It's not too often that you see one NHL team as a -430 moneyline favorite, but that's the case tonight when the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche will raise their banner to the rafters in Denver ahead of their season opener against the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks. The Avs are +400 favorites at Caesars Sportsbook to repeat next summer with no other team below +900.
Colorado originally opened months ago at +600 on the 2023 Stanley Cup odds but has dropped to +400 because the Avalanche lead all teams in both tickets (13.4%) and handle (23.0%). Yet the timing of a lot of that action was rather curious.
"A good amount of the money on the Avalanche to win it this season came in during this past Stanley Cup Final," said Thomas Foster, lead hockey trader at Caesars Sportsbook. "After the Cup Final ended, the action dropped significantly. Even with all of that early action, we still have to stay competitive with our pricing compared to the rest of the market. So it's a delicate balance there, just because if we went down to like 2/1 with the Avalanche it would completely stop the action on them. But the Avalanche still have a long season ahead of them, and then they have to win those 16 playoff games with a new goalie."
Indeed, Colorado said goodbye in free agency to No. 1 goaltender Darcy Kuemper (37-12-4, 2.54 GAA) as well as excellent forwards Nazem Kadri (87 points) and Andre Burakovsky (61 points). The Avs will be just fine with Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog (although he won't be ready for the start of the season) and the best all-around defenseman in the NHL in Cale Makar, the reigning Norris Trophy winner at just 23 years old.
In net, the Avalanche likely will split duties between Pavel Francouz, who played well behind Kuemper last season, and new addition Alexandar Georgiev, who was 15-10-2 with a 2.92 GAA last year with the Rangers.
Could this be the year Canada finally ends its Stanley Cup drought? The Toronto Maple Leafs are +900 second favorites and Caesars has a prop on which country the champions will be from, with the USA at -600 and Canada at +425. The Leafs had the Tampa Bay Lightning on the ropes in Round 1 last year but blew a 3-2 series lead. Toronto got an overhaul in net this offseason and will use the duo of Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. The Leafs open tonight in Montreal.
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