In an unusual twist, the Golden Knights are co-favorites to win the Stanley Cup but the second choice to win their division.
That’s because Colorado is in the NHL’s realigned West Division with Vegas and rated slightly higher than the Knights by Las Vegas sportsbooks.
“We have Colorado power rated the highest,” Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk Jeff Sherman said. “The Knights are No. 2.”
The Avalanche are 6-1 co-favorites with Vegas and Tampa Bay at the Westgate to win the Cup. Colorado is the outright favorite to win it all at Station Casinos and Circa, where the Avalanche are +580 and the Knights are 7-1.
Vegas is the leader in Stanley Cup futures tickets at the Westgate but fourth in money wagered. Colorado is the money leader, followed by St. Louis and Boston.
The Avalanche are a +125 favorite to win the West over the Knights (+140) at the Westgate, where the Blues are the +450 third choice.
Under the NHL’s new playoff format, the top four teams from each of the four divisions will make the postseason. The first two rounds will determine the four division winners who will advance to the Stanley Cup Semifinal.
“The hard thing is either Colorado or Vegas will not be included in the final four,” Sherman said.
The Avalanche have the league’s highest point total for the shortened 56-game regular season at 75½. They’re followed by the Knights at 73½ and the Lightning at 71½.
“The Knights are loaded. They’re right there alongside Colorado, and they got the best free agent available in Alex Pietrangelo,” Sherman said. “They’re going to be fun to watch, and they’re playing in perhaps the weakest division, from our perception.
“The East is loaded. From top to bottom, that’s going to be the toughest division night in and night out.”
In the compressed schedule, Sherman and Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito expect the Knights’ goaltending tandem of Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury to pay dividends.
“This year, more than ever, it becomes more important to have depth at the goalie position,” Esposito said. “It worked out that they didn’t deal Fleury. Now they can have Lehner or Fleury between the pipes every night, which is a huge advantage for Vegas.
“Vegas has the best goalie tandem in the league. That might make the difference for them in the shortened season.”
Lehner is the 12-1 fourth choice at William Hill to win the Vezina Trophy, and Fleury is 30-1.
Knights right wing Mark Stone is 30-1 at William Hill to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP. Left wing Max Pacioretty is 50-1, defenseman Pietrangelo is 100-1 and Lehner is 150-1.
At Circa, Pacioretty is 100-1 to lead the league in goals, and Stone is 250-1.
The Knights, who won the Pacific Division last season and lost to the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final, are -210 favorites over the Anaheim Ducks in Thursday’s season opener at T-Mobile Arena. Vegas is +115 on the ever-popular puck line (-1½).
“You can clearly feel the buzz that it’s Knight time and time for hockey season to start,” Esposito said. “It adds a fun atmosphere to our books, especially with the late start times. From the business side of it, especially on the puck line, we’re usually rooting against them on a nightly basis.”
The Knights have eight games scheduled in January: two against Anaheim, four against Arizona and two against St. Louis. William Hill has a unique prop on Vegas’ total points in January. The total is 10½, and the over is a -135 favorite.