Moments after the Tampa Bay Lightning secured their second straight Stanley Cup championship by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Game 5 of the NHL Finals, oddsmakers began posting futures odds on the 2021-22 season.
While online betting odds will likely change with the expansion draft, the 2021 NHL entry draft, and free agency which begins later this month, some clear favorites have been identified.
Last season, the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche finished tied for the most points in the league. Colorado was awarded the President’s Trophy based on its head-to-head record against Las Vegas, but the sportsbooks have them even to open futures wagering. Both teams are +550 next season’s title, followed by the Lightning who are +650 to win a third straight Stanley Cup.
This coming season will see the league revert back to division, conference, and inter-conference play and is expected to start on time after the pandemic disrupted the last two seasons. The Seattle Kraken will make their debut and are at +8000 despite lacking an NHL roster. Rounding out the bottom of the list are the Buffalo Sabres and the Detroit Red Wings, both at +20000.
Other teams to keep an eye on include:
Colorado Avalanche (+550)
The disappointing playoff exit in 2021 should serve to motivate what many believe is the deepest roster in the NHL. Team captain Gabriel Landeskog (who is expected to re-sign), perennial MVP candidate Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen lead the offense. Cale Makar has emerged as one of the best defensemen in the league and leads a young and talented defense corps including Ryan Graves, Samuel Girard, and Devon Toews. If the team is able to retain Vezina finalist Philipp Grubauer in net, it’s easy to see them as the odds-on favorites.
Tampa Bay Lightning (+700)
It is hard to bet against a team that’s won two straight Stanley Cup, but the Lightning is as deep as any team in the league and should be able to fill any holes that may crop up during the off-season. An interesting note maybe Steven Stamkos. The long-time Lightning winger carries an $8.5-million cap hit and could be traded in the off-season for more affordable parts.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+1400)
Getting eliminated in the first round of the NHL playoffs this past season was tough enough. Getting bounced by the Montreal Canadiens after leading the series 3-1 made things even worse. The good news is that the Maple Leafs have as much high-end talent as any team in the league. The bad news is that the bottom six forwards lack depth, the situation in the net with Freddie Anderson a free agent, and Jack Campbell is undecided, and the defense is mediocre.
New York Islanders (+2500)
In 2021 the New York Islanders made the conference finals for the second time in two seasons but were again set back by the Lightning. Expect General Manager Lou Lamoriello and New York to be aggressive sellers in the off-season so that they can make a splash in free agency.
Washington Capitals (+3500)
The Capitals are just three seasons removed from their 2018 Stanley Cup championship and with the window closing on the future Hall of Famer Alex Ovechkin, it’s hard to see them not being aggressive in this off-season. At long odds, expect Washington to make a run at signing Ryan Suter in a bid to shore up their blueline.
Los Angeles Kings (+6000)
The Kings look to be both re-building and trying to win now, which makes them an interesting team to watch. Los Angeles already acquired Viktor Arvidsson from the Nashville Predators during the playoffs and looks to be in a good position to squeeze out a final run from veterans Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, and Dustin Brown.
It’s interesting to note that former Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty is only 31-years-old, and there are a lot of youngsters coming through the system including goalie Cal Petersen and forwards Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, Rasmus Kupari, Gabe Vilardi, and Arthur Kaliyev. Add a piece or two and General Manager Rob Blake may have a Kings team that is a longshot worth betting on.