Fresh off a season that saw the Florida Panthers come within three wins of hoisting the Stanley Cup, they find themselves outside the group of favorites in preseason betting odds.
Currently, FanDuel Sportsbook has the Panthers tied with three other teams for the tenth best odds at +2000 for winning the 2024 Stanley Cup. The Colorado Avalanche are the current favorites at +850, while the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Boston Bruins — all teams the Panthers beat in last season’s playoffs — have odds of +950, +1100, and +1500, respectively. Last year’s Cup victors, the Vegas Golden Knights, have the sixth best odds at +1300.
Looking at the pieces the Panthers return this season to try and rationalize their position in the betting odds does not yield much. They return most of the same forward core outside of subtracting Anthony Duclair via trade to San Jose and adding Evan Rodrigues in free agency. Defensively, the story is much the same as core pieces remain in place, but with Radko Gudas moving on and Oliver Ekman-Larsson being brought in. And in net, Sergei Bobrovsky is still expected to be the go-to goalie.
However, with defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour expected to start the season on Injured Reserve, this could be reason enough to cause the oddsmakers to question whether the team that only made the playoffs by one-point last season will be able to comfortably do so this time.
Additionally, with the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators expected to take another step forward this season, the Atlantic Division will only become more competitive in the race for the three guaranteed playoff spots and the two Eastern Conference Wild Cards. Buffalo and Ottawa were only 1 and 6 points, respectively, off the Panthers’ season-ending point total last season.
Starting the season with something to prove should not be an issue for the Panthers after last year. Nobody expected them to upset Boston — the President’s Trophy winners — or to only need 9 games to advance through the middle rounds of the playoffs en route to the Stanley Cup Final.
A lot happens over the course of an 82-game season, but the most important thing — as the Panthers proved last season — is just making the playoffs to give themselves a chance. So, although they came up short, no team is better prepared to defy any odds placed against them.
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