$FML's +3000 NHL Futures Pick - 10/31

I don’t always buy Futures tickets, but when I do, it’s because I see enough value in the price to justify long-term investment. It doesn’t always pan out, but that is the thought process. Today, I’ll highlight a futures bet paying 30-1 that I feel is worth a sprinkle of our money today based on how the New Jersey Devils have started.

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$FML’s +3000 NHL Futures Pick

The 3x champs donning red and black opened the season as 50/1 long-shots to win Lord Stanley and +180 to make playoffs. Through 9 games, their once murky outlook has brightened, with oddsmakers slashing NJD’s Stanley Cup and Playoff odds down to 35/1 and -130, respectively, at multiple shops.

Why is this happening? Well, it’s a few things. First and most obvious, they’re off to a fantastic 6-3 start with a +8 goal differential (4th best in NHL). They just shut out the ‘21/22 Cup champs and put the league on notice by winning 6 of their last 7 games. They’re also outshooting opponents at a historical rate, and as Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic points out, they’re posting some of the best team-based analytics we’ve seen in recent memory — virtually on par with past Stanley Cup contenders.

Meanwhile, this is being achieved with youngest roster in NHL by average age (25.7). The situation is sadly the product of painful, decade-long rebuild that’s seen five different Head Coaches fly through the revolving door.

Enter bench boss Lindy Ruff, now in his 3rd season as Devils HC, and the culture appears to be stabilizing at a time when their ripe, young core is starting to bare fruits. Even the Devils’ fanbase (who aren’t all rosy on ole Lindy) are starting to warm up to his system and overall coaching style…

Note: the Devils also hired former Florida Panthers Head Coach Andrew Burnette as an assistant this off-season. He’s clearly making an immediate impact, but for purposes of this futures market analysis, I’m not sure it’s relevant.

Are the Devils true Stanley Cup contenders? I won’t go as far as saying they are. The field is just too deep in my assessment, and New Jersey —as they stand today— lack the “experience factor” that I view as critical to making a Cup run (though the team’s recent signings of veterans Ondrej Palat and Erik Haula will certainly help in that regard).

Playoffs? Now we’re talking, and it’s a completely different answer. I think it’s absolutely possible this season, and betting markets clearly agree based on the odds movement I quoted in the opening.

Now to bring it home… If New Jersey can make playoffs, then who’s to say Lindy Ruff doesn’t deserve to be in the conversation for the Jack Adams Award, which goes to the bench boss “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success?" Just 3-years ago in 2019, New York Islanders HC Barry Trotz helped spark an unexpected playoff run and was recognized with the Jack Adams Award. The Devils’ situation is a little different, but the point being there’s precedent, and I see parallels.

To be crystal clear, this pick is unequivocally still on the “long-shot” end of the betting spectrum with odds that imply a slim 3.2% chance to win. However in my (potentially biased) assessment (as a Devils fan), I think it’s higher than that. I see a clear (but potentially narrow) path to Lindy winning this award — it requires his Devils to make playoffs *and* continue posting elite team-based metrics that woo the analytics community and draw media attention to the team. If they can do those two things —which I think they can— then who wouldn’t want a Lindy Ruff / Jack Adams Award Winner ticket at 30/1?

I sprinkled accordingly with a $20 free bet that MGM dangled on me, and if I were paying cash, I’d risk 0.2 units to win 3u. For $FML performance tracking, I’ll record it there.

The Pick: Lindy Ruff to win Jack Adams Award (+3000) via MGM

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