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Early 2023 Stanley Cup Odds: Avalanche the Early Favorite

The Colorado Avalanche are the early leaders for the 2023 Stanley Cup, but which other teams pose the biggest threat?
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The 2022 Stanley Cup Finals was thrilling, with the Avalanche claiming their first title since 2001 and ending the Lightning’s bid for a historic three-peat. The Avs were favored from the get-go and never disappointed, sweeping two rounds of the playoffs and losing just four games in total.

BetMGM has wasted no time in publishing the odds for the 2023 champion, and unsurprisingly, the Avs are at the top of the list at 5.50. If they make good for oddsmakers, they would be the third team in the cap era to win back-to-back, following the Penguins in 2016 and 2017 and the Lightning. That is, unless Nathan MacKinnon enjoys the summer a bit too much, swaps chickpea pasta for proper carbs and gets too fat.

Here’s a breakdown of the odds and teams of interest.

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Colorado Avalanche – 5.50

Let’s start with the defending champs, who have every right to be favored for another season but face considerable question marks going into the summer. Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin are due for big raises following incredible playoff runs and Darcy Kuemper needs a new contract. The upside is the Avs have a couple of young players – Alex Newhook, Bowen Byram – who are expected to contribute more next season, and they have plenty of cap to spend with Nathan MacKinnon on the last year of his bargain contract. Betting on the favorite is never really a bad idea, and as previously noted, winning back-to-back seems to be a theme over the past five years.

Toronto Maple Leafs – 9.50

I’m not sure if Vegas – the oddsmakers, not the team – has something against the Leafs, but it does seem like they’re teasing them with the second-best odds that are ever-so-slightly ahead of the Lightning. Odds on July 17 last year had the Knights second-highest at 7.50 – the Avs were 6.00 – while the Leafs were tied-fifth at 15.00 with the Canes. The odds would probably be higher if there was more clarity in their goalie situation, but the Avs also just showed you can win with overall middling goaltending, as long as the goalies don’t see too many shots and limit the number of bad goals they allow. The Leafs took the Eastern Conference Champs to seven games in a series that could’ve gone either way, and with a core that’s still quite young and inexperienced, I like these odds.

Tampa Bay Lightning – 10.00

The Lightning have the third-highest odds but they’re also the team that has the fewest question marks regarding their roster. Every key player is locked up, and though will inevitably lose a quality player due to the cap, their AHL pipeline has continued to supply quality depth and most of their role players are signed for another year. Not getting the threepeat sucks, but as Steven Stamkos said, they’re not done yet. Of their signed core players, only four of them – Stamkos (32), Killorn (32), Hedman (31) and McDonagh (33) – are over the age of 30.

Florida Panthers – 11.00

Perhaps it’s because their playoff loss was so lopsided, but it looks like the Panthers still have a long way to go before they can even match their in-state rival. Sergei Bobrovsky doesn’t look like a long-term solution and Jonathan Huberdeau is due for a big extension for the following season, which may hamper their ability to add pieces via free agency. Offensively, they have nothing to worry about, but spotty defense, inconsistent goaltending and their playing style raised eyebrows, and note Paul Maurice has made it to the conference finals just three times in nine playoff appearances in 24 seasons behind the bench. The Panthers should headline the second tier of Cup contenders, but they are by no means the best team in that tier, providing wagers with little value at 11.00.

Vegas Golden Knights – 15.00

They have a very talented roster but not enough room to fit everyone. The effects of another looming cap crunch are already being felt with Reilly Smith’s agreed-upon extension to be signed at a later date, and Nic Hague is drawing interest around the league because they know the Knights may not be able to afford him. The Pacific Division was a laughingstock once upon a time with the Knights steamrolling everyone, but it produced three playoff teams this past season, including the conference finalist, and next year it could produce five (the Knights and maybe the Canucks). In fact, the two teams with the next highest odds – Oilers at 17.00 and Flames at 19.00 – are divisional foes. There doesn’t seem to be much value in picking the Knights.

Minnesota Wild – 19.00

This one’s a little befuddling, and the two big buyouts have already had an impact with the Wild dealing Kevin Fiala to the Kings on Wednesday, who promptly signed a contract with a cap hit of nearly $8 million per season. Trading Fiala was expected, but now it leaves the Wild with a one-man offense again in Kirill Kaprizov. They earned 113 points last season and weren’t considered a real contender, so it’s hard to see how they are expected to improve. The Wild’s odds were 23.00 in July before the start of the 2021-22 season.

New York Rangers – 21.00

They are the most intriguing bet in the second-tier, slightly ahead of the Blues at 23.00 because of one guy: Igor Shesterkin. The reigning Vezina winner will enter the season as the No. 2 goalie in the league behind Andrei Vasilevskiy, and there’s not much separating the two. The Rangers’ primary concern will be their lack of a No. 2 center – Filip Chytil? – but they have plenty of prospects they can part with – Kaapo Kakko? – and draft capital is trade bait now that they’re a playoff team with a Cup window that’s starting to open. Note, however, that Gerard Gallant’s impact seems to always peak in his first season with a new club, having been fired in the third season at each of his three previous stops.

Los Angeles Kings – 41.00

They were a popular pick to upset the Oilers in the first round and they nearly did it, even without Drew Doughty. A disciplined rebuild is bearing fruit with various prospects stepping into full-time roles, and their veterans – Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick are the only regulars older than 30 – can definitely still play. They already addressed one of their biggest needs – creative offense – by acquiring Kevin Fiala, which should give them a huge boost after ranking 20th in goals last season.

Winnipeg Jets – 67.00

Oof. The oddsmakers don’t expect the Jets to be good at all. Barry Trotz turned them down and three key pieces of their offense – Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Pierre-Luc Dubois – might end up in a different jersey sooner than later. It’s been a pretty steep fall for the Jets, who were still chasing a playoff spot late in the season. At this point, they feel more lottery-bound than playoff-bound, so save your money.

Buffalo Sabres – 67.00

There’s a lot to be excited about with the Sabres. They’re playing hockey that’s now watchable, and they have elite talent at nearly every position. It’s just a matter of gaining experience, and last July they started at 201.00 odds, so their improvement has not gone unnoticed, but doesn’t it seem a little high? They go into the 2022-23 season with Craig Anderson as one of their goalies. Between the Jets and Sabres, the Jets are still the more logical and safer bet.

New Jersey Devils – 81.00

There are plenty of holes on the roster, especially the one in front of their net, but their young core is enticing and Jack Hughes became an elite superstar yesterday. It was a freak season with virtually no healthy goalies, but there were plenty of silver linings. If there’s a stab to take on a young team that could really surprise, it’s the Devils, who had 81.00 odds last July as well.

Arizona Coyotes – 501.00

  1. Put down that betting slip
  2. Slowly walk away and reconsider your life choices
  3. Spend it on tacos 

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