2022 Stanley Cup odds: Teams to buy, sell following chaotic offseason
While the dust hasn't completely settled following a chaotic offseason, the majority of free agents and trade candidates have found their homes for the 2021-22 season.
It's been just three weeks since the 2022 Stanley Cup odds were released, but we've already noticed some significant changes to the oddsboard:
|Tampa Bay Lightning
|Vegas Golden Knights
|Toronto Maple Leafs
|New York Islanders
|New York Rangers
|St. Louis Blues
|New Jersey Devils
|Los Angeles Kings
|San Jose Sharks
|Columbus Blue Jackets
|Detroit Red Wings
Buy: Tampa Bay Lightning (+700)
There are a lot of general managers in this league that make the job look difficult. Julien BriseBois isn't one of them. Saddled with a seemingly impossible cap situation, he navigated the murky waters and came out the other side hardly worse for wear.
The entirety of the third line is gone, as well as Tyler Johnson, but Mathieu Joseph and Ross Colton appear ready to step up and fill the void. Anthony Cirelli is only getting better, and Alex Barre-Boulet could very well be the next Yanni Gourde. Plus, Corey Perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will prove to be terrific bargain-bin signings, while Zach Bogosian should seamlessly replace David Savard on the back end for a fraction of the cost. The Lightning need to be Cup favorites until proven otherwise.
Sell: Carolina Hurricanes (+1600)
It's hard to imagine why a team as close to Cup contention as the Hurricanes would choose to go the route they did this offseason. Letting Dougie Hamilton go was understandable - as good as he is, they couldn't come close to matching what he got from New Jersey - but the 180-degree pivot Carolina took in net remains one of the most puzzling offseason storylines.
Why the Hurricanes are paying virtually the same annual salary for Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta over Alex Nedeljkovic and Petr Mrazek - who were superb for them last season - remains a mystery. Andersen, who'll be 32 when the season starts, is coming off the two worst campaigns of his career and was limited to just 24 games last season due to injury. The 32-year-old Raanta, meanwhile, has only played 57 games over the last three years.
Buy: Calgary Flames (+4000)
There's a lot to like about what the Flames have done this offseason, so it makes little sense they're at a longer price now than a few weeks ago. Blake Coleman's contract might not be great long term, but he's a huge add for this year, while Tyler Pitlick rounds out a really strong top nine with good scoring depth. Nikita Zadorov's arrival softens the blow of losing Mark Giordano, the only notable departure from last season.
The 2020 season started poorly for the Flames, and the circumstances were hardly ideal for Darryl Sutter to turn things around. With a full training camp for the experienced coach, an improved roster, and a return to a weak Pacific Division, I'm buying a Calgary bounce-back campaign in 2021-22.
Sell: Edmonton Oilers (+2800)
I love what the Oilers have done up front to surround Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl with a much more well-rounded group. The top nine is a lot deeper and more dynamic with Zach Hyman and Warren Foegele, while Derek Ryan is a perfect fit for the fourth line.
To win in this league, though, you need to build from the net out, and that's the opposite of what GM Ken Holland has done. The goaltending dominoes have fallen and the Oilers are still sitting there with 39-year-old Mike Smith as the starter. They may still be able to improve between the pipes if they can move Mikko Koskinen's contract, but at this point, who's really available?
It's especially concerning given the quality of their blue line. Darnell Nurse is a legitimate stud, but there's a lot to be desired behind him. Paying over $13 million this season for Tyson Barrie, Duncan Keith, and Cody Ceci should be a fireable offense.
Buy: Chicago Blackhawks (+5000)
Teams that "win" the offseason tend to be overpriced and underdeliver during the season, but it's hard to see the Blackhawks falling into that category. GM Stan Bowman has given Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews another legitimate run at the Cup with an impressive crop of young talent.
Up front, the Blackhawks will be significantly improved thanks to the return of Toews, a full season of Kirby Dach, and the arrivals of Tyler Johnson and Jujhar Khaira. On the back end, they finally have some real depth to speak of after bringing in an entirely new first pairing in Seth Jones and Jake McCabe. But most importantly, Chicago solved its goaltending woes in spectacular fashion by dealing for reigning Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury. The New York Rangers are receiving a lot of Cup buzz this season, but the Blackhawks are just as enticing for the same reasons and can be had at double the price.
Sell: Florida Panthers (+1800)
This one could blow up in my face because the Panthers have put together what could be a Cup-winning roster for Joel Quenneville, but there are still a lot of variables.
Will Sam Bennett be the player we saw in 15 games with Florida, or the one from the last two years in Calgary? Can Anthony Duclair build off a career year? Were MacKenzie Weeger's and Radko Gudas' breakout seasons outliers? Can Spencer Knight live up to the hype and fill the void left by Chris Driedger? In a loaded Atlantic Division, there are too many questions for me to buy in at this price.
Buy: Los Angeles Kings (+6000)
It hasn't been the busiest offseason for the Kings, but they've done some really nice business to put themselves in a spot to contend. Viktor Arvidsson was a legit add to the top six, and the new one-two punch of Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault - two of the game's best defensive centers - will make this team a nightmare to play against. Los Angeles did well to bring back Andreas Athanasiou, while the likes of highly touted prospects Gabe Vilardi, Arthur Kaliyev, and Quinton Byfield could make the club truly dynamic up front.
The Kings shored up an underrated blue line with the experienced Alex Edler, who, along with Drew Doughty, will provide important guidance and support for impressive youngsters Mikey Anderson and Tobias Bjornfot. They're also really strong in net, with Cal Petersen ripe for a breakout campaign.
Sell: Seattle Kraken (+5000)
Seattle's expansion draft selections make less sense by the day. The Kraken left a lot of quality on the table - and didn't even get compensated to do so - as they opted for cap space and roster flexibility as opposed to talented players on less desirable deals.
It put them under the microscope heading into free agency: What exactly would they do with that space? The answer was underwhelming. They overpaid for Alexander Wennberg and Jaden Schwartz while opting to sign Philipp Grubauer to fortify what was already the deepest part of their roster.
I'm not going to sit here and say Ron Francis' job was easy, but the red carpet was rolled out for Seattle and he made a mess of things. With every move this franchise makes, it looks less and less like Seattle has any sort of plan.
Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.