The Stanley Cup Playoffs have arrived.

Nearly five months after the last NHL regular-season game was played, hockey fans will be treated to an unprecedented playoff experience beginning on Saturday with the first five Stanley Cup Qualifier games.

While the circumstances are unique, the ultimate goal remains the same.

Despite lingering uncertainties, it now appears more likely than not that the NHL will be able to complete its 2019-20 season.

That sentiment is echoed in sports betting markets.

Bet MGM has offered a prop bet on whether the NHL crowns a Stanley Cup champion.

The “Yes” option for that special is listed at -2500 odds, which translates to a 96.2 per cent implied probability that a team will raise the Cup.

So what can we expect to see over the next nine weeks?

Here are a few other interesting takeaways from the betting odds posted by Bet MGM for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


Six chances to end Canada’s drought

It’s been 27 years since Kirk Muller scored his series-clinching goal for the Montreal Canadiens against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals.

This year, Montreal is one of the six Canadian playoff qualifiers.

However, Carey Price and the Habs represent Canada’s biggest long shot to win the Cup at 80-to-1, which matches the Chicago Blackhawks for the longest odds on the board.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers are considered the most likely candidates to end the Stanley Cup drought for Canada’s teams.

The Maple Leafs and Oilers are both listed at 25-to-1 to win it all.

Bet MGM also has a special that allows bettors to wager on whether the Stanley Cup winner will be a Canadian or U.S.-based team.

The numbers reveal just how slanted their position is.

In order to win $100 with a wager on a U.S.-based team to win it all, a bettor would have to risk $1,250.

At -1250, the odds translate to a 92.6 per cent implied probability that an American-based team will win the Stanley Cup.

On the flip side, a bettor could risk $100 to potentially win $650 with a wager on a Canadian team to win the Cup.


Central considerations

According to Bet MGM, the Stanley Cup winner is most likely to come from the Central Division.

That shouldn’t be a surprise, considering all seven teams from the Central qualified for this year’s playoffs – including the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.

While the Blues led the Western Conference with 94 points when the season was paused, they are actually the second choice to win it all from that side of the bracket, based on the betting odds.

St. Louis is currently 9-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup.

The Colorado Avalanche, which trailed the Blues by two points at the top of the Western Conference when the season was paused but with a game in hand, have the shortest odds from the Central at 7-to-1.

The Winnipeg Jets are listed at 40-to-1 odds to raise the Stanley Cup.

Meanwhile, according to Bet MGM the Stanley Cup winner is less likely to come from the Pacific than any other division.

The odds indicate a 20.0 per cent implied probability that a Pacific Division team wins the Cup.

Contrast that with a 31.7 per cent implied probability that a Central Division team wins it all.

While the Oilers represent Canada’s best postseason hope, along with Toronto, they are the second choice out of the Pacific Division.

The Vegas Golden Knights are the favourites to win it all in the Western Conference at +650.

The Vancouver Canucks are 35-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup.

The Calgary Flames are listed at 40-to-1.


Conn Smythe conversation

At Bet MGM, Nathan Mackinnon of the Avalanche is the betting favourite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy at 9-to-1 odds.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is the second choice at 11-to-1.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is 13-to-1 to win playoff MVP.

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning, David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins and Jordan Binnington of the Blues are each listed at 16-to-1 to win the award.

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl represent the top contenders from Canadian teams.

McDavid and Draisaitl are each listed at 33-to-1 to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Auston Matthews is the favourite among Maple Leafs at 50-to-1.

Two of the biggest long shots on the board also happen to be from Canadian teams: Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor and Vancouver’s J.T. Miller are each listed at 300-to-1 to win the award.


False starts

Based on the odds, an Original Six clash between Montreal and Chicago is the most unlikely projected Stanley Cup Finals matchup.

The Canadiens and Blackhawks are each 40-to-1 just to get out of their respective conferences.

Chicago is listed at +140 to upset Edmonton in its Stanley Cup Qualifier.

Meanwhile, Montreal is considered the biggest long shot to get out of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers round.

The Habs are listed at +190 to win their series against the Penguins – a 34.5 per cent implied win probability.

On the flip side, the battle between the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers is projected to be the most evenly matched series of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.


*All Betting Information appears as listed by Bet MGM on Friday July 31st, 2020.