The start of the 2021-22 NHL regular season is almost here which means now is the best time to get your futures bets in.
Basics of a futures bet
For those unfamiliar with what a futures bet is, here's what you need to know:
A futures bet can be made when wagering on a league MVP, league champion, conference champion, team win total, or any event that requires a longer period of time to determine the outcome.
A futures bet isn't for the impatient, as it usually takes an entire season for the result of your bet to unfold. The trade-off, however, is increasingly enticing odds for those willing to put in a little more time.
The best time to get these wagers in is before the season starts, as that's typically when the odds are more favourable for those who have a strong feeling regarding a certain outcome. For example, if you think Connor McDavid is going to win the Art Ross Trophy and he starts the season on a scoring tear, the odds of him winning the trophy are going to yield a smaller return than what it would've before the campaign began.
NHL futures bet picks
For the upcoming NHL season, here's my take on a number of futures bets:
Atlantic Division winner
Florida Panthers (+450)
Through a process of elimination, the Panthers are the only team worth taking a stab at to win the Atlantic.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have the lowest odds at +145, and there's nothing wrong with taking that bet. In a loaded division, however, I don't love it. Tampa Bay showed everyone how much it values the regular season in 2020-21 when it placed Nikita Kucherov on IR and he promptly returned for the postseason without a sign of rust. The Bolts are focused on winning Cups, not Presidents' Trophies.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are priced at +200, and at that number, you might as well pick the Lightning. The Leafs have some things to figure out, too, which makes them a contender to start the season slowly. Zach Hyman left for the Edmonton Oilers which leaves a hole in the top six, and Frederik Andersen is gone. The Boston Bruins are next at +375, but with an ageing core, no Tuukka Rask, and a hole to fill on the second line with David Krejci leaving, I don't love their chances at claiming the top spot in a difficult division.
That leaves Florida, which returns its core, will regain Aaron Ekblad, gets a more experienced Spencer Knight, and added perennial 20-goal scorer Sam Reinhart. With the best odds of the big four, give me the Cats.
Central Division winner
Dallas Stars (+700)
For Colorado Avalanche fans ready to rip me on Twitter, take it easy for a second, please. The Avs are most likely going to win this division, but at their current odds (-260), there's absolutely no value in placing a bet on the team to do so. The margin for error is extremely thin and a rough bout of injuries could disrupt a bet that has a less-than-appealing return.
At +700, Dallas has some nice odds, especially when looking at what'll be different this season. For starters, the team is getting Tyler Seguin back. The goalscorer played just three games last season after returning from surgery to repair a torn hip labrum. Additionally, the team added Ryan Suter to bolster its top-four on defence, a move that should really help his expected defence partner, Miro Heiskanen. Highly regarded goaltender Jake Oettinger is no longer a rookie and the team signed Braden Holtby to give the squad a solid trio between the pipes that also includes Anton Khudobin.
Metropolitan Division winner
Philadelphia Flyers (+900)
Count me in as a fan of what the Flyers did this offseason.
After allowing the most goals in the NHL last year, Philadelphia went out and addressed the issues it had on the blue line. It swapped Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick for two-way rearguard Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators, added Rasmus Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres, and acquired Keith Yandle via free agency. The offence remains deep after the team traded Jakub Voracek for Cam Atkinson, and a bounce-back year from Carter Hart between the pipes should be expected.
With pretty plump odds, Philadelphia is worth dropping a little bit of lunch money on.
Pacific Division winner
Vegas Golden Knights (-200)
There aren't many attractive options when it comes to placing a bet on which team will win the Pacific Division.
Of the eight teams in the group, just the Golden Knights and Edmonton Oilers made the playoffs last season. Vegas appears to be the clear favourite, and there isn't much value to be had on the Oilers at +310 given the clear gap between them and Vegas. With very limited options, paying up for the Golden Knights seems like the move here.
Player and coach awards
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers (+2500)
If the Panthers are going to be a perennial contender in the NHL, it's going to be because of the elite play of Barkov.
The Cats are a loaded team, featuring a number of high-end talents like Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad, but Barkov is the motor of this team. His 58 points were seventh amongst all centres in the league last season, and he finished sixth in Hart Trophy voting. His defensive expertise was rewarded in 2020-21 as he received the Frank J. Selke Trophy. He is a complete player on one of the best squads in the league, and considering the juicy odds, he's worth betting on for MVP.
Art Ross Trophy
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (+100)
After dominating the NHL's point race in 2020-21 with an absurd 105 points through 56 games, the Art Ross is McDavid's award to lose this upcoming season.
As long as McDavid stays healthy this year, he'll win this trophy.
Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins (+1100)
Pastrnak missed the first two weeks of the 2021-22 season recovering from hip surgery, but the gifted goalscorer still tallied 20 goals across 48 games. It wasn't a career year for the Czech winger, but all things considered, it was a solid output.
With Pasta, it's important to remember that he's just one season removed from winning the Rocket alongside Alex Ovechkin. Still just 25-years-old, Pastrnak is a good bet to finish amongst the league leaders in goals and potentially take home another scoring title.
Dougie Hamilton, New Jersey Devils (+1200)
Hamilton signed a massive seven-year, $63-million contract with the Devils this offseason. The 29-year-old blueliner has been one of the best at his position over the last five years, and no defenceman has an easier path to a Norris Trophy than he does.
All Hamilton has to do is follow the famous Taylor Hall Hart Trophy path, meaning he has to lead New Jersey to a playoff berth. If the Devils qualify for the postseason in Hamilton's first year with the squad, it'll be hard to build a stronger case for any other rearguard. He's also finished inside the top-10 of the trophy's voting in three of the last five seasons.
Darcy Kuemper, Colorado Avalanche (+1000)
Since the 2017-18 season, Kuemper's .921 save percentage is tied for second amongst all goaltenders with 100 or more appearances. One of the netminders he's tied with is none other than perennial Vezina candidate Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Leaving the Arizona Coyotes for the Avs is undoubtedly a massive upgrade for Kuemper as he'll play behind arguably the best defensive core in the league. With the improvement in supporting cast, Kuemper's numbers at the should continue to be amongst the best in the league, and he'll certainly be in line for more wins in Colorado.
Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks (+550)
With 24 games played last year, Zegras finished just one game short of qualifying as a rookie for the 2020-21 season. Now technically entering his rookie season, he's my pick to finish as the league's top freshman.
After a slow start to his NHL career, Zegras finished the year strong with eight points over his final eight games. The campaign ended with him recording 13 points in 24 games, a respectable showing for a 19-year-old. He'll likely handle expanded duties with the Ducks his second time around, and if he leads all rookies in points, he'll likely claim the award.
Jack Adams Award
Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers (+1100)
No coach has a better narrative backing him than Gallant. The bench boss who was cast aside by the Vegas Golden Knights despite leading them to a Stanley Cup appearance in their first-ever season now gets a chance at redemption in the Big Apple with the Rangers, a young team whose arrow is pointing up.
Aside from the narrative, you're also backing a solid coach with Gallant. He won this award back in 2016-17, and he just led Canada to an IIHF World Championship after the squad dropped the first three games of the tournament. If he can get New York to the playoffs, he'll be a top candidate for the hardware.
Vegas Golden Knights (+600)
The Golden Knights tied for the most points in the NHL last season and with the same core returning for this upcoming season, they'll be right near the top of the standings this year.
Dallas Stars (+2200)
A healthy Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov along with the addition of Ryan Suter on the backend will help make this team a contender once again in 2021-22.
Anaheim Ducks 71.5 - Over (-115)
Arizona Coyotes 68.5 - Under (-115)
Boston Bruins 102.5 - Under (-115)
Buffalo Sabres 67.5 - Under (-115)
Calgary Flames 91.5 - Under (-115)
Carolina Hurricanes 95.5 - Over (-115)
Chicago Blackhawks 90.5 - Under (-105)
Columbus Blue Jackets 76.5 - Under (-115)
Colorado Avalanche 111.5 - Under (-105)
Dallas Stars 95.5 - Over (-110)
Detroit Red Wings 77.5 - Under (-120)
Edmonton Oilers 97.5 - Over (-115)
Florida Panthers 101.5 - Over (-115)
Los Angeles Kings 86.5 - Under (-115)
Minnesota Wild 96.5 - Under (-115)
Montreal Canadiens 88.5 - Under (-110)
Nashville Predators 83.5 - Under (-115)
New Jersey Devils 89.5 - Under (-115)
New York Islanders 99.5 - Over (-115)
New York Rangers 97.5 - Over (-110)
Ottawa Senators 77.5 - Over (-105)
Philadelphia Flyers 92.5 - Over (-115)
Pittsburgh Penguins 95.5 - Over (-105)
Seattle Kraken 89.5 - Under (-105)
San Jose Sharks 81.5 - Under (-110)
St. Louis Blues 92.5 - Under (-110)
Tampa Bay Lightning 106.5 - Under (-115)
Toronto Maple Leafs 105.5 - Under (-105)
Vancouver Canucks 88.5 - Over (-115)
Vegas Golden Knights 105.5 - Over (-125)
Washington Capitals 95.5 - Over (-120)
Winnipeg Jets 91.5 - Over (-125)
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