- Go to BetOnline or Bovada for updated NHL Divisional odds for the East, Central, West and North
- The Maple Leafs (+125) are favored in the all-Canadian division while the Bruins (+250) are chalk in the East
- The 2020 Stanley Cup champions in Tampa Bay (+140) are expected to win the Central with the Avalanche (+160) taking top spot in the West
The National Hockey League begins a 56-game schedule on Wednesday that will be played in empty arenas, with teams facing off solely against opponents in their newly realigned divisions. To get you set for what’s sure to be a strange hockey season, we’ll break down the odds in the North, East, Central, and West and pick winners in each of the divisions.
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2021 NORTH DIVISION WINNER
Freed from their old Northeast Division oppressors in Boston and Tampa Bay, the Maple Leafs (+125) are the favorites in the North after bringing in free-agent defenceman T.J. Brodie and a couple of old guys, Wayne Simmonds and Joe Thornton, to supplement a top-heavy roster headed by Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares.
The Oilers (+475) have two Hart Trophy candidates in reigning MVP Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid and the Canucks (+550) are seemingly on the rise with Swedish center Elias Pettersson and electric blueliner Quinn Hughes, but don’t sleep on Montreal (+450).
Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki impressed by new linemate Josh Anderson’s speed https://t.co/zix0bQxn7u#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/JVz5rOewJH
— Montreal Gazette (@mtlgazette) January 6, 2021
The Habs have a nice mix of youth (centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi), toughness (off-season additions Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson), and experience (defenceman Shea Weber and goalie Carey Price) that could make them a surprise winner of this all-Canadian division. The Pick: Montreal (+550 at Bovada)
2021 EAST DIVISION WINNER
BEASTS OF THE EAST
A tradition of winning makes Boston (+250) the favorites in the East, but they lost Torey Krug and former captain Zdeno Chara off their blueline and Czech sniper David Pastrnak will be out of the lineup until February following offseason hip surgery. Similar to the Bruins, the Penguins (+450) and Capitals (+450) have aging cores but we give Alex Oveckin’s veteran squad the edge after bringing in new coach Peter Laviolette and signing Big Z.
The Flyers (+400) have alternated making and missing the playoffs every year since 2013, but Alain Vigneault’s deep roster should end that ignominious streak this season. With a sneaky Vezina-candidate in Carter Hart, a young backend led by Ivan Provorov, and a strong group of forwards in Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, and Sean Couturier, Philadelphia is our bet to win the division. The Pick: Flyers (+400 at BetOnline)
2021 CENTRAL DIVISION WINNER
CUP CHAMPS IN CENTRAL
After winning the 2020 Stanley Cup in the bubble, the Lightning’s road to repeat got easier with a move to the Central. While superstar Nikita Kucherov will miss the season following hip surgery, Tampa Bay (+140) still has Vezina-frontrunner Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal, Conn Smythe playoff MVP Victor Hedman on the blueline, and studs at the center (Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli) and wing (Steven Stamkos).
The team they defeated in last year’s Cup final, the Dallas Stars (+475), will be hard-pressed to mount a challenge in the division with Tyler Seguin out at least two months after undergoing a hip surgery of his own, leaving the Hurricanes (+400) as the only plausible challenger in the Central.
Steven Stamkos started practice at injured winger Nikita Kucherov’s spot on the first line, beside Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat, @EddieInTheYard writes. #GoBolts @TBLightning https://t.co/nWG5NSZDjG
— Frank Pastor (@FrankPastor66) January 4, 2021
While Carolina has one of the deepest D-corps in the NHL and one of the most talented lines in hockey with Sebastian Aho centering Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen, their goaltending tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer leaves something to be desired. The Pick: Lightning (+140 at BetOnline)
2021 WEST DIVISION WINNER
TOP HEAVY WEST
Two of the top three 2021 Stanley Cup favorites, the Avalanche (+160) and the Golden Knights (+175), as well as the 2019 Cup champs in St. Louis (+375), now reside in the West but this is hardly a loaded division with five of the worst clubs in the entire league (Anaheim, Arizona, Minnesota, Los Angeles, and San Jose) rounding it out.
With MVP frontrunner Nathan MacKinnon leading a top line with Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, and 2020 Calder Trophy winner Cale Makar poised to only get better on the blueline, we like Colorado to win the West despite Vegas’ UFA addition of defenceman Alex Pietrangelo. However, the Blues do offer major value at +500 on Bovada, after adding mobile rearguard Torey Krug and forward Mike Hoffman to a hard-as-nails roster led by new captain Ryan O’Reilly. The Pick: Avalanche +160 at Bovada)
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