It might have snuck up on you, but the NHL season begins in less than two weeks. Training camps and preseason games are underway across the league before the league kicks things off with games that matter on Tuesday, Oct. 11. The Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 2022, ending the Tampa Bay Lightning's quest for a three-peat in the Stanley Cup Finals.
From 1998 to 2016, the NHL went 18 years without having a back-to-back Stanley Cup champion. However, that's changed over the last half decade. The Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. The Lightning won the Cup in 2020 and 2021. Bettors expect the recent trend of back-to-back champions to continue this year.
Colorado is the most popular bet
The Colorado Avalanche opened the 2021-22 season as betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They went 56-19-7 in the regular season, finishing with the best record in the Western Conference and the second best record in the NHL behind only the Florida Panthers.
The dominance continued through the playoffs, as Colorado lost just four total games in four best-of-seven series en route to winning the Stanley Cup. It was a dominant season by the Avalanche and they were very deserving champions.
As the 2022-23 season approaches, the Avalanche are once again clear betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Colorado is currently +425 to win it all at BetMGM. No other team has better odds than 8-to-1. Those short odds aren't stopping bettors from backing the Avalanche. Overall, more than 22% of bets and nearly 34% of the money is backing Colorado to win the Stanley Cup. No other team in the league is getting more than 9% of bets or more than 13% of the betting handle.
The Avalanche still might be the most talented team in the league, but they did lose some key pieces in the offseason. Nazem Kadri had 87 points last season, but he's now a member of the Calgary Flames. Andre Burakovsky's 61 points are now in Seattle. Darcy Kuemper had the fifth-best save percentage in the league during the regular season, but he'll now be between the pipes for the Washington Capitals.
In net, the Avalanche will roll with a platoon of Pavel Francouz and newly acquired Alexandar Georgiev, who they got from the New York Rangers in an offseason trade. Georgiev struggled as Igor Shesterkin's backup last season, posting an .898 save percentage.
Up front, Colorado will expect Alex Newhook to take a major step in his development. The 2019 first-round pick had 33 points in 71 games last year in his rookie season. This year, he'll be tasked with filling some of the production that departed in Kadri and Burakovsky. The Avalanche also signed Evan Rodrigues to add some offense.
This is still a team with elite high-end forward talent in Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. They have the best defensive unit in the league with Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Bowen Byram, and Samuel Girard. They showed in the playoffs last year they don't need much more than average goaltending to win. If there's a team built to withstand losing two 60-point forwards and their starting goalie, it's Colorado.
Rangers are a popular bet in the East
Last season, the New York Rangers were a surprise team. Entering this season, there are expectations. New York went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and bettors like them to be even better this season.
The Rangers are the second-most popular bet to win the Stanley Cup at BetMGM. They've received 9% of bets and 13% of the money in the betting market to this point. The Rangers are 18-to-1 to win it all. Those odds are tied with Calgary, Minnesota, Vegas and Pittsburgh for seventh best in the league.
The Rangers are the most popular bet to win the Eastern Conference, receiving nearly 21% of bets and over 24% of the betting handle. New York is +900 to win the conference, which is tied with Pittsburgh for the fifth-best odds. Toronto, Florida, Carolina and Tampa Bay have better odds.
Of course, the Rangers go as Igor Shesterkin goes, which is why some people might not be sold on New York. Shesterkin was phenomenal last season, winning the Vezina Trophy and leading the league in save percentage, goals saved above expectation and goals against average by a wide margin. He's the betting favorite to win the Vezina this season at +250.
However, the chances Shesterkin repeats his performance from last season are low. That's not a knock on Shesterkin, it's more of an acknowledgement as to how out of this world his performance was last season. The second-best goalie in the league last season had a .925 save percentage, which was 10 points lower than Shesterkin. The odds of him having an all-time great season in back-to-back years are low.
The most popular Stanley Cup bets
Beyond the Avalanche and the Rangers, which teams are receiving the most betting action to win the Stanley Cup?
Colorado Avalanche (+425): 22.3% of bets
New York Rangers (18-to-1): 9.1% of bets
Toronto Maple Leafs (+800): 6.7% of bets
Detroit Red Wings (50-to-1): 5.8% of bets
Edmonton Oilers (14-to-1): 4.4% of bets
Carolina Hurricanes (10-to-1): 4.4% of bets
Tampa Bay Lightning (12-to-1): 3.8% of bets
Florida Panthers (+900): 3.1% of bets
Ottawa Senators (50-to-1): 3.1% of bets
Calgary Flames (18-to-1): 2.7% of bets