NHL Bets: Stanley Cup Finals Picks and Futures Bets for Conn Smythe Winner

NHL Bets: Stanley Cup Finals Picks and Futures Bets for Conn Smythe Winner

This article is part of our NHL Picks series.

NHL Bets: Stanley Cup Finals Picks and Futures Bets for Conn Smythe Winner

Here we are again, the Tampa Bay Lightning playing in a Stanley Cup Finals, this time it will be the Colorado Avalanche with a chance to knock off the champs. RotoWire's AJ Scholz previews each series and breaks down the Conn Smythe odds, which come courtesy of the DraftKings Sportsbook

Stanley Cup Finals

Tampa Bay Lightning (+150) vs Colorado Avalanche (-175) 

Game 1 Wednesday, 8:00 PM ET

After trailing in their series 2-0 against the Rangers, the two-time defending champions Lightning stormed back to win the next four games, including a crucial Game 5 in New York, to secure their third straight appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. Tampa Bay has won a ridiculous 11 playoff series in a row and will no doubt be eager to be the first three-peat winners since the New York Islanders won four in the early 80s. While the Bolts aren't lacking for offensive talent -- Nikita Kucherov leads the team with 23 points -- it's been all about netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy who is sporting a .928 save percentage and 2.27 GAA. 

On the other side of the ice, netminder Darcy Kuemper has been sidelined for the last three games due to an upper-body injury but is expected to be healthy. As a result, the Avs' coaching staff will be forced to decide between going back to Kuemper, who has struggled with a .897 save percentage, or not rocking the boat and sticking with Pavel Francouz who won four straight and swept Edmonton in the conference finals. Offensively, Colorado boasts four players in the top-10 in playoff scoring with Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen despite having played in fewer games. 

NHL Best Bet for Avalanche-Lightning

If you've read along with the previous breakdowns of the NHL playoffs, the continuing trend has been two-fold; ride the star-studded Avs while not betting against the unbeatable Bolts. Well, now the rubber has met the road. The odds would suggest taking the Lightning considering they are getting +150 while you'd have to give up significant juice to back the Avalanche straight up. To get some value out of Colorado, an option would be the series spread with the Avs at -1.5 games for +110 but perhaps the safest play here is to take Tampa Bay +1.5 games at -130. If the Lightning win, so do you, but you can also cash out if the Avalanche win by just one game, which seems likely considering the series total games prop sits at +210 for seven games. 

Conn Smythe Trophy Winner

Favorites: Cale Makar (+180), Nathan MacKinnon (+210), Nikita Kucherov (+400), Andrei Vasilevskiy (+400) 

For starters, the Conn Smythe winner will almost certainly come from the team that hoists Lord Stanley's Cup, so you'll want to decide who you have winning the series first before laying down any bets, though you could certainly hedge and take one guy from each team. It does seem that voters take past winners into consideration sometimes as well, so it's important to note that Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy won in 2020 and 2021, respectively. 

NHL Best Bets for Conn Smythe Trophy

Let's start with the prospect of the Lightning winning the series. While it's not outrageous to think Vasilevskiy could win back-to-back Conn Smythe trophies, the fact that Kucherov hasn't won before and is, currently, the leading scorer on his team, taking him at +400 to win seems the best play, especially considering if he goes on an epic cold streak for the Stanley Cup FInals, then Tampa Bay probably doesn't win the series anyway. 

For Colorado, Makar has been fantastic with five goals and 17 assists in 14 games but it's not like MacKinnon is that far off his pace with 18 points, including 11 goals. It's also important to note that MacKinnon is the team captain and one of the faces of the NHL. Unless Makar does something outrageous in the Finals, like averaging two points per game, it seems more likely to me that MacKinnon would take home the Conn Smythe, so take him at +210. 

Given the odds of both Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon at +400 and +210, respectively, this is an easy hedge play to take both players to win the Conn Smythe Trophy

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AJ Scholz
Co-Host of PuckCast with Statsman and AJ and unabashed Penguins fan.
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