Stanley Cup 2013: Early Odds and Predictions for Next Season

Brad KurtzbergContributor IJuly 4, 2012

Stanley Cup 2013: Early Odds and Predictions for Next Season

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    Sure, it's still early July and a lot can and will happen before the 2012-13 hockey season gets under way in October (barring a lockout), but here is an early look at the odds each team has of winning the Stanley Cup.

    Sure, these odds will change with the next big free agent signing and the next big trade, but even in the offseason, teams are competing with each other for talent and trying to put together the best collection of players that they can while staying under the salary cap.

    Here is a look at each team's chances of winning the Stanley Cup as of July 4, 2012.

30. Columbus Blue Jackets 75-1

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    The Blue Jackets finished with the league's worst record last season so changes were inevitable. They have brought in a new backup goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky and some new players like Nick Foligno and Adrian Aucoin. Top draft pick Ryan Murray should also help but there are still more questions in Columbus than answers.

    The team will look very different when they complete the trade for Rick Nash which should net the Jackets some new players and future draft choices.

    As of right now, however, the Blue Jackets still have to be considered the longest of long shots to win the Stanley Cup in 2013.

29. Calgary Flames 60-1

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    The Flames will look different next season, but how much better they will be remains to be seen. Olli Jokinen is out, Jiri Hudler is in.

    The Flames also overpaid for defenseman Dennis Wideman and signed him to a multi-year deal. The team still lacks a physical element on the blueline which ranked 29th in hits last year in the league.

    Calgary's best two players remain Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff who are both 35 and rapidly losing trade value if the team wants to rebuild with youth and start again. All moves indicate the Flames are not going that route and will continue to chase 8th place rather than try to strip the team down and acquire some high draft picks to establish dominance in the long run, much like the Blackhawks and Penguins have done in recent years.

28. New York Islanders 60-1

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    The Islanders are moving in the right direction but still need a few more pieces to be contenders.

    John Tavares and Matt Moulson lead a good crop of young and talented forwards and the team brought in Lubomir Visnovsky to upgrade a defense that lacked depth last year.

    The Islanders are trying to add size and grit because in the past few seasons, they have lacked sandpaper and have been too easy to play against.

    More of the young forwards need to blossom and there are too many "what-ifs" right now for the Islanders to be considered serious Stanley Cup contenders. Locking down the team's first playoff berth since 2007 would be a good first step.

27. Edmonton Oilers 50-1

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    The Oilers have a lot of young, talented forwards after picking at or near the top of the draft for so many years. They should have some very good goal scorers up and down their lineup when all of these kids blossom but that will still take a little more time.

    Defense remains a big issue in Edmonton however, although signing free agent Justin Schultz was a good first step. There are goaltending issues as well since Nikolai Khabibulin is getting older and Devan Dubnyk remains unproven as a full-time NHL starter.

    Some experienced forwards to compliment and mentor the young guns would also help.

    Like the Islanders, this is a team heading in the right direction, but they are still a few steps away from being a Stanley Cup contender.

26. Winnipeg Jets 50-1

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    The Jets are the opposite of the Oilers in that they are deep on defense and solid in goal but need more help up front to compete.

    Goalie Ondrej Pavelec has been locked up long term and players like Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien give Winnipeg a strong blueline corps.

    But up front the Jets lack scoring prowess and have too many spare parts playing prime roles. Adding Olli Jokinen provides some scoring punch, but Jokinen has only played in six career playoff games after playing in 1,042 regular season contests. He is not a true first line player and is not considered clutch.

    The Jets are rebuilding and doing it by starting in goal and on defense but they lack the offensive talent and depth to be more than a long shot for the 2013 Stanley Cup.

25. Toronto Maple Leafs 50-1

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    The Leafs added more size and some more scoring punch by acquiring James van Riemsdyk from Philadelphia and signing checking center Jay McClement as a free agent, but there are still question marks surrounding this team, especially in goal.

    James Reimer just doesn't seem to be a true NHL number one goalie, and while a trade for Roberto Luongo remains a possibility, the Leafs still don't have a goalie on their roster they can ride to the playoffs, let alone to a Stanley Cup title.

    GM Brian Burke has not finished making moves to try to improve this team which will probably add size in addition to a goalie. As of right now though, the Leafs look like they will go another year without sipping champagne from the Stanley Cup, something they haven't done since 1967.

24. Montreal Canadiens 40-1

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    The Canadiens locked up goaltender Carey Price to a long-term deal which guarantees that their best player will stay in town for years to come.

    New GM Marc Bergevin is trying to add some of the size that the Habs have been lacking in recent years but still needs to eliminate some dead wood (Scott Gomez) and add some more scoring and depth up front for this team to flourish.

    Montreal is a team in flux and is just beginning to be molded into the club Bergevin and new coach Michel Therrien would like to put on the ice. It will take at least another year or two before their efforts start to pay off.

23. Ottawa Senators 35-1

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    Ottawa still has some very talented players like Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and captain Daniel Alfredsson. Goalie Craig Anderson played very well last year, especially in the playoff series against the Rangers.

    But the Sens lost some key players this offseason as well. Defensemen Filip Kuba and Matt Carkner are gone, as is fourth-line center Zenon Konopka. Ottawa needs to add some depth on the blueline to replace the departed free agents, and losing Carkner and Konopka means some grit and toughness will need to be added as well.

    The Sens are mostly young and building for the future, but they may take a small step back before taking two steps forward in their rebuilding plan.

22. Minnesota Wild 35-1

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    The Wild ranked dead last in the league in goals scored last year, but the signing of free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter should help remedy that problem.

    Minnesota can still use some more depth on defense and a healthy Niklas Backstrom in net.

    Even with the signing of Parise, some more scoring prowess would be a big help in Minnesota although Parise should be a big help to players like Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi.

    The addition of the two biggest free agents on the market improves the Wild a lot, but they are still a few pieces away from being serious Cup contenders.

21. Carolina Hurricanes 35-1

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    The addition of Jordan Staal gives the Canes size and skill up front, and they now posses two of the three Staal brothers playing in the NHL. Add Jeff Skinner to the mix and there are some very good goal scorers up front.

    Joe Corvo returns for another tour of duty with Carolina to add defensive depth and Cam Ward is a very good goaltender.

    Still, more blueline help is needed and some more role players up front would be helpful as well.

    If Jordan Staal adjusts well to his new role as a top line center, the Canes could very well make the playoffs but they are still a few players away from being legitimate Cup contenders.

20. Phoenix Coyotes 35-1

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    The Coyotes won the Pacific Division last year and made a run to the Western Conference Finals but more questions than answers have been provided so far this offseason.

    Phoenix lost Ray Whitney, a high scoring veteran as well as defenseman Adrian Auccoin (who can easily be replaced) but the big question is what about the future of captain Shane Doan.

    Doan is waiting to see what happens with the team's ownership before he agrees to re-sign with the Coyotes. If they lose Doan, they lose the heart and soul of this team because of ongoing ownership and lease issues

    Phoenix also lacks scoring depth and talented scoring forwards in their system so if they lose Doan, they lack immediate replacements.

    Things change if their captain returns but right now, Phoenix has off-ice distractions and the potential loss of their leader to deal with.

19. Colorado Avalanche 35-1

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    The Avalanche added some offense in free agent P.A. Parenteau who should help the power play and set up scorers like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly.

    Re-signing Ryan Wilson, Shane O'Brien and Erik Johnson ensures that the defense will have some solid depth as well.

    The big question remains in goal where the duo of J.S. Giguere and Semyon Varlamov may represent a player past his prime and another who hasn't reached his yet.

    The Avs are young and talented and will make a serious run at a playoff spot this year but are still far from favorites to bring the Cup back to Denver in 2012-13.

18. Tampa Bay Lightning 30-1

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    The Lightning have plenty of offensive fire power but their goaltending remains the biggest issue surrounding this team.

    GM Steve Yzerman went out and traded for Anders Lindback from Nashville, but he has yet to prove he is a bona fide NHL starter although he has shown potential in limited action with the Predators. The Bolts also drafted Andrei Vasilevski in the first round but he is still a few years away from the NHL.

    Some more depth on defense would aid Lindback or whoever ends up starting for Tampa Bay.

17. Dallas Stars 30-1

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    There have been a lot of changes in Dallas this offseason as mainstays like Mike Ribeiro and Steve Ott are gone and players like Derek Roy, Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney have been added to the mix.

    Dallas had the most anemic power play in the NHL last season and the addition of Jagr and Whitney should help turn that around.

    Some more grit would be useful now that Adam Burish has signed with San Jose and perhaps some more depth on the blueline is needed.

    The Stars are going to be very different in 2012-13. There will almost certainly be a learning period as these new players learn to mesh with each other and feel comfortable in their new roles.

    On paper, Dallas should be improved, but they still have a ways to go before becoming serious Cup contenders.

16. Nashville Predators 30-1

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    The Preds signed many of their potential free agents but lost the most important one, defenseman Ryan Suter.

    Now Nashville needs to sign RFA Shea Weber to a long term deal or they quickly go from having one of the better defensive corps in the league to having a very average one.

    The Preds still have one of the best goalies in the league in Pekka Rinne and can roll out four lines on opposing teams to wear them down.

    GM David Poile has always found a way to ice a contending team despite losing key players to free agency over the years, and Coach Barry Trotz gets the most out of that talent.

    With the loss of Suter, the Preds have taken a step back, but never doubt that they will find a way to take a step or two forward in the long run.

15. Florida Panthers 30-1

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    The Panthers were big spenders last year in free agency to get above the cap floor and add some badly needed talent to their roster.

    This year, GM Dale Tallon lost some important players like defenseman Jason Garrison and winger Mikael Samuelsson. He did manage to add tough guy George Parros and defenseman Filip Kuba and keep backup goalie Scott Clemmensen.

    Goaltending remains a question mark with Jose Theodore's health and consistency at issue. The Panthers could also use some more scoring up front.

    Florida remains a work in progress, but in the long run, they are on the right track to become a consistent playoff contender.

14. New Jersey Devils 25-1

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    So far, New Jersey has had a busy off-season, mostly re-signing their own potential free agents like goalies Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg and defenseman Bryce Salvador but losing captain Zach Parise.

    With the departure of their captain, the Devils don't just lose a 30-goal scorer, they lose their leader and the heart and soul of the team. Even with Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey needs to add another goal scorer now.

    The Devils still need some more help on defense. Their defenseman really overachieved in the playoffs and they cannot count on a similar performance from the same group over 82 games.

    Financial issues are affecting this team right now but GM Lou Lamoriello usually finds a way to get something done. Look for him to try to make some moves to compensate for Parise's loss.

13. Anaheim Ducks 25-1

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    The Ducks are a team in transition and it's not clear what the final product will look like once the team takes the ice in October.

    Bobby Ryan's future with the club remains in doubt and what the Ducks will get in return will be a key to their future.

    Already, Anaheim has said goodbye to Lubomir Visnovsky, Sheldon Brookbank and popular enforcer George Parros.

    In their place, GM Bob Murray has brought in Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen to add size to the blueline and Brad Staubitz to replace Parros.

    There is talent and a bit more size this year in Anaheim, but the final shape of the Ducks won't be known until the dust settles and Bobby Ryan either stays or is traded to another team.

12. Buffalo Sabres 25-1

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    The Sabres have pretty good talent on their roster but their glaring weakness was exposed last November when Boston's Milan Lucic ran over goalie Ryan Miller and no Sabres player came to defend their goalie.

    With the need to get tougher in mind, Buffalo went out and acquired gritty Steve Ott from the Stars and added big enforcer John Scott.

    The Sabres are loaded on the blueline and may move one of their defensemen to add even more grit or scoring depth.

    Miller gives them a very good goalie who keeps them in most games. He got off to a slow start last year but came back like gangbusters in the second half of the season.

    The Sabres nearly made the playoffs after a bad start last year. They should do better in 2012-13.

11. San Jose Sharks 22-1

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    The San Jose Sharks are in a state of limbo. They remain a very talented bunch, but for whatever reason, the team cannot seem to rise to the occasion in the playoffs, and it is likely that some of the club's core players need to be moved if they are to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup.

    Unfortunately, the most logical asset to trade, Patrick Marleau, has a no-movement clause and may not be willing to waive it.

    Adding Adam Burish will give the Sharks a little more grit and toughness, which also couldn't hurt. He has also won a Stanley Cup and that intangible is badly needed as well.

    This team is deep and talented but is clearly lacking something. Unless GM Doug Wilson shakes things up a bit more, look for more regular seasons wins but another playoff washout next season.

10. Washington Capitals 18-1

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    The Caps have a new head coach in Adam Oates but the roster as of now looks very similar to the one that was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the New York Rangers.

    Alexander Semin won't be back. GM George McPhee only added depth with the free agent signings of forward Joey Crabb and defenseman Jack Hillen.

    If Oates can get Alexander Ovechkin motivated again and Nicklas Backstrom can stay healthy, the Caps could be dangerous again.

    They have a pair of talented young goalies in Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, who could take them very far.

    More than anything, the Caps need to find out what kind of identity they want this team to have and then build a team to fit that identity. Oates will have his work cut out for him but talent-wise, the Capitals are as good as any team in this league.

9. Philadelphia Flyers 14-1

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    Despite signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a huge, multi-year contract last summer, goaltending still remains a question mark in Philadelphia.

    The team's defense also remains an issue. The Flyers really missed Chris Pronger who may be forced to retire, and his loss would be harmful to the team. Pronger was a leader. He played a lot of minutes and was a force in all three zones.

    The addition of Luke Schenn will help the defense, but anyone who saw the Flyers play either Pittsburgh or New Jersey in the playoffs saw a defense that was vulnerable and sub-par. The likely loss of Matt Carle won't help.

    The Flyers will also be without James van Riemsdyk and Jaromir Jagr.

    GM Paul Holmgren always looks to make big moves. Don't be surprised if he pulls another major deal off before the season gets under way. Right now, the Flyers are talented but flawed. How Holmgren addresses those flaws is the key to the 2012-13 season in Philadelphia.

8. Boston Bruins 14-1

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    Like the Flyers, the Bruins are a team with a lot of talent but a few questions as well.

    The loss of goalie Tim Thomas for a season has to be addressed although Tuukka Rask has already been a successful starter in the NHL.

    The Bruins lost complimentary pieces in defensemen Joe Corvo and Greg Zanon, both of whom should be easily replaced.

    The B's still have depth, size and skill up front and should be in for another successful season.

    Boston will be back. Whether Rask can match Thomas' leadership and clutch play will be bigger issues than his day-to-day performance.

7. Detroit Red Wings 14-1

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    The Red Wings have a huge hole to fill with the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom was one of the best defensemen of all-time and his consistency, leadership and efficiency will be difficult to replace.

    There is still a lot of talent on this team, but last year, something was missing late in the season and they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

    GM Ken Holland needs to add another element to get Detroit back into the short list of truly elite teams in this league. They aren't far off now. Expect Holland to make some kind of move before the season gets under way in October.

6. Vancouver Canucks 12-1

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    The Canucks have won back-to-back President's Trophies and yet there are still some question marks surrounding this team.

    Roberto Luongo is not expected to return and what Vancouver gets in return for him is important. The club can use some more scoring depth. They also need to know that Corey Schneider can handle a full season as a starter in net.

    If both Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler are healthy, that will help Vancouver's offense.

    Defenseman Jason Garrison should be the quarterback on the power play and make the loss of veterans Sami Salo and Aaron Rome easier to swallow.

    There is still a lot of talent on the Canucks roster, and while a third straight President's Trophy will be asking a lot, this team has the chance to contend for the Stanley Cup if Schneider proves himself a bona fide playoff goalie.

5. New York Rangers 12-1

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    The Rangers are a hard-working team with a solid defense and arguably the best goalie in the league in Henrik Lundqvist. They have a coach that has won a Stanley Cup in John Tortorella and some top offensive stars like Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.

    But the Rangers lack scoring depth and struggled to put up points consistently. GM Glen Sather needs to add firepower to the lineup and may still do so via trade. The Broadway Blueshirts are rumored to be very interested in Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan, but what it would cost to bring those players in remains a big question.

    Some more depth on defense would help come playoff time although the top four is strong.

    The Rangers seem like they are one or two pieces away from becoming a true Cup contender.

4. St. Louis Blues 12-1

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    The Blues just missed winning the President's Trophy last year by two points. They are a talented and deep team that plays all out for Coach Ken Hitchcock.

    St. Louis also has two very good goalies in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. They have balance and scoring depth.

    GM Doug Armstrong would ideally like to add one more defenseman to the roster but that is a luxury more than a necessity.

    Unless Hitchcock starts to wear out his welcome, the Blues should be back in the thick of the hunt for the Stanley Cup again next year.

3. Chicago Blackhawks 12-1

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    The Blackhawks have talent up and down the roster and should be among the top contenders for the Stanley Cup.

    The biggest questions surrounding the team are the return to health of players like Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews from injuries and the goaltending of Corey Crawford. Many experts are still not sold on Crawford's ability to be a goalie who can carry a team to the Stanley Cup.

    If the Blackhawks are healthy, they should be in the thick of things come next May or June.

2. Los Angeles Kings 11-1

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    It's tough to repeat as Stanley Cup champions in this day and age but the Los Angeles Kings just may have what it takes.

    Most of the team that won the Cup last year should be back. The Kings have size and depth, an elite young defenseman in Drew Doughty and one of the best goalies in the league in Jonathan Quick.

    Will the traditional Stanley Cup hangover affect this team? We'll see. Goal scoring may also be an issue but it shouldn't be nearly as bad as it was last year.

    Look for the Kings to contend for the next few years.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins 8-1

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    What is a healthy Sidney Crosby worth? If he can play 70 or more games this year, the duo of Crosby and Malkin gives the Penguins elite offensive firepower.

    The bigger questions remain on defense though. The Pens lacked grit and toughness on the blue line in their ugly playoff loss to Philadelphia. It even seemed like their compete level was lacking.

    Also, can Marc-Andre Fleury bounce back from a horrible playoff performance? The Pens have added veteran Tomas Vokoun as a backup just in case.

    The talent is there, the effort needs to be picked up a bit and the team needs to stay healthy. If all of that falls into place, the Penguins should be Stanley Cup favorites.