Last season, many NHL teams shocked the hockey world in both good and bad ways. Underdogs had a strong showing. Nashville came into the playoffs as an 8th seed and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup. Only one season after finishing dead last, the Toronto Maple Leafs, led by young stars, made the playoffs. Ottawa was an underdog in every matchup they had and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
This upcoming season will lead to many new surprises as well as new underdog stories. At the end of the season, one team will be crowned champion. As of right now, any team can make a run at it. Here are three longshot teams who could realistically make a deep run at the Stanley Cup.
The Philadelphia Flyers are listed at 40-1, according to BetOnline.
Two years ago, the Flyers made a run towards the end of the season and snuck into the playoffs as the 8th seed. The Flyers ultimately fell short to the Washington Capitals in six games that year. This last season, Philadelphia missed the playoffs completely and moved up to the second slot in the draft and picked up Nolan Patrick.
A big hope for the Flyers is that the highly touted prospect from the Brandon Wheat Kings, Nolan Patrick, can step up and big a huge contributor right away. Although his season was cut short by injuries, he was still able to score 46 points in 33 games played. If Patrick can overcome his injury problems, he could make a run for the Calder trophy and make a big difference to the Flyers.
Last season, the Flyers goaltending duo of Steve Mason and Michael Neuvirth were not able to consistently put up starter numbers. This year, Steve Mason moved on and the Flyers signed Brian Elliot in hopes that he can take over the starting position. If Elliot can be the stabilizing factor on the back end it would help the Flyers.
Another upside to the Flyers this season is the young players on the team. If young players like Travis Konecny, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Ivan Provorov can all take the next step in their careers they could propel Philadelphia back into the playoffs. If they make the playoffs, these players could also have a serious impact making the Flyers a legitimate threat.
This year Ottawa is listed at 33-1, according to BetOnline.
Last season, Ottawa made the playoffs and were only one game away from the Stanley Cup. The Senators lost to Pittsburgh in game seven in double overtime. Ottawa’s biggest loss over the offseason was Marc Methot, who moved onto Vegas in the Expansion Draft. To fill the void, Ottawa picked up Johnny Oduya in free agency from Chicago.
Led by players like Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson the Senators have loads of talent to help them reach the playoffs. Bobby Ryan had a drop off in production last season. If he can get back to the form that he was two seasons ago when he scored 56 points in 81 games, then it could put Ottawa in a position to win the division.
The Senators could have 2016 first round draft pick Logan Brown step up into a position with the team. Brown spent last season with the Windsor Spitfires and added 40 points in 35 games.
Part of Ottawa’s playoff success was goalie Craig Anderson’s play. He got hot in the playoffs and had a 2.34 GAA and a .922 Save Percentage. If he can continue throughout the regular season and playoffs to play at this level, the Senators will be a threat to anyone in the NHL.
The Arizona Coyotes could be like last year’s Toronto Maple Leafs. The young players could take control and lead the Coyotes into the promise land. This year, Arizona is listed at 80-1, according to BetOnline.
Arizona has been rebuilding heavily through the draft the last few seasons. With young players like Brendan Perlini, Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, Dylan Strome and Lawson Crouse the Coyotes could move into the playoffs with help from these young stars.
Arizona traded for Derek Stepan, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Antti Raanta over the offseason. The Coyotes hope that these players can both fill the void for longtime captain Shayne Doan and help all the youth players develop. Stepan put up a 55-point campaign last season with the Rangers. Raanta also came from the Rangers after he spent last season as a backup behind Henrik Lundqvist. Hjalmarsson came from Chicago and was a stabilizing force on the defense.
While Arizona is the biggest longshot on this list, if their young players can develop quickly over the regular season, the Coyotes could make a run.