The way the Stanley Cup Playoffs have shaken out with such unpredictability, any favorite should be considered a prohibitive one at best.
That said, there is a clear favorite to win it all as the postseason is whittled down to a final four teams. The Carolina Hurricanes (+230) lead the Vegas Golden Knights (+250), Dallas Stars (+300) and Florida Panthers (+330) as the top choice to win the Stanley Cup.
According to Bet MGM, Carolina went from an opening line of +1200 down to its current value.
Any of those four teams could win the Stanley Cup. But they have to get their first. Here’s a look at some of the wagers we have our eyes on for the conference finals.
Dallas Stars to win series (+115)
I’ve been on the Stars as a solid choice in the Western Conference for most of the season. I know I’ve mentioned the following bit of trivia several times on Daily Wager: Dallas coach Peter DeBoer led the New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final in his first years with those teams. He also led the 2020 Vegas Golden Knights to the conference final in his first season there in 2020, before being fired last summer. That’s one of a dozen fascinating subplots to this series.
I think Dallas is a clear choice here for a few reasons. The first is that Vegas is a much better pace-of-play matchup for Dallas than Seattle was in the previous round. The Kraken pushed the tempo to the point where it was deleterious to the Stars’ veteran players. They might be the pacesetters against the Golden Knights.
While Jake Oettinger wasn’t at his best against Seattle, the Stars have a clear advantage in goal over the Knights. While their top line gets the most attention, don’t sleep on the Dallas depth. Evgenii Dadonov, a former Knight, and rookie Wyatt Johnston closed strong in the Seattle series. Vegas had a 5-on-5 advantage against Edmonton they won’t have here. Give me Big ‘D’ over Sin City in the West.
Carolina vs. Florida under 34.5 total goals (-105, BetMGM)
The juice is on the over here because we’re talking about two teams that score with regularity this postseason. Carolina is averaging 3.64 goals per game and Florida is averaging 3.33. Plot that out over a six-game series and it obliterates this total. But I see this series being more in line with the Hurricanes’ first-round affair with the New York Islanders (31 goals in six games) and the Panthers’ second-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs (24 goals in five games). They way Sergei Bobrovsky and Frederik Andersen have locked in, we may even see a couple of goalie duels.
Carter Verhaeghe to lead series in goals (+650, BetMGM)
The Panthers winger had three goals against Toronto in the previous round and has five for the playoffs. Matthew Tkachuk (+400) is the favorite to win this prop, but he’s going to see copious amounts of the Hurricanes’ top defensive pairing of Brent Burns and Jaccob Slavin. Tkachuk had 40 goals and 109 points in the regular season. In two games against Carolina, he had an assist and six shots on goal. Verhaeghe did have a goal in the regular season against Carolina and should have an easier defensive assignment than will Tkachuk.
Six games total in Stars vs. Golden Knights (+180)
My ears perk up when I see something other than seven games leading this prop. The Eastern Conference Final’s top pick is seven games. But the West’s top pick is six games. That makes sense, given that three of the four series the Stars and Golden Knights have played this postseason have wrapped up before Game 7. I’m going with the chalk and assuming this one does as well, with either the Dallas Stars closing out the series at home or the Golden Knights denying them a Game 7 with a Game 6 win.
Roope Hintz to win Conn Smythe (+800)
In the latest ESPN Conn Smythe Watch, which polls potential voters for the award, Hintz was the clear No. 1 choice for playoff MVP through two rounds. His nine goals and 19 points are the highest totals for any active player in the postseason. He scored the critical first goal in both of their elimination games. Barring two rounds of Jake Oettinger dominance or a Joe Pavelski goals explosion, Hintz is a head of the field for the Conn Smythe if the Stars win the Cup.
Brent Burns to win Conn Smythe (+2000)
Sebastian Aho (+600) and Frederik Andersen (+800) have most of the action for playoff MVP if the Hurricanes win it all. But if you’re looking for a value play, how about Burns? He has eight points, only two off the team lead for the playoffs. He’s skating 23:55 a night to lead the team. He’s gotten some solid notices from NHL pundits about his play in Carolina’s run. He’s a well-liked character and defensemen have won the Conn in two of the last three seasons.
Odds courtesy Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.
How to bet the 2023 Stanley Cup conference finals