With the midway mark of the NHL regular season now in the rear view mirror there is no doubt that we now have a big enough sample size to accurately assess the league’s 30 teams as well as what to expect once the regular season ends and the road to the Stanley Cup continues in the playoffs. Here is a look at the four best bets to win the Stanley Cup this season.Washington Capitals +450
The Capitals have gone from being among the legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference to the outright betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup this season and there is every reason to buy in to their stock as the best bet to win it all. Washington added to its depth up front with TJ Oshie and Justin Williams in the offseason and they have also benefited from the rise of young stars like Evgeni Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom remain Washington’s two biggest superstars up front but they also now have a superstar where it matters the most come playoff time in goaltender Braden Holtby. The 26-year-old netminder is 27-4-2 with a 1.93 goals against average and.932 save percentage and there is absolutely no reason to think his performance will tail off at any point the rest of the way. The Capitals rank second in the NHL in goals per game as well as goals allowed per game this season and with 67 points through 42 games they are running away from the pack in the Presidents trophy race. Washington should have an easier road through the Eastern Conference than some of the top contenders from the Western Conference so it makes sense to bank on them as the best bets to win the Stanley Cup this season.Los Angeles Kings +700
Los Angeles found a way to lock up Anze Kopitar to a long-term deal but just as importantly they have also found some strong options on the wing to compliment Kopitar and Jeff Carter. Milan Lucic is built for playoff hockey while Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson have emerged as excellent two-way players along with Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown. The Kings addressed their depth via trade with the additions of Vincent Lecavalier as their fourth-line center and Luke Schenn as their sixth defencemen and after a year on the outside looking in they appear primed to make a run at another Stanley Cup. Winning it all will require Jonathan Quick playing at an elite level as well come playoff time and his numbers so far suggest he will be up to the task as he is 24-9-2 with a 2.05 GAA and .925 save percentage this season.Chicago Blackhawks +800
The Blackhawks lost several pieces from last year’s Stanley Cup team but after a relatively slow start by their own standards they have really turned it up of late with eight straight wins to climb within striking range of the Dallas Stars for top spot in the Western Conference. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook make up one of the strongest core groups in the NHL and Chicago has done an excellent job of plugging in quality talent around them including Calder trophy favorite Artemi Panarin, who has as many points as Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin so far this season. Corey Crawford has rebounded from an average postseason with solid numbers this year and like Washington, the Blackhawks rank in the top-10 in the NHL in goals per game and goals allowed per game this season. Chicago also has the added edge that comes with a ton of Stanley Cup experience so while they may not look as dangerous as they did a year ago it’s impossible to count them out when it comes to the best bets to win it all this season.Montreal Canadiens +1400
Montreal has really struggled since opening the season with a franchise-record start but it’s probably worth mentioning that they have been without their best player and the reigning Hart and Vezina trophy winner in Carey Price for a couple of months now but should have him back between the pipes soon. The Canadiens wanted to make sure they didn’t rush back their MVP before he is ready and while it has hurt them in the standings for the regular season it will pay off for them if they make a deep playoff run. Montreal isn’t the most complete team but they have some impressive pieces led by Max Pacioretty, PK Subban and Brendan Gallagher, who also missed time with a pair of broken fingers. The Canadiens will have to address their offensive depth at some point before the trade deadline and they will need Price back and healthy but as long as those two things fall in to place they could be the best sleeper pick to win the Stanley Cup in 2016 out of an Eastern Conference that at least on the surface appears to be relatively mediocre outside of the Capitals.