NHL Lockout May Be Looming, but Oddsmakers Remain Optimistic Season Is Not Lost

NHL Lockout May Be Looming, but Oddsmakers Remain Optimistic Season Is Not LostWhile the NHL owners and Players Association continue to battle over percentage points, fans are wondering how long it will be before they see the boys back on the ice. While a delay to the start of the season seems inevitable, few think that the whole year will be lost, which means there's still time to bet on Bovada's NHL futures.

There's wide speculation as to when the first puck will drop. Many think it will be Thanksgiving, when NBC — the broadcast rights holder for NHL games — has its first nationally televised game scheduled. Beginning the season on Thanksgiving gives the league enough time to prepare for the 2013 Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, which is scheduled for Jan. 1.

Others think that a deal is close already, because while the two sides aren't close in terms of numbers, they are talking and discussing relevant points. Neither side has backed away from the table at this point.

Others think the players just want to skip training camp, and with the quality of exhibition hockey games, who can blame them?

Very few people are suggesting that the season will be lost like it was in 2004-05, which means that the Los Angeles Kings will get a chance to defend their first-ever Stanley Cup Championship. The Bovada oddsmakers have given them a 12-1 chance to do so, but they'll have to overcome some tough competition.

The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins are the standard-bearers going into the new season, with matching 8-1 odds. The Rangers added Rick Nash to an already formidable offense, while the Penguins are hoping for a full season out of their golden boy, Sidney Crosby.

The Vancouver Canucks lead the way in the Western Conference with 10-1 odds, but bettors waiting to back them may want to see if they end up dealing Roberto Luongo, as moving him could greatly alter their odds.

Rounding out the top five are the Philadelphia Flyers, who continue to add depth after a grueling playoff run last season. After battling the Penguins in one of the greatest opening rounds ever, they fizzled and were easily dispatched by the New Jersey Devils in the second round.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars are at 50-1, the Winnipeg Jets have 60-1 odds, the New York Islanders are at 75-1, and the miserable Columbus Blue Jackets are at the bottom of the barrel with 150-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

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