Ice hockey fans are in for a treat over the next few weeks, with the 2023 NHL play-offs scheduled to get underway on April 17.
The battle to reach the Stanley Cup Finals is always fiercely fought and this year will be no different, with several teams in with a genuine chance of lifting the trophy.
Read on as we look at four of the top contenders to win the Stanley Cup, starting with a team that have topped the NHL betting for the past few months.
NHL legend Brett Hull recently said Boston would be ‘very hard to beat’ in the Eastern Conference and it is impossible to argue with his viewpoint.
The Bruins’ team-first ethic has seen them dominate in most statistical categories this season and it would be a brave move to back against them winning the title.
However, no first-place team has lifted the Stanley Cup since the Chicago Blackhawks achieved the feat by beating the Bruins in 2013.
While they undoubtedly have the talent to sweep all before them in the play-offs, there may be better value to be had elsewhere in the outright betting market.
Winning back-to-back Stanley Cups is no easy task, but the Colorado Avalanche will believe they can get the job done this year.
The Avalanche were undoubtedly the standout team in 2021/22, but they have not been quite as dominant in a much-improved Western Conference.
Injuries to key players and the failure to adequately replace Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky have impacted the Avalanche’s performances this term.
However, their roster is still stacked with top-class talent and it would be wise not to underestimate their hopes of winning another Stanley Cup.
Toronto Maple Leafs
History is against the Toronto Maple Leafs in their bid to end one of the longest title droughts in the top four North American sports.
The Leafs last won the Stanley Cup in 1967, while no other Canadian team has lifted the trophy since the Montreal Canadiens 30 years ago.
They have been handed a tricky test in the first round of the play-offs, with Tampa Bay Lighting presenting them with a significant hurdle to overcome.
The Leafs have lost in the opening round of the play-offs in each of the past six years and do not appeal as likely winners of the Stanley Cup this season.
Since winning five Stanley Cups during a storied era for the club (1983/84, 1984/85, 1986/87, 1987/88 & 1989/90), the Edmonton Oilers have become one of the NHL’s biggest underachievers.
However, the Oilers have been one of the best teams over the second half of the season and could be the value bet to end their trophy drought.
Forwards Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman and Evander Kane give the Oilers the chance to win on any given night.
McDavid in particular has a point to prove given his reputation in ice hockey and it would be no surprise to see the Oilers win the 2023 Stanley Cup.