The 2021-22 NHL season is finally here and the time is now for bettors to place their bets on futures. Today we take a look at the Atlantic Division and give bettors the best bet to cash a winner at the end of the season.
Out of the NHL’s four divisions, the Atlantic is by far the deepest and most competitive. Home to the defending back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning and last season’s runner-up Montreal Canadiens, the Atlantic has more than a handful of teams that could win the Cup.
NHL Atlantic Division Futures Odds
Tampa Bay is listed as the betting favorite in the Atlantic at +175. Seeing the Lightning listed as the favorites is to be expected after two straight Stanley Cup-winning campaigns cemented the franchise as the class of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. Steven Stamkos and co. have earned the respect of oddsmakers, even if I feel there is better value down the board in this division.
If not the Lightning, who is the most intriguing futures bet to win the Atlantic? That answer lies with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team I feel is the most poised to make the leap ahead of the Lightning dynasty to hang a division banner at the end of the regular season.
What to Like About Toronto
Why do I like the Leafs? For one, they appear to be a team built for sustained scoring production throughout the course of the long grind of an 82 game regular season. With John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander all returning, the Maple Leafs have the horses needed to score goals in bunches.
Watch out for a breakout season from Marner in particular. In a shortened season, Marner posted 20 goals and 67 points in 55 games played. With the return to an 82 game schedule, the young sniper could gun for a 100+ point season and a potential 30+ goal campaign. If Marner can make the leap from a top-end scorer to one of the best in the league, the Leafs can easily chase down Tampa for the top spot in the division.
Quality, Not Elite Goaltending
If there is a potential question mark to be wary of the Leafs, it is in the crease. Toronto bolsters a duo that has talent and some experience but both goalies have yet to make their mark as a top netminder in the league. Jack Campbell will return as the number one guy in goal after starting all seven games in the playoffs in Toronto’s upset defeat to the Montreal Canadiens. While veteran netminder Petr Mrazek is slated to back up Campbell and provide an experienced hand when called upon.
There are questions about the Leafs quality in goal once things come to the playoffs and guiding the team to the Stanley Cup. When it comes to the regular season, Campbell and Mrazek are as good as any duo in the division. Atlantic rivals Tampa, Florida, and Montreal all have better starters, but the collective talent in the Leafs crease will be good enough to keep the team in games for the offense to take over and get the job done.
Leafs The Best Bet
Picking a winner in the Atlantic is a tough task. With four options that could all realistically hang the division banner this year in Tampa, Toronto, Florida and Boston, many bettors might opt to avoid picking a winner out of the Atlantic entirely. I am opting to be brave and go with the Leafs and their assembled squad of high-scoring forwards to make a jump after yet another first-round disappointment in the playoffs last season.
The Leafs might yet choke again in the playoffs. However, for the purposes of the regular season, they will be one of the league’s best teams. Take the Maple Leafs +250 to win the Atlantic Division.