Most Surprising NHL Stanley Cup Championship Teams

Most Surprising NHL Stanley Cup Championship Teams
By Jim Tomlin
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

Who are the most unlikely Stanley Cup champions in recent memory? With Dec. 16 designated as National Underdog Day, OntarioBets.com focused its Ontario sports betting coverage on this topic.

We used SportsOddsHistory.com to look at the biggest underdogs in the past few decades to win the Stanley Cup championship, according to the odds that the eventual winners had at the beginning of Round 1 of the NHL playoffs. The pool of entrants for this research is from the 1984-85 season until 2022-23. Here is what we found:

 
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Top 5 Surprising Stanley Cup Champs (Since 1984)

Rank, Team Season Stanley Cup Odds
1. Los Angeles Kings 2011-12 +2200
2. Montreal Canadiens 1985-86 +2000
3. New Jersey Devils 1994-95 +1500
4. Los Angeles Kings 2013-14 +1400
5. St. Louis Blues 2018-19 +1250

You won’t find these kinds of insights at Ontario sportsbook apps, only at OntarioBets.com. Teams that had not won a Stanley Cup before, or hadn’t won it often, tend to dot our list of those that confounded oddsmakers and fans alike — with one very notable exception.

 
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Los Angeles Kings Of 2012 Top List

The Los Angeles Kings barely made the field in 2012 as the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference. In fact, L.A. had a losing record with 40 wins, 27 regulation losses and 15 overtime or shootout losses, or 40-42 overall. But the Kings — led then as they are now by Anze Kopitar — stunned the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in the first round. Los Angeles, which had +2200 title odds to start the playoffs, then took out St. Louis, Phoenix and finally the New Jersey Devils to claim their first Stanley Cup. You can track this year’s Stanley Cup odds with us at OntarioBets.com as the 2023-24 season rolls on.

 
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Canadiens Pulled Big Upset Too

There was a time when the Montreal Canadiens were Stanley Cup favorites more often than not, but that wasn’t the case in 1986. The Habs had +2000 odds to win it all when those playoffs began, but a 20-year-old goaltender named Patrick Roy and veterans such as Mats Naslund and Larry Robinson didn’t care. Montreal took out Adams Division rivals Boston and Hartford in the first two rounds, then ousted the New York Rangers in the Wales Conference final and finally topped the Calgary Flames 4-1 for Stanley Cup No. 22 in franchise history.

The New Jersey Devils were +1500 longshots entering the 1995 playoffs. But like the 1986 Canadiens, they had a soon-to-be-legendary goalie, Martin Brodeur. The franchise had existed, mostly without success, since 1974 — first as the Kansas City Scouts, then the original Colorado Rockies before moving to New Jersey in 1982. The 1990s saw the franchise emerge as a contender and in ’95 they eliminated the Bruins, Penguins and Flyers before sweeping the Detroit Red Wings for their first championship. This year’s Devils have +1200 title odds with NorthStar Bets Ontario Sportsbook as of Monday afternoon.

The Kings appear again on our list in the fourth spot, as their 2014 team had +1400 odds when the playoffs started. L.A. overcame a 3-0 series deficit to oust the San Jose Sharks, then got through the city rival Anaheim Ducks and defending Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the next two rounds. In the final, Alec Martinez’s goal in the second overtime clinched a 4-1 series win over the Rangers for the team’s second title in three years.

The 2019 Blues, who ended five decades of waiting for St. Louis fans with their Cup triumph, round out our list. On Jan. 2 the Blues had 34 points, the fewest in the league, but they rallied to make the playoffs, where they had +1250 title odds. St. Louis eliminated Winnipeg in the first round, went to double OT in Game 7 against Dallas to win the second round, and ousted San Jose in the West final. In the Cup final, in Game 7 at Boston, the Blues beat the Bruins 4-1 to claim the first Stanley Cup since the franchise began in 1967.

Stay with OntarioBets.com for updates on the newest Ontario sportsbooks, plus more industry news.

 
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Author

Jim Tomlin is an editor and writer specializing in sports, gambling and the intersection of those industries. He has 30+ years of journalism experience and his work has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, FanRag, Saturday Down South and Saturday Tradition.

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