Note To The NHL In 2021: An Avalanche Is Headed Your Way

Written By Ian St. Clair on 10/16/2020 - Last Updated on January 19, 2021

If there’s one word that Joe Sakic is not, it’s content.

The former two-time Stanley Cup Champion and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame is one of the most competitive and driven people in the world of sports.

It’s been more than a decade since Sakic last skated as a professional athlete. Yet, even now as the executive vice president/general manager for the Colorado Avalanche, it’s still who Sakic is.

Given all of that, fans of the Avalanche knew he would not be content with another crushing Game 7 loss in this year’s Western Conference semifinals.

This time to the rival Dallas Stars.

What made that so difficult to stomach, still, is Colorado had a 4-3 lead with less than 4 minutes remaining in the game. But the lead vanished in 10 seconds and then their playoff bubble burst in overtime.

Since sports betting in Colorado launched in May, the return-to-play was the first opportunity for fans to do NHL betting in the market.

Avalanche active in NHL free agency

Sakic is not one to remain complacent. So as soon as the NHL free agency period opened, he was active.

Was he ever.

As another reminder that 2020 is different and unique, NHL free agency started a few days ago rather than in July, as is usual.

Here’s a glimpse of what Sakic has done, summed up perfectly by Dimitri Filipovic on Twitter:

  • Replaced defenseman Nikita Zadorov with defenseman Devon Toews
  • Added left wing Brandon Saad
  • Retained left wing Andre Burakovsky, defenseman Ryan Graves and right wing Valeri Nichushkin
  • Didn’t use any top prospects, firsts, or future financial flexibility to do so

Both Toews and Saad were acquired via trades with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders, respectively.

As Sakic said to the media last week:

“We’re trying to put together as deep as a team as possible to make a run this year. “We just felt this was the best thing for us. We were looking for a second-line player, I think that’s the one thing that we wanted to address, maybe a top-four D-man also to help us out there.”

Avalanche Stanley Cup odds

The Colorado sports gambling apps have taken notice, too.

If the Avalanche aren’t the favorite to win the Stanley Cup, as they are at BetMGM, BetRivers, and DraftKings, they have the same odds as the Las Vegas Golden Knights. That’s the case on FanDuel. Over at Fox Bet, Colorado is also tied with recent Cup winner the Tampa Bay Lightning.

2021 Stanley Cup betting odds BetMGMDraftKingsFanDuelPointsBet
Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup odds Avalanche +650
Lightning +800
Golden Knights +800
Bruins +850
Maple Leafs +900
Hurricanes +1,200
Lightning +600
Maple Leafs +700
Bruins +750
Avalanche +800
Golden Knights +1,000
Avalanche +700
Golden Knights +700
Lightning +800
Maple Leafs +850
Bruins +900
Hurricanes +1,300
Avalanche +650
Lightning +800
Maple Leafs +800
Bruins +800
Golden Knights +900
Hurricanes +1,100
Oilers +1,800

Watch out for Nathan MacKinnon

In the middle of July, Nathan MacKinnon left no doubt what he thought his team was capable of:

“It’s my seventh year (in the NHL), and this is the first one I really feel like we have a chance to win (the Stanley Cup). It doesn’t come around very often, definitely don’t want to take this for granted. … We’re confident that we can get it done.”

As the playoffs unfolded, you could see a shift in MacKinnon.

The Avalanche center is one of the best players in the world, but after his playoff run, some might put him on the top.

He backed up on the ice everything he said before the restart in the Edmonton, Alberta bubble.

MacKinnon recorded 25 points in 15 games played.

An Avalanche is coming

Now you add in the second-straight Game 7 defeat. And in even more devastating fashion.

Not to say the loss in 2019 to the San Jose Sharks didn’t gut punch Colorado, but this one? To be so close only to lose it in the time it takes to tie your shoes?

Much like his boss, there is one word that MacKinnon is not and that’s content.

And you thought he was driven to get his hands on the Stanley Cup before.

Note to the rest of the NHL: There’s an Avalanche headed your way.

Photo by AP / David Zalubowski
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Ian St. Clair

Ian is an award-winning sports journalist and a University of Northern Colorado graduate. He’s a Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. He broke into the gambling industry right as Colorado launched legal sports betting in 2020. Ian now manages the sites for some of the biggest gambling markets in North America and is an analyst for PlayColorado.

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