With a new calendar year around the corner, we’re focusing on the Eastern Conference as we approach the halfway point in the 2022-23 NHL season. We have expected preseason favorites, the reigning conference champions, and a couple of surprises as the potential Eastern Conference champions. The Eastern Conference has four of the top five teams in the overall league standings meaning whichever team emerges from the East will have a challenging path to take to the Stanley Cup finals.
We’ll explore the futures NHL Conferences Betting Lines and the current candidates representing the Eastern Conference in the 2022-23 Stanley Cup Final.
NHL Betting Projections for Eastern Conference Winners
Boston Bruins (+300)
The Boston Bruins are the best team in hockey, occupying the number one ranking in the NHL overall and the Eastern Conference with a 25-4-2 record as of publication. What makes the Bruins’ season more impressive is that they had to overcome injuries to key players like Charlie McAvoy early in the season. Boston also plays in the Atlantic Division, the most competitive division in the NHL.
The Bruins are getting outstanding goaltending from Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark, while David Pastrnak is cashing in with a career year before becoming a free agent in the off-season. This Bruins team demonstrates nightly they are a very strong candidate to win the President’s Trophy, the Eastern Conference Champions, and the Stanley Cup.
Carolina Hurricanes (+540)
The Carolina Hurricanes have taken the lead in the Metropolitan Division from the New Jersey Devils with a 20-6-6 record after an ok start to the season. Injuries to Carolina’s expected goaltending tandem of Antti Raanta and Frederik Anderson have revealed a goaltending gem in Pyotr Kochetkov.
The Hurricanes have gathered momentum and are playing to their preseason favorite status. If the Hurricanes continue their excellent play, the betting line will drop, and Carolina very likely could be the Metropolitan Division representative in the Eastern Conference finals.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+460)
The Toronto Maple Leafs have had elite scoring for years, and William Nylander has taken a significant step toward elite status this season. Toronto has a 20-7-6 record, good enough for third in the Eastern Conference and second in the Atlantic Division. What makes the Maple Leafs’ season so impressive so far has been enduring injuries to Morgan Rielly and their goaltending early in the season.
However, while the Maple Leafs are a very likely candidate to win the Eastern Conference, they will have to go through Tampa Bay and Boston. Furthermore, Maple Leafs’ fans live and die with their team, so Toronto’s future odds will always be lower because of the action from Maple Leafs’ fans alone. This Toronto team could win the Eastern Conference and give fans hope of a first Stanley Cup since 1967, but they will have the most demanding path to do so.
New Jersey Devils (+650)
After an incredible and surprising start to the season, the New Jersey Devils are starting to slide down the NHL standings. New Jersey is ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 21-9-2 record. The Devils have a veteran Pittsburgh Penguins team closing in on them, sitting two points behind them in the Metropolitan Divison.
The New Jersey Devils are still a greatly improved hockey team with significant room to develop. Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, and Vitek Vanecek have all taken massive steps forward in development this season and give Devils’ fans hope for a return to the Eastern Conference and Stanley Cup finals in the future. New Jersey has been the surprise of the 2022-23 NHL season and could be a surprise Eastern Conference representative in the Stanley Cup Final.
Tampa Bay Lightning (+630)
We cannot dismiss the three-time reigning, defending Eastern Conference champions (and two-time Stanley Cup champion) from the cast of favorites to win the Eastern Conference. The Tampa Bay Lighting is still the Tampa Bay Lightning, with Stamkos, Hedman, Point, Kucherov, and Vasilevskiy as its championship-winning core.
The Lightning is currently sixth in the Eastern Conference standings and third in the Atlantic Division, quietly building a 20-10-1 record in a division where the attention is more on Boston and Toronto. The Lighting at +630 to win the Eastern Conference is great value on history potentially repeating itself for the fourth year in a row.