With the thrilling 2013 Stanley Cup Finals now in the record books, today we gaze into our crystal ball to see if the four teams that played in the two NHL Conference Championship series can retain that lofty level and get back into the hearts of the Canadian sports betting public during NHL 2013-14 action.
Chicago Blackhawks: Stanley Cup Champions are loaded with talent
Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks on their recent Stanley Cup victory – their second in four years. Can they make it three out of five to begin the “dynasty” talk? If the 2013 free agent period is any indication – we say yes they can. Of the Hawks top eleven scorers during the 2013 regular season, Viktor Stalberg (23 points in 47 games) is the only player who won’t be returning. Chicago also won’t skip a beat without backup goaltender Ray Emery (PHI) as the Hawks replaced him with Nikolai Khabibulin who comes to the Windy City via Edmonton. The Hawks will continue to soar.
Boston Bruins: Eastern Conference Cup finalists shuffle the deck
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. That’s the mantra of the Boston Bruins as they signed free agent forward Jarome Iginla to a one-year contract – after he spurned them and signed with the Penguins at the 2013 NHL trade deadline. The Bruins also made a deal with Dallas as they shipped forwards Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley, plus defenseman Ryan Button, to the Stars in exchange for forwards Loui Eriksson, Matt Fraser, Reilly Smith and defenseman Joe Morrow. Boston still needs to get deals done with Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask, while Nathan Horton, Jaromir Jagr and Andrew Ferrence won’t be back next season. We see a slight slip happening in Beantown during the 2013-14 NHL season.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Add and subtract during Free Agent Frenzy
Following one of the worst Eastern Conference Championship performances in NHL history, the Pittsburgh Penguins will have a slightly new look next season. With Iginla gone to Boston, and fellow 2013 trade deadline acquisitions Brendon Morrow and Douglas Murray likely not returning, the Penguins lone major free agent acquisition was the return of rock solid defenseman Rob Scuderi. Pittsburgh paid a boatload of dough to resign Kris Letang ($58 million eight year extension) and they also resigned RW Pascal Dupuis, LW Chris Kunitz and RW Craig Adams. Anytime you have two of the best players on the planet, in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, you will always be a favorite when it comes to betting on the Stanley Cup.
Los Angeles Kings: Tight cap and solid core makes for little change
Restricted by a tight cap situation, Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi has been relatively quiet during the NHL free agent frenzy. As mentioned, the Kings lost free agent stud defenseman Rob Scuderi to Pittsburgh and they traded backup netminder Jonathan Bernier to Toronto in exchange for Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin and a second-round draft pick in 2014 or 2015 – Toronto’s choice. To make up for the loss of Scuderi, the Kings acquired Jeff Shultz from the Washington Capitals. Shultz will fit in well with the Kings defend and then pounce game plan employed by Darryl Sutter. The core is still solid and the Kings will continue to be a top contender in the Western Conference.