It’s almost time.
On the eve of NHL free agency, the anticipation continues to grow as hockey fans wait to find out if their favorite team can acquire the necessary pieces to contend for the Stanley Cup in 2023.
While anything can happen during free agent frenzy, even the most optimistic fan understands the importance of tempering expectations every year at this time.
Johnny Gaudreau, Nazem Kadri, Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux and Ondrej Palat are among the many notables that could find new NHL homes on Wednesday.
Then there is a goaltender market that features Darcy Kuemper and Jack Campbell, among others.
Immediately after the Colorado Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final, I circled three Stanley Cup futures at FanDuel that I thought were worth legitimate consideration.
As of this morning, that list hasn’t changed.
Here’s the TSN EDGE Morning Coffee for Tuesday, July 12th, 2022.
Maple Leafs Bet On Matt Murray
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the second choice to win the Stanley Cup at FanDuel at +900.
They’re co-favorites to win the Eastern Conference along with the Lightning and Florida Panthers at +500.
Best of luck to anyone who bets on Toronto.
It won’t be me.
On Monday evening, the Maple Leafs acquired Matt Murray, a third-round pick and a seventh-round pick from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for future considerations.
If you want to know more about Murray’s statistics, NHL experience or where he played major junior hockey, you can find it on Twitter.
I’m not interested in any of those things.
Frederik Andersen is gone.
Jack Campbell is headed to free agency.
Ville Husso, Alexander Georgiev and Vitek Vanecek have all been traded in recent days.
Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic and Tom Fitzgerald bet on goalies they believe they can win with via trades.
Last night, Dubas placed his bet on Murray.
The trade leaves Toronto with Murray as a No. 1 goaltender and just over $6 million in projected cap space, as per CapFriendly.com.
After failing to get out of the first round of the playoffs again last season, the Maple Leafs will go from Campbell to Murray as their starting goalie barring another move.
Maybe this is the year that Toronto finally contends for the Stanley Cup again.
I just wouldn’t be on it happening at this point.
Revisiting Stanley Cup Futures Ahead Of Free Agent Frenzy
The Avalanche are the obvious favorite to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
The problem is that at +500, I’m not rushing to place a bet on Colorado to win it all again.
Meanwhile, the Lightning are +1000 to win it all for the third time in four seasons.
While Tampa Bay could lose Palat, they could also have a healthy Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Anthony Cirelli and Victor Hedman.
Most importantly, the Lightning have Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Keep in mind, this is a team that just went six games versus Colorado in the Stanley Cup Final despite a ton of injuries.
As far as I’m concerned, there is a clear gap between Tampa Bay and the rest of the Eastern Conference.
There’s also a considerable gap between the Avalanche and the rest of the Western Conference.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t bet another team in the Stanley Cup futures market.
It just means I’m not rushing to bet the other teams in the +1000 to +1800 range.
The final team on my list of Stanley Cup futures that I think are worth consideration right now is the New York Rangers.
The Rangers had a 2-0 lead over Tampa Bay in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Igor Shesterkin is a Vezina Trophy winner.
Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad, Jacob Trouba and Chris Kreider are all under contract.
Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and K’Andre Miller gained some valuable experience during New York’s playoff run.
The Rangers have enough cap space to add another key piece in free agency.
They also have the picks and prospects to make a significant splash via trade.
For a team that fell two wins shy of the Final, New York is worth a look at +2000 to win the Stanley Cup at FanDuel.
I’m also interested in the Rangers at +1000 to win the Eastern Conference.
Colorado, Tampa Bay and New York are the three teams I have circled as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
Time will tell if another team can make a significant enough splash in free agency to be worth investing in the long term.
I have my doubts.
CFL Week 6 Early Lean
For a moment, it felt like I couldn’t miss with a run of five straight winners betting the CFL.
However, after a 12-3 start that included the Calgary Stampeders -3.5 in a 49-6 win over the Edmonton Elks last Thursday, I hit a bit of a speed bump with a couple of losses to close out Week 5.
I’m not interested in revisiting the debacle in Regina that ended with the Ottawa Redblacks losing their starting quarterback and the league handing out the longest suspension in CFL history.
After missing on the Redblacks +9 on Friday, I watched as the two-time defending Gray Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat up the BC Lions in a 43-22 win.
It wasn’t pretty for all of us that were on the Lions -2.5.
Fast-forward to Week 6, I’ll lock in the Montreal Alouettes -7.5 as my Early Lean.
After a Week 4 loss to the Roughriders, Montreal GM Danny Maciocia took over as head coach during their bye week.
The Alouettes are 1-3, but they split a home-and-home with the Roughriders and their other two losses to the Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts were by a combined four points.
They should be motivated coming off a bye following the coaching change.
Meanwhile, with Tre Ford injured and Nick Arbuckle traded to Ottawa, the Elks will turn to Taylor Cornelius as their starting quarterback this week.
As long as the Montreal defense can keep Cornelius and the Edmonton offense in check, their offense should score enough points to cover as a favorite in an important game in front of their home fans.