Stanley Cup Odds: Can the Avs Win It All? What the oddsmakers have to say.
To the average individual, determining the odds of winning the Stanley Cup can be baffling. In charting the performance of NHL teams vying for the cup, oddsmakers are keeping their eye on the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avalanche have emerged as one of the top teams in the NHL in recent years. The relatively young team finished the 2021-2022 season with the second-most points in the league in the regular season. They then stormed through the playoffs, sweeping two of the first three rounds, before beating the two-time defending champs Tampa Bay Lightning to clinch the third Stanley Cup in team history—and their first since 2001.
Can the Avs repeat their win? Bettors suggest they have a good chance. Take a look at the Stanley Cup odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook:
- Bruins +550
- Avalanche +700
- Hurricanes +750
- Golden Knights +900
- Maple Leafs +1000
- Lightning +1400
- Devils +1400
- Stars +1600
- Penguins +1800
- Flames +1800
- Wild +2000
- Rangers +2000
- Oilers +2200
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Those Stanley Cup odds are rather optimistic relative to the actual season, at least as far as the Avalanche is concerned. With the season near the halfway point, the Avs sit at 20-16-3 for a total of 43 points. That puts them on pace for 90.4 points, way below the 119 points they garnered last year, not to mention their pre-season over/under of 112.5 points. If the season ended right now, they would not even make the playoffs.
The top three teams in each of the NHL’s four divisions make the playoffs, as do the two teams with the next-best records in their respective conferences. The Avs are currently sixth in the Central Division and fifth in the Western Conference Wild Card race. They have scored 116 goals and allowed 115, suggesting they really have played .500 hockey. That contrasts very poorly to last season, when they outscored their opponents by a 312-234 margin.
The Avs do however have three games in hand on three of the current Wild Card teams that they trail. The Flames have 47 points while the Blues and Oilers have 45 points, and all have played 42 games, so the Avs would just need one point per game to essentially pull even with their Wild Card rivals.
So what has gone wrong for the Avs so far in 2022-2023? It may be partially just a semi-normal Stanley Cup hangover. The NHL had a strange schedule in 2021-2022; they planned to have a three-week break to allow players to participate in the Winter Olympics, while instead they used the time to make up for some games lost from absences due to Covid-19. It bumped the Stanley Cup finals to late June, and thus the Avs had a relatively short summer on top of an extremely long regular season.
The Avalanche do not have all their top players back on the ice. Nazem Kadri was third on the team last season with 87 points in 71 games; he then had a great run in the playoffs. Kadri left for Calgary in the offseason. Fourth-leading scorer Andre Burakovsky is now on the Seattle Kraken. Another star from last year, Gabriel Landoskog, has missed all season due to injury. He scored 30 goals and dished out 29 assists, with a plus/minus of 27 in only 51 games last year.
The Avs still do have their top three players though. Cam Makar won the Norris Trophy for the league’s best defenseman in 2021-2022, and at age 24 he has room to get even better. He leads the league in ice time this season, with 27:28 per game, but his production has been a little down lately. He went 28-58-86 last year, but is at just 10-28-38 halfway into this season. Further, his plus-minus has dropped from +48 to +4.
Center Nathan MacKinnon has played only 28 games this year and is a shade off his torrid pace of 2021-22. He has dipped from 32-56-88 and a plus-minus of +22 in 65 games last year, to 11-28-39 and +6. Right Wing Mikko Rantonen led the Avs in scoring last year, at 36-56-92 in 75 games, and leads again this year at 27-33-50. Like everyone else, he has seen his plus-minus dip, in his case from +35 to +6.
Thanks to losing and not fully replacing Kadri and Burakovsky, plus injuries to Landoskog and Right Wing Valeri Nichushkin, the Avs’ remaining stars have had to play extended minutes per game this season. McKinnon has bumped from 21:03 to 22:27 and Rantonen from 20:58 to 23:07, in addition to Makar’s lift from 25:40 to 27:28.
MacKinnon is 27, Rantonen is 26 and Makar 24, so they are all still young. Regardless, it is a very long regular season ahead of a potential two-month playoff grind, so the situation is not exactly ideal. The Avs may have no options, as they are both not seeing many one-sided games and have no cushion just yet in their playoff chase. Further, they have not gotten great production from the rest of their roster. Devon Toews is an excellent second defenseman, but he only has 3 goals although he does lead the rest of the team at +5. No one else has more than nine goals, 26 points or a +4.
In the best-case scenario, they become healthier, maybe get more from their depth pieces, and achieve a more solid playoff footing so they can avoid overtaxing their stars. Makar could easily take home another Norris trophy. Even if they make it as a low seed, the Avs will be in a tough position that no one will want to face. Teams often ride their goalies in the playoffs, but the Avs’ current goalie, Alexandar Georgiev, backed up for the Rangers last season and is untested in the heat of the Cup chase. Georgiev has a .915 save percentage so far, roughly middle of the pack this year but a little better than the 2021-2022 Avs’ Goalie Darcy Kuemper’s .902 mark in last year’s playoffs.
The Avalanche remain a force, current record notwithstanding. But they still need to justify those low odds on winning this year’s coveted Stanley Cup.