Best 2014 Stanley Cup futures bets

Tuukka Rask is a big key for the Boston Bruins to win the 2014 Stanley Cup. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Stanley Cup playoffs, the most exciting time of the year, are finally upon us. There's nothing in sports quite like a seven-game NHL playoff series. As veteran handicappers know, it's difficult to find value in futures bets at this point, as the sportsbooks have handcuffed us in terms of decent payouts to win the Cup. My opinion would be to play the team that you like to win each series and roll those profits into their next series in order to get a bigger payout if that teams wins the Cup. At that point you can hedge against that bet if you so choose.

But if you decide to place some future-book wagers before the playoffs begin, remember that Stanley Cup winners usually have three things: defense, goaltending and depth. With that premise, I have weeded out a bunch of teams that I don't think can win the Cup, leaving four value bets for the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Boston Bruins (plus-370)

The Bruins are the chalk to win the Stanley Cup, and rightfully so. When you break their team down, there is virtually no weakness. Even their power play, which struggled in the past, finished third in the NHL at 21.7 percent this season. It is "all systems go" for the Bruins, a team with all three of the variables I listed above covered in spades.