The 2024 Stanley Cup Final is overflowing with narratives and betting angles.

Connor McDavid is playing in his first championship series with the Edmonton Oilers, who are trying to break Canada’s 31-year title drought. It’s insane that the drought has gone on that long. It’s even wilder that Edmonton is just the third Canadian team to play in the Stanley Cup Final since 2010.

Edmonton has the best player in the world, the most elite power play and the top-end talent to carry it to a title.

The Florida Panthers have the revenge narrative attached to them. They lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 last season.

If the Panthers win, the state of Florida would have three Stanley Cups in five years, which is an even funnier statistic considering Canada’s drought.

Florida is the slight favorite at -135 to hoist the Cup. Edmonton is a +115 underdog.

The Panthers hold home-ice advantage and won both regular-season meetings against the Oilers, but neither factor may matter much.

The flight from the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area to Edmonton is the longest in hockey and takes seven hours. If the series goes to six or seven games, both teams will be tired because of the play and the air time.

The regular-season meetings don’t carry much substance because both Florida wins happened before the extended Oilers winning streak. Edmonton reeled off 16 straight shortly after the second defeat to the Panthers.

The betting approach is kind of simple from a casual fan perspective. If you believe the best player can carry the Oilers to the Cup, then bet Edmonton to win and McDavid to take the Conn Smythe Trophy at +190 right now.

One standout performance from McDavid can shift the odds even further in his favor.

I think there are four or five other legitimate Conn Smythe (MVP) candidates going into the series.

Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman have been McDavid’s running mates on the power play all season. They benefit most from McDavid’s passing and could easily eclipse McDavid in goals and points in the series.

Hyman has astronomically high odds at +9500 (FanDuel) and +10000 (DraftKings) to win the Conn Smythe mostly because his success is directly tied to McDavid. Most Hyman goals will come with McDavid assists, but the argument for Hyman is that he still has to score the goals.

Florida has a wider net of Conn Smythe candidates. Sergei Bobrovsky is worth a look because you’d assume if Florida wins, he plays a big role in slowing down McDavid and Co.

Matthew Tkachuk and Aleksandar Barkov have the two lowest odds of Florida skaters to win the Conn Smythe, and both players should be heavily involved, but I would look to Carter Verhaeghe at anywhere from +2200 to +2800.

Verhaeghe leads the Panthers in postseason goals and is second to Tkachuk in playoff points. He’ll be at the center of most of Florida’s key offensive plays.

Florida has the edge in net with Bobrovsky compared to Stuart Skinner, so if he gets hot, all of these offensive numbers will not matter.

That’s why I would give Florida the slight edge in the series, but I do think the best bet you can make on the series is for it to go at least six games. There’s been one Game 7 in the last 12 Stanley Cup Finals, so I’m not sure if we get there, but I think there’s at least a few long-ass plane rides between Florida and Edmonton.

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