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NHL Stanley Cup Futures: Post Free-Agency Frenzy

Stanley cup futures
Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche lifts the Stanley Cup after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP.

It’s spending season in the NHL as teams jockey for the services of the league’s most coveted free agents. Will one of the signees tip the balance in their new team’s favor? Here are our Stanley Cup futures picks and predictions.

In what has turned into Christmas in July for NHL fans, the sheer chaos that free agency creates can quickly transform a team’s odds to win the Stanley Cup.

Sure, many few teams made gigantic splashes on July 13, but those additions aren’t likely to end with a shiny new star hoisting Lord Stanley’s mug.

The Columbus Blue Jackets snatched up the most coveted free-agent prize in Johnny Gaudreau, but they’re still a few pieces away from contention. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators added Claude Giroux to a surprisingly potent top-six group that includes newly acquired sniper Alex DeBrincat. But the Sens remain more of a fringe playoff squad than a serious contender.

The Detroit Red Wings were the busiest team while making both good and bad moves. They’re still slowly ascending up the Eastern Conference ladder.

Despite sweeping changes leaguewide, the usual suspects still stand tall among the favorites to win the title in 2022-23.

Here are our Stanley Cup futures picks for the 2022-23 season following the first day of the NHL’s free-agency period (odds via FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook).

Stanley Cup Futures Odds

Stanley Cup Futures Picks

  • Colorado Avalanche (+500 via FanDuel)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (+1000 via FanDuel)
  • Carolina Hurricanes (+1200 via DraftKings)

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Stanley Cup Futures Predictions

Avalanche (+500)

The defending champs didn't make any dramatic moves, and that wasn't required regardless.

Losing starting netminder Darcy Kuemper (who signed with the Washington Capitals) was expected following the recent acquisition of Alexandar Georgiev. The team retained the services of key free agents Valeri Nichushkin, Artturi Lehkonen, and Josh Manson. It's uncertain if the Avalanche will be able to create enough cap space to bring back Nazem Kadri, but they’re still in the mix.

With Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar leading the way, this team is still terrifyingly deep and is the class of the NHL until proven otherwise.

Lightning (+1000)

Much like the Avalanche, the Lightning didn’t add a big name to their battle-hardened core. Instead, they locked up the trio of Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli, and Erik Cernak to eight-year contract extensions. The club also added veteran defenseman Ian Cole on a one-year, $3-million deal.

Even with Ondrej Palat leaving for New Jersey, Tampa still very much resembles the team that’s won two cups and made three Stanley Cup Final appearances in as many years.

Hurricanes (+1200)

Fresh off advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Hurricanes went the trade route to improve their roster.

After jettisoning Tony DeAngelo to the Philadelphia Flyers earlier in the week, Carolina made a big move to replace that offensive defenseman, acquiring Brent Burns from the San Jose Sharks. The 2016-17 Norris Trophy winner is no longer an elite defenseman at 37 years old. But he’s still incredibly productive and showed it while notching 10 goals and 54 points over 82 games in 2021-22. 

Carolina wasn’t done there. The Hurricanes took advantage of Vegas’ dire salary-cap situation to snatch up a young defenseman for depth and a proven NHL scorer, giving up only future considerations for Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan.

Pacioretty will immediately slot into the Hurricanes' top six after recording 19 goals and 37 points over 39 games in 2021-22. He's also topped the 30-goal plateau six times in his career. It’s not often a team can net a sniper with Pacioretty’s pedigree for essentially nothing, but the Golden Knight’s complete bungling of their salary cap led to this utter fleecing.

Where to Bet on NHL Stanley Cup Futures

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Stanley Cup futures bets from 7/14/2022 at 8:47 a.m. ET.