The 2021-22 National Hockey League season is fast approaching and this is about the time when betting action heats up at online sportsbooks across North America. While most of the public takes part in NHL betting on a game-to-game basis, many bettors are looking ahead to the ultimate prize, making Stanley Cup futures wildly popular in the lead-up to the regular season.
Betting on futures is an effective way to protect your bankroll while enjoying season-long entertainment. This is especially true in the NHL, where it can be challenging to predict the outcome on the ice any given night. Futures provide the rooting interest you’re looking for without the need to bet on every individual game.
Below, we’ll offer several 2021-22 NHL futures predictions including bets for the Stanley Cup along with some lesser-known markets to consider before the puck drops on the new season.
2021-22 NHL Betting Odds
NHL Futures Betting | 2021-22 Stanley Cup Predictions
To Win Stanley Cup: Colorado Avalanche ()
You will find the Tampa Bay Lightning atop most power rankings you’ll come across when preparing for the new season. And perhaps rightfully so as the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs with much of its core returning for the 2021-22 season.
But we’d be wise to remember that the Colorado Avalanche was the best team in the NHL last season by a significant margin, despite its second-round playoff loss to Las Vegas. Pick almost any stat from last season, standard or advanced, and the Avalanche likely led it or ranked near the very top of the league.
Colorado tied for the league lead in points, was second in wins, scored the most goals, and allowed the third-fewest. But go deeper, and it was just as dominant. Using Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus (RAPM), the Avalanche had a positive 0.806 net expected goal margin last season, far-and-away the best in the league. The Avs also ranked first in categories like Corsi For Percentage (CF%), Expected Goals For Percentage (xGF%), Expected Goals Against (xGA), and High-Danger Scoring Chance Percentage (HDCF%), according to Natural Stat Trick.
Of course, numbers do not tell the whole story. Some are calculated at even strength and don’t account for injuries (like in the case of the Lightning missing Nikita Kucherov). But no matter the metrics you use, they all suggest that the Avalanche is a sleeping giant waiting to make its Stanley Cup run.
While we cannot expect Colorado to repeat last season’s success in terms of the gaudy numbers, this group also returns almost everyone and we should see a repeat performance when it comes to dominating the regular season.
Most bettors agree that it’s usually not a +EV bet to play the favorite in the futures market. So, feel free to call me square, but I want an Avalanche ticket in my pocket when the postseason rolls around. The Avalanche are in a tier of their own, and I will shop around to find the best number I can.
Colorado is +475 at DraftKings while PointsBet has them at +500 and FanDuel has +550. But at BetMGM, that number is currently at +600 and there’s likely none higher. If you want to bet on the Avalanche, do it now. Because this number will only shrink between now and when the playoffs start.
To Win Stanley Cup: Toronto Maple Leafs ()
The next closest team to the Avalanche in terms of net expected goals was the Toronto Maple Leafs (2.65 xGF, 2.11 xGA). If you don’t like the idea of betting the favorite, the Leafs are a team to consider at +1100 or higher.
‘If not for the stigma surrounding Toronto in the postseason, the number would probably be lower.
Toronto upgraded at goalie, adding Petr Mrazek, and their offense starring Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares (and several others) has the potential to be even more lethal in 2022. The Leafs are the favorite in the Atlantic at many sites over Tampa Bay around +200 and could very well finish with the most points in the conference.
To Win Stanley Cup: Minnesota Wild ()
For years, the Wild have excelled on defense but have not scored enough to challenge for the Stanley Cup. While viewed as a top-third team in the league, no one seems to be giving them a legitimate chance of winning it all.
My play on Minnesota is a bet on their offense’s potential now that Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov has signed and arrived at camp. The 24-year-old forward has elite speed with the puck and pairs it with exceptional playmaking ability. In his rookie season, Kaprizov tallied 27 goals and 51 points in 55 games. In year two, I expect a superstar to be born.
As a sleeper pick, keep an eye on Minnesota at +2500 or better, as this team has a higher ceiling than several teams listed in front of it.
2021-22 NHL Futures Betting | Which Teams Will Reach The Postseason?
The problem with some futures is the lack of an option to bet ‘no’ on something. It’s also impossible to see the book’s take when they list one-sided wagers such as the Stanley Cup winner. But most sportsbooks will offer the opportunity to bet yes or no on each team to reach the playoffs. This market is a fun way to play futures without the high risk of an outright bet or the specific nature of a season point total.
To Make Playoffs: Chicago Blackhawks ()
After a long string of playoff appearances from 2008 to 2017, the Blackhawks have missed the postseason three of the past four years. While it feels like ages since Chicago was a championship contender, the team hasn’t completely collapsed. Tallying up the past three seasons, the Hawks sit at 92-89 overall and made multiple significant additions this offseason.
Chicago overhauled their puck-prevention unit and finally have a legitimate No. 1 defenseman in Seth Jones. They then traded for Marc-Andre Fleury from Las Vegas and added defenseman Jake McCabe and Seth’s brother Caleb Jones.
On offense, notable additions include winger Tyler Johnson and the return of Jonathan Toews after missing the entire 2021 season. The Blackhawks aren’t going to be winning a championship this year, but if I can find them at even money or better to make the playoffs, I’m throwing down a bet.
To Miss Playoffs: Seattle Kraken (+120 at DraftKings)
I had to do a double-take when I saw the odds at -140 on the Seattle Kraken to make the playoffs at DraftKings. As an expansion team, we have no way of knowing how good or bad the Kraken will be. But at +120, it’s an auto-bet for me that Seattle will not reach the postseason in its inaugural season.
On paper, the Kraken could be a solid defensive team but one that may struggle to score. In the expansion draft, Seattle plucked goalie Phillip Grubauer from the Avalanche and will feature some talented players across multiple defensive lines. But the biggest question could be centered around how many games will it take before this team is playing at its optimal level. After all, growing pains here are unavoidable.
The argument that the Kraken should be favored to make the playoffs lies in the weakness of its division. The division features the Vegas Golden Knights and Edmonton Oilers at the top. But the consensus is that a Grand Canyon-sized gap exists between the top two teams and the rest. The general perception is that Seattle might have enough talent to become the third-best team in the Pacific
But the Kraken has already become a public darling of sorts, and to win at sports betting, you want to be on the opposite side of the public more often than not. After seeing the Golden Knights reaching the Stanley Cup Final in its first season and the expansion draft rules remaining the same, people might be just a little bit high on the Kraken. Not that anyone is claiming they’ll make a run to the Final, but even taking them to make the playoffs is a stretch for me.
*odds subject to change