We have reached the point in the NHL season where the top online sportsbooks are starting to pull playoff odds for some of the league's teams. That means it's time for us to drop another batch of Stanley Cup picks.
As it stands, every team still has lines for their championship futures. But cuts are starting to be made when we get to the four divisions that were designed specifically to help navigate this truncated season. You will notice a shorter list of options when deciding on those picks.
Make of that decision what you will. For now, here are the Stanley Cup betting odds for every NHL team, courtesy of Bovada:
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-265|
As always, be sure to double-check these NHL betting lines before committing to any picks. They will shift between now and the end of the season.
NHL Futures Betting Breakdown
To help alleviate the challenges associated with travel this year, the NHL is using four divisions: Central, East, North, and West. The top-four from each will make the playoffs, and those postseason matchups will take place within the division.
As a result, there are no more conferences. The NHL has temporarily done away with the East and West designations until the travel restrictions between the United States and Canada border are loosened.
When there is one team left standing from each subsection, they will be reseeded according to their regular-season point total. So, it's important that we first look to pick each of the four division winners, since they will represent our options when choosing Stanley Cup winners.
Central Division Winner Prediction
Check out the odds for the NHL's 2021 Central Division winner:
|St. Louis Blues||+1200|
The Carolina Hurricanes (-130) seem incredibly overvalued. They're not even paying out 1-to-1. That makes little sense for a team that doesn't rank inside the top 10 of goals scored per game and does most of its damage during power-play minutes.
Invest in the Tampa Bay Lightning (+175) instead. They pay out almost 2-to-1 and yet again rank in the top 10 of both goals scored per game and penalty-killing percentage.
OSB Prediction: Lightning (+175)
East Division Winner Prediction
Check out the odds for the NHL's 2021 East Division winner:
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+150|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+325|
|Detroit Red Wings||+8000|
The East has rapidly become the NHL's deepest division and is warping the playoff picture as a result. Most advanced metrics think the New York Rangers (+150000) are the best team according to their point differential and strength of schedule, but they have almost no chance at making the playoffs because of the intra-division games they've lost and how far behind their East brethren they are in the standings.
This is to say, do not default to the team with the best record, the Washington Capitals (+220). The Pittsburgh Penguins (+300) are more intriguing. If they can do a better job of killing their penalty minutes, they'll be one of the best two-way teams in the league.
OSB Prediction: Penguins (+300)
North Division Winner Prediction
Check out the odds for the NHL's 2021 North Division winner:
|New York Islanders||+325|
|New York Rangers||+400|
|New Jersey Devils||+1600|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+8000|
Look, all the stats are going to favor the Toronto Maple Leafs (-500). But the margin by which these metrics are determined will be slim. Toronto is actually the worst division leader in the league, according to Simple Rating System (SRS), which ranks NHL teams according to the strength of schedule and point differential.
This opens the door for the Edmonton Oilers (+900). They yet again have two MVP favorites in Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and they're just behind the Leafs and Winnipeg Jets (+550) SRS despite their long-shot odds.
OSB Prediction: Oilers (+900)
West Division Winner Prediction
Check out the odds for the NHL's 2021 West Division winner:
|Vegas Golden Knights||-200|
|Los Angeles Kings||+3300|
|San Jose Sharks||+4000|
This is our only no-brainer pick of the entire division-winner exercise. Go with the Colorado Avalanche (-245), and don't even entertain anyone else.
Colorado is first in goals scored and third in goals allowed. Their lines are the deepest in the NHL right now, and they do a great job of limiting shots at the net.
OSB Prediction: Avalanche (-245)
2021 Stanley Cup Prediction
As a quick review, here are our four division winners, with their Stanley Cup odds in parenthesis:
- Lightning (+600)
- Penguins (+2200)
- Oilers (+2000)
- Avalanche (+350)
We can't get into matchup specifics, because again, the NHL will be reseeding their four Stanley Cup finalists. Exact matchup props will be available once the playoff race has been finalized.
For now, many people will be inclined to select the Avalanche. We don't blame. They're currently the league's most well-rounded team.
At the same time, while Colorado limits opponent shots at the net, they don't have the best goalkeeping when rival teams get a look between the posts. The Lightning actually has the more balanced playstyle when looking at their offense, ability to navigate power plays and defense.
OSB Prediction: Lightning (+600)
Take a look at this list of the best online sportsbooks so you can decide which to use for all your NHL betting odds: