Twenty-two days ago on “NESN After Hours,” host Emerson Lotzia and I discussed pulling the trigger on the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup at 10-to-1 odds.
The B’s were 6-1-2 at the time and superstar winger David Pastrnak recently reentered the fold from an offseason injury.
“That 10-to-1 price won’t be around for long,” I explained.
The following night, Boston erased a two-goal, third period deficit in Philadelphia and beat the Flyers 4-3 on captain Patrice Bergeron’s goal 31 seconds into overtime. 7-1-2.
Sportsbooks were clearly paying attention and those 10-to-1s all but evaporated in the hockey future markets. Currently, Boston is as low as 6-to-1 in Las Vegas and most American shops have them at 8-to-1.
“Boston is a physical hockey team that makes you pay,” PointsBet Sportsbook senior sports analyst Andrew Mannino told NESN. “David Pastrnak is absolutely terrific. I think it was a fair feeling to think they might struggle to replace guys like (Zdeno) Chara and (Torey) Krug on the blue line. That’s a lot of talent out the door. To continue to play at this level without those guys really speaks to the organization’s ability to fill holes, develop young talent and keep the operation moving along.
“They look primed to get out of the East,” Mannino added. “We’ve got them pretty heavily favored to win the division right now at -140 with Philadelphia second at +300. The Bruins are going to be trouble for anybody they come across in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”
My favorite part about discussing future markets is that many people don’t view teams like stocks. You’ll often hear retorts about how “it’s early” or “there’s a long way to go.” Sure, there’s some truth to that, but the betting markets don’t wait for you to make up your mind.
A $100 Bruins future bet before the season (+1400) would win $1,400 if they win the Stanley Cup. A $100 wager in early February (+1000) would win $1,000. That same $100 would make you $800 or less right now.
It’s truly a fluid situation. Sportsbooks always aim to balance liability and expectations. Money in the market and respect for a team is what moves the meter. Bookmakers don’t adjust odds because they grew up in Worcester or because they like the B’s uniforms.
Shortening a team’s odds to win a championship is the ultimate respect.
“Sportsbooks really lean into their opinions with hockey futures,” Mannino explained. “It’s a great opportunity to back the teams you believe in and lighten the teams you don’t. We’re happy to be off-market on teams we don’t believe have a good chance to win it all and protect the teams that do.
“Futures have become a more global commodity. Now that you can get on any website in any country and see what the odds are, that really lets the bettors find more value. We rely on the global marketplace and what our sharps are telling us, but it’s also about our math and our spreadsheets. You have to make sure your numbers are right. If they don’t add up, we’re in trouble.”
Mannino’s trading team is still bullish on the Colorado Avalanche. Sportsbooks have the luxury of having different opinions and different prices. PointsBet has Colorado at +650 to hoist Lord Stanley. Mannino told me last summer he thought the Avs were the team to beat.
“We’re still holding them on top,” he said. “We haven’t moved them off the favorite spot yet. They’re a great hockey team. They can score and they have quality defense. When they’re all healthy together, they’re one of the most complete hockey teams in the league.”
Always remember “right team, right price” when you’re making a future bet. If you shop around, you can still find the Bruins at +800 or +900 to win the Stanley Cup right now. Those odds will only get lower over the coming months assuming they finish strong in the East and make the playoffs.
How much longer are you willing to wait?