It’s almost time to begin the quest to crown a new Stanley Cup champion. The 2023-24 NHL regular season begins on October 10 and the Vegas Golden Knights will raise their championship banner and start a title defense. Despite being the defending champs, the Golden Knights have five teams ahead of them in terms of Stanley Cup odds on DraftKings Sportsbook. Here we’re going to go over the odds to win the Cup with some analysis sprinkled in.
2023-24 NHL odds: Stanley Cup champions
The Hurricanes enter the season as favorites to win the Cup. It’s a bit surprising, to be honest. Not to say the defending champions should be favored but the Devils, Maple Leafs and Avalanche seem to have better rosters than Carolina. It’s a testament to coaching and Rod Brind’Amour’s job with the Hurricanes. Though it isn’t like Carolina has a big lead on those other teams in Cup odds. The Hurricanes played one of the tightest four-game sweeps in the East Final last season vs. the Panthers. And while Carolina added Dmitry Orlov and will get Andrei Svechnikov back to start the season, the Devils and Leafs both improved their rosters as well.
The Avs and Oilers are the top-2 teams out West in terms of Cup odds. Colorado addressed a lot of depth concerns from a season ago. The Avalanche added forwards Ryan Johansen, Ross Colton, Miles Wood, Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Drouin. That should solve depth scoring issues and take pressure off Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. The Oilers bring back mostly the same roster as last season. That roster was unable to get by the eventual champion Golden Knights. Edmonton always seems to run into issues in the postseason — once the flood gates open, they don’t generally close. I’m inclined to go with the Avs vs. the Oilers if I’m betting this market.
Can the Golden Knights repeat as champs? Sure. It’s been done just four times since 1990, mostly by teams riddled with Hall of Famers. That isn’t to say Vegas can’t do it. But the odds seem less so for the Golden Knights than those Lightning, Penguins and Red Wings teams. It feels safe to fade Vegas heading into the season at least.
Middle of the Pack
There’s a middle group of teams that are appealing in the Cup odds market. Two that stick out were in the Conference Finals last season. The Dallas Stars came within a few games of reaching the Cup Final last season. That was while getting miserable goaltending from Jake Oettinger. Better play from Oettinger and the addition of Matt Duchene could help Dallas reach the Final this time around and then it’s anyone’s series.
The Panthers are the reigning Eastern Conference champions and aren’t getting much love. Many believe it was more of a fluke run after dismantling the East en route to the Cup. Florida brings back just about the same roster from last season and should have more momentum going into the playoffs this time around.
Not far from the Panthers, the Lightning feel like a team on the decline. Forget about the early injury to G Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is expected to miss at least the first month and a half of the season. Even with Vasi, the Bolts have an elite top line and a lot of question marks beyond that. Can Anthony Cirelli and Brandon Hagel step up and be the depth Tampa Bay needs? Will Steven Stamkos’ future with the team create a distraction during the season? It just feels like teams like the Senators, Panthers and Sabres are going to jump the Lightning this season and it could mean missing out on the playoffs.
There are two teams that stick out in this group. The Penguins and Wild. Pittsburgh should have been in the playoffs last season over the Panthers but choked in the final three games. The Penguins brought in Reilly Smith and Erik Karlsson. Jake Guentzel is injured to start the season but should be back before 2024. Pittsburgh’s window to win another Cup is closing fast. This could be the last year where this group can go try and make a run. If the team can stay healthy, the Penguins will have a shot so long as they get in.
Minnesota has made the playoffs in 10 of the past 11 seasons. That hasn’t resulted in a trip to the Western Conference Final. But it’s nice knowing that the chances of Minnesota reaching the playoffs are pretty good. We know Minnesota has some of the best goaltending in the NHL between Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury. It also feels like the Wild have multiple forwards ready to break out in Matt Boldy, Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Hartman. If Boldy can just become that No. 2 behind top goal scorer Kirill Kaprizov, the Wild could make some noise this postseason.
The last team we’ll talk about is the Kraken. The books aren’t giving Seattle much of a chance at anything despite 1) making the playoffs last season and 2) knocking off the then defending champion Avalanche in the first round. Did we learn nothing from the Golden Knights and their expansion success? Seattle is bringing back the same roster. Matty Beniers should be ready to take a step into being a true No. 1 center. The Kraken got half a season out of Eeli Tolvanen, a player who could develop into a strong scoring wing. Andre Burakovsky was injured for most of 2022-23. More chemistry, better health for Burakovsky and anything more at goalie could mean Seattle compete for the Pacific title. I’d bank on the Kraken’s Stanley Cup futures moving drastically during the season.
Maple Leafs +900
Golden Knights +1200
Red Wings +7500
Blue Jackets +15000