NHL Season Preview: 5 Stanley Cup Favorites for 2022–23

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper hoists the Stanley Cup during the Colorado Avalanche Championship celebration at Civic Center Park on June 30, 2022. Photo Courtesy: Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty Images

The 2022–2023 National Hockey League (NHL) regular season starts on October 11, and experts are already weighing in about which team is shaping up to be the next Stanley Cup champs. While anything’s possible this early on, five teams are already turning heads based on the quality of their lineup, past performances and overall potential heading into the 2022–23 season. So, if you’re wondering which teams are currently Stanley Cup favorites, we’ve got you covered.

What Is the Stanley Cup?

The Stanley Cup is the NHL championship trophy awarded to the winner of the Stanley Cup playoffs, a four-round, best-of-seven series elimination tournament. In total, eight teams participate each year, with their performance during the regular season and position within their divisions playing a big role in whether teams reach the playoffs.

The concept of the Stanley Cup was first proposed in 1892 by Lord Stanley of Preston. The original version was a silver bowl, but it changed over time to become the large trophy people know today.

Canadian professional hockey player Troy Loney (second from right) — and former forward for the Pittsburgh Penguins — hoists the Stanley Cup over his head and yells as he celebrates his team’s victory in game four of the Stanley Cup finals on June 1, 1992. Penguins teammates, including Jaromir Jagr (right), join in on the celebration. Photo Courtesy: Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images

Who Has Won the Stanley Cup?

Since the Stanley Cup has been around for well over 100 years, there has been a slew of winners. Overall, the team with the most Stanley Cup wins is the Montreal Canadiens, who’ve secured 23 championships since the team’s inception in 1909.

In second place, we’ve got the Toronto Maple Leafs with 13, and they’re closely followed by the Detroit Red Wings — a team with 11 titles. Rounding out the top five are the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks; both teams have six Stanley Cup titles.

Who Dented the Stanley Cup?

Winning a major championship usually leads to a raucous celebration. While players treat awards like the Stanley Cup with a degree of reverence, that doesn’t mean accidents don’t happen along the way.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel of the Colorado Avalanche lifts the Stanley Cup after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final on June 26, 2022. Photo Courtesy: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Most recently, the Stanley Cup was dented after the Colorado Avalanche secured the championship at the end of the 2021–2022 season. After defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nicolas Aube-Kubel accidentally damaged the cup while preparing to take a photo with the team, which had only held the trophy for five minutes before the accident.

In fact, the Stanley Cup is lightly damaged nearly every year, though usually in a minor way. However, there are a few standout moments.

In 2011, the Stanley Cup fell off of a table during a media event, so the incident caught a lot of attention. After the Edmonton Oilers won in 1987, Mark Messier allowed patrons at a bar to drink from the Stanley Cup, which resulted in a slew of dents and dings.

Ottawa Silver Seven, the Stanley Cup Champions in 1905. Photo Courtesy: Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images

In 1962, the Toronto Maple Leafs were celebrating their win, and the trophy was ultimately dropped in a bonfire, resulting in significant damage that was later repaired. Another fire-related incident occurred in 1940 when the New York Rangers celebrated a win along with paying off a mortgage. They actually burned the mortgage for Madison Square Garden in the trophy — talk about celebratory!

However, the most infamous event may have happened in 1905. As the Ottawa Senators celebrated, a player drop-kicked the trophy into the Rideau Canal. Fortunately, the canal was frozen over at the time, so they were able to retrieve the award with relative ease.

5 Stanley Cup Favorites for 2022–23

1. Colorado Avalanche

Currently, the Colorado Avalanche — the defending champs — are the favorite to snag the championship this season. Along with an impressive season last year — they finished a full six points ahead and made the playoffs with ease — the team’s playoff run was nothing short of stellar.

Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche turns to pursue the puck during the Stanley Cup Final on June 24, 2022. Photo Courtesy: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche still have many of their stars on the roster, including Cole Makar, Nathan McKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen. At a minimum, the team is almost guaranteed to make it into the postseason and have a strong chance of going all of the way once more.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs had a standout regular season in 2021–2022, which made their early exit from the playoffs last year a major shock. However, many experts believe it was the reality check that this team needed and think it’ll return as a force in the upcoming season.

Corey Perry of the Tampa Bay Lightning tries to check William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Photo Courtesy: Claus Andersen/Getty images

While the Toronto Maple Leafs had a poor showing in the last post-season, the team has players like Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, and William Nylander on its side. Plus, the odds are good that the team is hungry for a win, and that could be enough to push them to championship glory.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

In the 2021–2022 season, the Tampa Bay Lightning nearly made history. It secured the championship in 2020 and 2021, and came close to a “threepeat” when it landed in the finals in 2022. However, they were simply outplayed by the Colorado Avalanche.

Brandon Hagel of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates after the puck on the left wing against the Colorado Avalanche during the 2022 Stanley Cup Final on June 24, 2022. Photo Courtesy: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI/Getty Images

While the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t snag the Stanley Cup in 2022, many experts feel that 2023 could be a different story. Players like Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos are expected to keep other teams on their toes, and while other teams may have better odds, it isn’t due to the quality of the overall team, which means the Tampa Bay Lightning are certainly contenders.

4. Florida Panthers

Taking the top spot in the Atlantic Division last year, the Florida Panthers have emerged as a force to be reckoned with, and that isn’t likely to change in the 2022–2023 NHL season. The team scored more goals than any other team in the league, and not by a small margin.

Ultimately, it was the best team in the regular season, though the team was eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning before making it to the finals.

Florida Panthers’ center Anton Lundell during the Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 23, 2022. Photo Courtesy: Andrew Bershaw /Icon_Sportswire/Getty Images

Based on last year’s performance, it’s clear that the Florida Panthers have what it takes. With players like Aleksander Balkov, Jonathon Huberdeau, and Sam Reinhart on offense, the odds of a high-scoring 2022–2023 season are undeniably high. If they can recreate the 2021–2022 regular season magic this year, the team undoubtedly could make the playoffs and secure the championship.

5. Carolina Hurricanes

The leaders of the Metropolitan Division in the 2021–2022 NHL season, the Carolina Hurricanes arguably have the best defense in all of the NHL. While the team had a solid performance in the regular season last year, the post-season proved challenging, causing them to go out in the second round.

Pyotr Kochetkov of the Carolina Hurricanes crouches in the crease and makes a glove save during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 30, 2022. Photo Courtesy: Gregg Forwerck/NHLI/Getty Images

If the Carolina Hurricanes maintain a strong defense and figure out how to augment the performance of the offense, the team will end up a major challenge in the 2022–2023 season. As a result, it’s best not to count this team out, as they could be well on their way to Stanley Cup glory.