The NHL trade deadline is behind us and the Colorado Avalanche remain the top dog in the Western Conference. The reigning Stanley Cup champions have dealt with some injuries this season but are still the favorite to win the West. They’re also the only team with odds shorter than +1400 to win the Stanley Cup. Did any of the other teams in the Western Conference do enough at the deadline?
While the Avalanche are the favorites, it’s the Wild Wild Western Conference with not much decided as of yet. Both divisions are up in the air and several teams have everything to play for in the final month of the season.
NHL Stanley Cup Futures: Colorado Avalanche vs. the field in the Western Conference?
NHL Futures: Western Conference Odds
|Team||To win Western Conference||To win Stanley Cup|
As you can see, the Avalanche are the clear favorites here. However, the Golden Knights, Oilers, and Stars are clustered there behind them. The Wild could work their way into the mix, and then there are the unproven Kraken, Jets, and Kings. The Flames and Predators are just hoping to make the playoffs at this point.
NHL Futures: Is it worth betting on the Colorado Avalanche?
To win Western Conference: +275
To win Stanley Cup: +600
The Avalanche actually opened the season with shorter odds in both categories here. They were +175 to win the Western Conference before the season and +450 to win the Stanley Cup. So wildly enough, there is some value here.
Colorado had some guys out of the lineup throughout last season and that has unfortunately carried over into this season. That’s the downside of a long Stanley Cup run. Only Mikko Rantanen, J.T. Compher, Alex Newhook, and Logan O’Connor have played in all 61 Avalanche games thus far.
Gabriel Landeskog has yet to play this year after missing 31 games last season. Nathan MacKinnon has missed 11 games. Cale Makar just came back after a concussion and has only played in 48 of 61 games. The list goes on with Bowen Byram now healthy after missing the majority of the season and Valeri Nichushkin having played in barely over half (32) of the games thus far.
The big thing for the Avalanche this year is goaltending. Alexandar Georgiev has been great in net going 26-13-5 with a .918 SV% and 2.66 GAA. Pavel Francouz has been a great backup as well with a 15-7-7 record, .919 SV%, and 2.53 GAA.
Depth is key in the playoffs and the Avalanche have that. They are the favorites for a reason and I would still bet them at +275 to win the West and +600 to win the Cup.
Stanley Cup Futures: Which wild cards are worth sprinkling in Western Conference?
To win Western Conference: +500
To win Stanley Cup: +1400
The Oilers may finally have enough support for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl after trading for Mattias Ekholm at the deadline. However, it’s going to come down to defensive depth and more importantly goaltending in the playoffs in Edmonton.
🔁 TRADE 🔁
The #Oilers have acquired defenceman Mattias Ekholm & a 2024 sixth-round pick from the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenceman Tyson Barrie, forward Reid Schaefer, a 2023 first-round pick & a 2024 fourth-round pick.#LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/Z3oOv0s22f
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 28, 2023
Jack Campbell hasn’t quite panned out in Edmonton and the former Maple Leaf obviously hasn’t made it past the first round of the playoffs. Stuart Skinner entered the season as the backup but has actually started in more games (34 vs. 30) than Campbell.
Edmonton was swept by Colorado in last year’s Western Conference Final after beating the Kings and Flames. Those trade deadline additions may be enough to make the difference.
To win Western Conference: +2200
To win Stanley Cup: +5500
Look, it’s not the best bet but there is some value here. The Flames have been one of the best 5-on-5 teams in the league this season with a 55.09% xGF (per Natural Stat Trick), but their goaltending has let them down.
Jacob Markstrom had nine shutouts and a .922 SV% last season but is down to a putrid .890 SV% in 41 starts this season. He’s looked better as of late, though, and could put it together down the stretch.
The Flames have the third-easiest schedule remaining after a tough stretch in which they’ve lost five straight. This is a good buy-low spot on a team with more talent than it’s shown.
Much like with one of the Eastern Conference value bets I recommended, take this with the thought of hedging or cashing out if the Flames make the playoffs. Alternatively, you can simply bet the Flames to make the playoffs at +210 if that’s more up your alley.
Follow Ryan Gilbert on Twitter (@RGilbertSOP)