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Morning Coffee: Anticipation builds for NHL Draft, Free Agent Frenzy


Hockey fans have had an unforgettable week.

On Monday night, the Florida Panthers clinched the first Stanley Cup in franchise history with an epic Game 7 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

A Stanley Cup Final I’ll never forget culminated with the most heavily bet game in NHL history.

Amidst the ongoing celebrations in Florida, the focus shifted to Las Vegas for last night’s NHL Awards.

Nathan MacKinnon was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.

It marked the culmination of the most memorable MVP discussion ever, with MacKinnon, Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov and Auston Matthews all taking a turn as the betting favourite to win that award at FanDuel at one point or another throughout the regular season.

Connor Bedard was a lock to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year.

Connor Hellebuyck was a lock to win the Vezina Trophy as the goaltender judged to be the best at his position.

Quinn Hughes was an obvious choice for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman.

After honouring past accomplishments, the spotlight turns to the future tonight with the 2024 NHL Draft set to take place at the Sphere in Las Vegas this weekend.

The long weekend will end with Free Agent Frenzy on TSN on Monday.

This time of the year always brings a renewed sense of optimism and the promise of a brighter future for fans of all 32 NHL teams.

While the NHL Draft and Free Agent Frenzy outcomes are difficult to handicap, FanDuel has provided us with a road map to help navigate expectations through a variety of different betting markets to consider.

This is the Morning Coffee for Friday, June 28, 2024.

Anticipation builds for NHL Draft, Free Agent Frenzy

The San Jose Sharks are on the clock with the first-overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.

Macklin Celebrini is the consensus No. 1 prospect in the pool and an overwhelming favourite to be the first pick at -20000 at FanDuel. That number implies a 99.5 per cent chance that the Sharks select Celebrini with the top pick.

Beyond the No. 1 pick, things become less predictable.

Artyom Levshunov is -500 to go second overall. Levshunov is a heavy favourite to go to the Chicago Blackhawks at No. 2 with an 83.3 per cent implied probability, but FanDuel still has Ivan Demidov in the mix to go second overall at +280.

Interestingly, Demidov is the second choice to go second overall to Chicago, but the fourth choice to be the third overall pick to the Anaheim Ducks.

Anton Silayev is the favourite to go No. 3 at +160. Beckett Sennecke is the second choice at +340.

Then it’s Levshunov at +360 and Demidov at +450 to be the third overall pick.

Cayden Lindstrom is -220 to be drafted fourth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Demidov, Lindstrom and Sennecke are the top three choices to be selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the fifth-overall pick.

Per FanDuel’s odds, the most likely scenario is that we see Levshunov, Silayev and Lindstrom go picks two through four behind Celebrini at No. 1.

Levshunov, Silayev, Lindstrom to be drafted 2,3,4 in that exact order is +220 at FanDuel. That is considered the most likely outcome.

Still, there may be value elsewhere in the draft exact order market with every other option at +700 or longer.

While the 2024 NHL Draft is in the spotlight tonight, the excitement is already building towards Free Agent Frenzy on TSN on Monday.

This is the time of the year when hockey fans love to discuss their dream trade scenarios.

We also have an intriguing list of star players who can sign with any team they choose at the start of free agency on Monday.

FanDuel has posted novelty prop markets for where all those star players will sign.

Per TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun, the Carolina Hurricanes “keep pushing hard” to negotiate a new contract with forward Jake Guentzel. The Hurricanes are the only team that can offer Guentzel an eight-year max contract.

Considering they still have his rights for a few more days, it’s not a surprise that Carolina is the favourite to sign Guentzel at -145 at FanDuel.

At the same time, there is a long list of teams that are expected to make a strong push for the star winger should he hit the open market.

The New York Rangers are +360 as the second choice to be Guentzel’s next team. The Vancouver Canucks are +950 as the third choice.

Meanwhile, the Canucks are also the second choice in FanDuel’s market for Sam Reinhart’s next team.

The Panthers are the favourite to sign Reinhart at -190. Vancouver is the second choice at +500.

The Nashville Predators (+600) and the Chicago Blackhawks (+700) round out the top four choices in that Reinhart next team market.

The Montreal Canadiens are another Canadian team that is expected to be busy this weekend.

In addition to holding the fifth overall and 26th overall picks in the NHL Draft, the Canadiens are the second choice to sign free agent forward Jonathan Marchessault at FanDuel.

The Vegas Golden Knights are the favourite to retain Marchessault at -160. Montreal is the second choice to sign him at +700.

The Detroit Red Wings (+800), the Hurricanes (+950), and the Rangers (+1600) round out the top five choices in the Marchessault next team market.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are -430 to sign Steven Stamkos.

The Red Wings and Nashville Predators are both +750. The Habs and Toronto Maple Leafs round out the top five choices to sign Stamkos at +1100.

Sticking with the Maple Leafs, FanDuel made Toronto the second choice to sign free-agent defenceman Brandon Montour at +550. Only Florida (+105) has shorter odds in that market.

Could we see a potential reunion in Toronto at some point this weekend?

Our TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button discussed an interesting scenario with Jay Onrait last night.

The Maple Leafs are also expected to be in the mix for a goaltender this offseason.

Laurent Brossoit to sign with Toronto could be found at +215 this morning. Cam Talbot to sign with the Maple Leafs is +410.

Anthony Stolarz is another intriguing name at longer odds as FanDuel has him at +560 to sign with Toronto.

With so many unknowns heading into the NHL Draft and free agency, there is a ton of anticipation around the hockey world heading into this weekend.

This time of the year always brings a renewed sense of optimism and the promise of a brighter future for hockey fans.

As temporary as it might be, hope abounds for all 32 NHL teams.

Have a great weekend, everyone!