I love sports betting because I can always look ahead. After the Colorado Avalanche won the 2022 Stanley Cup, sportsbooks posted odds for 2023.
I’ve already turned the page on next season after winning a futures bet on Colorado at +550.
Before I make my early Stanley Cup predictions, let me clarify. Draft and free agency haven’t happened. Next week will be different. This gives us a chance to buy teams before they upgrade. It’s also a warning to be careful.
Here are my early Stanley Cup 2023 picks.
*All odds courtesy of OKBET Betting
14/1 Carolina Hurricanes
Young, up-and-coming NHL teams must sometimes learn from playoff defeats. We just saw it happen with the Avalanche, a highly talented team that needed to get past the first round of the playoffs, and Carolina could be the team to follow Colorado’s lead in 2022.
The Hurricanes were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs for the second time in a row by the New York Rangers. However, this team remains loaded with top-tier talent and has a wide window for contention. Carolina had the league’s fourth-best expected goal percentage at 5-on-5 play.
The offseason of 2022 will be crucial for the ‘Canes. They’ll have about $20 million in cap space. Still, They will have to make tough decisions on a few pending free agents, including forwards Vincent Trochek, Martin Necas, and Nino Niederreiter, as well as defensemen Ian Cole, Tony DeAngelo, and Brendan Smith.
There are also some concerns about the pipes. Frederik Andersen had a fantastic season, but there appears to be a schism between him and the organization after missing the entire postseason due to a knee injury. Antti Raanta, the backup, performed admirably in relief but was also injured during the postseason.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Carolina’s roster, it may be best to wait and see what they do this offseason before betting. If, on the other hand, you’d rather try to get ahead of a major acquisition, now is the time to strike.
18/1 Minnesota Wild
Minnesota’s first-round exit was due to a lack of depth in the lineup and underwhelming goaltending from trade deadline acquisition Marc-Andre Fleury. Despite the setback, Minnesota has a solidified roster ready to compete in the West. At 5-on-5, the Wild had the league’s sixth-best expected goal percentage, and they finished only six points behind the Cup winners last season.
Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello are standouts, and the Wild’s defense is led by Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, and Jacob Middleton. The Wild must find a replacement for Kevin Fiala, who was traded to Los Angeles for prospect Brock Faber and a first-round pick.
Minnesota also requires (and has required for years) a dependable goaltender who can propel them to the top. Fleury was a letdown after being acquired at the trade deadline from the Chicago Blackhawks. Cam Talbot, meanwhile, is more of a reliable backup than a true No. 1 goalie.
The issue is that Minnesota is short on cap space due to the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, which account for about 15% of their space. If the Wild can make some smart moves to bolster the rest of their roster, they may be able to give Colorado a run for their money in the West.
Bruins of Boston: 22/1
Boston was eliminated from the playoffs due to a lack of scoring depth. This team, on the other hand, has a fantastic core of Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm, Brad Marchand, Taylor Hall, and David Pastrnak (assuming he signs a long-term deal). If the right changes are made, it’s a good enough group to win with.
Boston is also under new management after firing Bruce Cassidy and replacing him with Jim Montgomery, Dallas’ head coach before being fired for unprofessional conduct in his second season.
The biggest question for Boston this offseason is Patrice Bergeron’s future. After an injury-plagued season, the outstanding two-way center turns 37 this month and may consider retirement.
Once Bergeron has decided on his future, it will be up to Boston general manager Don Sweeney to add more goal scorers to this roster. If he succeeds, this team has the potential to go further in the postseason.