Five Dark Horses Who Could Surprise At The Stanley Cup 2022
Online sportsbooks have released odds on which team will wield the Stanley Cup aloft at the end of the 2021/22 season. The Colorado Avalanche have been named the clear favorites to win, while the Tampa Bay Lightning are the second favorites to seize the Stanley Cup for the third year running. The Vegas Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins are all in the mix too, but what about the dark horses? Which teams could spring a surprise and go on a deep postseason run this season?
The Blackhawks may be +6600 underdogs to win the Stanley Cup this season, but this team has more than enough quality to make a mockery of that line. The addition of Marc-Andre Fleury should give the franchise a huge boost ahead of the new season, while new defenseman Seth Jones will toughen the team up. The main issue for the Hawks last season was Jonathan Toews’ unavailability, but the captain should be back in 2021/22. Chicago still boasts one of the league’s best right wingers in Patrick Kane, and there is depth to this team too. It could be ready to return to its former playoff glory this season.
The Panthers seized second place in the Central Division last season after winning their final six games. Hopes were high heading into the playoffs, but they ultimately suffered a 4-2 First Round defeat to eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay. The sportsbooks have installed the Panthers as +2500 outsiders this time around, but there are plenty of reasons for fans to approach the season in a positive frame of mind. They have a Hall of Fame coach in Joel Queenville, plus two All-Star players in Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. They did well to re-sign Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett and Anthony Duclair in the offseason. The arrival of Sam Reinhart will boost the team’s offensive options, and it may also be time for Spencer Knight to establish himself as the main franchise goaltender. They just had the best season in franchise history. They are in a tough division, but the Panthers should prove very dangerous.
New York Islanders
The Islanders are also +2500 underdogs with some sportsbooks, despite reaching the final four in the past two seasons. They took eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning to Game 7 in the semi-finals, where they were a little unlucky to suffer a narrow defeat. It is easy to see why some bettors are skeptical about this team, but there is still time for some exciting developments to unfold. General manager Lou Lamoriello has signed defenseman Adam Pelech to a team-friendly contract and there is plenty of room in the cap for new signings.
Any team featuring the talents of Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl must be in with a shot of success. McDavid is a freak of nature with the ability to score at will, while Draisaitl is another devastating offensive talent. The arrival of Zach Hyman should slot in nicely alongside that dynamic duo, creating arguably the best offense in the league. The Oilers lack depth and there are question marks over Mike Smith in goal, but they could outscore any team, so they will be dangerous this season.
Could the extensive franchise follow in the footsteps of the Vegas Golden Knights by going all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in its debut season? Probably not, but stranger things have happened. They have an experienced GM in Ron Francis, talented goaltenders in Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger, prolific scorers in Alex Wennberg and Jordan Eberle, and a solid defensive corps in Mark Giordano, Adam Larsson and Vince Dunn, so they could defy expectations.