NHL Stanley Cup futures: Analyzing the top championship favorites

Cale Makar (R) of the Colorado Avalanche fires a shot past Johnny Gaudreau (L) of the Calgary Flames. Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL has reached the final month of its regular season, meaning the most wonderful tournament in professional sports -- at least in this hockey fanatic's perspective -- is nearly here.

While the Stanley Cup playoffs are known for their unpredictability and dramatic swerves, there are some established betting favorites as the season heads into its final weeks.

Here's a look at the five favorites, the likelihood of each of them winning the Cup and some alternative ways to profit from their playoff journeys.

Colorado Avalanche

Current Stanley Cup odds: +380 (Caesars)

The Avalanche are heavy favorites in all facets of NHL futures betting. They're +130 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final out of the Western Conference -- BetMGM reports that nearly 50% of the handle on the Western Conference champion has been placed on the Avs. Their Stanley Cup Final odds have improved from +600 at the start of the season, when they were also the favorite. BetMGM says 32.3% of the handle for the Stanley Cup winner belongs to the Avalanche.

But being the best regular-season team in the Western Conference doesn't portend much of anything for the postseason.