The offseason of any sport usually provides some shakeups across the league. The NHL is no different. With the draft in the books and free agency beginning almost a week ago, we’ve seen plenty of player movement across the league. Sure, there are some big names still available such as Nazem Kadri and John Klingberg, but for the most part, a majority of the roster shakeups are done. A lot of these teams will enter training camp with their roster looking the same way it currently shapes up.
In other sports, acquiring a player could make a massive impact on the betting odds. Superstars like Kevin Durant in the NBA can move the betting market wildly just by speculation and rumors. Even non-superstars like Baker Mayfield in the NFL can cause a ripple effect in the betting market. However, that hasn’t really been the case during the NHL offseason.
Despite adding Gaudreau, Columbus’ odds didn’t move
The biggest move of the NHL offseason to date has been Johnny Gaudreau signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gaudreau finished with 115 points last season, which tied for the second-highest mark in the league. He received some Hart Trophy votes. Rarely does a player of this skill level make it to free agency in the NHL.
However, despite adding a player that outscored everyone except Connor McDavid last season, the Columbus Blue Jackets are still 100-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup. Their betting odds did not move after signing Gaudreau and they are still tied for the fourth-worst odds in the league. They are 50-to-1 to win the Eastern Conference, ranking 15th of 16 teams.
The Blue Jackets finished 10th in the Eastern Conference last season, 19 points out of a playoff spot. With the team nature of hockey, Gaudreau probably isn’t worth 19 points (9.5 wins) in the standings. However, it’s still shocking to see a team add one of the league’s best players and the betting market has zero reaction.
Other offseason winners see minimal movement
Outside of the Gaudreau signing, two other teams have made some massive moves to improve their roster. The Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings are both coming off bad seasons, finishing 27 and 26 points out of the playoffs respectively. However, based on their moves in the offseason, it seems like both teams are ready to take the step from rebuilding to being competitive.
The Ottawa Senators acquired Alex DeBrincat from Chicago in exchange for draft capital, and the two-time 40-goal scorer is one of the more productive players in the league. The Senators also added Claude Giroux via free agency to bolster their top-six forwards. DeBrincat and Giroux join Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson and Tim Stutzle in what is now quietly one of the best groups of top-six forwards in the league.
Ottawa also acquired Cam Talbot via trade from the Minnesota Wild after moving Matt Murray to Toronto and Talbot is certainly an upgrade between the pipes. As a result of the moves, Ottawa has moved from 80-to-1 all the way down to 50-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup.
The Detroit Red Wings opened at 50-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup, and those odds are down to just 40-to-1. The Red Wings added a new goalie in Ville Husso to partner with Alex Nedeljkovic, upgrading a position that needed upgrading. Detroit added Andrew Copp, David Perron and Dominik Kubalik up front, three forwards who have been productive in recent years. On the back end, they added some experienced bodies in Olli Maatta and Ben Chariot.
Both teams are still long shots to win the Stanley Cup and probably would be underdogs to even make the playoffs, but at least the market is showing them some respect.
Avalanche still favored
The Colorado Avalanche are the reigning Stanley Cup champions, and they are favored to win the Cup again in 2023. It’s been an active offseason for general manager Joe Sakic, and he’s done a good job of keeping the group together. However, there have been some departures. While Valeri Nichushkin, Josh Manson, Artturi Lehkonen, Andrew Cogliano and Darren Helm are all returning, Colorado has lost starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper to Washington and scoring winger Andre Burakovsky to Seattle. Nazem Kadri is still unsigned and Colorado would need to move out salary to bring him back. Former Rangers backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev was bought in to split the crease with incumbent backup Pavel Francouz. However, the core is still in place and the Avalanche are expected to be Cup contenders again next season.
The second-best odds belong to the Toronto Maple Leafs at +850. The Maple Leafs revamped their goaltending this offseason, and it’s certainly the biggest question mark on their team. Matt Murray won two straight Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, but his career has derailed a bit the last few seasons, including a stint in the minors last year. Toronto also bought Ilya Samsonov, who did not receive a qualifying offer from Washington after a disappointing season last year. Can a Murray-Samsonov duo do enough to win a Stanley Cup?
Tampa Bay is +900 to win the Stanley Cup. The Lightning have made the Finals in three straight years, but they’ve lost Ondrej Palat and Ryan McDonagh in the offseason. The Florida Panthers are 10-to-1. Carolina is 12-to-1 after acquiring Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty for very cheap in the trade market.