Every NHL team has around 15 games (give or take a few) left to play in the 2021-22 NHL regular season so it’s officially the stretch run. For the most part, the playoff races in each conference are set and it’s clear which teams are top-tier contenders and which teams are not. So, it’s a good time to look at the NHL betting picks to check out all the intriguing playoff-related bets on the board.
One such bet you can take is which division will produce the eventual Stanley Cup winner. It’s a cool twist on a traditional futures bet and, with each division at plus-money, there’s plenty of value to be had. Let’s go through each of them:
Atlantic Division (+175)
The Atlantic Division, led by the Florida Panthers, is the big favorite. Florida has the inside track to win the division but the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins are trailing closely behind. All of those teams are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
Florida has had the NHL’s best offense all season, Toronto boasts a top Hart Trophy candidate in Auston Matthews, Tampa Bay has won back-to-back Cups and Boston has arguably been the league’s hottest team for the last month and a half.
The Panthers (+550) and Lightning (+900) are the two Eastern Conference teams with the best NHL betting picks to win the Stanley Cup while the Maple Leafs (+1200) and Bruins (+1600) are not too far behind. So, getting the Atlantic at +175 is a really good value considering how many possible champions are in the division.
Plus, it helps that the Metropolitan Division might not have any teams that can match up with Florida and Tampa Bay. The Carolina Hurricanes are really good but even they have worse odds than the Panthers and Lightning.
Central Division (+250)
If you take the Central here as one of your NHL betting picks, then you’re mostly just taking the Colorado Avalanche (with a small nod to the Minnesota Wild). There’s nothing wrong with that because the Avalanche have been the league’s best team all season. But, Colorado is +400 to win the Stanley Cup, so taking the Central Division at +250 is paying a hefty price just for the inclusion of the Wild, the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars.
Colorado is far and away the best team in the Western Conference, but the Avalanche haven’t even made the Western Conference finals in 20 years. There are also some doubts about whether Darcy Kuemper, who has been really good all season, can thrive as an every-day goalie in the playoffs with his limited postseason experience.
Pacific Division (+350)
The Calgary Flames are the Pacific Division’s only top contender and they’re currently +900 on the NHL betting picks.
The Los Angeles Kings are a solid team but, with their recent struggles, it’s hard to imagine them pulling off a big upset. However, the Edmonton Oilers have sky-high potential and are as talented as some of the NHL’s best teams, but their lack of goaltending consistency and reliable defense hurts their chances. The Vegas Golden Knights are also a scary team, yet they’re dealing with a ton of injuries and might not be healthy enough for the postseason if they even qualify.
Calgary has been a consistently great team all season and got even better at the trade deadline. The Flames have one of the top goalies in the league in Jacob Markstrom and one of the better backups in Dan Vladar. So, Calgary is solid across the board. However, it remains to be seen if the Flames can knock off a team like the Colorado Avalanche just to get to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Pacific at +350 is solid value but it might not be high enough.
Metropolitan Division (+375)
It’s not a surprise to see the Metropolitan have the “worst” NHL future odds to produce a champion. However, the Metro might be an under-the-radar good bet here. The Carolina Hurricanes are an elite team by any measure and the addition of Frederik Andersen has made them even more formidable. Yet, they’re still just +1000 to win it all, in part due to Andersen’s playoff struggles with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
However, Andersen is on a much more well-rounded team now and the Hurricanes don’t have any real weaknesses of which to speak. They should be considered a bigger threat in the postseason than they currently are listed.
The trepidations about the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are fair, though. New York isn’t a good five-on-five team, Pittsburgh is getting up there in age and has been inconsistent all season, and Washington’s goaltending is still a big question. But, the Rangers have the NHL’s best goalie in Igor Shesterkin and the Penguins and Capitals both have tons of continuity and playoff pedigree. Don’t sleep on this division.