The NHL off-season has hit the summer doldrums, but by no means is the excitement of player movement done yet. A few big-name free agents, including Nazem Kadri and John Klingberg, who were expected to land lucrative contracts, remain unsigned. Arbitration hearings are also coming up, which include hearings for breakout players Andrew Mangiapane and Jesper Bratt.
BetMGM has updated their odds following the free agent frenzy, though the defending champion Avalanche remains at the top of the list. The teams at the top remain largely unchanged, though note the Blackhawks have hit rock bottom odds-wise, joining the Coyotes at 501.00 odds.
Here’s a look at some interesting movements in the betting landscape:
Panthers – 10.00
In the short term, we don’t know if the Matthew Tkachuk deal will work out, but the Panthers have improved their odds slightly from 11.00. By trading MacKenzie Weegar, their defense is now even thinner than before; not to mention the up-and-down Sergei Bobrovsky remains in net. But was the trade also meant to be a culture change? Putting aside the high cost of extending both Weegar and Jonathan Huberdeau’s impending extensions in 2023, which the Panthers were clearly not keen on doing, note Huberdeau scored just one goal in the playoffs and only five in 26 career playoff games, while Weegar struggled mightily against the rival Lightning. It’s hard to quantify what adding the ultra-competitive Tkachuk will do to the locker room and their on-ice performance. However, they’re still an unproven squad with significant roster turnover. if there’s little value at 11.00, then there’s definitely less at 10.00. Are we sure the Panthers’ chances are better than the Lightning (11.00) or Hurricanes (13.00)?
Flames – 23.00
The Flames still need to replace Johnny Gaudreau, and that’s likely the biggest reason from their slip at 19.00, but they may also boast the best six-man blue line group in the league. Even if the Flames shed a defenseman – hopefully, it’s Nikita Zadorov – it’s still an impressive group and Jacob Markstrom is a top goaltender. Brad Treliving was emphatic that this group remains competitive and don’t rule out the Flames adding pieces later in the season. They’re being discounted after a franchise-altering summer, but that also means they’re a much more intriguing value bet now.
Red Wings – 41.00
The Wings jump up from 51.00, and rightfully so after buying an entire scoring line Andrew Copp, David Perron and Dominik Kubalik. They also shored up their blue line with Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta, with Simon Edvinsson possibly stepping in as a Calder candidate, and added depth in net with Ville Husso. The bad news is the Atlantic is going to be a warzone and their path will be harder than the Canucks (51.00) or even Blue Jackets (81.00), so despite the odds boost they remain a longshot and need a lot to go right even to make the playoffs.
Senators – 51.00
The Sens were one of the biggest risers, going from 81.00 to 51.00 following the trades for Alex DeBrincat and Cam Talbot without shedding any key pieces from their roster. It’s a supremely talented young group with tons of upside, but like the Wings, face tough competition in the Atlantic. They’re a fun dark horse to bet on right now, but there seems to be a bit too much hype for a team that’s still really inexperienced, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see their odds drop back down when the season starts.
Devils – 67.00
The Devils also move up another tier even though they struck out on both Gaudreau and Tkachuk. The addition of Ondrej Palat and Vitek Vanecek should give them a big boost, but much of their chances will still hinge on Nico Hischier’s health and Jack Hughes’ ascension into elite status. If Hischier can stay healthy and Hughes becomes a top-10 center, the Devils have the pieces to make the playoffs and perhaps stage an upset. I like what the Devils have done and the Metro will be a tough, tough slog. Interestingly enough, the Devils are the only team in this odds “tier” with the Sabres, Jets and Flyers seeing their odds drop to 81.00, 81.00 and 151.00, respectively.
Blue Jackets – 81.00
The Jackets’ big off-season splash moves them up a tier in the betting odds from 101.00, the fourth-lowest odds when the 2023 Cup odds were first released. Adding Johnny Gaudreau is exciting but there are still a lot of holes to fill, especially at center on the top line, and their main path to success would be for Gaudreau and Patrik Laine to form the best duo in the league. However, let’s not forget that staging upsets and surprising everyone has been very much part of the Jackets’ DNA under Jarmo Kekalainen, who’s surely one of the boldest GM’s in the league. If there’s a team to take advantage of for value betters in the league’s bottom tier, it’s definitely the Jackets.
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