Points OVER/UNDER 101.5
The Hawks have eclipsed this number in each of the past three seasons and are probably a good bet to do so this year considering the talent on the team. If you look at the final standings in the league last season, eight teams finished OVER 101.5 points so if you think the Hawks are one of the eight best teams in the league, this is probably a safe wager.
Chicago increased, albeit by a small margin, its point total over the past two seasons. They are one of the strongest road teams in the league and defend home ice with the best of them so collecting points from game to game should be an easy challenge for this club.
The NHL season is a long haul and while the games aren’t played on paper, this team looks like a good wager in any of the futures markets.
Odds as of October 4 at Sportsbook