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‘21-'22 NHL Eastern Conference Futures Market

Mika Zibanejad

Mika Zibanejad

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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The 2021-2022 National Hockey League season begins next Tuesday night (10/12), as the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in Florida, and the expansion Seattle Kraken head to Las Vegas to battle the perennial powerhouse that is the Vegas Golden Knights.

Before the season kicks off, it is worth looking at each conference and assessing where there is value to be found in terms of the futures market available at PointsBet.

Below you will find an assessment of the Eastern Conference, diving into both the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions, as well as teams that intrigue as potential Eastern Conference and Stanley Cup Champions.

ATLANTIC DIVISION – TEAMS TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS

- Toronto Maple Leafs (-2000 to make the playoffs, +210 to win the Atlantic, +500 to win the Eastern Conference, +1100 to win the Stanley Cup)

o After bowing out meekly in the first-round of last year’s postseason, the Leafs will look to bounce back against a deeper group than the North Division they competed against last season (a division which consisted entirely of Canadian teams).

Departures of Zach Bogosian and Zach Hyman hurt Toronto’s overall depth, but the addition of Petr Mrazek to assist Jack Campbell in net should help offset those losses.

- Tampa Bay Lightning (-2000 to make the playoffs, +165 to win the Atlantic, +350 to win the Eastern Conference, +600 to win the Stanley Cup)

o All eyes will be on Tampa, as they look to become the first team since the 1980-1982 New York Islanders to win the Stanley Cup in three consecutive seasons.

Despite seeing some key contributors to their past two Cup-winning teams leave (including Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, and Barclay Goodrow), the Lightning are still as talented a team as you will find in the National Hockey League.

Combine their skill with the all-world goaltending of Andrei Vasilevskiy, and there is no surprise that Tampa is on the short list of most likely winners for this year’s Stanley Cup.

- Florida Panthers (-500 to make the playoffs, +450 to win the Atlantic, +900 to win the Eastern Conference, +2000 to win the Stanley Cup)

o Florida had no trouble scoring goals last year, and they again appear to be in decent shape on the offensive side of things entering this season.

The key for the Panthers this year could very well boil down to goaltending.

While veteran Sergei Bobrovsky may be listed first on the depth chart, it feels as though it is a matter of time before the keys are turned over to 20-year-old Spencer Knight, who looked as though he could be special in the games which he played late last season.

If Knight is indeed the goods, there is no reason Florida cannot make some noise in this top-heavy division.

- Boston Bruins (-750 to make the playoffs, +375 to win the Atlantic, +650 to win the Eastern Conference, +1400 to win the Stanley Cup)

o It has felt as though the clock has been on the verge of striking midnight for quite some time for the Boston Bruins, as an aging core continues to make deep runs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before failing to finish at the end.

The departure of David Krejci is a difficult one to gauge, as he looked pedestrian at best before being partnered with Taylor Hall at last season’s trade deadline.

The deadline moves Don Sweeney made last year gave the team a jolt that they very much needed – but will that carryover into this season?

Tuukka Rask is also gone, but much like Florida, it seems as though Boston may have a star in the making in Jeremy Swayman.

Coupled with Linus Ullmark, the goaltending should not be the thing that holds the Bruins back this season.

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METROPOLITAN DIVISION – TEAMS TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS

- New York Rangers (-200 to make the playoffs, +500 to win the Metropolitan, +1200 to win the Eastern Conference, +2200 to win the Stanley Cup)

o The New York Rangers have the blend of budding superstars and exceptional young talent to make a run at the Metropolitan Division this season – if not the Eastern Conference.

Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin headline as the true stars on 8th Avenue and combined with the potential that Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko still possess, there’s reason to believe the Rangers could be on the cusp of a becoming a serious team.

- New York Islanders (-400 to make the playoffs, +300 to win the Metropolitan, +800 to win the Eastern Conference, +2000 to win the Stanley Cup)

o This feels very much like lather-rinse-repeat for the New York Islanders.

They have found a recipe for success combining solid defense and stellar goaltending; however, the concern is always there regarding who is going to score the goals when they so desperately need them.

The return of captain Anders Lee will certainly help their cause, but by no means does he turn the Islanders into an offensive juggernaut.

- Philadelphia Flyers (+100 to make the playoffs, +750 to win the Metropolitan, +2000 to win the Eastern Conference, +3000 to win the Stanley Cup)

o The Flyers may not have the upper echelon firepower that some of the heavyweights in the Eastern Conference possess, however they had six players score at least ten goals and eleven score at least seven goals over the course of last season.

As a unit, Philadelphia should be fine offensively – the real question comes between the pipes.

If the Carter Hart of the ’19-’20 season shows up, this team becomes one that could surprise folks at generous odds.

If the Carter Hart of last season shows up, then they are likely to wind up right back where they were this past spring (missing the playoffs).

- Washington Capitals (-135 to make the playoffs, +550 to win the Metropolitan, +1400 to win the Eastern Conference, +2500 to win the Stanley Cup)

o By far the oldest team in the National Hockey League last season, the Capitals put together a solid campaign before bowing out of the postseason in the first round thanks to the Boston Bruins.

Much of their success lies in their goaltending situation.

If the duo of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek perform to their capabilities, another playoff run is not out of the question – but they will need to be well above average if that is to happen.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE FUTURE WAGERS TO CONSIDER

Acknowledging that there are more likely winners in each of these teams’ divisions, the prices offered on both the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers across the board intrigue when assessing the futures market.

Florida battled the likes of Tampa and Carolina all last year, and the x-factor of Spencer Knight could be just what a team like the Panthers needs to move to the next level.

I may be higher on the Rangers than many people, but the youth on their roster coupled with their established stars is too significant to ignore given the prices they are currently being offered at.

If any of their young studs make a substantial move forward, this team is going to be heard from…if a few of them do? Look out.

- ATLANTIC DIVISION WINNER: Florida Panthers (+450; implied probability of 18.18%)

- METROPOLITAN DIVISION WINNER: New York Rangers (+500; implied probability of 16.67%)

- EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION: Florida Panthers (+900; implied probability of 10%), New York Rangers (+1200; implied probability of 7.69%)

- STANLEY CUP CHAMPION: Florida Panthers (+2000; implied probability of 4.76%), New York Rangers (+2200; implied probability of 4.35%)