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The parade lap was skated. The handshake line is closed.
As we speak, the Stanley Cup is making its series of daily summertime trips through the Colorado Avalanche organization.
But the B/R hockey team is still thinking about, well…hockey.
Which means now that an early compilation of odds for the 2022-23 NHL season has been compiled by DraftKings, it’s time to forecast who’ll be celebrating this time next year.
Can the Avs repeat? Will the Tampa Bay Lightning be in the championship round for a fourth straight time? And which will be the new team to make a deep run come next spring?
Scroll through to see how the numbers shake out and feel free to drop a thought or two of your own in the comments.
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32. Arizona Coyotes (+50000)
OK, we understand that all teams have to be included. But we’ll say it here: The Arizona Coyotes are not winning the Stanley Cup next season. In fact, just getting to the playoffs would be a Miracle on Ice-level occurrence for the Coyotes.
31. Chicago Blackhawks (+50000)
File the Blackhawks alongside the Coyotes in the “no chance, not even a little one” column. In fact, given the all-in rebuild commitments made by GM Kyle Davidson, it’s about 50/50 the residents of the United Center will be watchable, let alone relevant.
30. Montreal Canadiens (+20,000)
It won’t satisfy the fans in what’s arguably the league’s most hockey-mad city, but there’s a significant gap between No. 30 and No. 31, and the Canadiens are at least on the correct side of it. And remember, they’re only a year removed from a run to the title round.
29. San Jose Sharks (+18000)
A few years ago, it was hard to imagine a Sharks team without Joe Thornton. This season, it’ll be hard to watch them emerge from the locker room without stalwart defenseman Brent Burns. Contention won’t come for a while, but GM Mike Grier deserves a honeymoon period.
28. Anaheim Ducks (+15000)
The Ducks have shown signs of being that young team with the potential to break out. They were among the league’s top half for the first couple months of 2021-22 before bottoming out over the long haul. Regardless, any team with Trevor Zegras is worth watching.
27. Philadelphia Flyers (+15000)
Ouch. It’s been 47 years since the Flyers completed their repeat Cup championships, and given the offseason they had, it feels like it’ll be that long before a real shot at another. Johnny Gaudreau wouldn’t have guaranteed a title, but he’d have been a nice diversion.
26. Buffalo Sabres (+10000)
OK, the Sabres aren’t going to win the Cup next season, either. But of all the teams in this grouping, it feels like they’re the closest to crossing over to the playoff-worthy group. A young and talented core will begin contention shortly, but in the mean time, there’s always football.
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25. Columbus Blue Jackets (+10000)
Kudos to GM Jarmo Kekalainen for pulling off the heist of the free-agency period when he lured Gaudreau to Ohio for seven years and $68.25 million—not to mention keeping Patrik Laine for four years and $34.8 million. If nothing else, those moves make things interesting.
24. Seattle Kraken (+10000)
Getting Cup winner Andre Burakovsky in free agency was a win, but the Kraken did more for their future by plucking Shane Wright with the fourth pick on draft day. He and Matty Beniers will be the pieces in place when consistent success ultimately arrives.
23. Winnipeg Jets (+6000)
The Jets seemed like a bargain at +4500 before the 2021-22 season began, but the +6000 rate here seems pretty slight in terms of possible payouts for a team that plummeted out of the playoff picture and hasn’t done much to return itself to prominence.
22. Detroit Red Wings (+6000)
People have been waiting for the long-term plan established by GM Steve Yzerman to bear fruit, and the Hall of Fame player had a stellar executive offseason. It’s not likely to lead to a title in 2022-23, but he’s earned an additional few years of confidence.
21. Ottawa Senators (+5500)
Put Pierre Dorion right alongside Yzerman in the “Which GM won the offseason?” debate. The Senators got Alex DeBrincat and Cam Talbot for a song, grabbed Claude Giroux as a free agent and could start sniffing the playoff periphery in 2022-23.
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20. Dallas Stars (+4500)
The Stars were the first team on the list to have made the playoffs last season, though it was a brief stay thanks to a first-round elimination by the Calgary Flames. A season with decent health and lessened COVID-19 hassles would provide an authentic chance for success.
19. Vancouver Canucks (+4500)
The Canucks were a different team once Bruce Boudreau took over as coach, and they figure to be in the Pacific Division mix thanks to the personnel losses in Calgary and Vegas. Making a decision on impending free agent JT Miller looms between now and training camp.
18. New Jersey Devils (+4500)
The Devils aren’t quite there yet, and they play in a brutally competitive division, but GM Tom Fitzgerald has the team going in the right direction. Their biggest steps forward have come thanks to free-agency pickups like Dougie Hamilton and Ondrej Palat as well as the development of recent draft picks Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier.
17. Washington Capitals (+4000)
The Capitals grabbed a Stanley Cup goalie in free agent Darcy Kuemper as they desperately try to keep the contention window open while Alex Ovechkin closes in on Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal-scoring record. Replacing Nicklas Backstrom is a heavy lift in the meantime.
16. Nashville Predators (+4000)
GM David Poile’s task heading into the offseason was keeping winger Filip Forsberg in the fold for the long term, and he succeeded, locking the 27-year-old Swede down for eight years and $68 million. Is he a championship tipping point? No. But he’ll keep them relevant.
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15. New York Islanders (+3500)
The Islanders were a two-year fixture in the NHL’s playoff final four under coach Barry Trotz, but he’s gone now and GM Lou Lamoriello is in the chute to make things happen. Getting Gaudreau would have helped a goal-starved offense, but it’ll have to be someone else.
14. Boston Bruins (+3500)
It’s another year of debating “Is the window still open?” in Boston as their roster gets another year older. Patrice Bergeron is 37 and hasn’t decided on his plan for next season, while star winger David Pastrnak, 26, is headed to the final year of his contract.
13. St. Louis Blues (+3500)
The Blues lost a goalie in Ville Husso and a prolific forward in David Perron, and now head into the walk season of winger Vladimir Tarasenko’s contract. Getting Matthew Tkachuk to come home would have helped ease those pains. Instead, it’s an uncertain future.
12. Los Angeles Kings (+3500)
A few rungs up the ladder from the Sabres in terms of future promise, the Kings were a playoff team in 2021-22 and added Kevin Fiala via trade while keeping Adrian Kembe for the next four years at $5.5 million apiece. If you want a dark, dark horse for 2022-23, here it is.
11. New York Rangers (2000+)
Lest anyone forget, the Rangers were a final-four playoff team last season and were two games up on the Lightning for a berth in the championship series. They’ve added a 21-goal scorer in winger Vincent Trocheck, and betting on them to have a parade might be worth the risk at 20-to-1.
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10. Pittsburgh Penguins (+2000)
Kudos to GM Ron Hextall for pulling off an unlikely salvage operation and keeping both defense veteran Kris Letang and veteran forward Evgeni Malkin for several more seasons. Grabbing Jeff Petry from Montreal ensures the Pens will be an old, tough out.
9. Minnesota Wild (+1900)
The Wild finished fifth overall last season and within shouting distance of the Avalanche in the Central Division, but they’re down a backup goalie in Talbot and a young forward in Fiala heading to 2022-23. It’ll be interesting to see what direction they take when games begin.
8. Vegas Golden Knights (+1900)
The Golden Knights hadn’t ever missed the playoffs until last season’s debacle, but the oddsmakers are providing credit for past accomplishments. Jack Eichel will be around for a full season and Reilly Smith stayed, but it’s a stretch to suggest the Golden Knights are better.
7. Calgary Flames (+1900)
Speaking of personnel losses, no team was dealt the high-profile blows GM Brad Treliving sustained in losing both Gaudreau and Tkachuk. But getting Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar from Florida for Tkachuk was a brilliant save for an embattled executive.
6. Edmonton Oilers (+1600)
GM Ken Holland’s to-do list for the offseason included keeping Evander Kane and Brett Kulak and bringing in a reliable No. 1 goalie, too. He pulled it off in team-friendly fashion, ensuring Connor McDavid’s eighth season will begin with more optimism than the first seven did.
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5. Carolina Hurricanes (+1200)
The Hurricanes were a disappointing second-round playoff loser to the Rangers after lapping the Metropolitan Division field in the regular season. But they rebounded well and added Burns from San Jose and Max Pacioretty from Vegas to an already high-quality lineup. Buy.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (+1200)
Just how many times can coach Jon Cooper push a team to the championship brink after sustaining significant losses every offseason? Palat was the departing party this time around, though the Lightning did lock up Nicholas Paul and Mikhail Sergachev for the long term.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (+850)
Oh, the Maple Leafs. They retain one of the league’s most talented rosters, though they did sustain a hit with goalie Jack Campbell heading to Edmonton. Bringing Matt Murray in from Ottawa fills the hole, but it’ll be pins and needles in Toronto again come playoff time.
2. Florida Panthers (+850)
The Panthers were all-in for 2021-22 and scooped up Giroux and Ben Chiarot in deadline trades, but neither stayed as free agents and walked for nothing. Getting Tkachuk from Calgary is certainly a great add, but the cost of traded assets seems daunting by contrast.
1. Colorado Avalanche (+400)
Who wouldn’t want to be the Avalanche? The defending champs are loaded with skillful players still in their 20s, including Norris Trophy and Conn Smythe winner Cale Makar. Alexandar Georgiev is the fill-in for Kuemper and inherits the pressure of being a No. 1 goal.
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