Can Florida be the first bottom-ranked team to win the Stanley Cup?

Panthers Could Make Bottom Seed Playoff History

Rarely do we see the lowest-ranked side in the NHL's postseason make it far in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Florida Panthers are challenging that notion and could very well make history by winning a Cup as the worst team entering the playoffs.

The lowest-ranked team entering the postseason has never won a Cup and has rarely escaped the first round. In the last 20 years, only six sides made it past the opening round of the playoffs. From there, three of those six sides made it past the second round like Florida, and only two made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Last 20: Lowest-Ranked Team's Playoff Runs
Year Team Round of Elimination
2002 Montreal Canadiens Second Round
2009 Anaheim Ducks Second Round
2010 Montreal Canadiens Conference Finals
2017 Nashville Predators Stanley Cup Finals
2019 Colorado Avalanche Second Round
2021 Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup Finals


Again, the lowest-ranked side entering the playoffs has never won a Cup and 70% of the time they get dumped in the opening round. 

Why Is Florida Different?

Going into the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cats are still the 'dogs. Florida’s odds to win its series against Carolina is +115. That’s 47% implied odds of making the Stanley Cup Finals by eliminating the second-best team from the regular season. That means potential for profits here.

Look, Florida isn’t good all of a sudden — the Panthers were third on the Stanley Cup oddsboard as early as October 7.

2023 Preseason Stanley Cup Odds
Team Opening Odds
Colorado Avalanche +425
Toronto Maple Leafs +800
Florida Panthers +900
Carolina Hurricanes +1000
Tampa Bay Lightning +1200

Odds as of October 7

This is why the Panthers are different from the other lowest-ranked sides that went on deep Cinderella-like playoff runs. Remember that first table with the six lowest-ranked sides that made it past the opening round since 2002? Not one of those sides was given the same love Florida got from oddsmakers to win the Cup before the season began.

Florida's Odds Compared To Field
Team Opening Cup Odds Rank
Montreal Canadiens (2002) +7000 25
Anaheim Ducks (2009) +1000 4
Montreal Canadiens (2010) +2500 12
Nashville Predators (2017) +1600 8
Colorado Avalanche (2019) +6000 21
Montreal Canadiens (2021) +2800 15
Florida Panthers (2023) +900 3


Can Florida Break The Mold?

There's good reason to believe Florida can be the first lowest-ranked side entering the playoffs to go all the way.

Scoring hasn’t been an issue for Florida, as they were the sixth-best scoring side in the regular season with 288 goals. The big issue for Florida during the regular season was between the pipes. Two-time Vezina-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was horrible with a 0.901 SV% and 3.07 GAA.

But somehow Bob has been able to shake off his regular season form and play like a goalie who’s making $10 million on the salary cap.

In these playoffs, Bobrovsky holds a respectable 0.918 SV% and 2.82 GAA. In the second round against Toronto, he was even better, stopping nearly seven goals above expected, averaging a 0.943 SV% and 1.90GAA.

With a fixed Bobrovsky who can support that outstanding offense, the Florida Panthers could very well make history by being the first bottom-ranked side to win a Stanley Cup.

Bettors backing Florida to win each of their series will have already made $420 in profits and $965 in profit for those betting $100 on the moneyline. Maybe it’s time you get on this bandwagon as it makes history.