NHL 2022-23 Best Bets: Which Favorites Are Worth a Punt Ahead of the New Season?
Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tampa Bay Lightning players Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy
The 2022-23 NHL Season kicks off on Friday, Oct. 7, with a game between the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks in the Czech Republic. But before the puck drops on a new 82-game season, it's time to discuss our favorite future bets for the '22-23 campaign.
We'll start at the top of the board, with the team our experts deem the best value among the betting favorites (+2500 or shorter):
Michael Leboff: Calgary Flames +1800 (BetMGM)
It’s been a wild 12 months for the Flames, but the work Brad Treliving did to keep them in contention for a Stanley Cup was superb. A top-six featuring Jonathan Huberdeau, Elias Lindholm, Nazem Kadri, Tyler Toffoli and Andrew Mangiapane is up there with any other contender and adding Mackenzie Weegar to an already strong blueline was a great bit of business.
The Flames tick every box you look for in a Stanley Cup contender. They have starpower but can also roll four lines, they’re deep on the blueline and they have a top-tier goaltender. Add in the fact that Darryl Sutter had this team playing incredibly well at 5-on-5 last season (first in goal differential, fifth in expected goals rate and fourth in high-danger chance rate) and you can see why this team is hanging around the top of the board heading into the new season.
Carol Schram: Tampa Bay Lightning +1200 (FanDuel)
After coming within two games of the first Stanley Cup three-peat in nearly 40 years, the Tampa Bay Lightning still have the DNA of a championship contender.
Yes, the Lightning said goodbye to do-everything forward Ondrej Palat and blue-line leader Ryan McDonagh during the offseason. But top center Brayden Point is back from the quadriceps tear he suffered during the playoffs, the Big 3 of Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak will be anchoring the blue line, and there’s no more battle-tested goaltender than Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has led the NHL in wins in each of the last five seasons.
As they look to extend their competitive window, Tampa Bay has brought in some young bodies to help carry the load. Nick Paul and Brandon Hagel will start their first full seasons with the Lightning after being acquired at the 2022 trade deadline and on the blue line, Cal Foote’s role will expand while new acquisitions Haydn Fleury and Philippe Myers get a look.
Guided by the NHL’s longest-tenured coach in Jon Cooper, the Lightning have been part of the playoffs’ final four in six of the last eight seasons. And bear in mind — the last time they were disappointed in postseason play with their first-round sweep in 2019, they stormed back to win two titles.
Setting their Stanley Cup odds for this season, bookmakers have become enamored with some shiny new toys. As a result, the Lightning have become a high-value pick at a juicy +1200.
Jonny Lazarus: Pittsburgh Penguins +2000 (DraftKings)
The Pittsburgh Penguins have officially entered their “last dance” era after re-signing Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin this offseason. And even if the horizon is in sight, that doesn't change the fact that this team has a ton of talent and is one of the deepest rosters in the NHL.
When you think about the Pens, offense might be the first thing that comes to mind with guys like Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Rickard Rakell, but Pittsburgh also happened to be a very strong defensive team last season. They had a the fifth-best goals against average in the regular season, only allowing 2.71 goals against per game and they also had the third best penalty kill rating which converted at 84.4%.
The Pens had an ugly first round exit of the playoffs in the spring, but they were up 3-1 in that series and had plenty of chances to put away the Rangers, but an injury to Sidney Crosby in Game 5 changed everything. That should leave a bad taste in their mouths heading into 2022-23 with a healthy roster.
The Penguins have plenty of offensive talent and are strong in their own end, so if Tristan Jarry can hold down the blue paint again, this team will contend.
Tony Sartori: Carolina Hurricanes +1100 (DraftKings)
I have bet on this team to win every year for three straight, and every season they knock on the door without kicking it down. Perhaps this is a “fool me four times, stop betting on the Canes” situation, but I am past the point of no return and actually believe that THIS is their year.
One of the better teams during the regular season last year, Carolina finished second in GF% and fifth in GA%. Meanwhile, they only finished 24th in finishing, which is obviously going to see some positive regression this season.
We have seen some pieces go and some come in, notably seeing the additions of Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty. While Pacioretty will not be available until the end of the regular season due to a torn achilles, this squad is good enough to be in a playoff spot and hold the line until then.
Additionally, this team should now have a healthy Freddie Anderson. When healthy last season, Anderson ranked fourth amongst starting goaltenders in 5v5 GSAx/60.
This team has the goaltender, the coach, the depth, and the top-heavy talent to get them over the top. Can they do it? I don’t know, but at 11/1 they are my favorite bet on the board in this market.
Ryan Dadoun: New York Rangers +2000 (PointsBet)
The Rangers are being given odds near our threshold to be considered a Stanley Cup Sleeper, but I regard them as one of the best contenders to win it all. They certainly came close in the 2022 playoffs, taking the Tampa Bay Lightning to six games in the Eastern Conference Final, and that wasn’t a fluke performance.
Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are two high-end veteran forwards capable of leading an offense and they have a good complement of talent behind them. Even if it turns out that Chris Kreider doesn’t have another 50-goal season in him, he’s still a great goal scorer while the addition of Vincent Trocheck seamlessly offsets the loss of Ryan Strome. Then there’s always the chance that their young guard, highlighted by Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko, takes a step forward.
As solid as their offense can be though, that’s not even where their strength lies. Igor Shesterkin is unquestionably an elite goaltender at this point and they have a well-rounded defense headlined by one of the league’s top young blueliners in Adam Fox. There’s a lot to like here and their given odds leads me to believe they’re being underrated.
Greg Liodice: Edmonton Oilers +1500
The time is now for Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Edmonton Oilers to solidify themselves as one of the elite teams in hockey.
After years of springtime disappointment, the Oilers finally broke through with a trip to the Western Conference Finals last season and now firmly sit as one of the contenders out West.
I believe they can make good on that promise this season.
The Oilers should be improved in goal, as Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner will take over for Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen. Campbell was up and down last season, but he should provide the type of goaltending needed behind an offense that features Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
The Oilers struggled out of the gates last season under Dave Tippett, but still managed to come out with a 49-27-6 record thanks to a 26-9-3 record under Jay Woodcroft.
Edmonton is one of the best teams in the NHL and since the Oilers play in the same conference as the Colorado Avalanche, I believe you're getting a good number to back McDavid and Co.