Best bets for the 2021-22 NHL season



Mar 6, 2018

Best bets for the 2021-22 NHL season​


The NHL is back! So which teams and players are worth betting on?

NHL senior writer Greg Wyshynski, In The Crease host Arda Ocal and sports betting analyst Chris "The Bear" Fallica are here to give us their best bets for the 2021-22 season.

Season futures​


New York Islanders +1000 to win Eastern Conference​

Ocal: I love the Islanders and feel like this might be their season. Tampa was the Isles' kryptonite in the postseason for the past two seasons. The Lightning have lost offensive pieces, meanwhile the Isles added Zdeno Chara, Zach Parise and Richard Panik while parting with Jordan Eberle (to the Kraken in the expansion draft) and Nick Leddy. They led ESPN's top goaltending duo list, and at +1000, to win the conference, that's a pretty tantalizing bet, especially if you think the Isles will win it all, let alone take the East.


Florida Panthers +2200 to win Stanley Cup​

Fallica: The Panthers should get a boost simply by having two players in the lineup for the entire season: G Spencer Knight and D Aaron Ekblad. Knight will almost certainly be the No. 1 and Ekblad returning after a broken leg is huge. The Aleksander Barkov contract situation is taken care of and the addition of Sam Reinhart should give the Cats some serious offensive weapons. This is a team that lost in six to Tampa after dropping two close games at home and goaltending questions last season, so it's clear they are close. And the moves made this offseason put them squarely in the mix.


Colorado Avalanche -220 to win Central Division​

Fallica: While the middle of the division is very tightly bunched, Colorado towers about everyone talent-wise. Sure there's a change in net and gone are Joonas Donskoi and Brandon Saad but it's hard seeing any team in the Central approach what the Avs can offer over a complete season.



Seattle Kraken over 90.5 points (-110)​

Wyshynski: I'm slamming this wager with the force of the mighty Kraken's tentacle crashing down on the city of Argos. Seattle's regular-season point total at Caesars has climbed from 73.5 points in July to 90.5 points as the season begins. The goaltending tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger projects to be one of the NHL's best. I think they'll scare up enough goals in front of them, between the veteran forwards and puck-moving defensemen on the roster. But mostly, I like them to clear this total because they're playing in the Pacific Division, where they won't just clear 90.5 points but probably make the playoffs, too. (They're -110 to do so.)


Pittsburgh Penguins under 96.5 points​

Fallica: No Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Jake Guentzel to start the season for Pittsburgh, which has two games with Tampa and games with Florida and Toronto to start the season. That could put the Pens behind pace from the start, and who knows how Tristan Jarry will respond after a poor postseason. The Pens are in a division with the Islanders, who have had their number the past few years, the Caps, Hurricanes and a Rangers team on the improve. A playoff berth isn't assured this season for a team with an aging core and question marks in net.


New York Rangers over 94.5 points​

Fallica: Igor Shesterkin missing three weeks last season definitely affected the Blueshirts when he was not between the pipes. Artemi Panarin had off-the-ice issues. Alexis Lafreniere was a rookie and had sky-high expectations, although he will have to fill some of the void left by the departed Pavel Buchnevich. That being said, this may be the season the young Rangers core, led by Norris winner Adam Fox, takes a big step forward.


Boston Bruins under 103.5 points​

Fallica: Goaltending could be a huge story here as Tuukka Rask's status for the season is very much in doubt and who knows what the B's will get from Linus Ullmark. Jeremy Swayman was good in a small sample size, but can he play at that level over 30 or 40 games? How will the departure of David Krejci affect the production of Taylor Hall and that line? Three of the best teams in hockey are in this division in Florida, Tampa Bay and Toronto -- and while some of the worst teams in the league are as well, it seems like 104 points would be a bit of a reach this season, given in the last full season, Boston put up 107.


Minnesota Wild under 98.5 points​

Fallica: The Wild could be one of the biggest losers in the divisional alignment change. Minnesota benefitted from having Anaheim, Arizona, Los Angeles and San Jose in its division and now the Wild lose the three California bottom feeders and add Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago and Nashville. Not a trade that bodes well for a better record. How will a team that won with defense fare without Ryan Suter, Carson Soucy and Nick Bonino? Can Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen raise their game? And are there enough goals from players besides Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala? Seems like far too many questions to expect 100 points.


Chicago Blackhawks to miss the playoffs (+100)​

Wyshynski: The Blackhawks have certainly made upgrades in the offseason. Captain Jonathan Toews is back after missing all of last season. Defenseman Seth Jones came over in a big trade with Columbus. Marc-Andre Fleury arrives to shore up the goaltending. And sending Duncan Keith to the Oilers could be addition by subtraction. But the Blackhawks at -120 to make the playoffs in the Central Division, where they're at least the fifth-best team coming into the season? I don't see it. The highest points projections for Chicago are around 90 points. The lowest I found was 83 points. I think the Blackhawks are somewhere in between, which means they're not going to be a playoff team in a competitive conference.


Pittsburgh Penguins to miss playoffs (+250)​

Ocal: This will be an interesting year for the Penguins. The health and age of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are a concern; goaltending stability and reliability will be a question for some. It wouldn't be surprising if this team makes the postseason and might be a little jarring to see them not included, only because they've made it every year since Sidney Crosby's second year in the league in 2007. At +250, it might be enough to take a look at as a prop.



Charlie McAvoy to win Norris Trophy (+1400)​

Wyshynski: The key to winning the Norris Trophy is to get on the voters' radar in the previous season. Roman Josi was seventh for the award in two straight seasons before winning it. Adam Fox of the Rangers was fourth for the Calder, with the same voting pool, the year before he won the Norris. McAvoy was fifth for the Norris last season, his highest finish for the award. He's been plus-20 or better in three of his four seasons. He's going to have an increased point total with increased responsibilities on the Bruins' power play. And he's going to have a spotlight on him in the Winter Olympics, too. If McAvoy can remain healthy, this could be his turn with the Norris Trophy.

Ocal: McAvoy was my pick last year and I feel like I will pick him to win every year on paper until he does. Cale Makar probably deserves it, at +500 he's a pretty decent bet, but I also like Charlie McAvoy at +1400. In my opinion he was snubbed last year from a nomination. He will become the anchor of the B's blue line for years to come and is already growing into that role. The challenge is his production on the power play, which certainly gives D-men the "flash and pizzazz" vote


Phillip Grubauer +1000 or Chris Driedger +2500 to win Vezina Trophy​

Ocal: I like this bet because I like the Kraken's goaltending duo. I'm actually leaning Driedger here only because I could see him earn a No. 1 spot at some point in the season and be a stalwart between the pipes, leading the Kraken to the postseason. Seattle also has a solid defense, among the best in the league on paper. The question will be consistent scoring for this team, but you look at them and, especially in the Pacific Division, you can envision them making the playoffs. And the storyline of "terrific goaltending leading the way for a team to make the postseason in their first year in the NHL" is a pretty appetizing one for voters. The big decision is between Grubauer, who is solid, and Driedger, who is among the best "No. 2" goalies in the league.


Leon Draisaitl wins Hart Trophy (+1600)​

Ocal: I want to be clear, my choice for Hart Trophy this season is Nathan MacKinnon. I think he has a "don't ever forget about me" kind of year. Among the superstars, he's the one who gets talked about the least, especially outside the hockey bubble. But, a guy who won this trophy in 2020 is at +1600 and you expect him to shine as usual this season? That's a pretty good number. For context, Connor McDavid, the reigning Hart Trophy champ, is at +200. MacKinnon is at +650. Draisaitl is sixth on the list. I see that as pretty good value.