With the expansion draft, entry draft and free agency looming, these odds will be subject to change, and some of them by quite a bit considering how many big-name players are also rumored to be available via trade.
Here’s a rundown of some of the odds you should be paying attention to. Odds are courtesy BetMGM and accurate as of July 17, 2021.
Colorado Avalanche – 6.0
The Avs open as the 2022 favourites, but this is hockey, and hockey is about upsets, surprises and maximum chaos. Rarely does winning the Presidents’ Trophy guarantee success; since its inception in the 1985-86 season, only 11 teams have won the award as the regular season champions and reached the final. Roster uncertainty may also hurt the Avs; there’s already talk that captain Gabriel Landeskog may enter free agency on July 28 and already lost some depth trading Ryan Graves to the Devils. The Lightning were the early favourites for the 2021 season but fell behind the Avs in early-season betting before capturing their second straight Cup.
Vegas Golden Knights – 7.50
The Knights are the only Pacific Division team to rank in the top-10. They should cakewalk to another division title against relatively weak competition, and the playoff format almost assures they will reach Round 2. The Knights are known for big-name hunting and no one would be surprised if they managed to land another big fish, especially after they move one of their two starters, presumed to be Marc-Andre Fleury. Don’t expect this line to move very much.
Tampa Bay Lightning – 8.50
The Lightning round out the top three favourites even though they’re going to lose at least one key player due to cap constraints. There’s obviously a chance they can three-peat, but no team has done it since Al Arbour’s Islanders in the ‘80s and the Penguins’ own attempt at a three-peat pretty much ended when they were forced to part with Fleury in the Vegas expansion draft. The Lightning demand a lot of respect, but they are expected to ice a squad with less quality depth than before, having dealt Barclay Goodrow to the Rangers just before the trade freeze.
New York Islanders – 21.00
Just about every group that deals with numbers – namely oddsmakers and analytics – discount the Isles every season. And they always prove everyone wrong. Keep in mind that they didn’t have captain Anders Lee for their entire playoff run, and while some key players need extensions, it’s been rumoured the Isles are also big-name hunting, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Zach Parise re-unite with Lou Lamoriello on a low-risk, low-cost deal. The Isles are good and they have a chance to improve, especially after clearing some cap space dealing Andrew Ladd to the Coyotes and Nick Leddy to the Red Wings.
New York Rangers – 26.00
Owner James Dolan cleaned out the front office because he was getting impatient, which means it’s win-now in Manhattan. New GM Chris Drury will be under pressure to deliver, and they have a lot of assets they can offer to land a more experienced player who can contribute now. The Metro is a tough division but the Rangers should improve by virtue of their young players having accumulated more experience, and new head coach Gerard Gallant is known for being able to push the right buttons.
Edmonton Oilers – 29.00
Any team that employs the league’s best player has a chance. Regardless of the value of Duncan Keith’s cap hit, he should be a positive addition to both the blue line and the locker room. Making the playoffs should be close to a guarantee for the Oilers, and like Vegas they should be able to take advantage of a rather weak division to advance to Round 2.
Philadelphia Flyers – 31.00
Getting Ryan Ellis from the Predators was a big win, even if it means the Flyers are probably out of the Seth Jones sweepstakes. A lot has to go right for the Flyers, including a huge bounce-back season from Carter Hart, but if Jakub Voracek is picked by the Kraken, that gives them cap space to sign an impact player. Despite a tough year, the Flyers finished with a winning record and they’re just one season removed from reaching Round 2 of the playoffs.
Los Angeles Kings – 51.00
In all likelihood, it’s not their time just yet with Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte and a treasure chest of top-notch prospects still developing. But Los Angeles is an attractive destination and the Kings have cap space, which means opportunities for GM Rob Blake to kick his re-build into high gear. In a weak division, the Kings could make some noise and their odds should improve by the end of the season, especially if they can get their hands on a certain disgruntled star center from Buffalo…
Seattle Kraken – 51.00
It’s like oddmakers didn’t know what to do with the Pacific Division and just crammed everyone near the bottom. It’s not a bad strategy to start with, but there’s a ton of moving parts with the Kraken. Obviously, the Knights set the bar very high, but the Kraken will be competitive right off the bat and may be huge benefactors from teams trying to unload high-priced contracts of proven players, such as Vladimir Tarasenko. The biggest news, however, is that the Canadiens have reportedly elected to protect Jake Allen over Carey Price, betting that Price’s contract with a $10.5-million cap hit and five years remaining would be a deterrent. The Kraken could kickstart their franchise the same way the Knights did – by having a Hall of Fame goaltender in net.
Chicago Blackhawks – 66.00
Front office controversies aside, the Blackhawks are in fairly good shape on ice. Captain Jonathan Toews is targeting a return, they have a strong group of young players headlined by Kirby Dach and there’s a possibility Seth Jones will join them. It would not be surprising to see the Blackhawks in playoff contention.
New Jersey Devils – 81.00
We’re firmly in pipe-dream territory, but stranger things have happened. Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes are excellent pieces to build a franchise around and they’ve got a lot of talent coming down the pipeline. GM Tom Fitzgerald struck early getting Graves from the Avalanche, and said they’re “not done” yet. They started the season 7-8-2 and had a decent 12-12-4 record on the road for such a young and inexperienced team. If the Devils are in play for a veteran goalie – Fleury, for example – it would give their odds a big boost.