2022 Stanley Cup odds: Teams to buy, sell ahead of frenetic offseason
Less than a week after the Tampa Bay Lightning won their second straight Stanley Cup, teams are already preparing for the Seattle expansion draft, the 2021 NHL Draft, and the start of free agency at the end of July.
It's all happening quickly, meaning now is the time to lock in early NHL value futures, with odds sure to change considerably over the next few weeks as teams shape their rosters for next season.
The Colorado Avalanche open as favorites to win the 2022 Stanley Cup despite the uncertainty surrounding captain and pending unrestricted free agent Gabriel Landeskog. Behind them are Vegas Golden Knights, followed by the Lightning, who will aim to be the first team to three-peat since the 1984 New York Islanders.
|Vegas Golden Knights||+600|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+700|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+1200|
|New York Islanders||+2500|
|New York Rangers||+2500|
|St. Louis Blues||+3500|
|Los Angeles Kings||+5500|
|San Jose Sharks||+6500|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+10000|
|New Jersey Devils||+10000|
|Detroit Red Wings||+20000|
Tampa Bay Lightning (+700)
Everyone is waiting for the Lightning to be stripped for parts this offseason, but the situation might not get so grave for Tampa GM Julien BriseBois. Mathieu Joseph and Ross Colton look ready to step up should the team lose pending free agents Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman, and the Lightning have done a terrific job finding bargain players - like Goodrow - to round out their roster.
Might they consider finding a new home for Steven Stamkos - who had just six five-on-five points in 23 playoff games - while he still offers value at his current $8.5-million salary? Tampa will look different next season, but don't rule out another repeat with the core set to stay largely intact.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+1200)
Though it's considered an old-school line of thought, playoff success has largely remained contingent on good goaltending, strong depth, and size on the back end. Championship clubs obviously have high-end talent as well, but that alone is not enough to win in the postseason. Teams can't play their offensive stars 24 minutes a night and expect to survive a long playoff run. The ice-time distributions among the forward groups of this season's final four teams confirm as much.
The Maple Leafs have as much high-end talent as any team, and general manager Kyle Dubas could add another top-six forward this offseason. But the bottom six is dire, and the cap space isn't there to fix it. The goaltending situation, meanwhile, remains a massive question mark. Without those components settled, it's hard to take Toronto seriously in a playoff setting.
New York Rangers (+2500)
The Rangers are sure to be a big liability for sportsbooks next season, with the bandwagon filling up fast as fans fall in love with their young talent. Though they should push for a playoff berth in a tough Eastern Conference, the growing pains that accompany such a young roster could be enough to hold this team back. There's also uncertainty about the Rangers' depth down the middle.
New York is being priced under the assumption that its young players - particularly Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko - make considerable strides, but development isn't linear. Buying into the Rangers at this price means buying what they could be. Investing in a team's potential instead of its most likely outcome is a surefire way to lose money in the long run.
Dallas Stars (+3500)
This is as good a time as any to buy in on a Stars team that couldn't buy a break last season. COVID-19 issues and weather postponements forced Dallas to play an impossibly condensed schedule while already hamstrung by fatigue and injuries - Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, and Ben Bishop played a combined 14 games. Getting those three back will be key, as the Stars are expected to return virtually all of their 2020-21 roster, including a trio of emerging superstars in Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, and Miro Heiskanen.
Seattle Kraken (+5000)
A Vegas-like first season from the Kraken is unrealistic - but also not impossible. The league's expansion format caters well to new teams, and the path is certainly there for GM Ron Francis to position this club for immediate success. Winning teams are built from the back out, and there will be no shortage of quality goaltenders and defensemen available to the Kraken in the expansion draft. Playing in a weak Pacific Division doesn't hurt, either.
Los Angeles Kings (+5500)
Speaking of a wide-open Pacific Division, the Kings - who have already been busy acquiring Viktor Arvidsson from the Predators - are another interesting team to watch. There's still some good hockey left in the core that remains from 2014, but it's the youngsters coming through the system who bettors should take note of. Los Angeles has the best farm system in the NHL and is about to be rewarded for it, with forwards Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev, Alex Turcotte, and Gabe Vilardi all expected to contribute next season.
The depth of the Kings' system gives them the flexibility to part with more of their significant draft capital, as they did once already for Arvidsson. They're being linked to several big-name players as general manager Rob Blake's rebuild nears completion, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him big-game hunting this offseason. Buy some early stock at 55-1.
New Jersey Devils (+10000)
There's a lot to like about the direction the Devils are heading. Injuries made it a lost year for Nico Hischier, but the club has to be thrilled with the steps taken by Jack Hughes. New Jersey is impressively deep down the middle with some exciting scoring on the wing. This team's glaring issue is defense, and though goaltending also plagued it last season, Mackenzie Blackwood deserves the benefit of the doubt.
If the Devils can improve their blue line and add some experience up front - they have the second-most cap space in the league to do so - they could surprise in a division featuring multiple other teams on the downswing.
Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.