2023 Stanley Cup Futures [Midseason Report]
The Stanley Cup is North America's oldest sports trophy, and has been awarded annually to the National Hockey League's champion since 1927. Nearly a century after its introduction, the big question now is – who will win the cup in 2023 and pass it around in celebration?
The best tool to predict this might be betting markets.
Futures odds can be an excellent predictor of the next champion. In recent years, the top teams (based on odds) tend to make the deepest runs in the playoffs, exemplified by the last three Stanley Cup champions – including Colorado (2022), Tampa Bay, and Tampa Bay (back to back wins in 2020 and 2021). However, we've also seen some shocking surprises, such as Montreal making it all the way to the NHL finals just two seasons ago, and St. Louis coming back from the dead in mid-season to win it all back in 2019.
Let's begin in the West, where the biggest three disappointments are probably the poor performance of the Vancouver Canucks, an up-and-coming group that was expected to improve, the dismal play of the Anaheim Ducks, also discussed as a preseason surprise team that's now one of the NHL's worst, and the Ducks' goaltending which is currently on pace to allow 4.1 GPG on average, which is astonishingly bad.
In the East, what's wrong with the Florida Panthers? This was a team with one of the NHL's best records last season, expected to repeat with a deep run in 2023. However, the Panthers can't get any traction in the Atlantic Division, resting in 5th place around the .500 mark.
In the East, let's start with Boston. What an amazing season the Bruins are having. Currently at 38-7-5, there's some chance they could threaten Detroit Red Wings (1995-96) and Tampa Bay Lightning's (2018-19) shared best regular season record ever (62 wins). Yeah, it's a long shot, but it's possible.
Carolina and New Jersey have been almost as dominant. Both have won 32 games, but will face a gauntlet of tough competition with the East so loaded with top talent.
Oh, and we have to mention the Buffalo Sabres, which some are calling the NHL's funnest team to watch. This team was horrible at this point last season, but has completely turned the franchise around and is now 26-19-3, perhaps on their way to the playoffs. The Sabres could even be the NHL's biggest surprise, except for the story happening in Seattle.
Let's also call out the entire Metropolitan Division, which has 8 teams and looks stacked, 7 of which have winning records at the moment. Toss out the Blue Jackets, and all the other teams are playing above expectation for the most part.
The two major surprises in the West are easy.
In just their second season, the expansion Seattle Kraken are now in first place in the Pacific Division at 29-15-5. The Kraken won just 27 games all of last season, so they have already surpassed total wins, and could end up being this year's redux of the Cinderella Las Vegas Golden Knights as the NHL's newest team that hit the ice on fire.
Also credit the Dallas Stars for holding first place, ahead of Colorado, Winnipeg, and Minnesota. The Stars are a stingy team that wins games with defence, and could be a thorn in the side of anyone they play in the West, once the playoffs begin.
FUTURES ODDS TO WIN THE 2023 STANLEY CUP:
At the end of January, the futures odds at SPREADS.CA reflect public confidence in some teams, and serious doubts in others.
The betting markets clearly believe in Boston, Colorado, Carolina, and Toronto. Those are the current top-four betting favourites as the All-Star Game approaches.
The surprise within this group is Carolina at 7-1. While the Hurricane is absolutely legit as a Stanley Cup contender, are they really nearly twice as likely to win it than Edmonton and Las Vegas? That's what the odds indicate (see below). Doesn't mighty Boston being in their path to the Cup in the East trek hurt Carolina's chances? The same could also be said for the long-suffering Toronto Maple Leafs, listed at 10-1 to win it all, despite not having made it past the first round of the playoffs in more than a decade.
Here's a snapshot of the current futures odds, according to the Canadian betting perspective: