The 2023 NHL Free Agency is mostly over. Into August, a few notable free agents remain while most of the top trade candidates have been dealt or will stay put. There could still bebig NHL deals in the next few weeks. But we’ve seen enough to determine who the biggest winners and losers are – using the Stanley Cup odds. And it’s been mostly between the East’s top contenders…
Winners: Is it Finally Carolina’s Time?
We’ve seen this before: Carolina, a growing Stanley Cup contender, makes some big offseason moves only to fall short in the playoffs. This time, the team reacquired Tony DeAngelo then signed Dmitry Orlov to bolster its defense. Then it also re-signed its goaltenders while scooping up Toronto’s Michael Bunting.
These moves shortened the team’s Stanley Cup odds to +800 from its opener of +1200. At their current NHL line, Carolina is now favored out of the East (thanks to another contender’s regression) and is tied with Colorado as the top two cup contenders.
Does Pittsburgh have one last Stanley Cup run in it? Under new executive Kyle Dubas, the Penguins did plenty to re-tool around the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The pair are in their late 30s but are still capable enough to lead Pittsburgh on a deep playoff run. The team’s new acquisitions have improved Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup odds from +3500 in June to +3000 now.
Dubas gave the team’s bottom-six a much-needed upgrade by signing Lars Eller and Noel Acciari in the middle. He also signed Ryan Graves to be a lynchpin on defense. In net, Tristan Jarry is back on a long-term deal and Alex Nedeljkovic was signed to back him up. If “defense wins championships”, Pittsburgh is on the right path.
On top of winning the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, the Blackhawks made the biggest NHL Free Agency news. Chicago acquired two former Hart Trophy winners in Taylor Hall and Corey Perry. It also signed Nick Foligno, a former captain, along with Ryan Donato. Overall, the Blackhawks made sure to give its prized rookie a lot of help in his first year.
While Perry and Foligno will be valued more for their leadership, Hall still brings plenty by way of his NHL stats. He scored 44 goals and 111 points in 158 games with Boston. He’s also scored 20+ goals in a season seven times in his career. While Chicago’s Stanley Cup odds did not shorten, this team could be much better than it was last NHL season.
Losers: Bruins on the Decline
The Bruins set an NHL regular season record in 2022-23 only to choke in the first round of the playoffs. And things might get rougher this coming season as captain Patrice Bergeron retired. On top of that, the team traded away Hall, lost Orlov and Tyler Bertuzzi, and possibly center David Krejci. As such, Boston’s Stanley Cup odds lengthened from +1100 to +1200.
Calgary’s title odds have gone from +2500 to +3000 and it could grow longer as the team continues to lose players. The team traded away Tyler Toffoli for Yegor Sharangovich. It could prove to be a good deal in the long term, but it’s definitely a short-term loss. Elias Lindholm is also asking to be traded as the team pivots from a proven albeit outdated coach in Daryl Sutter.
The Sabres are “losers” by way of not doing much during the offseason. Its title odds remain the same at +4000 and its young core of stars are ready to build on 2022-23 NHL Free Agency. But the team, with its salary cap space, needed to make some impact moves. Maybe improve the goaltending or team depth. With Detroit and Ottawa making moves, Buffalo is once again being left behind.Follow us on Twitter
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