After the Vegas Golden Knights’ dominant Stanley Cup performance, you’d think that they would be the favourites to win it again this upcoming season. Not so fast. I’m guessing that those who lay out the odds for a Stanley Cup favourite are looking at the quality of a team’s roster and not its history.
As you can tell by the title of this post, the Toronto Maple Leafs are actually the favourite to win the Stanley Cup at the end of the 2023-24 season. That would be a surprise for Maple Leafs’ fans, but the fans are not the arbiters of the odds.
Why the Maple Leafs?
The Eastern Conference-contending Maple Leafs had a strong showing last season, even though they got dumped by a hot goalie in the second round. They fell quite easily to the eventual Eastern Conference champions, the Florida Panthers. Despite that failure, the Maple Leafs enter the new season as favourites. The odds are 9 to 1.
As noted, one would think that the odds-makers are looking at the quality of the team’s skilled roster combined with the determination to go further at the end of the upcoming season.
Joining the Maple Leafs as favourites from the Eastern Conference are the Carolina Hurricanes. That team also made a deep playoff run last season but also got swept by the Panthers. Right now, the Hurricanes are listed at 12 to 1 odds.
The odds-makers see them as having the potential to challenge for the Stanley Cup. The Hurricanes had a strong regular season in 2022-23 and also have a core of good players – including Micheal Bunting who moved over from the Maple Leafs.
Who Are the Western Conference Challengers?
The Eastern Conference teams seem to dominate the favourites list. However, two Western Conference teams are also up there in the odds-maker’s books. One team is the Edmonton Oilers, who are led by two exceptional talents – Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers finished last season with an impressive 109 points. Although they fell short in the second round – to the Golden Knights. However, they start this season also with odds of 12 to 1. The Oilers have the ability.
Last year’s preseason favourites were the Colorado Avalanche. This preseason they also find themselves at 12 to 1 odds. They have a stacked roster that includes Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar. Plus, they have the firepower for a deep playoff run.
What About the Vegas Golden Knights?
It has to be a bit of a surprise that the team that won the Stanley Cup last season is not a favourite. They, too, are listed at 12 to 1 odds. They are just outside of the favourites list. No question, they dominated last season and it wouldn’t be wise to count them out.
The Bottom Line
So there Maple Leafs’ fans go. Their team is the early favourite for the Stanley Cup. Only time will tell which team will ultimately lift the Cup, it has to be a surprise to cynical Maple Leafs fans that the people who make the odds have their team listed first.
We’ll see. Maybe this is the year of the Maple Leafs.