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Knight Watch: Futures Market Action

The Vegas Golden Knights have their 23-man roster set. It includes notable NHLers such as Jonathan Marchessault, David Perron and Reilly Smith at the forward position. The defense will be led by Brayden McNabb, Jason Garrison and Deryk Engelland. And in net, the most heralded of them all — Marc-Andre Fleury who comes over from Pittsburgh.

No big surprises other than the rumor that “The Real Deal” James Neal might make it off the non-roster injury list in time to play in their season opener against the Dallas Stars on Friday.

What is surprising, however, is the number of bettors who have jumped in to pick the Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup. Even though many experts have the hockey team from Vegas finishing the season at the bottom of the Pacific Division, bettors leapt on the initial 300–1 odds. And you heard right, they’re not gambling on the team to make the playoffs, they’re picking them to win the whole thing!

MGM Resorts sportsbook had initially opened up the future book wagers at 300–1, but with all the action pouring in, those numbers have slid down to 75–1. As a comparison, consider that the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins are currently going for 8–1.

So why all the action on the Golden Knights? William Hill’s sportsbooks around Nevada have their odds at 150–1 and apparently they have more tickets on them than any other team. With all the plays it’s become a huge liability for the Sportsbooks.

But let’s get real. Even more real than “The Real Deal” James Neal. As much as I love the Golden Knights and will be rooting for them every game, there’s no chance they’re going to win the Stanley Cup their first season.

There’s so much parity between the teams in the Western Conference, it’s more than difficult to rise above the fray. The Golden Knights would have to finish as one of the top three teams in the Pacific Division or grab one of the remaining two wildcard spots in the conference just to make the playoffs. Even the Los Angeles Kings who have players like Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown didn’t make it that far last year.

So bettors obviously have some alternative motives. Maybe odds like 300–1 simply give rise to a lotto fever mentality. After all, if the team pulled off the miracle a $100 wager would return $30,000. Or perhaps there’s just so much buzz around the team in Vegas that people want to be part of the excitement.

And don’t forget, bettors also like to keep their slips as souvenirs. It happened with the Chicago Cubs where people framed their slips and never cashed them in. Of course, no one is going to keep a souvenir that returns 300–1, but perhaps locals just want a piece of history from the team’s first season.