2021 NHL futures & awards betting preview

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After a lengthy wait, the puck is finally set to drop on the 2021 NHL season. I’ll be providing plenty of game analysis from a betting perspective once again this season here at Line Movement.

Before we get to that point though, it’s a good time to explore the futures market which is one that offers up some good betting opportunities. I’ll be taking a look at NHL Stanley Cup Futures that I have bet personally and I will also provide a few thoughts on some of the NHL Awards betting props that are available where you can bet on player and coach award winners in all the various categories.

For more info on futures betting check out our guide here.

NHL Stanley Cup Futures

Colorado Avalanche +555

Colorado is the betting favorite currently to win the Stanley Cup. Often I do not like betting the chalk when it comes to futures. The strategy I prefer is betting on a longer shot futures price with a particular team that I think is live to make a deep run and then looking for potential hedge opportunities down the road should that team get through at least the first couple rounds of the playoffs.

However, Colorado in spite of being at these low odds is a must bet for me. The Avalanche were quite honestly the team primed to make their way to the Stanley Cup Final last season in the restarted season. The Avalanche were playing outstanding hockey but then all of a sudden injuries completely upended their chances in their playoff series against the eventual Western Conference champion Dallas Stars.

The Avs lost their top two goalies to injuries in that series Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz. They were without their top players Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, and Nazem Kadri for extended portions of the season. You have to believe the Avs have a better shot at greater health this season. They have an outstanding and very mobile blue line and they added a very good defender in Devon Toews from the NY Islanders to the mix. Colorado still has virtually the same strong four lines upfront but they did add Brandon Saad who is still a capable offensive weapon as he’s scored at least 20 goals in five of the last six seasons. The Avalanche were strong at both ends of the ice last season–4th in the NHL in scoring and 6th in goals allowed last season. There is no reason to think they can’t at least win the conference and they are rightfully priced as the favorite to hoist the Stanley Cup. 

New York Rangers +1550

The New York Rangers stumbled out of the gate last season but they had a second-half surge going 18-11 in their last 29 games before the pandemic halted the season and that got them into the playoffs. The NY Rangers could be ready to build on that this season.

New York should be one of the highest-scoring teams in the league this season loaded with firepower featuring Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kaako, and this year’s #1 overall draft pick Alexis Lafreniere. Finding the back of the net won’t be an issue for a team that averaged 3.3 goals per game last season and should be even better offensively this season. The key will be improving defensively as the Rangers surrendered 3.14 goals per game ranking 23rd in goals against. The good news is they have an improved blue line which played better late last season and a promising goalie of the future in Igor Shesterkin who was outstanding when he took over as the #1 goalie. Alexandar Georgiev is a very good backup goalie and in a season where having two very good goalies will be imperative to success in this truncated season, New York has that on their side.

The NY Rangers were 2nd in profitability in the NHL last season. They should be a bet on, money-making squad this season too and I think they not only make the playoffs but by that time, they will be even better and ready to make some noise in them.

Montreal Canadiens +1675

The Montreal Canadiens were a hot mess prior to the season being paused. Then they entered the bubble as one of those teams that wouldn’t have been in the playoffs had it not been for the unique 24 team playoff format. Montreal looked like a completely different team in the bubble. Their team defense was terrific once they got healthy which included the return of captain Shea Weber.

The Montreal offense got going and even their struggling power-play unit produced at times and Habs goaltender Carey Price was as sharp and dominant in the net as he’s been in a few years. Montreal upset Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the play-in round before falling to Philadelphia in a hard-fought series in the first round of the playoffs. The strong performance by Montreal in the bubble prompted the Habs to switch gears in the offseason from rebuilding the team to looking to make an even greater playoff push this season.

GM Marc Bergevin was active in the offseason bringing in Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli, two really good forwards up front, Joel Edmundson on the blue line, and goaltender Jake Allen to back up Carey Price. Edmundson and Allen both have Stanley Cup-winning experience with the St. Louis Blues where they won the Stanley Cup in 2019. This is suddenly a stronger and deeper team.

Their young stars Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were terrific in the playoffs and took a massive leap forward in their development. This team could be primed for a significant improvement in the standings. This is a playoff team and quite possibly a dangerous one with the added depth, the better blue line, and Carey Price looking like vintage Carey Price again. Montreal is well worth a bet to win the Stanley Cup.

Here are my other NHL Stanley Cup Futures wagers…

  • Philadelphia Flyers +1125
  • Calgary Flames +1900
  • Minnesota Wild +3400

NHL Division Winners

North: Montreal Canadiens +420

I like Montreal to win the North Division. I think this team improved more than anyone else inside this division and the Canadiens are primed to show it. I also wouldn’t talk anyone out of looking at the Calgary Flames at a longer shot price of +560 to win the North.

East: New York Rangers +520

I debated between the Flyers and Rangers as winners of the East Division but I went with the better price with New York. Philadelphia does have a better defense and an outstanding goalie in Carter Hart but New York has the much better offense and they have two goalies good enough to steal games for them in spite of a weaker blue line. I expect vast improvement from the Blueshirts and I went with them to win the East although I also think Philly is a viable option to win this division as well.

Central: Carolina Hurricanes +345

The defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning are the favorite here but I went with Carolina because there could be a big of a title hangover for the Lightning especially with a very short turnaround between the Stanley Cup victory in late September and the start of this season plus the Bolts suffered a crushing blow even before the puck drops with Nikita Kucherov missing the entire regular season due to hip surgery. Carolina has been knocking on the door of the Stanley Cup Final the last two seasons and they bring back most of the core that has gotten them there the last two seasons.

West: Colorado Avalanche +144

The Colorado Avalanche are the slight favorite in this division over the Vegas Golden Knights but rightfully so and I expect them to take it. Colorado finished just two points behind St. Louis for 1st in their respective division last season. They must contend with a very good Vegas Golden Knights team along with the St. Louis Blues as the three favorites in this division but I give the Avalanche a slight edge because they have an extremely deep four line offensive team, a very good and mobile blue line and a solid and consistently improving goaltending duo of Grubauer and Francouz.

NHL Awards Futures

Brayden Point is really good
Dec 20, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) during the second period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Hart Trophy: Brayden Point +1375

This is a good price for Brayden Point who had an incredible 30 points in 20 playoff games en route to Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup title last season. He is likely to play an even greater role in the Lightning’s success this season especially with Nikita Kucherov on the shelf. He was the MVP of the Tampa Bay Lightning last season and he likely will be again this season and should have a chance to earn this award as the league MVP as well.

Norris Trophy: Cale Makar +835

Cale Makar is on the verge of becoming perhaps the best defenseman in the NHL. His skating ability, vision and puck movement are elite and his defensive play in his own zone continues to improve at a rapid rate. He had 50 points in 57 regular season games and averaged a point per game in the playoffs for Colorado last season.

Vezina Trophy: Carter Hart +770, Carey Price +835

I placed two Vezina Trophy bets here on Carter Hart and Carey Price. Hart was one of the best goalies in the NHL last season with a terrific 2.42 GAA and he will be an integral piece to any success the Philadelphia Flyers have this season and it’s worth noting the Flyers are one of the more defensive oriented teams in the NHL. Carey Price’s health and ability to avoid injuries is the biggest impediment to him winning the Vezina but I’m buying into the form he showed in the bubble last season which was Carey Price playing at the elite level he often did earlier in his career. I expect a great season from him in net and the Montreal Canadiens.

Calder Trophy: Alexis Lafreniere +220, Tim Stutzle +1150

I have two Calder Trophy bets for rookie of the year. Alexis Lafreniere is the real deal an elite offensive talent that is putting in the time in the offseason to get himself ready for the rigors of the NHL and he is ready to make an immediate impact in my opinion his rookie season.

Tim Stutzle for the Ottawa Senators is playing on a team that is in rebuild mode but he is going to get plenty of opportunity and ice time and I saw enough domination from him in the recent World Junior Hockey Championship to think he is worth the bet at this attractive price north of 11-to-1 odds.

Art Ross Trophy: Auston Matthews +1150

I wouldn’t argue with a bet on the three favorites Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and Leon Draisaitl to lead the NHL in points this season but I’m going for a bit more value on Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL regular season points leader.

The biggest reason is hearing throughout Toronto training camp that head coach Sheldon Keefe plans on giving Matthews much more ice time and responsibility on the penalty kill which will get him more involved in each game and probably make him a better player. When you don’t use your top players on the penalty kill and you take a lot of penalties, they can’t get into the rhythm of the game or garner any sort of flow. Matthews getting time on the Leafs’ PK should make him an even more dominant player on the power play and at even strength. The Leafs appear to be finally willing to ride their horse that is Auston Matthews and I think it will show in his numbers and performance this season.

Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy: Auston Matthews +385, Jack Eichel +1150

Same logic with Auston Matthews here to be the NHL’s top goalscorer this season as I mentioned above in the Art Ross Trophy discussion. Matthews finished 3rd in goals last season with 47 goals just one behind David Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin who were tied at 48 goals and shared the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy last season.

Matthews is going to play a lot this season for the Leafs and get more ice time and it is likely going to lead to more chances to score goals for a player that has proven to have outstanding ability to finish around the net along with one of the premier releases in the NHL when it comes to shooting the puck.

Jack Eichel is one I took a small flyer with at +1150 as I feel he has more talent and playmakers around him this season with the Buffalo Sabres. He must remain healthy and stay on the ice which has been problematic in the past but we saw Eichel set a career-high in goals scored with 36 goals in 68 games last season. If Eichel avoids injuries and is able to play a full 56 game season, he should have a reasonable chance to be a top-five goalscorer in the NHL this season and that makes him a live bet at this price.

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