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NHL betting: If you like the Rangers or Oilers to win the Cup, here's how to bet them

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The NHL playoffs are down to just eight teams. By the end of the night on Monday, it could be seven if the Tampa Bay Lightning complete the sweep of the Florida Panthers. The other three series currently have 2-1 scores, with the Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche holding advantages.

The Colorado Avalanche are the current favorites to win the Stanley Cup at +155. The Tampa Bay Lightning are -110 to come out of the East, making them the favorites to represent the conference in the Stanley Cup Final. While those teams are favorites for good reason, it's hockey and anything can happen in the playoffs. Betting Stanley Cup futures can be fun and profitable, but there's two teams you absolutely should not bet on in that market, and it might not be for the reason you expect.

Correlation to the Conn Smythe winner

Hockey is the ultimate team sport. You likely can't win in the playoffs in this league without elite talent, good goaltending and depth throughout your lineup. The best teams are the teams that can beat you with any number of players or any style of play.

Take for example the Colorado Avalanche, who are +155 favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Currently, they have five players with odds of 20-to-1 or better to win the Conn Smythe, which is given to the playoff MVP. Nathan MacKinnon is their star forward and he's +600. Cale Makar, arguably the best defenseman in the sport, is also +600. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper is 16-to-1. Captain Gabriel Landeskog is 16-to-1, while Mikko Rantanen, their top point producer from the regular season is 20-to-1.

Any one of these players could win the Conn Smythe and it wouldn't be overly surprising. You can even throw names like Nazem Kadri (66-to-1) or Devon Toews into the mix. They have many players who can impact a game, and that's a large part of the reason they're favorites to win it all.

The same thing applies to Tampa Bay. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (+950), defenseman Victor Hedman (12-to-1), and forwards Nikita Kucherov (+950) and Steven Stamkos (14-to-1) are all amongst the Conn Smythe favorites. Brayden Point is at 50-to-1, and that price would be much lower if he wasn't currently injured.

Even if you look at teams like the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes, there's no clear Conn Smythe favorite on either of those teams. If they win the Stanley Cup, there is no certainty as to who would win playoff MVP. You can say that about six of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs. However, there are two teams that should they end up winning the Stanley Cup, there's no question as to who would win the Conn Smythe.

McDavid and Shesterkin would be Conn Smythe locks

The Edmonton Oilers took a 2-1 series lead over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night thanks to an Evander Kane hat trick. While Kane scored the goals, two of them were tap-ins off beautiful setups by Connor McDavid. McDavid had three assists on Sunday night, giving him an absolutely incredible 17 points in his last six playoff games.

Through ten games of the playoffs, McDavid has 23 points. Teammate Leon Draisaitl has 19 points while nobody else in the league has more than 15 points. For comparison, the last forward to win the Conn Smythe was Ryan O'Reilly in 2019. He had 23 points over 26 games in four rounds of postseason play. McDavid has matched that total over just 10 games and less than two rounds.

If you do think the Oilers have a chance to win the Stanley Cup and were considering backing them at +800 odds, that would be a foolish mistake. McDavid is currently 12-to-1 to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. There is no world where the Oilers win the Stanley Cup and McDavid doesn't win the playoff MVP. During the broadcast of Sunday's game, the ESPN announcers openly discussed the possibility of McDavid winning the award even if Edmonton doesn't win it all. While that's rather unlikely based on precedent, it highlights how dominant McDavid has been.

Betting Edmonton to win the Stanley Cup and McDavid to win the Conn Smythe is basically the same bet. The only difference is one pays out at 12-to-1, while the other is +800.

EDMONTON, AB - MAY 22: Zach Hyman #18 and Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate after a goal during Game One of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Calgary Flames on May 22, 2022 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Connor McDavid has been incredible so far in the NHL playoffs. (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The same can be said about the New York Rangers and Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers are currently down 2-1 in their series against the Carolina Hurricanes, despite the fact that Shesterkin has allowed just three goals in regulation over three games. Carolina has just five goals in the series; one was in overtime and one was into an empty net.

The Rangers got their first win of the series on Sunday afternoon. Shesterkin made 43 saves and allowed just one goal in a game where the Rangers were outshot 44-33 and Carolina had a 2.7 to 1.8 advantage in expected goals at 5-on-5, according to MoneyPuck.com.

The Rangers are long-shots at 20-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup and I don't see them getting past the Hurricanes. However, if you're thinking the Rangers have another series comeback up their sleeves and can make a miracle run, I'd still pass on the 20-to-1 price. Igor Shesterkin is 40-to-1 to win the Conn Smythe and that's a much better bet.

Shesterkin has bailed the Rangers out all season long. He's almost certainly going to win the Vezina, which is given to the league's best goalie. The Rangers have been out-chanced and outshot all season long, but Shesterkin helped carry them to the seventh best record in the league.

Much like McDavid, there is no world where the Rangers win the Stanley Cup and Shesterkin doesn't win playoff MVP. The Rangers are the worst team remaining in these playoffs by most puck possession and shot generation metrics. They'll need to win three out of four against Carolina, one of the best teams in the league in that regard.

If they pull off another improbable series comeback, they'll likely need to beat the back-to-back defending champions in the conference final. Finally, they would get one of the four offensive dynamos out West. All four teams remaining in the Western Conference finished top-7 in the league in goals per game.

The Rangers are 20-to-1 to win the Cup for a reason. They're not very likely to win it. However, if they do it, it'll be because Shesterkin carried them and shut down some top-end offenses along the way. Would you rather have a ticket that pays 20-to-1, or a ticket that pays 40-to-1?

You can debate whether the Oilers or Rangers have a realistic chance of winning the Cup. All I'm saying is if you have identified those teams as teams you're interested in betting on, take the extra value with a McDavid or Shesterkin to win the Conn Smythe ticket instead. They're basically the same thing.