Colorado Avalanche Emerge As Stanley Cup Favorite At Top Sportsbooks

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A challenging but promising 2020 season for the Colorado Avalanche screeched to an abrupt halt when Joel Kiviranta’s goal 7:24 into overtime lifted the Dallas Stars past the Avs in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

The Avalanche, one of the top favorites to hoist the Stanley Cup last year, were eliminated from the conference semifinals for the second consecutive season. But months later as the 2021 NHL season kicks off, the Avs remain a chic choice among sports bettors to win the Cup. On the eve of Colorado’s opening night showdown against St. Louis, the Avalanche were the top choice in Stanley Cup futures at PointsBet (+550). Several other prominent sportsbooks list Colorado in their Top 3 among Stanley Cup contenders for the upcoming season.

Colorado last won the Stanley Cup in 2001, the second of its two Stanley Cup victories in franchise history.

Bringing the Cup back to the Rockies

There’s reason to be bullish on the Avalanche, who open the season tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Forward Nathan MacKinnon recorded 93 points in 69 games last season, only six points below MacKinnon’s career-high from a season earlier when he appeared in 82 games.

At DraftKings, MacKinnon is the +550 second choice to win the Hart Trophy, behind Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (+450). Two other Avs, forward Gabriel Landeskog and defenseman Cale Makar, are both longshots at 100/1. The trophy is awarded annually to the league’s most valuable player.

Makar, a second-year defenseman from Calgary, captured the Calder Trophy given each year to the NHL’s top rookie. A talented two-way player, Makar received help in the offseason when the Avalanche acquired Devon Toews from the Islanders. Makar has been paired with Toews throughout training camp, establishing a formidable duo on the blue line.

Makar also has odds of 12/1 to win the Norris Trophy, an award bestowed upon the league’s top defenseman. The Avs’ defenseman is the co-sixth choice with Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes. Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman is the favorite at +400.

Temporary realignment

For this season only, the Avalanche will compete in the eight-team West Division, one of four new divisions created by the NHL. Typically, Colorado plays in the Central Division, a division the Avs last won in 2014. But with considerable travel issues into Canada due to COVID-19, the NHL realigned the league’s divisional structure for the season. Two other Central Division teams, the Blues and the Minnesota Wild, were moved to the West by the NHL.

While the Avs will likely face stiff competition from the Vegas Golden Knights for the division title, they could benefit from a lack of depth throughout the division as a whole. Three California teams, San Jose, Anaheim, and Los Angeles, are all in the midst of long rebuilding projects.

At PointsBet, the Avs have odds of +115 to win the West, just ahead of the Golden Knights (+125). The Blues are the third choice with odds of +500. The Avs have a 44.8% probability to win the West, according to Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN) hockey expert Andy MacNeil, ahead of Vegas (32.5%) and St. Louis (14.7%).

Colorado’s season-point total at PointsBet is 74.5 points. The regular season has been reduced to 56 games per team, with the playoffs tentatively scheduled to end in July. Colorado’s expected point total, according to MacNeil’s projections, has been set at 73.1 points.

For bettors interested in playing season-long props, there are a few intriguing ones on the market. A prop from FanDuel on MacKinnon’s points for the season lists his total at 70.5, while one for Makar asks bettors to predict if the defenseman will record over 47.5. The Avalanche must play in a minimum of 48 games for the props to be valid. DraftKings has another prop that allows bettors to wager on the player to lead the team in goals. MacKinnon is the overwhelming favorite, ahead of Mikko Rantanen and Landeskog.

On Wednesday night, the Avalanche are -148 moneyline favorites to defeat the Blues at DraftKings.

Matt is a veteran writer with a specific focus on the emerging sports gambling market. During Matt's two decade career in journalism, he has written for the New York Times, Forbes, The Guardian, Reuters and CBSSports.com among others. In his spare time, Matt is an avid reader, a weekend tennis player and a frequent embarrassment to the sport of running.

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