With the NHL lockout finally over, teams have been scrambling to put their training camps together. Sportsbooks have also been scrambling to get the Stanley Cup futures odds posted, to take advantage of this small window before the season begins.
A lot of people talk about value when it comes to futures and you won't find better value than in this 2013 NHL season. The NHL will be playing a 48-game schedule, with teams only playing games within their Conference and within a shorter time period than normal. All of these variables drastically change the dynamic of a season.
With very little time to prepare in training camp, it is difficult for a team that's been overhauled in the offseason to jell and have chemistry on the ice together. A team that has stayed together from last year will be much farther along that chemistry curve than the others, especially at the start of the season. And a quick start may be all it takes to make the playoffs and make a run at the Cup.
When looking at futures bets, it's important to remember that you're not predicting which teams will win the Cup but rather which ones can get in the playoffs and give themselves a chance. That's why the first place I looked this season was at the longshots who have a unique opportunity this year.
Here are the seven teams that are the best value bets to win the 2013 Stanley Cup (with odds in parentheses courtesy of 5Dimes):