Through two games of last spring’s 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs second-round series, the Colorado Avalanche emerged as favorites to hoist the Cup after dominating the Vegas Golden Knights in a showdown that featured the league’s top two teams.
But the Golden Knights clamped down on the Avs’ vaunted top line over the next four games in eliminating the NHL’s President Cup Trophy winners in six games. After three consecutive second-round departures in recent seasons, the Avalanche are motivated to finally break through in the 2021-22 season getting underway this week.
At DraftKings, Colorado (+475) has been installed as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup on sports betting futures markets. Bettors have backed the Avalanche on an astounding 33% of the futures handle at the sportsbook, an amount that tops the Islanders (11%), the next closest team, by a significant margin.
The biggest change for the Avs comes between the pipes following the departure of 2021 Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer. With the Game 2 win over the Knights in June before things collapsed, Grubauer notched his 10th straight playoff victory, becoming just the 10th goalie in NHL to accomplish the feat. But Grubauer jumped to Seattle when contract negotiations with the Avalanche broke down in July.
The Avs responded by acquiring Darcy Kuemper from Arizona for defenseman Conor Timmins, a 2022 first-round pick, and a conditional 2024 third-round pick. Kuemper, a veteran netminder, recorded a goals-against average under 3.00 goals per game in each of his last three regular seasons. At 6’5, Kuemper uses the butterfly style and his massive frame to close shooting lanes against opposing teams.
Kuemper is the most popular choice at DraftKings to win the Vezina Trophy, given annually to the league’s top goalie. Approximately 34% of the handle on the market comes from wagers on Kuemper (10/1).
The Avs also lost dependable forward Joonas Donskoi to the Kraken in the expansion draft. Colorado will miss Donskoi as well as Brandon Saad, who signed a five-year, $22.5 million deal with St. Louis in July. The Avs softened the blow with the signing of veteran center Darren Helm and the acquisition of defenseman Kurtis MacDermid, who could see time at forward.
Colorado again will be led by a bevy of star players in forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, along with defenseman Cale Makar. MacKinnon, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, has never won the Hart Memorial Trophy, given annually to the league’s most valuable player. A four-time all-star, MacKinnon finished as a Hart finalist in 2018.
At DraftKings, MacKinnon (+650) is the second choice on the MVP market behind Oilers forward Connor McDavid. MacKinnon will miss Wednesday’s opener against the Blackhawks after testing positive for COVID-19.
Let me correct this: COL GM Joe Sakic announces that Nathan MacKinnon tested positive for COVID. He is asymptomatic, will miss Wednesday’s game — Saturday is not yet determined
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 12, 2021
Makar, meanwhile, is the favorite to win the Norris Trophy, which the NHL awards each season to the league’s top defenseman. As a rookie last season, Makar was the league’s only defenseman to average at least a point per game. Makar has odds of +350 to win the award, far ahead of second choice Adam Fox (+700), a defenseman with the Rangers.
As with any futures wager, astute bettors should shop around at multiple books. Using the Avs’ season points total as an example, Colorado’s over/under total is 111.5 points at both FanDuel and BetMGM. But two other top books, PointsBet and DraftKings, have listed it at 110.5. PointsBet has considerable juice on the over at -140, while DraftKings offers a better return at -125.
Over the last decade, the Avs’ top season points total occurred in 2013-2014 when winning the Central Division with 112 points.
The Avs are -205 favorites to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in Wednesday night’s opener.