The Stanley Cup was damaged during the parade and celebration in Tampa after the Lightning repeated as champions. Even though we have the shortest offseason in modern NHL history, the most recognizable trophy in sports will be fixed long before it gets handed out again next June.
We will have had an expansion draft, a hurried free agency period, and a whole bunch of trades with salary cap constraints in mind by the time the puck drops in October. It may seem like a long time, but the recovery period for the players and for the front offices will go in the blink of an eye.
That is because the NHL schedule will be back to the way it should be. The Canadian border will be open and teams will be able to freely traverse the continent to play 82 games with matchups against every team. That means we won’t have the all-division schedule or the modified playoff format. It will simply be what we’ve always had.
To some degree, that makes betting the NHL Stanley Cup Futures market harder. On the other hand, normalcy is a good thing and we should all embrace anything and everything that feels normal after what the last year and a half brought us.
Let’s see what the NHL betting odds for the 2021-22 season look like.
THE PRESEASON NHL STANLEY CUP FUTURES ODDS
Salary cap considerations and the expansion draft are going to make everything look just a little bit different than what we saw at the end of the modified 2020-21 season. Even with those thoughts in mind, the usual suspects are lined at the top of the odds board, with teams like Colorado, Vegas, and Tampa Bay as the ones that everybody else is chasing.
The Avalanche are certainly a deserving favorite, as it would appear that they have the best chances at keeping their core in tact. Playoff success often increases the salary demands of players, so the Golden Knights and Lightning will have that to contend with as the offseason goes along. After all, we saw Tampa Bay circumvent the salary cap in a big way by leaving Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos on long-term IR before deploying them in the playoffs.
The previous season has a huge impact on what happens with the futures odds. Toronto’s chances are probably not as good as the odds suggest, especially without the North Division playoff spots in play. Toronto slots back into the Atlantic Division now with much better teams. It would make sense to look more at a team like Boston if you want to fade Tampa Bay as the Lightning go for a third straight Cup.
It would also be in your best interest to look down the board and take some longer shot positions on teams that could really step up and play well, like the Florida Panthers, who will upgrade in net with Spencer Knight, or the New York Rangers, as they seem to be building in the right direction.
Taking really long shots can be hard because those teams have long odds for a reason. Some may have been unlucky during the previous season or got some bad breaks by playing in a really tough division. With the old division format coming back, some teams will have better hopes. A team like the Dallas Stars, who will be stuck with Colorado, but the Blues have taken a step back and none of the other teams look that great.
Perhaps a team like Edmonton, who only has one really good team in the Pacific Division with Vegas.
NHL STANLEY CUP FUTURES HANDICAPPING
Keep in mind that betting any futures market effectively requires you to put the money in escrow until your bet is decided. That is why a lot of serious handicappers dedicate a portion of their bankrolls exclusively for futures so that the majority of the dollars and cents are available to be used for daily wagering.
You can find some really good odds to win futures markets early on in the season, but you want to try to enter the market at the right time. If you bet a team at 30/1 and they get off to a slow start, they might be available at 50/1 just a few weeks into the season. Try to use the schedule to your advantage to see which teams have the opportunity to get off to a good start.
Consider which teams may be underpriced in the market, either based on a disappointing season or because they didn’t make any big splashy moves or upgrades to the roster. These markets can be very reactionary based on the latest news. Maybe a good team felt like all the pieces were in place and their future odds go up because of what others did.
Even if you aren’t ready to bet futures over the summer, keep an eye on them into the fall. As teams solidify their rosters, you’ll be able to get an idea of the teams that are being bet and then reassess your own thoughts and see if something tickles your fancy.