NHL futures betting: Are the New York Islanders legitimate?

·5 min read

It's been a little over three years since John Tavares decided to leave the New York Islanders as a free agent for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Coming off back-to-back seasons of missing the playoffs in 2017 and 2018, the Islanders had lost their franchise player and received nothing in return. It seemed like it was going to be a long few years on Long Island.

However, that same summer, the Islanders hired Lou Lamoriello as their new president and general manager. Lamoriello then hired Barry Trotz as his head coach, who was fresh off winning a Stanley Cup with Washington. Nonetheless, expectations for the Islanders were quite low. 

In the three seasons since that summer, the Islanders have made the playoffs all three times while winning five playoff series. In the last two years, they were one of the final four teams standing and were eliminated in heartbreaking fashion by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning both times.

UNIONDALE, NY - JUNE 23: New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) celebrates after scoring the game winning goal during the overtime period of game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Semifinals game between the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 23, 2021 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY.   (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
New York Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier celebrates after scoring in overtime of Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Currently, the Islanders sit at +2000 (20-to-1) to win the Stanley Cup at BetMGM. They are the third-favorite to win the Metropolitan Division at +425. Is this team finally ready to get over that final hump and win a championship?

Overachieving every step of the way

Over the past three NHL seasons, no team has surpassed their expectations more than the Islanders. In 2018, expectations were low (like worst team in the league low), but the Isles made the playoffs and swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. The following season, expectations were that this team would regress heavily and miss the playoffs. 

However, in 2019-20, the Islanders made it to the conference finals. Heading into last season, most said the Islanders were a decent team but there's no way they could repeat the run they went on in 2020. Well, they did and they got even closer to the ultimate goal. 

If you include the 2020 play-in series against the Florida Panthers, the Islanders have played in nine postseason series over the last three years. They were favorites in none of them. They were clear underdogs in seven of them while the other two (2019 vs. Carolina, 2020 vs. Florida) closed near a pick'em on the series price. 

The general public and oddsmakers are flabbergasted by this team, and they have been for three years now. There's no true superstar on the roster, there's no flashy big names and they don't look overly dominant in their wins. 

However, it's a team that has consistently excelled in the defensive zone and has done a good job of turning its offensive zone time into high danger chances. As last season went on, you finally saw the Islanders start to register as an elite team on many hockey analytics websites and other models. It looks like they might be close to figuring the Isles out. 

Changes since last season

There's been some turnover with the Islanders since we last saw them on the ice in late June. 

Most notably, captain Anders Lee is healthy and will be ready to join the team for the start of training camp in the coming weeks. Lee is the Isles' most dangerous goal scoring threat. The Islanders captain missed the second half of last season and the playoffs with a torn ACL. 

Kyle Palmieri was bought in as a trade deadline rental to help offset the loss of Lee last season. The Islanders went with the rent-to-own option in the lease though, as Palmieri signed a contract extension over the summer. 

Zach Parise is also joining New York. The 37-year-old has amassed 810 points in 1060 career games. While he might not be the game changing offensive threat he was a few years ago, Parise posted 25 goals in the shortened 2020 season. We've seen former offensive stars take depth roles later in their career plenty of times, and this is another example of that. 

Out for New York from last season are Nick Leddy and Jordan Eberle. The Islanders will likely look toward internal options to patch those holes. Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom are two young players who will likely absorb bigger roles for coach Trotz. 

More respect, but still undervalued

The Islanders currently sit at +2000 to win the Cup. These are tied for the sixth best odds in the league. It's no surprise to see New York up among the leaders after their deep playoff runs the past two seasons. 

However, it still feels like there's value on New York at 20-to-1. Remember, this is a team that lost Game 7 to the Lightning this past season by a score of 1-0. They were one bounce away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final where they would have actually been favorites to win. 

At 20-to-1, I believe the Islanders are definitely worthy of a shot. Often, before winning a Stanley Cup, a team must go through some heartbreak and pain in the playoffs. The Lightning came painstakingly close many times before they finally broke through. Maybe New York is finally ready to get over the last hill. 

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