AP Photo/John Locher
Friday, June 2, 2017 | 2 a.m.
When the puck finally drops for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in October, the area’s first major sports franchise will be considered a long shot to win a championship in its initial season.
Oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas opened the Golden Knights as 200-to-1 long shots to hoist the Stanley Cup next summer. It’s the highest odds of the NHL’s 31 teams.
Of the nine expansion teams since 1991, none have made the playoffs in their inaugural seasons, let alone win it all. In 1993, Anaheim and Florida came the closest, with both finishing one spot out of the playoffs in their respective conferences. Collectively, the nine recent teams in their first seasons have averaged 57 points per season, which would have been second worst in the NHL this year.
“We will have division odds posted by late summer,” Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons said. “We will (put up a line for) the Knights to make the playoffs once we see what direction the team will take. My thinking is they will stockpile a ton of draft picks and look for the correct build rather than a quick fix to win right away, but we shall see.”
There were five teams that opened up as 100-to-1 to win the cup — Detroit, New Jersey, Colorado, Vancouver and Arizona.
“NHL futures are a little more difficult than some of the major sports as the teams from 1-20 are very close and the playoffs have a lot to do with luck,” Salmons said.
The fastest expansion team to win a Stanley Cup was the 1973 Philadelphia Flyers, who did it in their seventh season. Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has stated numerous times he wants the team to win a cup within eight years.
“I would think the Knights will create more interest in the everyday NHL wagering and with fans from their opponents making road trips to Las Vegas,” Salmons said. “NHL betting has been on an upward trend in the everyday wagering but would still be last among the major four sports. Stanley Cup betting also would be fourth but has seen an increase in the last few years.”
One of the reasons Las Vegas took so long to get a team was the national perception of problems resulting from sports gambling. Salmons said the oddsmakers will treat the Golden Knights no different than the other 30 NHL teams.
“To us, they are like any other team,” Salmons said. “If they win I am sure their power rating will reflect it and if they lose, the same. The public generally doesn’t care if a team is local or not. We have firsthand information with UNLV football and basketball.”
In 2001 the Nevada Gaming Commission finally lifted a betting ban on Nevada’s college teams, allowing bettors to wager on UNLV and UNR basketball and football.
“Once it became legal, both of those teams were like any other teams,” Salmons said. “If they were good like this year's (UNR) basketball team, the public would bet them and if they weren’t very good like this year's UNLV basketball team, the public would bet against them.”