A new NHL season has arrived, which means that the latest of EA Sports’ NHL games has also hit the shelves. To make the game as realistic as possible, the developers attempt to grade the players of the league and around the world out of 100 for each specific facet of hockey, from skating speed to hand-eye coordination, with those attribute ratings being compiled to show an overall rating out of 100.
Before its release, the game’s top 50 overall-rated players were revealed. As the game is often fairly accurate in its rankings and seems to be this year, we can see which teams have more of the very best players in the NHL. Here, we’re using these as additional information to what the oddsmakers are thinking for the season to rank their top Stanley Cup favorites.
A look at the favorites for the 2022 Stanley Cup
It perhaps won’t come as a surprise that three of the five favored teams to win the Stanley Cup in the 2021/22 season hail from the stacked Atlantic Division, while the other two are the consensus top teams in either Western Conference division. However, and perhaps because of their favorable alignment, the Colorado Avalanche commences the season with the best NHL betting odds to win outright at +450.
However, very close behind at +550 are the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are well on track to shoot for the three-peat. In a distant third are the Vegas Golden Knights (+700), and then the Toronto Maple Leafs (+1100), and the Boston Bruins (+1400). Naturally, if any of those three Eastern Conference teams show dominance in their heated division, they’ll likely climb ahead in the minds of the oddsmakers.
Of these contenders, one team stands as the outright best when it comes to the NHL 22 ratings, and that’s the Bolts. Having won the Cup two seasons in a row, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Andrei Vasilevskiy all rank among the best 50 players in the hockey simulation game. By this reckoning, they’re in with the greatest chance of going all the way – again.
Somewhat stingy grades for the actual favorites
Somewhat bizarrely, given how well the top talents have performed in recent years, the Avs only have two players featuring in the top 50 of NHL 22’s ratings. While Joe Sakic has clearly made a point of assembling depth, the GM has also been sure to have highly skilled players across the lines. So, it seems a bit stingy to only have Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon in the top 50 – especially as Colorado is the favorite.
Fighting it out with the Lightning, both with several top-rated players in NHL 22 and in the Atlantic Division, are the Bruins and Maple Leafs. Boston boasts four players in the top 50, which may have even been five if Tuukka Rask didn’t hit the free agency. The Buds, on the other hand, have three, with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares being their in-game Stars. Vegas joins Colorado with just two in the top 50.
Later in the season, when outlets turn to NHL 22 to simulate the playoffs and get some prediction pieces out about it, many will likely see the stacked, highly-rated Lightning side come out on top. However, the oddsmakers, who scrutinize all facets of a team and their standing, are currently siding with Colorado.