The NHL will return on October 12 for Opening Night with the Seattle Kraken expanding in as the league’s 32nd franchise in its 105th season.
Let’s look at the NHL Atlantic Division in the first of four divisional odds previews which sees the league returning to its previous alignment after the pandemic affected 2020-2021 campaign which saw one of this division’s top teams bring home Lord Stanley’s coveted Cup for a second straight season.
The defending back-to-back NHL Stanley Cup champions should be tough to beat in the Atlantic Division this season with Coach Jon Cooper and the Lightning (+150 to win Atlantic Division, BetOnline) returning all of their elite players, although salary cap issues resulted in the evaporation of the third line over the offseason.
With star Nikita Kucherov (11/1 to win Hart Trophy) out most of the 2020 season with a hip injury, the Lightning (3.21 GPG-2.59 GA) finished in third place in the Central Division and only ended with a +34 Goal Differential (181 GF-147 GA).
But Tampa Bay was an impressive 21-7-0 at Home at Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa and breezed through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, beating the Panthers (4-2), Hurricanes (4-1), Islanders (4-3) and then the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals (4-1) to capture its second straight Stanley Cup.
The Lightning (+625 to win Stanley Cup) did lose their entire third line (Yanni Gourde—36 points, taken by the Seattle Krakken in Expansion Draft—Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow), David Savard and Tyler Johnson in an effort to decrease payroll for the salary cap
Tampa Bay also parted ways with backup Goalie Curtis McElhinney but did sign Forwards Corey Perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellmare and added Goalie Brian Elliott, making Andrei Vasilevskiy (31-10-1) and Elliott an extremely solid duo in net.
With the underrated Brayden Point (16/1 to win Hart Trophy; team-leading 23 goals and 48 points) re-signed, Kucherov—who played in the Stanley Cup Finals with a fractured rib—back and healthy, the Lightning should have no problems scoring goals again.
Toss in reliable captain Steven Stamkos (34 points last season) and Ondrej Palat (46 points), and Tampa Bay could actually end up having a better NHL Regular Season in 2021-2022 than they did in 2020-2021.
And possessing two talented Defensemen like Victor Hedman (8/1 to win Norris Trophy; 45 points) and Ryan McDonagh and two having decent Goalies—possibly the best in the NHL in Vasilevskiy (1.90 GAA in 2020 Postseason)—the Lightning will be an extremely tough opponent in the Regular and Postseason.
And playing in a weaker division, Tampa Bay will certainly make the Playoffs, possibly win the Atlantic and maybe even make it a three-peat. Time will tell.
Toronto Maple Leafs Preview
The Maple Leafs (+325 to win Atlantic Division) won the temporary, all-Canadian North Division last season with Toronto going an impressive 35-14-7 and suffering only seven losses both at Home (18-7-3) and on the Road (17-7-4) and registering a healthy +39 Goal Differential (187 GF-148 GA).
But that was in a Pandemic-affected season where the Canadian teams were all thrust together because of border restrictions
Toronto (12/1 to win Stanley Cup) lost Zach Hyman in the offseason as well as Goalie Frederik Anderson who headed to Carolina in a Free Agency swap with the Hurricanes for Petr Mrázek (128-91-36, 2.59 GAA, 91.1 SV%).
And with Maple Leafs’ star Auston Matthews (11/1 to win Hart Trophy; 41 goals) having wrist surgery and being out a minimum of six weeks, backing the Leafs to win the Atlantic Division just doesn’t seem worth it.
Boston Bruins Preview
The aging but big Bruins (+350 to win Atlantic Division) re-signed Taylor Hall and return “The Perfection Line” of Brad Marchand (20/1 to win Hart Trophy; 69 points), Patrice Bergeron (40/1 to win Hart Trophy; 48 points) and David Pastrnak (16/1 to win Hart Trophy; 48 points).
And Boston plays solid defense (2.39 GAA, tied for 4th) and Charlie McAvoy (12/1 to win Norris Trophy) and the Bruins (33-16-7, +32 GD) were No. 2 on the Power Kill (86.0%) last season.
So winning the division certainly isn’t out of the question for this franchise—which was one of the NHL’s Original Six along with the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Rangers, Red Wings and the Black Hawks.
And adding Nick Foligno (Blue Jackets) should help Trent Frederic and the Bruins (14/1 to win Stanley Cup) and winning the Atlantic Division is definitely a possibility.
But David Krejci (44 points) left for his native Czech Republic and the B’s (14/1 to win Stanley Cup).
And 34-year-old Goalie Tuukka Rask (+450 to win Vezina Trophy) is recovering from hip surgery and is currently an unrestricted free agent and backup Goalie Jaroslav Halák (Canucks) is also gone.
So Linus Ullmark (2.78 career GAA, 91.2 SV%) is the Bruins plug-in starter and with the Lightning, Maple Leafs, Panthers and Canadiens all also in this Feast or Famine division, shopping or looking for Boston at 4/1 or better odds seems worth a small shot but no Rask for now is a serious problem.
Florida Panthers Preview
The Panthers (+375 to win Atlantic Division) had a solid 2020-21 season and added very nicely to their roster in the offseason, signing 42-year-old and future NHL Hall of Famer Joe Thornton (Maple Leafs) to a one-year, $750,000 contract as well as Sam Reinhart (Sabres, 40 points)
Florida also re-signed Carter Verhaeghe (36 points), Anthony Duclair (32 points), Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour, so the Panthers (18/1 to win Stanley Cup) should be able to score some goals again (Central Division-high 189 goals last season, +36 GD).
Thornton becomes the 7th player in NHL history to record 1,100 assists, joining Wayne Gretzky (1,963), Ron Francis (1,249), Mark Messier (1,193), Ray Bourque (1,169), Jaromir Jagr (1,155) and Paul Coffey (1,135). https://t.co/sxGcNTB6Si
The Panthers Sunshine State rivals, the Lightning, eliminated the Panthers (37-14-5) from the Playoffs last season but with players like Alexsander Barkov (28/1 to win Hart Trophy; 58 points), Jonathan Huberdeau (28/1 to win Hart Trophy; 61 points), Patric Hornqvist (32 points) and MacKenzie Weeger (40/1 to win Norris Trophy), Florida (20-5-3 at Home) can potentially compete for the Atlantic Division title.
Montréal Canadiens Preview
The Canadiens (33/1 to win Atlantic Division) were a pleasant surprise in 2020-21, with Montréal making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals to lose to now conference-mates Tampa Bay, getting outscored 17-8 along the way and dashing any hopes of an NHL championship returning to Canada.
Can Les Habs (24-21-11) win it all this time around (45/1 to win Stanley Cup)?
We’ve seen stranger things and a potential all-Canadian Canadiens-Canucks Stanley Cup Finals showdown is currently priced at 600/1 at BetOnline in the Stanley Cup Final Matchup betting market.
But Montréal (22/1 to win Eastern Conference) getting there once again this season will be much more difficult with captain Shea Weber likely to miss the season with lingering foot-ankle problems, and maybe gone for good
And scorers like Tomas Tatar (30 points), the aforementioned Corey Perry (21 points), Philip Danalaut (24 points) and possibly Eric Staal may all be gone via free agency.
Tyler Toffoli (75/1 to win Hart Trophy; 44 points), Jeff Petry (25/1 to win Norris Trophy; 42 points), Nick Suzuki (41 points) and the Canadiens did add David Savard, Cedric Paquette, Mike Hoffman and Mathieu Perrault
But with the all-Canadian North Division gone and Weber injured simply making the Playoffs might be Montréal’s (-9 GD) best hope.
Detroit Red Wings Preview
The Red Wings (80/1 to win Atlantic Division) did acquire Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic (Hurricanes, 15-5-3, 1.90 GAA) and Defender Filip Hronek (26 points, 24 on assists) and Detroit (200/1 to win Stanley Cup) did re-sign Tyler Bertuzzi.
But Detroit lost Darren Helm and Luke Glendening to free agency and aren’t worth any division, conference or Stanley Cup futures bets for this coming season.
So all isn’t well like it once was in the halcyon days with legends like Gordie Howe or Steve Yzerman for the Red Wings (7-16-5 on Road) in octopi-throwing Hockeytown
But Detroit (-44 GD) added Jakub Vrana, Adam Erne, Pius Suter and Jordan Oesterle and will hope for the best once again like probable fellow Atlantic Division bottom-dwellers Buffalo and Ottawa.
Ottawa Senators Preview
The youthful Senators (100/1 to win Atlantic Division) had a dismal -33 GD and allowed the most GA (190) and had the most Road Losses (19) in the North Division last COVID-19-affected season
So like Detroit and Buffalo, backing a team that ranked 28th in GAA (3.38) and 26th on the Penalty Kill (15.5 PK%) in any market seems like simply burning money.
Ottawa (150/1 to win Stanley Cup) does have some young talent like the 23-year-old Drake Batherson (17 goals,17 assists)—who played in all 56 of the Senators’ games last season—and 22-year-old Josh Norris (35 points).
The Sens also have 21-year-old Brady Tkachuk (36 points) and Connor Brown (21 goals, 35 points) and the team signed Defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Nick Holden, so at least the future may hold some promise for this team.
But the Senators lost Derek Stepan (Hurricanes) and Ryan Dzingel (Coyotes) to free agency and may end up having been better off with another all-Canadian division in the NHL.
Buffalo Sabres Preview
The Sabres (150/1 to win Atlantic Division) may deserve to be the big odds dogs in this Haves and Have-Nots division, as this Buffalo franchise (8-16-4 at Home) has missed the playoffs 10 straight seasons and had just 15 Wins last season (15-34-7).This team also had the NHL’s worst GD (-61) and just saw the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, Defenseman Owen Power, decide to return to the University of Michigan for his sophomore season
And last season’s leading scorer, Sam Reinhart (25 goals, 40 points), signed with the Panthers.
Buffalo (200/1 to win Stanley Cup) brought in a new Coach in June in Don Granato and the Reinhart trade did bring in top Goalie prospect Devon Levi and a Round 1 Pick.
The Sabres also added Robert Hagg (Flyers), but disgruntled star and captain Jack Eichel has issues with how the herniated disc in his injured neck should be dealt with and said that he wants to be traded.
So? So no Reinhart, no Power, no Eichel and no Rasmus Ristolainen (Flyers) means this Sabres team will continue to try to build for a brighter future around players like Victor Olofsson (32 points), Rasmus Dahlin (23 points) and Casey Mittelstadt (22 points).
And Buffalo will hope Levi becomes a solid netminder someday and that Power doesn’t decide he wants to return for his junior season with the Wolverines a year from now? We kid.
Who Wins the Atlantic in 2021-2022?
With Vasilevskiy (+450 to win Vezina Trophy), Kucherov back, team heartbeat Stamkos there and a healthy Point and Palat, the Lightning deserve to be the odds favorites in the competitive Atlantic Division but don’t sleep on the Maple Leafs, the Bruins or the Panthers when it comes to NHL betting this year.
But the Rask injury in Boston and the Matthews injury in Toronto may mean Florida holds some perceived value to win the division and may end up being Tampa Bay’s toughest competition.
The Lightning outscored the Panthers, 24-17, winning the First Round of the NHL Playoffs (4-2).
But two-time defending champions Tampa Bay went just 3-5 vs. Florida in the 2020-2021 NHL Regular Season, getting outscored 31-24 in The Governor’s Cup (FLA 73-57-17-10) in some extremely high-scoring affairs (6.9 GPG), game Totals players tale note.
So if there is a team besides Tampa Bay who could win the Atlantic Division, it may be the Panthers (9/1 to win Eastern Conference) with some icy Sunshine State revenge on their minds, although Blades the Bruin and Beantown fans in Boston (7/1 to win Eastern Conference) will beg to differ.
2021-22 NHL Atlantic Division Winner Pick
Tampa Bay Lightning +150
Kevin Stott is a sports writer who has covered the Sports Gambling industry for over 20 years, handicapping sporting events for SportsbookReview, Gaming Today and Bleacher/Report and was an award-winning writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s View Newspapers. Stott is an avid sports bettor and a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. ...
The information found on Gamblingsites.org is for entertainment purposes only. It is a purely informational website that does not accept wagers of any kind. Although certain pages within Gamblingsites.org feature or promote other online websites where users are able to place wagers, we encourage all visitors to confirm the wagering and/or gambling regulations that are applicable in their local jurisdiction (as gambling laws may vary in different states, countries and provinces).
Gamblingsites.org uses affiliates links from some of the sportsbooks/casinos it promotes and reviews, and we may receive compensation from those particular sportsbooks/casinos in certain circumstances. Gamblingsites.org does not promote or endorse any form of wagering or gambling to users under the age of 18. If you believe you have a gambling problem, please visit BeGambleAware or GAMCARE for information and help.