The Vegas Golden Knights missed the playoffs for the first time in their short history in 2022, but it proved a small price to pay for a Stanley Cup celebration 14 months later.
The Golden Knights were +1800 to win the 2023 Cup in the preseason Las Vegas hockey odds – seventh overall – before recording the most points in the Western Conference during the regular season and going 16-6 in the postseason.
“We stayed with it and kept making hard decisions,” Vegas Team President George McPhee told Sportsnet. “It was never personal with anyone. It was just making this team better if we could do that. And it worked.”
Which teams can make a Vegas-style leap forward next season? Which teams are making the difficult decisions to put themselves in position for a Cup run in 2024? There are certainly varied answers as people make their early NHL predictions.
Colorado (+800) and Edmonton (+1000) are early favorites to win the Cup in the NHL live betting, while Calgary (+2500) and Pittsburgh (+3000) have the lowest odds for teams that missed the 2023 playoffs. Vegas is currently +1200 to repeat.
As well explore a variety of other hockey odds here to win!
Who Moves Up In The East?
Unless important injuries and unforeseen issues occur, there may be only two playoff spots up for grabs in the Eastern Conference next season.
Several teams could make the jump into the postseason, including three teams that have the longest droughts – Buffalo (12 seasons), Detroit (seven) and Ottawa (six).
Most NHL expert’s picks lead with Buffalo, which narrowly missed out in 2023. The Sabres were third in the league in scoring last season, but 26th in goals against. They added defensemen Conor Clifton and Erik Johnson as free agents and Devon Levi showed signs he could be the goalie of the future in April after joining the team.
“Our prime years are still ahead, and to be as close as we were this year, I think we made a big step,” Sabres forward Dylan Cozens told the Buffalo News. “Next year, playoffs are the expectation. We all believe that we will be there, and we know what it takes now.”
Steve Yzerman helped build a two-time Cup champion in Tampa Bay and the general manager is methodically putting together a competitive lineup in Detroit. The Red Wings improved by six points in 2022-23, despite a 0-5-1 finish. Yzerman then made a bold move to acquire talented forward Alex DeBrincat and signed emerging center J.T. Compher to a five-year deal.
“I’m just really excited to join these guys and I see the potential in this group.”https://t.co/KZO8a3DGz5
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) July 10, 2023
Ottawa is building a solid young defense and hopes free-agent Joonas Korpisalo can find his top form while fellow goalie Anton Fosberg gets healthy. Columbus could also be much better if key players such as Patrik Laine stay healthy.
Most NHL picks also give Pittsburgh a strong chance to return to the playoffs. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang need healthy seasons while the Penguins hope goalie Tristan Jarry returns to form. New President of Hockey Operations Kyle Dubas improved the bottom of the lineup with several moves and is hunting Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson in a trade.
Little Change In The West?
If there was an over/under bet on how many teams in the West will be back in the playoffs next season, the NHL line might be set as high as 7½.
Calgary disappointed in 2022-23, but could bounce back if goalie Jacob Markstrom finds his game and new GM Craig Conroy makes a few strong moves. Markstrom had a .892 save percentage last season after posting a .922 mark in 22-23.
New GM Barry Trotz is reworking the Nashville lineup, adding veterans such as Luke Schenn and Ryan O’Reilly to go along with several young players that looked good down the stretch in 2023.
Arizona is moving forward steadily, adding veteran forwards Alex Kerfoot and Jason Zucker, and is tied for last in the odds to win the Stanley Cup at +25000. Chicago has Connor Bedard and will be instantly interesting, but are probably a year or two away. So are rebuilding Anaheim and San Jose.
Who Misses The 2024 Playoffs?
Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto, New Jersey, Carolina and the New York Rangers look to be pretty solid picks at the sportsbook to make the 2024 playoffs in the East.
The Florida Panthers will start the 2023-24 season without several players who were injured in the playoffs, and their long, difficult road in the postseason may affect them.
The New York Islanders boast one of the best goalies in the league in Ilya Sorokin, but have yet to add to an offense that ranked 22nd in the league and a power play that was 30th.
In the West, the Winnipeg Jets may have to deal with off-the-ice issues as star goalie Connor Hellebuyck and 42-goal scorer Mark Scheifele are in the final year of their contracts.
Best Cup Bets At High Odds
If you can get Pittsburgh to win the Cup at the current +3000 odds, it might be worth a wager because that number would come down significantly if the Penguins can acquire Karlsson.
Minnesota is also currently at +3000. The Wild looked capable of winning the West in 2023, but managed three goals in the final three games while losing to Dallas four games to two in the first round, The Wild have added forward Pat Maroon – winner of three Cups – and ranked second in the West in goals-against last season.
Seattle and Buffalo – each at +4000 to win the Cup – are teams on the rise. The Sabres may be a year away from being a Cup contender, but the Kraken was a win from the Western Finals in 2023.