A betting outlook for the 2021-2022 Season
Many fans are looking forward to the NHL season after turmoil the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019-2020, play was suspended in March and returned in August for the playoffs that was played in a bubble. The number of playoff teams expanded to 24 and in September 2020, the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Dallas Stars in six games to win the Stanley Cup. In the 2020-2021 season all teams played only within their division and all Canadian teams played only each other. In the end Tampa Bay repeated, beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 to take the cup. There is no question that the format greatly benefitted Montreal, as under normal circumstances they would not have made the playoffs in 2020, finishing in 24th place and with their record it’s unlikely they would have qualified this year. At the same time, the format clearly hurt teams like the New York Rangers and Dallas who had a record good enough to make the playoffs in normal years, but lost out as a result of playing within a tough division that consisted of teams not usually in their division.
Return to normalcy
The 2021-2022 will somewhat get back to normal. All teams will now play in their usual divisions and in front of capacity crowds, after all provinces in Canada announced they will allow only vaccinated fans in the arenas, but will require masks to be worn while not eating or drinking. Several U.S. states have similar mandates. One sticking point is that the NHL will still not allow any unvaccinated payers to play in Canada. Unlike the NBA and MLB that allows unvaccinated players to play in Canada if they test negative and if they self-isolate until game time, the NHL told players to get vaccinated or stay home. Consequently, a few bigger names like Tyler Bertuzzi and MacKenzie Blackwood will not play in Canada due to their refusal to get vaccinated. This will be a big blow to Detroit especially, who plays about 20% of their games in Canada.
With that in mind here is a look at every NHL team and their outlook as well as some longshot chances for the major NHL trophies. All odds are from Bet365:
To win the Stanley Cup:
Colorado Avalanche (9/2 odds)
Clearly one of the best teams in the league with one of the most potent lines in hockey in the form of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado must be one of the favorites. Unfortunately for Colorado they always find a way to lose in the end and if they have one weakness it could be at goaltending. Phillip Grubauer who has been their top goalie the last few years was taken by the Seattle Kraken in the entry draft and their new main goalie Darcy Kuemper tends to be injury prone. If Kuemper is out for any length of time, Jonas Johansson and Pavel Francouz do not inspire confidence.
Tampa Bay Lightning (11/2 odds)
The winner of the last two Stanley Cups, the Lightning must be considered among the favorites this year as well. One of the big concerns for Tampa Bay is that they lost their whole 3rd line such as Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman, and Barclay Goodrow along with defensemen David Savard and have replaced them with cheaper unproven players. This could cause a gaping hole in the lineup and, unless the newcomers show they can adequately replace that line, Tampa Bay could be in trouble. Moreover, they need both Steve Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov to stay healthy as both players have been injury prone in the past. That said, the Lightning have the best goaltender in the league in Adrei Vasilevskiy.
Vegas Golden Knights (7/1 odds)
The team that shocked everyone in their initial season, the Golden Knights have shown they will always contend. Their biggest issue going into this season is their lack of a star center and the trade of Marc Andre Fleury to Chicago. Robin Lehner has been good so far but if he struggles there is no good backup goalie at the moment.
Toronto Maple Leafs (11/1 odds)
A very strong team up front, the Leafs big issue has been and will continue to be both on defense and in goal. With Frederik Andersen moving to Carolina, the Leafs will rely on Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek in net. Campbell played some stellar games last year but prior to that he wasn't even really a prospect and many believe he may come back to reality in 2021-22. Mrazek's best days could be behind him as he struggled much of last year. Auston Matthews will also be out for the first month of the year with an injury.
Boston Bruins (14/1 odds)
Usually a solid contender, many analysts believe the Bruins won't even make the playoffs this season. The team is getting old with the likes of Marchand, Krejci and Bergeron all over 35 years old, so they likely could suffer some injury issues. And the Bruins defense has no stars or upcoming players on it. As well Tukka Rask struggled in goal for much of the regular season last year with no real good replacement in sight. The low odds on Boston could possibly be rumors that suggest the Buffalo Sabres may be preparing to trade Jack Eichel to the Bruins in the near future. And if Eichel does play for them, even though he will miss at least two months to get treatment for an injury, it would take Boston to the next level.
Carolina Hurricanes (17/1 odds)
Perhaps one of the most exciting young teams, Carolina adds Frederik Andersen to complement Antti Raanta in net. If Andersen can play back to the goalie he was prior to last year, Carolina could be one of the teams to beat.
NY Islanders (17/1 odds)
A very old team, the Islanders have a lot of holes and there are big questions in net. Semyon Varlamov is scheduled to be the #1 goalie followed by Ilya Sorokin and Cory Schneider. All three goalies have had great games mixed in with poor games and unless one can step up to the plate from the get-go, this could be a long season for the Islanders.
NY Rangers (20/1 odds)
One of the more intriguing young teams in the league, the Rangers could prove a powerhouse behind two Russian goalies with great credentials in Igor Shesterkin and Alexander Georgiev. Shesterkin is considered a Vezina trophy favorite. Rumors were also circulating that the Buffalo Sabres were preparing to trade Jack Eichel to a new team with the Rangers being on the top of the list, but they are now officially out after the Rangers gave Mika Zibanejad a monster 8-year contract.
Florida Panthers (20/1 odds)
A very promising young team, the question is whether this team can take it to the next level. The team does have some holes, but they look fairly solid and can contend. On his best night, Sergei Bobrovsky is one of the best goaltenders in the league and Spencer Knight has looked like a superstar as the co-starting goalie.
Dallas Stars (22/1 odds)
With Ben Bishop out for the year, Dallas will be relying on Braden Holtby who has had two bad years in a row. Joe Pavelski is also starting to show his age although you can never completely count out a team that has Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. They are clearly not the same team, however, that almost won the cup 2 years ago.
Edmonton Oilers (22/1 odds)
There are no changes to the same team who always looks like the one to beat on paper but is never good enough to make the playoffs. Mike Smith who is goaltender at 40 years of age is also well past his prime and Mikko Koskinen is just not a very good goalie as the backup.
Pittsburgh Penguins (25/1 odds)
Like the NY Islanders, Pittsburgh is an old team with suspect goaltending. They showed their weaknesses last year and they will likely only be exacerbated in 2021-22.
Washington Capitals (25/1 odds)
A team that is getting older, the Capitals have a lot of holes, the least of which is in net. Samsonov put up some good numbers last season in net, but the team does have defensive struggles behind him. John Carlson is a great offensive defenseman but struggles defensively. And the addition of Zdeno Chara likely won’t improve their defense. That said, it’s hard to ever discount a team completely with Alex Ovechkin (who starts the season injured), Kuznetsov and Oshie. Nicklas Backstrom also starts the year on the injury list.
Minnesota Wild (25/1 odds)
A very good young team on paper, the team’s chances could come down to budding superstar Kirill Kaprizov and goaltender Cam Talbot, who finished last year strong. The Wild could be a dark horse.
Montreal Canadiens (28/1 odds)
A team that was lucky enough to make it to the playoffs the last two years, they will be without Carey Price in 2021-22 and Jake Allen is no Price. Montreal seems to be banking on Cole Caulfield who had some incredible goals in last year's playoffs and the addition of David Savard on defense to make them a better team. It remains to be seen.
Philadelphia Flyers (30/1 odds)
The question for the Flyers will be whether we'll see the Carter Hart who wowed everyone two years ago or the goalie who struggled throughout last season? If it is last year's model, then Martin Jones will play in net and the Flyers have little chance. The Flyers have improved their defense with the addition of Ryan Ellis and Keith Yandle, but Ellis will start the year on the injured list.
Winnipeg Jets (30/1 odds)
One of the more confusing odds, some analysts believe the Jets have a legitimate Stanley Cup chance. Connor Hellebuyck is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type goalie, but on his best night he can be among the best. The Jets' biggest weakness is clearly on defense. The team scores a ton of goals but also gives up a ton. Most of their defense are offensive minded.
Calgary Flames (40/1 odds)
Calgary is a fringe playoff team, and their biggest issue seems to be attitude. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan want to be traded and are playing like players who simply don't want to be there. Jacob Markstrom is also a mediocre goalie.
St. Louis Blues (40/1 odds)
An older team that has seen better days. 10 of the 20 players who dressed for the 2019 Stanley Cup team have left, including Jaden Schwartz, who goes to the expansion Seattle Kraken. Jordan Binnington is also a very hit and miss goaltender.
Chicago Blackhawks (40/1 odds)
The addition of Marc-Andre Fleury in net makes the Blackhawks and intriguing longshot. They still have the likes of Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, who are Hart Trophy contenders, and they have some interesting new young pieces. They can't be completely counted out.
Seattle Kraken (50/1 odds)
An interesting team in a weak division. No doubt everyone is wondering whether the Kraken can duplicate the Golden Knights' success in their initial season the answer is probably no. Their defense appears very weak and there are no real stars on the team, unlike the Golden Knights who drafted as if they wanted to win straight away. Phillip Grubauer in net will give them some hope, however, as he had a 66-30 win/loss record for Colorado the last three seasons. The question is whether that was just an anomaly because of the team he played for.
Los Angeles Kings (50/1 odds)
A rebuilding team, the Kings added some new good young talent, but are weak in net. Jonathan Quick's best days are long behind him and Cal Petersen, who will start, doesn't inspire much confidence. The loss of highly touted rookie Quinton Byfield to start the season will hurt as well.
New Jersey Devils (50/1 odds)
The Devils spent a lot of money in the off season, but really haven't improved the team much. The Devils have a good defense but poor offense and with Jonathan Bernier being forced to play goal in games in Canada due to MacKenzie Blackwood’s refusal to get the Covid vaccine, that could hurt them. Blackwood may also receive a cold reception by New Jersey fans for his stance, given the treatment other unvaccinated players in the NFL, such as Cole Beasley, have received for their unpopular stance.
Vancouver Canucks (50/1 odds)
The team has some great players but also way too many holes. It appears the team has no real direction and average goaltending. Add to that, Brock Boeser starting the year injured and both Elias Petterson and Quinn Hughes still holding out on a contract and it is hard to see Vancouver doing much this year.
Nashville Predators (60/1 odds)
Their star goalie Pekka Rinne retired, leaving the job to Juuse Saros. Nashville is clearly in a rebuilding mode and it’s hard to see them making the playoffs this year.
Ottawa Senators (100/1 odds)
A team on the upswing, Matt Murray will have to show much more in net for the Senators than last year for the Senators to have a winning record, but that's unlikely. Still with some good young players watch out for them in about 2 to 3 years.
San Jose Sharks (100/1 odds), Columbus Blue Jackets (125/1 odds), Anaheim Ducks (125/1 odds) and Detroit Red Wings (200/1 odds), are all rebuilding and will struggle throughout the 2021-22 season.
Arizona Coyotes (150/1 odds) and Buffalo Sabres (250/1 odds) will battle it out to see who can have the worst record in the league.
Stanley Cup winner: Carolina Hurricanes at 17/1 odds; 2nd choice: Florida Panthers at 20/1 odds
Longshot plays: Minnesota Wild (25/1 odds), Winnipeg Jets (40/1) and Chicago Blackhawks (40/1).
Best bet to win their divisions:
Atlantic Division – Florida Panthers at 9/2 odds
Central Division – Colorado Avalanche at 2/5
Metropolitan Division – Carolina Hurricanes at 3/1
Pacific Division – Vegas Golden Knights at 1/2
Best bet to win the NHL Awards
Hart Trophy (MVP) – Sebastian Aho (Carolina) 16/1 odds
Top Points scorer – Connor McDavid (Edmonton) – 3/2
Best Rookie – Spencer Knight (Florida) – 17/2
Best Goaltender – Marc-Andre Fleury (Chicago) - 6/1
Best Defenseman – Jaccob Slavin (Carolina) – 16/1
President’s Trophy (Best Record) Colorado – 9/4