2023 Stanley Cup NHL opening lines and best bets: Calgary Flames to burn brightly

Calgary Flames players Johnny Gaudreau and Jacob Markstrom
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Mark Lammey

NHL · 1 month ago

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I've been a capper since my love for sports met my proficiency with numbers and math. The NFL and NCAAF have always been my first loves, followed by the NHL. Although I prefer sports that involve hitting people, I still love capping MLB, soccer, tennis, and even some esports. Living in Florida has its perks like year-round sports of any kind.

The Colorado Avalanche’s win in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals means we finally have a season that has ended without the Tampa Bay Lightning hoisting the trophy. The 2-time defending champs were taken down by the preseason favorite. Colorado opened the season as +600 favorites and remained at the top of the odds list throughout the season. Even with injuries to several key skaters, oddsmakers never wavered. The Avs’ superstar roster is set to stay together, and they’re the favorites once more. They range between +400 to +500 currently, but they aren’t the only team with high hopes. The 2022 season has just ended, but there are already odds out for every team to win the 2023 Stanley Cup. Let’s take a look.

2023 Stanley Cup odds

It should come as no surprise that the Avalanche are favorites once again. They have been expected to perform well for several years, but kept falling short in the 2nd round. Now that they’ve got over the hump and have one of the world’s best young skaters in Cale Makar, they look poised to run it back.

One of the bigger discrepancies among sportsbooks is the odds on the Toronto Maple Leafs. They are another team who are always expected to go deep into the playoffs, but find a way to exit early. Led by this season’s leading goal-scorer Auston Matthews, they are one of the favorites yet again. They find themselves listed as low as +800 in some spots, and as high as +1200 in others. It’s clear that oddsmakers understand their talent, but their ability to fall short as well.

With the Lightning and Panthers rounding out the Eastern Conference favorites, the rest of the West seems far below the Avalanche. Despite not even making the postseason this year, the Golden Knights are a consensus next best in the odds for the Western Conference. They’re getting a bit more respect than some would expect due to their injury-riddled season. Vegas was one of the preseason favorites to win the West, but found themselves without captain Mark Stone and other key skaters for a significant time.

While all of those teams are given favorable chances to make a deep run in 2023, that does not mean they are the best value. Although it’s been just 1 day since this year’s Final ended, it’s never too early for a best bet.

2023 Stanley Cup best bets

Calgary Flames (+1800)
Washington Capitals (+3500)

Given the odds, the Calgary Flames at +1800 look to be tremendous value. Even before clinching the Pacific Division over the Edmonton Oilers, they were around +900 to win this year’s cup. They fell short, but ended the season with all 3 of the best plus-minus skaters. In other words, they had the most efficient top line in the league with Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm. It’s also been shown that elite goaltending is necessary to win a Cup and the Flames also have that with Jacob Markstrom. Calgary allowed the 3rd-fewest goals per game this season, better than even the Lightning. As long as the Flames can keep their top line intact, they can get red-hot once again and get their first Stanley Cup since 1989.

While +1800 is still a great payout, a potential longshot to consider is the Washington Capitals at +3500. Although they were eliminated in the 1st round this season, the Caps still have promise. Led by Alex Ovechkin, they have a core group of skaters who have been together for several years. The Lightning have shown how essential that is for success, and Washington has that. On the flip side, some of their main competitors such as the Penguins appear as though they are going to struggle to keep their core together. Washington’s primary issue this season was lacking elite goaltending. If they can resolve that issue this offseason, the Caps could get Ovechkin his second Stanley Cup. 

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