Following a successful run in the Edmonton and Toronto bubbles to close out the 2019-20 season, the National Hockey League is back and so are we to make some 2021 Stanley Cup predictions!
The upcoming season will be unique for several reasons in response to the ongoing pandemic and the delayed start caused by it. The league has been realigned into four divisions, including one with all Canadian teams, plus the regular-season schedule features a 56-game schedule with teams exclusively facing opponents inside of their division.
But regardless of the format and schedule, online sportsbooks in NJ and several other states are still busy taking NHL futures wagers in the lead-up to the 2020-21 season. The biggest question for bettors is, with a shorter season and newly-aligned divisions, which teams have the best chance to win a championship?
We're going to try and help answer that question by making some Stanley Cup betting picks for the upcoming year.
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Stanley Cup Champion Picks 2021 | Who Will Win The NHL Playoffs?
Every betting site in states where wagering is legal is sure to offer odds to win the Stanley Cup, so there are plenty of choices there. But if you're looking for some specific guidance, consider BetMGM one of the best options out there.
Not only does BetMGM offer a pretty wide range of NHL futures odds, but new customers can also claim a generous welcome offer. Sign up today and Get A $500 Deposit Bonus From BetMGM!
Making futures picks in a one-of-a-kind setting such as this one is really anyone's guess. The good news is that we did offer up both the eventual-champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the Western Conference-champion Dallas Stars as part of our 2020 NHL picks.
We'll try to recreate some of that magic by picking one team from each division. Consider the following teams for you 2021 Stanley Cup predictions:
- Colorado Avalanche (+700 at BetMGM)
Colorado is the betting favorite at almost every site on the market, so this isn't going out on a limb. But we aren't going to shy away from what could be the best team in the West just because it's a popular pick. Sometimes, it's best not to overthink things.
Nathan MacKinnon may very well be the best player in the world, and the offensive potential doesn't stop with him or their top line. There's also a wealth of talent on defense, where Colorado returns five of its top six from a season ago.
The Avalanche need to establish and maintain some consistency as a group and remain healthy, and that includes goaltender Philipp Grubauer. But make no mistake, this team has every chance to win the West Division and be a serious contender for the cup after a second-round loss to Dallas in the bubble.
- Tampa Bay Lightning (+900 at BetMGM)
Three-and-a-half months after hoisting the cup in the Edmonton bubble, the Tampa Bay Lightning will begin a journey for back-to-back titles. A major challenge for sure, but one that this team could be up for and Tampa is worth a look with +900 odds at BetMGM.
The main reason the Bolts are still in a position to contend is their mastery of the salary cap in recent seasons. Tampa has lost Nikita Kucherov for the regular season due to an injury, but otherwise has been able to keep the core group together that just won a championship last September.
The Lightning have firepower on offense with Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos, a Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy, and a hard-nosed supporting cast that is needed to win in the playoffs. The Central Division is one is the weaker of the two in the conference and the Bolts will definitely be in contention come playoff time.
- Washington Capitals (+2200 at BetMGM)
The Bruins and Flyers are the favorites to come out the gauntlet that is the East Division but we are digging a bit deeper to find out pick, which is the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. The window for this Caps team could be closing, but it isn't shut yet and these odds are valuable enough for a look at +2200.
The Caps had a disappointing close to last season in the bubble, getting eliminated by the Islanders. But they have a new coach in Peter Laviolette, who has won a Stanley Cup and has a history of turning teams around. He did it in Carolina and won the 2006 Stanley Cup, then led the Flyers to the conference title, and did it again with the Predators in 2017.
Washington is led by the greatest goal scorer of this generation (possibly ever) in Alex Ovechkin, and has the firepower to keep up with anyone. The Caps also have one of the bet one through six defensive units in the conference. The major question will be in net, where young Ilya Samsonov will have to play almost every night.
- Vancouver Canucks (+4000 at DraftKings)
It always makes sense to scan the entire board for some longshots and when we focus on the bottom half, we just keep coming back to the Vancouver Canucks. This team was eliminated in the second round of the bubble postseason but pushed Vegas to seven games and could be ready to make the next step.
They've got loads of talenat on offense including Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson, plus a new goalie in Stanley Cup-champion Braden Holtby. They even bolstered the defense by adding Nate Schmidt to join Quinn Hughes in the top pairing.
The North Division, made up of all the Canadian teams, has a few clubs expected to be better than the Canucks, so they need to reach the postseason first. But if they do, this line is going to be an extremely valuable one, especially at BetMGM where they are +4000.
Odds begin to vary pretty wildly once you move down the odds board, so shop around. Another site to check out is DraftKings, especially if interested in a team like the Canucks. +4000 at DK, but as low as +2800 at some other sites. Shopping around can help create value.
Photo Credit: Associated Press