NHL Season Preview: Avalanche favored to repeat as Stanley Cup champs, and other storylines
Stop me if you've heard this before: the Colorado Avalanche are favored to win the Stanley Cup this year.
Last year's champions are once again the favorites to win it all in 2022-23. That's according to Vegas bookmakers and several public analyst models. Colorado is the only team expected to eclipse 110 points in what may turn out to be the beginning of a dynastic era in Denver.
The Avs return three players who scored 86 points or more last season, including Nathan MacKinnon, and reigning Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar. They did lose Nazem Kadri and André Burakovsky to free agency which will certainly be felt on offense, but the models don't seem too worried about their firepower overall.
All told the Avalanche have a 21 percent chance of lifting the Cup for a second consecutive year, according to oddsmakers — nearly double the total of the Maple Leafs, the next most likely team.
If you're a fan of Canadian hockeyyou may have reason to get excited about the Flames and Oilers. The two Alberta teams are Colorado's biggest threat for the Western Conference crown this season. Together they represent a 12 percent chance to lift the Cup, which combined with Toronto's 12.5 percent odds, may give Canadians a glimmer of hope in ending the near-30 year Stanley Cup drought that has plagued the Great White North.
If you're a Blackhawks or Coyotes fan you may not want to splurge for the out-of-market TV package this season. They're both expected to finish the season around the 70-point mark, while the Flyers and Canadians aren't expected to be much better in the East.
But if you want to watch quality hockey tune in to any of the teams hovering around the 100-point expected mark you see in the table below. Nine or 10 teams are expected to hit that plateau in the 2022-23 season, according to the models.
If the Oilers and Flames don't come out hot out of the gate, fans of those teams shouldn't worry too much. According to their strength of schedules, they have among the toughest roads in the early going while the back end of the season should offer games in which they can bank points on their way to the playoffs. On the flip side Florida should have a relative cakewalk in the first month of the season. The Bruins -- who the Panthers have already faced in a 5-3 loss on Monday -- and the Lightning are the only two expected playoff teams they will face until mid-November.
Meanwhile, the Rangers are on the inside track to a playoff spot but will have the second toughest schedule to end the season, so keep an eye on New York during the home stretch.
So with that let the games begin, and good luck to your favorite team. If you're a Leafs fan you're gonna need it. 🤠
NoticeI didn't say Canadiens hockey.
Ironically, the Coyotes beat the Leafs on the night this was written.