Toronto Maple Leafs trail favourites on Eastern Conference odds

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly (44) tries to break past Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Mikhail Sergachev (98) during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday March 10, 2020. (Chris Young/CP)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have kept busy since making another early exit from the NHL playoffs, but they have yet to gain ground on the odds to win the Eastern Conference next season as they continue to lag as a +850 bet at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Faced with an imminent salary cap crunch and increasing pressure after the club’s qualifying series loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has pulled the trigger on a pair of significant off-season deals.

Toronto parted ways with forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, and filled the void by signing free agent forwards Wayne Simmonds, Joe Thornton and Jimmy Vesey. The team has also made changes on the blue line, allowing Tyson Barrie to leave town as a free agent, and inking big-minute rearguard T.J. Brodie to a four-year deal.

The other two Canadian clubs sit further down the Eastern Conference odds, with the Montreal Canadiens at +2000, and the Ottawa Senators lagging at a distant +6600.

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Like Toronto, both the Canadiens and the Senators have been active this off-season. Inspired by a surprising upset victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in qualifying round action, the Canadiens have made some bold off-season moves. In addition to shipping Max Domi to Columbus in a deal for Josh Anderson, the club inked talented winger Tyler Toffoli to a four-year contract. But while the moves suggest that Canadiens brass feel this team can contend next season, Montreal continues to sit well back on the Stanley Cup odds.

Fresh off a 30th-place finish in the league standings, the Senators have bolstered a young, talented roster with a pair of big moves. In addition to acquiring netminder Matt Murray from the Penguins, Ottawa picked up some much needed goal scoring help by inking free agent winger Evgenii Dadonov to a three-year deal.

Not surprisingly, the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning lead the way as +325 favourites to once again claim the Eastern Conference crown at online sports betting sites, just ahead of the Boston Bruins at +450 on those NHL odds.

The highest scoring team in the NHL during the regular season, the Lightning demonstrated considerable grit during the march to their first Stanley Cup win in 16 years and are poised to return next season with their championship core largely intact. Conversely, the Bruins are coming off a disappointing post-season performance and face questions on their blue line following the departure of Torey Krug, and possibly captain Zdeno Chara as well.

The Penguins sit deadlocked with the Philadelphia Flyers at +750 on the latest Eastern Conference betting futures, just ahead of the Washington Capitals at +800, while the Carolina Hurricanes join the New York Islanders at +1000.

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