If you’re looking for teams that offer excellent value and have a chance of raising some eyebrows during the 2022-23 NHL season, the following three are a good place to start.
According to NHL betting lines, the Calgary Flames are pegged at +2200 to win the Stanley Cup, while the Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings share +3500 NHL odds.
Several teams have improved their lineups considerably and should at least compete for playoff spots, including the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators. Both franchises are tired of being bottom feeders and have significantly strengthened their respective squads through some solid off-season maneuvering.
While the Kings, Caps and Flames haven’t enjoyed exceedingly strong off-seasons, each team has the personnel necessary to at least secure a postseason berth. With a spot of good fortune and key players performing at their best, all three teams have a chance of doing some damage in the playoffs.
3. Los Angeles Kings (+3500)
Despite being without Drew Doughty for 43 games, the Kings made remarkable strides in the Pacific Division during the 2021-22 season. Built on speed and a solid defensive structure, the Kings were a game away from upsetting the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs.
Los Angeles’ special teams were woeful last season, but the return of Doughty and arrival of newcomer Kevin Fiala will immediately improve both units. The Kings had the sixth-worst power-play (16.1%) and the 11th-worst penalty kill (76.7%). Only one other playoff team, the Minnesota Wild, had an inferior penalty kill.
The Kings gave up almost nothing to acquire Fiala from the Wild in one of the best off-season moves thus far. Fiala was Minnesota’s second-leading scorer and notched 85 points in 82 games last season. He’ll inject elite offensive prowess into a power-play in desperate need. Fiala will also add more scoring punch to the Kings’ first line while increasing the team’s overall scoring depth.
Even though he’s 36 years old, Jonathan Quick is still the key to any Kings’ prospective success. The ace netminder has won two Stanley Cups and was lights out against the Oilers. It’s not too late for the veteran to make one final deep playoff run.
2. Washington Capitals (+3500)
A fair few puzzle pieces need to fall in place for the Caps to have any chance of advancing into the latter stage of the playoffs. First, the team’s new signings must live up to their lofty price tags. How far the Caps make it will depend almost entirely on Darcy Kuemper’s performance level. The usually steady netminder is susceptible to extended patches of inconsistency.
If Alex Ovechkin is to win his second Stanley Cup, Kuemper will not only need to eradicate those inconsistent spells, he’ll most likely need to stand on his head against higher-ranked opponents.
Dylan Strome, the promising 25-year-old center, arrived from Chicago and will need to find an extra gear in Washington. He scored 51 points in 58 games during the 2018-19 season and has to replicate that point per game production.
And then there’s Nicklas Backstrom, who is recovering from hip surgery and is expected to miss about half of the regular season. If he can make a full and speedy recovery, the Caps are capable of winning the Stanley Cup. However, Ryan Kesler and Ed Jovanovski underwent the same surgery years ago and were forced to retire soon thereafter. Hopefully, the Caps get an entirely different result where Backstrom is concerned.
1. Calgary Flames (+2200)
The Calgary Flames were on the verge of an irreparably catastrophic off-season. The organization lost Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets for nothing, and many thought a similar fate would befall them when Matthew Tkachuk made his intentions clear.
That was until general manager Brad Treliving pulled off a blockbuster coup, landing Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, Cole Schwindt and two future considerations in a trade with Florida.
While the Flames will assuredly miss Gaudreau and Tkachuk, Huberdeau was tied for second in league scoring last season (with Gaudreau, coincidentally) and Weegar is a solid top-four defenseman who will feel right at home working under Darryl Sutter.
If Jacob Markstrom can relocate the form that put him on the Vezina shortlist and maintain a high level going into the playoffs, anything is possible in Calgary.