NHL 2021/22 season preview | Who will win the Stanley Cup?
Oct 11, 2021
Oct 11, 2021

NHL 2021/22 season preview - Who will win the Stanley Cup?

Who will win the Stanley Cup?

NHL odds and predictions

NHL format, teams, and schedule

Can the Tampa Bay Lightning defend their title?

NHL 2021/22 season preview - Who will win the Stanley Cup?

The NHL 2021/22 season gets underway on October 12. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the new campaign, including how the season will work, the favourites to win next year’s Stanley Cup, and which teams to keep an eye out for.

NHL 2021/22 season: Format, schedule, and teams

After enduring successive campaigns affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL will return with a full 82-game regular season for 2021/22. As a result of this, the league will be structured under its usual format of the Eastern Conference (comprised of the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions) and Western Conference (comprised of the Central and Pacific divisions).

The regular season will begin on October 12, with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ visit to defending Stanley Cup champions the Tampa Bay Lightning serving as the opening fixture of the campaign. The regular season will run until April 29, taking a break from February 7 to 22 to accommodate for the 2022 Winter Olympics, while the playoffs will begin on May 2. The last game of the Stanley Cup Finals will be held no later than June 30.

The NHL has also expanded to 32 teams for this season, with the Seattle Kraken set to make their NHL debut with Dave Hakstol (formerly of the Philadelphia Flyers) as head coach. They will compete in the Pacific Division, with the Arizona Coyotes moved to the Central Division to accommodate for this.

NHL 2021/22 season teams

Division

Teams

Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals

Central Division

Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Kraken, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights

NHL 2021/22 season odds: Who are the Stanley Cup favourites?

Team

Odds

2020/21 performance

Colorado Avalanche

6.060*

Second round

Tampa Bay Lightning

8.850*

Champions

Vegas Golden Knights

9.510*

Semi-finals

Toronto Maple Leafs

9.620*

First round

Boston Bruins

15.180*

Second round

Carolina Hurricanes

18.500*

Second round

Florida Panthers

18.710*

First round

Dallas Stars

23.260*

Did not make postseason

New York Rangers

23.260*

Did not make postseason

The Colorado Avalanche (6.060*) currently lead the betting market to win next year’s Stanley Cup. Joe Sakic’s team were eliminated from the second round of last season’s playoffs after squandering a 2-0 lead against the Vegas Golden Knights, which was considered a disappointing return after they won the West division and led the NHL for regular season points.

The Vegas Golden Knights have never failed to make the NHL playoffs since joining the league in 2017.

Sakic has responded with shrewd attacking-focused acquisitions, presumably intending to alleviate the responsibility on Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon, who racked up 131 points in 100 regular season fixtures between them last season. Darren Helm, Stefan Matteau, and Dylan Sikura have all been added to the Avalanche’s ranks, and Helm’s experience in particular could easily prove crucial to a lengthier postseason run this time round.

The Tampa Bay Lightning (8.850*) are eyeing up a third successive Stanley Cup triumph, after convincingly overcoming the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in last season’s Finals. The fact that they are not the outright favourites is perhaps a reflection of their underwhelming draft, when being restricted to a solitary pick during the first three rounds meant that their only notable acquisition was defenceman Roman Schmidt.

However, they can still boast immense strength in depth, as well as the spine of the team that have firmly highlighted their ability to perform in the postseason. Julien BriseBois has built a physically imposing squad featuring a well-balanced blend of youth and experience, although they may need to shake off somewhat sluggish preseason results if they wish to top the Atlantic Division.

The Vegas Golden Knights (9.510*) have been consistently imperious since joining the NHL in 2017, reaching the playoffs in every campaign to date, including the semi-finals last season. The Knights have earned a deserved reputation for defensive resilience and their 124 regular season goals conceded in 2020/21 was the fewest in the NHL.

That attribute looks well-placed to continue into this season, with the established Alex Pietrangelo set to be joined by the emerging talent of Shea Theodore in what should be one of the league’s best defences. The Golden Knights are comfortable 1.518* favourites to win the Pacific Division and it would be a big shock if they were absent from the postseason.

The Toronto Maple Leafs (9.620*) exited the playoffs in the first round last season despite entering them with the best regular season record among the NHL’s Canadian outfits. That continued a trend they have endured in recent seasons, of following encouraging regular season campaigns with underwhelming postseason performances.

Kyle Dubas has publicly reiterated his belief that the existing squad can win the Stanley Cup, although such an approach will rely on another strong campaign from Auston Matthews, whose 41 regular season goals was over double that of any other Maple Leafs player. Mitch Marner will also be hoping for an equivalent campaign to 2020/21, during which he earned 47 assists in 55 regular season appearances.

NHL 2021/22 season: Teams to look out for

The Boston Bruins (15.180*) have earned five straight top-three regular season finishes and were perhaps unfortunate not to progress further in the playoffs last season amidst injury issues. Brad Marchand remains one of the NHL’s most versatile forwards and led his team in 2020/21 for both goals (29) and assists (40). Alongside new signings Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, and Tomas Nosek, he should be responsible for the Bruins fielding one of the most exciting forward lines in the NHL this season.

While the New York Rangers (23.260*) finished 11 points off a playoff spot last season, their return of 177 goals scored placed them among the top 10 teams in the NHL and their form gradually improved as the campaign progressed. Coach David Quinn has an impressive attack at his disposal that includes five players who racked up at least 47 points in the 2020/21 regular season, meaning if he can sharpen their defence he could elevate them to a well-balanced side that are difficult to play against.

NHL newcomers the Seattle Kraken (54.630*) raised some eyebrows with their approach to building their squad, reportedly committing just $54 million of their allocated $81.5 million salary budget. Despite this, their team is nicely rounded between young talents and stalwarts, including 37-year-old captain Mark Giordano. The Kraken are joint-third favourites at 11.140* to win the Pacific Division, suggesting that if their newly assembled squad wastes no time in developing team chemistry, a postseason run is by no means out of reach.

Get great NHL odds on numerous markets for every game this season with Pinnacle.

Odds subject to change

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