With the NBA set to end its shortest offseason ever and tip off the 2020-21 regular season on 22 December, all eyes are on the NHL to deliver a workable schedule in the imminent future. Though plenty of details remain to be hammered out between the league and the players association, the latest buzz suggests that a slate in the neighbourhood of 56 games could kick off by mid-January.
But in any event, it’s not too early to begin hashing out just who has the best chance to knock off the Tampa Bay Lightning at hockey’s mountaintop. With that in mind, it’s time for CanadianBettingSites to deliver the best NHL futures betting picks for 2021, including the outright Stanley Cup winner and leading prop bets including conference champions, a possible all-Canadian division, and more.
2021 NHL Stanley Cup Champion Picks
The Bolts have to like their chances to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, and the rumoured divisional realignments that are reportedly in the works could end up making their path to a top playoff seed even easier. Steven Stamkos and Co. won’t actually have an easy ride to the top of the heap, however.
The Colorado Avalanche are the early consensus betting favourite to win the big one, though they won’t start to look like the smartest of smart picks until the general manager and all-around franchise legend Joe Sakic puts a few more depth pieces in place to keep the injury bug at bay — the one that contributed to falling just short in the second round of last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Dallas Stars.
The best value play here and now? The Vegas Golden Knights, who are currently a bit undervalued thanks in large part to a tight salary cap situation awaiting resolution. Management has suggested that 2019-20 leading scorer Max Pacioretty isn’t being shopped around actively on the trade block despite a whirlwind of rumors; if that holds true, VGK can be expected to mount a repeat trip to the Western Conference Finals.
Vegas shopping Pacioretty makes so little sense..
He is the 2nd best forward on that team besides Mark Stone, the best goalscorer on the team, instantly got an A there and was captain in Montreal, which means he is a leader in the locker room (wouldnt get an A it if he wasnt).
— Samuel Tirpák (@SammyT_51) December 9, 2020
Having two No. 1 goaltenders in Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury is a heck of an insurance policy, too, as unorthodox (and uncomfortable) as it may seem on is face.
Pick the Golden Knights (9.5) to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time ever. A winning $20 bet cashes out for $190 at Bodog.
Looking to strike it rich with a dark horse pick? The upwardly mobile Toronto Maple Leafs could be fashioning themselves into an evolutionary version of the offence-heavy Lightning, and not for nothing, they added the indomitable Joe Thornton, a fan favorite veteran who’s seen just about everything in this sport. A $20 wager on the Buds (17) at 10Bet pays out a sensational $340.
|Stanley Cup Odds|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||9.00||9.00||9.00||8.50||8.00|
|Vegas Golden Knights||9.00||7.15||9.00||9.50||8.50|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||15.00||9.00||17.00||14.00||13.00|
NHL 2021 Eastern Conference Champion Picks
As far as the Eastern Conference is concerned, it may be tempting to lean on a known quantity like the Tampa Bay Lightning. In so many ways, that’s sound logic; Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov are coming off tremendous seasons, and having as steady a presence as Andrei Vasilevskiy minding the net is an enviable position. They aren’t the best value play, however.
No, that would be — surprise! — the Leafs (with the Boston Bruins following not too far behind). Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and captain John Tavares make for a murderer’s row on the attack. Expect GM Kyle Dubas’ investment in this dynamic, dangerous group to pay off in a major way.
If and when it does, that will simply be too much value to pass up.
Take the Maple Leafs to become Eastern Conference champions. A winning $20 bet redeems for $200 at BetOnline.
2021 NHL Western Conference Champion Picks
Out in the West, the defending conference champion Dallas Stars have their work cut out for them, particularly with Tyler Seguin on the mend until springtime after undergoing a hip procedure. The potential range of outcomes for Tom Gaglardi’s team is uncomfortably wide in 2021 and likely depends on youngsters like defenceman Miro Heiskanen and winger Denis Gurianov ripening on the vine sooner rather than later.
The smarter money? Based on proven talent and playoff-hardened experience, that goes on the Avalanche or the Golden Knights. And while Vegas provided the best betting payoff for winning the Cup, the Western Conference championship picture is more attractive for Colorado, who are locked and loaded and faced fewer question marks as it pertains to roster stability than the Knights as of this writing.
In the Western Conference, pick the surest thing to win: the Colorado Avalanche (4.4). A $20 wager cashes out for $88 at Sports Interaction.
Will There Be an NHL All-Canadian Division in 2021?
Perhaps the hottest item of discussion in the hockey world as we await the big reveal of the 2021 schedule and some inevitably redrawn divisions? Whether or not we’re in store for a “Canadian Division.” Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like.
And while nothing has been confirmed as of this moment and any changes of this magnitude would have to be agreed by both the league and the NHLPA, the chatter around the NHL establishment is that, yes, we’re going to have an ad hoc division for the 2021 season that includes nothing but Canadian teams.
The oddsmakers tend to agree.
Bet on an all-Canadian division being a very real thing this season in the NHL (1.454). A $20 ticket in favour of this potential reality would redeem for $29.08 at Bodog.
The proposed re-alignment below was discussed on the Board of Governors call today among other things.
Also, league said on the call that if all went well in season planning with the NHLPA, a Board of Governors vote hopefully will be held by the end of next week. https://t.co/GP0nlV6Juv
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 9, 2020
2021 NHL Canadian Division Winner Picks
So, on that note, let’s play out a thought experiment. The Canadian Division is real. It consists of all seven NHL teams based north of the ol’ border. And someone has to win it.
Is Toronto the inevitable pick? They do offer a whole lot of upside, but the Edmonton Oilers cannot be counted out straight away. A great strength of theirs is a pipeline of prospects teeming with talent, but they’re not some wait-and-see outfit. Forward Leon Draisaitl put together a breakout season, and the team finished with the best regular-season record of any Canadian squad in 2019-20.
Unfortunately, Connor McDavid and Co. were subjected to a shock upset loss to the Chicago Blackhawks — who had the worst record of any Western Conference team to make the expanded postseason — in the qualifying round. They just haven’t quite proven enough in this current iteration under front-office boss Ken Holland.
If there truly is an all-Canadian division in 2021, pick the Toronto Maple Leafs (2.7) to win. A $20 bet at Bodog cashes out for $54.