NHL Stanley Cup Offseason Recap and 2021 Preview

It’s time to play some hockey. The NHL and their players have agreed to start the 2020-21 regular season on January 13, using four divisions: North, Central, East and West. All seven Canadian teams would be placed in the North, and all the games would be intra-divisional. So would the first two rounds of the playoffs, with the usual 16 teams qualifying.

All of this is still up in the air somewhat; health officials in Canada remain iffy about letting hockey take place north of the border. But their reticence hasn’t had much effect on the NHL odds board at Bovada Sportsbook. Most of the top favorites are based in the United States, and league officials recently announced they expect the seven Canadian clubs will be allowed to start the season at their own arenas. Game on.

NHL Odds to Win the 2021 Stanley Cup

Now that it looks like we’ll have hockey again soon, there’s been an uptick in action on the NHL betting lines, with one team in particular gaining a lot of ground since the big announcement. Here are the four teams with the shortest odds to win Stanley Cup glory at Bovada as we go to press:

1. Colorado Avalanche: +600 NHL Odds

The Avalanche have been the early favorites on the Stanley Cup odds board throughout the offseason, but they’ve taken another stride forward from +700 since the league first floated the new format for 2020-21. Realignment has played a key role here; Colorado is being put in the West Division with several rebuilding teams from the Pacific, including the San Jose Sharks (+4500), Los Angeles Kings (+6600) and Anaheim Ducks (+7000).

2. Tampa Bay Lightning: +750 NHL Odds

After a brief drop down from +800, the defending champions have retaken sole possession of second place on the NHL Vegas odds. The Lightning don’t have to worry about playing in the top-heavy Atlantic this year; they’ll be in the new Central Division, where their closest competition will come from the likes of the Carolina Hurricanes (+2200) and Dallas Stars (+2000). That should improve Tampa Bay’s chances of making a deep playoff run under this year’s format.

3. Vegas Golden Knights: +800 NHL Odds

The NHL lines haven’t moved for the Golden Knights, even though the team itself has been moved to the West Division. They were easily the class of the Pacific last year, but now that the Avalanche are invading their turf, Vegas won’t have the Sharks, Ducks and Kings to themselves. They won’t like seeing the St. Louis Blues (+2000) joining their division, either.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs: +1100 NHL Odds

Knocking the Boston Bruins (+1400) out of fourth place are the Maple Leafs, who were available at +1500 when Bovada’s NHL Stanley Cup odds hit the board in late September. This wayward, yet promising franchise gets a significant boost by leaving Tampa Bay and Boston behind to play in the North, where the Edmonton Oilers (+1800) should be their main threat.