Hurricanes = 2024 Stanley Cup Favorite;
How Often Does Preseason #1 Win It All?
By David Glenn

North Carolina Sports Network

Heading into the 2018-19 season, the Carolina Hurricanes’ first with the combination of owner Tom Dundon and head coach Rod Brind’Amour, the Canes had missed the playoffs for nine consecutive seasons, and that represented one of the longest postseason droughts in National Hockey League history.

Yet when Brind’Amour was asked during the preseason five years ago about his goals for the Hurricanes, and a fan in attendance yelled out “playoffs!” before the coach could answer, Brind’Amour shook his head.

“Not playoffs,” Brind’Amour said. “We’re trying to be the best team in our league. That’s our goal.”

Five years later, the Hurricanes, who open their 2023-24 season tonight against Ottawa at PNC Arena in Raleigh, have a chance of realizing that lofty goal.

In fact, according to most sports gambling outlets, the Hurricanes are — for the first time in franchise history — the preseason favorite to win the Stanley Cup next spring. For example, on Opening Night (yesterday) of the NHL’s regular season, the BetOnline website gave the Canes 7-1 odds to win the Cup. The only other teams with odds better than 10-1 were the Edmonton Oilers (15-2), Colorado Avalanche (8-1) and New Jersey Devils (9-1).

Other sports gambling sites, including BetMGM, had the Hurricanes tied with another team for the best odds.

Such high expectations raise a logical question: How often does the NHL’s preseason favorite actually go on to win the Stanley Cup?

As you might guess in a league with 32 teams, including at least a handful of others with legitimately high preseason hopes each year, the preseason favorite falls short of the ultimate prize more often than not. However, three times in the last decade — including twice in the past four seasons — the preseason betting favorite went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Interestingly, in eight of the past 10 years, the team that ultimately lifted the Cup came from among the top five betting favorites on Opening Night, eight months earlier.

Season: Favorite, Regular Season, Playoffs — Champion (Preseason Status)

2013-14: Pittsburgh, 1st Metro, Lost 2nd Round — Los Angeles (#5 Preseason)
2014-15: Chicago, 3rd Central, CHAMPIONS — Chicago (#1 Preseason)
2015-16: Chicago, 3rd Central, Lost 1st Round — Pittsburgh (#5 Preseason)
2016-17: Chicago, 1st Central, Lost 1st Round — Pittsburgh (#4 Preseason)
2017-18: Pittsburgh, 2nd Metro, Lost 2nd Round — Washington (#3 Preseason)
2018-19: Tampa Bay, 1st Atlantic, Lost 1st Round — St. Louis (#11 Preseason)
2019-20: Tampa Bay, 1st Atlantic, CHAMPIONS — Tampa Bay (#1 Preseason)
2020-21: Colorado, 1st West^, Lost 2nd Round — Tampa Bay (#3 Preseason)
2021-22: Colorado, 1st Central, CHAMPIONS — Colorado (#1 Preseason)
2022-23: Colorado, 1st Central, Lost 1st Round — Vegas (#7 Preseason)
2023-24: Carolina Hurricanes, ???

^-different divisions during COVID season

Under Dundon and Brind’Amour, the Hurricanes already have become a picture of consistent, sustained success.

The only NHL franchises that have made the playoffs in each of the last five seasons (or more) are the Boston Bruins (seven straight), Toronto Maple Leafs (seven), Tampa Bay Lightning (six), Colorado Avalanche (six) and the Hurricanes (five). Carolina and Toronto are the only two franchises that played at a 110-point pace (extrapolating the COVID-shortened 2020-21 campaign) in each of the last three seasons, and the Canes are the only team to advance past the first round of the playoffs in each of those seasons.

The 2023-24 Hurricanes have one of the best and deepest defensive corps in the entire NHL, led by six-time All-Star Brent Burns (now 38 years old) and perhaps the league’s best “defensive defenseman,” ninth-year stalwart Jaccob Slavin. Carolina has so much quality depth this year that 27-year-old Jalen Chatfield, who played 78 games for the Canes last season, is listed as their seventh defenseman.

Offensively, the Hurricanes are led by two-time All-Star center Sebastian Aho (our featured guest this week on the David Glenn Show), who signed an eight-year, $78 million contract extension during the offseason, blossoming 24-year-old forward Martin Necas (team-high 71 points last season) and powerful 23-year-old left wing Andrei Svechnikov (expected back soon from an ACL injury suffered in March).

The highest-profile newcomers for the Canes this season are free-agent signees Michael Bunting (three years, $13.5 million), a 28-year-old grinder/instigator left wing who tallied 23 goals in each of the last two seasons for Toronto, and Dmitry Orlov, a 32-year-old defenseman who helped the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup in 2018. Both Bunting and Orlov are expected to help the Hurricanes’ power play, which ranked only 20th in the league last season.

Although the NHL playoffs are six months away, the feeling nationally matches the feeling locally regarding the Hurricanes: Especially if they can stay relatively healthy, they have at least a chance to give the franchise’s unforgettable 2006 Stanley Cup championship some pleasant company in the history books.

“There’s an old saying in sports: ‘You have to lose and learn from it before you win,’” said Don Waddell, the Hurricanes’ general manager since 2018. “A lot of our guys have been here for all five years of this playoff run. Even many of our young players are not young anymore when it comes to playoff experience.”

2023-24 Carolina Hurricanes Opening Night Lineup
(Left Wing—Center—Right Wing)

Michael Bunting—Sebastian Aho—Seth Jarvis
Teuvo Teravainen—Jesperi Kotkaniemi—Martin Necas
Jordan Martinook—Jordan Staal—Jesper Fast
Brendan Lemieux—Jack Drury—Stefan Noesen

Defensive Pairings

Jaccob Slavin—Brent Burns
Brady Skjei—Brett Pesce
Dmitry Orlov—Tony DeAngelo


Frederik Andersen
Antti Raanta

Injured Reserve

LW Andrei Svechnikov (ACL/knee; expected back soon)


C Vasily Ponomarev (knee)
C Ryan Suzuki (shoulder)