These next couple of weeks are when you start to see which teams are going all in for the quest to raise the Stanley Cup. With less than a month to go till the NHL trade deadline and two months to go till the end of the regular season, the top teams in the league are starting to break away and establish they are Cup contenders. Some teams already have the roster they need to win it all; some are missing that one key piece to bring their team to the next level, and then there are the teams that require multiple pieces but may be willing to get them all. It’s always interesting to see which teams will be buyers and which teams will be sellers, some sellers may only give up one or two players to restock their draft capital and obtain new prospects for their farm system, and others will have a fire sale and purge the team for a rebuild. The most important part of this time of year is that this is the time to get your picks in on who will win the Stanley Cup while the odds for your team are still bettor friendly and will help bring you back the most return on your money. As each contender makes a trade bringing in those big-name players to allow for that playoff push, you will start to see their odds dwindle as they string wins together and the regular season comes to an end.
Avalanche on Top of the Mountain
The clear-cut favorite for back-to-back years now is none other than the Colorado Avalanche, who sit atop the league with the best record in hockey. After a rocky start to the season that saw the Avs start with a 4-5-1 record through their first ten games, they have found a way to turn things around as they have proven once again that they are a powerhouse in the NHL stocked full of high-end talent. Through 53 games, the Avalanche have a 39-10-4 record, giving them 82 points and putting them in the driver’s seat to win the President’s Trophy. They have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup thanks to Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and the rest of the boys in Colorado. That being said, Colorado is the favorite with odds of +425 to win it all and +150 odds to make it to the Cup. Only time will tell if Colorado can find a way to win it all or have another meltdown and lose as they did to the Vegas Golden Knights last season.
Three Peat for the Lightning?
Coming in at number two is a very familiar team that has had a lot of success in recent years, and that is the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions Tampa Bay Lightning. After winning back-to-back Cup wins in the pandemic shortened seasons, the Lightning are right back on top as they look to win their third straight Stanley Cup, which hasn’t happened in nearly 40 years since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980-1983. With all that championship experience on their roster, the Lighting are sitting at odds of +750 to win it all.
New Sheriff in Florida?
While this team is sitting atop the Atlantic Division and third-most points in the league, they also have the third-best odds to win the Stanley Cup, and that is the Florida Panthers, who have odds of +800. The Panthers have found their offense like no other team in the league is scoring more goals per game, and the elevation of Jonathan Huberdeau’s game has him as a legitimate candidate for the Hart Trophy this season.
Vegas Backs Vegas
The Vegas Golden Knights may look like a stay away from pick as they have struggled with injuries all year, but the main point about this team is it hasn’t played with all its key players at the same time, leaving a lot of potential if they all get healthy for a playoff run. Yes, Mark Stone is on LTIR, and Robin Lehner, your top goaltender, has been out with injury, but the greatest news is that Vegas has a healthy Jack Eichel back on the ice and building chemistry with his teammates. Once the salary cap no longer applies during the playoffs and the Knights will have room under the cap ceiling, be ready for Stone to make his return healthy and rested. The thought of a lineup that features Eichel, Stone, Max Pacioretty, Shea Theodore, Alex Pietrangelo, and Lehner back in net is the main reason oddsmakers are giving this team a +850 to raise their first Stanley Cup in Franchise history.
The common theme with all these teams, besides being top teams in the league, is that they all have better than 10 to 1 odds backing them to win the Cup. The last team that fits the mold and by far the riskiest team to have odds that are better than 10 to 1 is that of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who struggles to move past the first round of the playoffs every season. While the Leafs are led by young hotshot Auston Matthews and his amazing goal-scoring ability, other question marks surrounding this team, especially that of inconsistent goaltending led by Jack Campbell and company. While the Leaf’s odds sit at +850, any intelligent bettor would be very cautious if placing this bet.
The Maybes and the Maybe Nots
Even though some teams have been red hot and dominating this year, the oddsmakers still don’t have them with as high odds as the teams listed above, but these teams certainly have a chance to do some damage once in the playoffs and have some of the best return for your money odds if they can hoist the Cup.
The Hurricanes have a difficult road as they reside in the tough Eastern Conference, but with +1200 odds, it does seem Carolina is undervalued this year. Even with the best record in the East with 78 points, it seems the Hurricanes will have an uphill battle that they could win and help a lot of bettors cash in on.
While the Pittsburgh Penguins have been an up and down team, especially when it comes to the goaltending of Tristan Jarry, it’s always hard to count the Pens out once they get hot, as we have seen over the years. With a healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leading the way with that veteran and playoff experience, having the Penguins at +1600 is always a tempting line to take and one to watch out for.
The Biggest Steal
By far, the most disrespected team on this list is the Calgary Flames, who at +1600 is an absolute steal if they continue their dominance over the league. The Flames have all the pieces that it takes to win the Stanley Cup and have already shown they are all in with the acquisition of Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadians earlier this month. The Calgary Flames represent a complete team on this list that has the best bang for your buck odds and should not be slept on or waited for any longer before oddsmakers catch on, and these odds change drastically.