The Eastern Conference is more wide open than the Western Conference with possibly up to 10 teams capable of making it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, including last season’s defending champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Let’s take a look at the Futures Odds from BetUS to win the Eastern Conference and see if who has the best shot to win in this market.
Odds to win Eastern Conference:
The Sabres (100/1 to win Eastern Conference, BetUS) have missed the playoffs 10 straight seasons and the 2020-21 NHL season should be no different for poor Buffalo (8-16-4 at Home).
With leading-scorer Sam Reinhart (40 points) signing with the Panthers and their No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft, D Owen Power, deciding to return to the University of Michigan for his sophomore season, the offseason wasn’t great.
Buffalo had just 15 Wins last season (15-34-7), the worst GD in the league (-61) and are easily the oddsmakers’ longest shots to win this conference and captain Jack Eichel is unhappy and wants to be traded.
The Sabres will be hosting the outdoor Heritage Classic game at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario on Sunday, March 13, 2022, against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Red Wings (80/1 to win Eastern Conference) may be in the bottom four clubs in the league, with Tyler Bertuzzi and Detroit still in a rebuilding mode.
Expecting the Red Wings (80/1 to win Atlantic Division) to even make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, let alone the Eastern Conference Finals is a stretch.
Detroit had the second least number of Power Play goals (17) last season.
The worst team in the Metropolitan Division last season was the Blue Jackets (66/1 to win Eastern Conference).
Columbus (80/1 to win Metropolitan Division) is probably also looking at another rebuilding year after a -50 GD (137 GF-187 GA) last season, so you can count Oliver Bjorkstrand and crew out.
And the Senators (66/1 to win Eastern Conference) ended with a miserable -33 GD, allowed the most GA (190) and had the most Road Losses (19) in the Scotia North Division last season.
Brady Tkachuk (36 points) and Ottawa (100/1 to win Atlantic Division) will never have an easy game and the Senators ranked No. 28 in GAA (3.38) last season and are just still too poor defensively to back at the betting window.
The Penguins (12/1 to win Eastern Conference) will need some breaks this season with stars Sidney Crosby (wrist surgery) and Evgeni Malkin (knee surgery) sidelined to start the new season.
Pittsburgh (4/1 to win Metropolitan Division) was prolific on the attack last year, averaging 3.45 GPG with captain Crosby (28/1 to win Hart Trophy, BetOnline) and Malkin (40/1 to win Hart Trophy) leading the way.
And with Jake Guentzel (57 points; (40/1 to win Hart Trophy), Bryan Rust (200/1 to win Hart Trophy), Kris Letang (33/1 to win Hart Trophy) and Jeff Carter also, Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan won’t have to worry about scoring goals.
The Penguins did go 22-4-2 at Home last season, but not having Sid The Kid or Malkin to start things off and having to worry about the now 34-year-old Crosby and 34-year-old Malkin’s health is the big issue with Pittsburgh.
Unlike the Penguins, Artemi Panarin (58 points) and the Rangers (14/1 to win Eastern Conference) were poor at Home, going 14-11-3 at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan last abbreviated 2020-21 NHL season.
Besides this inability to dominate on their own ice, The Broadway Blueshirts (Regular Season Point Total 95½ points, Over/Under -115) also really miss now retired G Henrik Lundqvist and need another stud in the net.
New York (+550 to win Metropolitan Division) will need teams like the Penguins, Capitals, Bruins and Maple Leafs to struggle to have a shot at making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but stranger things have happened.
The Flyers (14/1 to win Eastern Conference) allowed the most Goals in the NHL last season (201) and brought in Goalie Martin Jones (Sharks) to hopefully change that statistical reality with Goalie Brian Elliott (3.06 GAA) now in Tampa.
Philadelphia (33/1 to win the Stanley Cup) was No. 29 in GAA (3.46) and scored just 2.86 GPG, a -0.6 GPG differential, so expecting a quick turnaround defensively in a conference with high-scoring teams.
Claude Giroux (200/1 to win Hart Trophy and the Flyers were also a weak No. 30 on the Penalty Kill (73.1%) but Philadelphia did trade for Defensemen Ryan Ellis (Predators; 28/1 to win Norris Trophy) and Rasmus Ristolainen (Sabres).
The Canadiens (25/1 to win Eastern Conference) made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, but with captain Shea Weber likely to miss the season with lingering foot-ankle problems, even making the Playoffs may be difficult.
Montréal also lost Tomáš Tatar (Devils; 30 points), Corey Perry (Lightning; 21 points), Philip Danalaut (Kings; 24 points) and maybe Eric Staal to free agency.
The Canadiens (33/1 to win Atlantic Division) had a less than impressive Record (24-21-11) and Tyler Toffoli (75/1 to win Hart Trophy; 44 points) and Les Habs (45/1 to win Stanley Cup) may need to catch some breaks to make the Playoffs.
Like the Penguins and Capitals, the Maple Leafs (6/1 to win Eastern Conference) have an injury problem with their big gun, with Toronto star Auston Matthews (11/1 to win Hart Trophy; 41 goals) out at least six weeks after wrist surgery.
Toronto (+325 to win Atlantic Division) won Scotia North Division last season, going 35-14-7 and an impressive 18-7-3 at Home at Scotiabank arena in Toronto.
With Toronto (12/1 to win Stanley Cup) losing Zach Hyman and Goalie Frederik Anderson in the offseason, it seems the Leafs will need a little luck or some other teams to really lay an egg this season to capture the Prince of Wales Trophy.
The Devils (33/1 to win Eastern Conference) scored just 145 Goals but did sign Dougie Hamilton (Hurricanes, 42 points) to a seven-year deal and got Goalie Jonathan Bernier (Red Wings) to help try to strengthen its defense.
Jack Hughes (31 points), Jesper Bratt (30 points) and Yegor Sharangovich (30 points) and Pavel Zacha (25 points) can score some goals for New Jersey (16/1 to win Metropolitan Division) but the schedule will be brutal.
The Devils ranked No. 27 in GAA (3.22), No. 28 on the Power Play (15.1%) and No. 31 on the Penalty Kill (70.9%), so New Jersey will really have its work cut out for them to earn a Conference or wild Card Playoff berth.
But if there is a longshot pick from this group, it would be New Jersey (Regular Season Point Total Under 89½ points (-115) with hopes that Hamilton and Hughes flourish at the Prudential Center in Newark.
The Capitals (14/1 to win Eastern Conference) have an injury concern with Alexander Ovechkin (Will Ovechkin Break Gretzky’s All-Time Goal Record? No -300, Yes +200, BetOnline).
Washington (+550 to win Metropolitan Division) starts Ilya Samsonov (13-4-1) in goal and can make a deep run in the NHL Playoffs if the defense can shine.
The Caps (36-15-5, 191 GF-163 GA) ranked a respectable No. 5 on the Penalty Kill (84%) and No. 3 on the Power Play (24.8%) for or Washington (28/1 to win the Stanley Cup) last season.
And with veterans like Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom (53 points), TJ Oshie (43 points), Tom Wilson (33 points), Evgeny Kuznetsov (29 points) and John Carlson (44 points), the expectations are there.
Washington (Regular Season Point Total 95½ points, Over/Under -115) went an impressive 19-7-2 on the Road last season and if Ovi can stay healthy the sky is the limit for this team that won its first and only Lord Stanley’s Cup back in 2017-18.
The Bruins (+650 to win Eastern Conference) are my strongest surprise pick in the Eastern Conference with Taylor Hall re-signed and the B’s expected to continue playing solid defense (2.39 GAA, tied for 4th).
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 and this aging Boston (+350 to win Atlantic Division) team is always a tough draw.
With 165-point “Perfection Line” of Brad Marchand (20/1 to win Hart Trophy), Patrice Bergeron (40/1 to win Hart Trophy) and David Pastrnak (16/1 to win Hart Trophy), the B’s can win their Atlantic Division and maybe the Stanley Cup (14/1).
To that end, Goalie Tuukka Rask (+450 to win Vezina Trophy) needs to is recover from hip surgery and re-sign with Boston, but this is still a team to watch.
The Islanders (10/1 to win Eastern Conference) are the favorites to win the Metropolitan Division but only the fourth odds favorite in the Eastern Conference, showing how strong the Atlantic is.
By signing big veteran Defensemen Zdeno Chara to a one-year pact, the Islanders (+275 to win the Metropolitan Division) strongly improved their chances of making a deep run in the 2021-22 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With a strong 21-4-3 record on their Home ice last season on Long Island and Goalie Seymon Varlaman (12/1 to win Vezina Trophy) and now Chara, the Islanders (16/1 to win the Stanley Cup) will be ready for a run at some history.
The Isles (32-17-7, 156 GF-128 GA) finished in 4th place in the Eastern Division in the 2020-21 season and New York was eliminated by eventual and now two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning in the Stanley Cup Semifinals (4-3).
But with their first 13 games on the Road, Matthew Barzaz (20/1 to win Hart Trophy) and the Isles will have to be focused from the drop of the first puck and New York will need to score more than the paltry 2.71 GPG it did last season.
Sebastian Aho (16/1 to win Hart Trophy) and the Hurricanes (10/1 to win Eastern Conference) went 20-3-5 at Home, were tied for No. 4 in GAA (2.39), No. 2 in the league on the Power Play (25.6%) and were No. 3 on the Penalty Kill (85.2%).
The Canes (4/1 to win the Metropolitan Division) lost Dougie Hamilton (42 points) to NJ in free agency but inked Andrei Svechniekov (42 points), a Russian RW who leads all draft picks from 2018 with a total of 59 goals and 140 points.
So Carolina (36-12-8, 179 GF-136 GA, +43 GD) has firepower with Aho (57 points), Svechniekov (50/1 to win Hart Trophy), Vincent Trochek (80/1 to win Hart Trophy; 43 points) and Martin Necas (80/1 to win Hart Trophy; 41 points) among others.
Watch the Hurricanes and take a look at betting the Carolina Regular Season Point Total Over 97½ points at -115 and know that Carolina went 6-2 vs. the Panthers last Regular Season.
The Panthers (11/1 to win Eastern Conference) and GM Don Waddell had a nice offseason, signing stud Joe Thornton (Maple Leafs), Sam Reinhart (Sabres), Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair, Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour.
So Jonathan Huberdeau (28/1 to win Hart Trophy; 61 points) and Florida (18/1 to win Stanley Cup) should be able to score goals again (Central Division-high 189 goals) and the Panthers (+375 to win Atlantic Division) aren’t scared of anyone.
Last year against the Brayden Point (16/1 to win Hart Trophy; team-leading 23 goals and 48 points) and the Lightning, Florida went 5-3 before being eliminated by their Sunshine State rivals in the Conference First Round (4-2).
The defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning (3/1 to win Eastern Conference) re-signed superstar Nikita Kucherov (11/1 to win Hart Trophy), and with Ondrej Palat (46 points) and Steven Stamkos (34 points) are the rightful conference chalks.
And with possibly the best Goalie in the NHL in Andrei Vasilevskiy (1.90 GAA in 2020 Postseason) and Defensemen like Victor Hedman (8/1 to win Norris Trophy; 45 points) and Ryan McDonagh, teams will have trouble scoring on Tampa Bay.
The Lightning will face the Predators outdoors on Saturday, February 26, 2022, in the Stadium Series from Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee (TNT, 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT).
The Capitals may surprise in the Metropolitan Division, but the 35-year-old Ovechkin is banged up and only scored 24 goals last season and looks to be in the final contract of his storied career in Washington.
The Penguins also have those injury concerns to their two talented veterans (Crosby, Malkin) and the Rangers aren’t dominant enough at Home.
The Islanders added Chara, the Bruins have the “Perfection Line” and Hurricanes have Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour (+650 to win Jack Adams Trophy, BetUS), so whoever wins the Prince of Wales Trophy will deserve it.
Eight teams will make the NHL Playoffs from the Eastern Conference—the top three teams in the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions—and two Wild Card entries.
So it looks like a fight between the Lightning, Panthers, Hurricanes and Bruins and Lightning for The Eastern Conference champions and the Prince of Wales Trophy.
The salary cap decimated the Lightning’s vaunted third line, but the defending back-to-back NHL Stanley Cup champions will be tough to beat, with all of their elite players returning and a threepeat on the club’s collective mind.
Tampa Bay was an impressive 21-7-0 at Home and with confidence from wins against fellow East contenders Florida (4-2), Carolina (4-1) and the Islanders (4-3) in last year’s Postseason, backing the Bolts is the call in this market.
With Kucherov (11/1 to win Hart Trophy) back and Vasilevskiy, the Lightning (+500 to win Stanley Cup) should be fearsome and hard to beat both Home and Away.
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