- BetOnline’s NHL Central Division futures heavily favor the Colorado Avalanche (-175)
- The defending Stanley Cup champions finished with the second-most points in the league last year, behind only the Florida Panthers
- Nashville (+1200) and San Jose kick off the 2022–23 season in Prague, Czech Republic on October 7, 2022
Colorado won its first Stanley Cup since 2001, defeating the two-time defending champions from Tampa in six games. While the Lightning and Penguins repeated in recent years, they are the only teams to pull off the feat since the NHL salary cap was introduced in 2005.
For this exercise, however, we’re not asking if the Avalanche can climb the NHL’s mountaintop once again. We’re debating whether betting on Nathan MacKinnon’s club to claim the Central is safe money at -175.
|St. Louis Blues||+900|
Avs in a league of their own?
The Avalanche (-175) lost Nazem Kadri, Darcy Kuemper and Andre Burakovsky in free agency, but re-signed two key playoff performers in Artturi Lehkonen and Valeri Nichushkin. Colorado’s biggest question is in net, where Alexandar Georgiev and Pavel Francouz will form an inexperienced tandem. However, general manager Joe Sakic was wise to save money on the goalie position and devote his club’s resources elsewhere.
Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen are a terrific trio up front. And last year’s Norris Trophy and Conn Smythe winner, Cale Makar, forms a dynamic duo with Devon Toews on the backend.
1 Stanley Cup
1 Conn Smythe Trophy
1 Norris Trophy
No. 1 defenseman
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 28, 2022
Wild or Blues?
Russian superstar Kirill Kaprizov is a sneaky bet to win the Rocket Richard Trophy (+1200) after exploding for 47 goals and 108 points in only his second NHL season. Yet, Minnesota’s odds (+400) are egregiously priced when compared to the Blues at +900. The Wild have a strong young team, but it’s hard to say they’re better after trading away winger Kevin Fiala, who registered 33 goals and 85 points in 2021-22.
Meanwhile, St. Louis finished just four points back of Minnesota last year and arguably gave Colorado their most-competitive playoff series. With stallions like Robert Thomas or Ryan O’Reilly up the middle and a respectable defense corps, the Blues aren’t a bad hedge in case the Avs suffer a few injuries this season.
"Not only is he offensively talented, a magician at times with the puck, he's really good his own zone, too."
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 30, 2022
Dallas or Nashville?
Dallas (+1100) is a team in a steep decline thanks to their two $10-million players, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, being well past their expiry dates. The Stars also lost offensive defenseman John KIingberg to Anaheim in free agency.
Nashville (+1100) is the far better bet at the same price. With Mattias Ekholm and Norris finalist Roman Josi already in tow, the Predators beefed up their blueline by adding two-time Cup champ Ryan McDonagh on the cheap. David Poile also brought in Nino Niederreiter to add some scoring depth behind Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen.
Even at -175, Colorado is a safe bet to win the Central this season. However, it might be wise to cover your investment with a few smaller wagers on both St. Louis (+900) and Nashville (+1100).
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you: