2022-23 Stanley Cup odds: Best bets to win it all
The 2022-23 NHL campaign begins overseas in just a couple of days. As you would expect, last year's Stanley Cup winners - the Avalanche - are favored to win it all.
Is there value backing them to repeat at +400, or do other teams pop off the page?
Let's dive in as we break down three best bets to hoist the holy grail of hockey at year's end.
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+800|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+1200|
|New York Rangers||+1800|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+2200|
|St. Louis Blues||+2800|
|Los Angeles Kings||+3300|
|New York Islanders||+4000|
|Detroit Red Wings||+6000|
|New Jersey Devils||+7000|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+8000|
|San Jose Sharks||+20000|
Toronto Maple Leafs (+800)
I know, I know. The Leafs have had an impossibly difficult time winning even a single round come playoff time. Now they're going to win four?
It sounds crazy until it doesn't. Although the Capitals mixed in some first-round victories, it wasn't that long ago they consistently dominated regular seasons only to come up short when the games mattered most. Many said they'd never win a Stanley Cup built around Alex Ovechkin and a high-powered offense; then they did.
The two sides may not be perfect comparisons, but that doesn't much matter. All that matters is the Leafs have an implied 11% chance of winning the Stanley Cup this season, and I think it's higher than that. I don't really care what has or hasn't happened with previous versions of this team.
Here's what we know: Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares will score goals at will all season long, giving the Leafs one of the league's most dangerous offenses.
David Kampf centers a very strong defensive trio on the third line, and offseason additions Calle Jarnkrok, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and (soon) Zach Aston-Reese give them some real versatility - and playoff-winning experience - in the bottom six. The expected promotion of Nick Robertson should also give them an additional jolt offensively lower in the lineup.
For all of the talk about how the Leafs can't defend, the numbers sure suggest otherwise. Only the Flames conceded fewer expected goals a season ago.
If not for Jack Campbell providing sub-.900 goaltending for months on end - and the team getting nothing from whoever backed him up - their goals against numbers would look a whole lot better.
Morgan Rielly and TJ Brodie are strong top-of-the-lineup defenders. Jake Muzzin is past his best before date, but he's still competent. Having Mark Giordano on the bottom pairing is a ginormous luxury. Rasmus Sandin and, when healthy, Timothy Liljegren are also already solid NHL defensemen with plenty of room to grow. The blue line is very strong.
While Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov are absolutely gambles in goal, the Leafs don't need them to be high-end netminders to be successful. They just need them to be competent.
They won 54 games - third-most in the NHL - with .897 goaltending last season, after all.
I know many will see the Maple Leafs listed, shake their head, and ignore any and every case made for them being Stanley Cup contenders, and that's fine. There are two more teams for you below.
Calgary Flames (+1600)
Not very often does a team lose two-thirds of its top line in an offseason and remain competitive, let alone be a contender. I think the Flames will be an exception to the rule.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri make up a lesser duo than Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, but they're still a damn good one.
Huberdeau is an electric offensive winger coming off a 115-point campaign with the Presidents Trophy winners. Although he's unlikely to replicate that kind of production, he has been a point-per-game player (or better) four years in a row. He'll replace a ton of what was lost when Gaudreau walked in free agency.
Kadri is also likely heading for regression following a career season. He's still a valuable contributor at both ends of the ice, though, and his presence makes the Flames a much deeper team at the sport's most valuable position. That's even more imperative when a divisional opponent can ice superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl down the middle.
Even if we consider the big changes up front to be a small but not inconsequential step in the wrong direction, a case can be made this Flames roster is better than it was a year ago.
MacKenzie Weegar is a fantastic two-way defenseman capable of logging huge minutes against top competition. He might well step in and be the No. 1 option on a very strong blue line that was largely responsible for a second-place finish in goals against a season ago. Any losses up front can be erased by gains on the back end.
Not to mention, the team is coached by a Jack Adams winner, and a Vezina finalist will be manning the crease on a nightly basis.
This team is good across the board and should be ultra-competitive in 2022-23.
Boston Bruins (+2800)
This is what you call a plug-and-play. With injuries to Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, and Taylor Hall, among others, the Bruins will probably not be roaring out of the gate. Luckily for them, they have a soft schedule with a lot of home games in the early going to help stay afloat.
If they can survive the early portion of the season - they have enough horses to do so - and get healthy, this team should get into the playoffs and cause real headaches once they get there.
With Jake DeBrusk showing the ability to contribute at the top of the lineup, and David Krejci back in the mix, Boston's top six is as good and balanced as it has been in a long time.
The defense is also as stout as ever, with the likes of McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm, Matt Grzelcyk, and Brandon Carlo making up a stable top four.
Jeremy Swayman looks like he could be an All-Star caliber netminder sooner than later, and Linus Ullmark is there to spell him whenever necessary. This team has experience, star power, and a lot of two-way prowess. I wouldn't want to run into them in April.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.