We’re into the final full month of the 2021 NHL regular season. The league announced Sunday, March 28, the abbreviated regular season was extended to Tuesday, May 11, to compensate for previously postponed games. Ahead of what’s sure to be an exciting playoff race, we take another look at the 2021 Stanley Cup futures odds.
The Colorado Avalanche took a slight lead over the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning atop the favorites tier. The odds have tightened up amid the mid-range contenders, while a couple of longshots continue trending in opposite directions.
This page lists the latest Stanley Cup futures odds, highlights the most noteworthy teams, and discusses some NHL futures betting strategies.
2021 Stanley Cup odds
NHL futures report (April 1)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Colorado Avalanche (+450): Colorado closed March on a 10-0-2 run to move back into the No. 1 spot by the odds. G Philipp Grubauer, who leads the league in games played, wins, shutouts, and goals against average will be up for not only the Vezina Trophy but the Hart, as well.
Tampa Bay Lightning (+500): The defending champs ended March on their first three-game losing skid since last February. They’re in a three-team race for the top spot in the Central Division but will have an advantage while playing 10 of 15 games on home ice this month.
Vegas Golden Knights (+800): The Knights offer nearly double the profit margin as the Avalanche on a Stanley Cup bet. They’ll start April with a tough schedule stretch before playing 10 straight games against the West Division’s bottom-four seeds.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+900): Toronto went just 7-6-1 in March but enters April with the biggest division lead in the NHL atop the all-Canadian North. The Leafs have nearly double the implied probability of winning the cup of any other Canadian team.
Carolina Hurricanes (+1200): It remains to be seen what the Hurricanes will do with G Petr Mrazek ahead of the trade deadline, as Alex Nedeljkovic has been one of the biggest reasons for Carolina challenging for the No. 1 seed in the Central. They’ll play an eight-game homestand in the first half of the month while trying to overthrow the Lightning.
Washington Capitals (+1300): Leaders of the East, the Caps have the best odds of any team in the division. They closed March on a 10-2-0 run in which they outscored the competition 45-29. Rookie G Vitek Vanecek continues to hold off Ilya Samsonov for No. 1 netminding duties.
New York Islanders (+1400): The Isles finished March 3-4-0 over their final seven games following a nine-game win streak that began Feb. 28. They start April with six straight home games while looking to get back on track.
Boston Bruins (+1600): Boston dealt with some COVID-19 issues last month which put LW Jake DeBrusk and C Sean Kuraly on the league’s protocol list and forced a weeklong layoff from March 18-25. Goal scoring dried up last month, but the Bruins continue to control possession at 5-on-5.
Montreal Canadiens (+1700): Five of the Canadiens’ 12 games last month went beyond regulation, and they won just one of those in a shootout. They closed the month fourth in the North but still have the second-best odds of all Canadian teams while having played the fewest games in the division. They’ll play 16 games from April 16-May 11.
Minnesota Wild (+1800): The Wild have lost some ground on the Avs and Knights in the West, but they remain well up on the St. Louis Blues for third spot in the division. G Cam Talbot posted a .927 SV% over 11 games since returning to the lineup Feb. 26.
Edmonton Oilers (+2100): Edmonton went 8-5-1 in March but continues to live dangerously by playing high-scoring games. Despite offensive stars C Connor McDavid and C Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers are sub-50% in both Corsi For percentage and scoring chance percentage at 5-on-5.
Florida Panthers (+2200): The Panthers’ odds took only a slight hit despite losing D Aaron Ekblad (leg) for the season and C Aleksander Barkov (lower body) also missing extended time. Still, they closed March on a three-game win streak and finish a four-game homestand before a six-game road trip.
Philadelphia Flyers (+5000): The Flyers still hold a narrow lead over the New York Rangers for fifth in the East despite having a shockingly worse goal differential. Aside from recent 9-0 and 8-3 losses to the Rangers, the Flyers lost 6-1 to the Buffalo Sabres on the final day of March. Strangely, Philly was much-improved analytically while going just 6-10-1 in March.
Nashville Predators (+6000): The hottest team in the Central Division, the Preds’ odds plummeted from +12500 on March 18. The return of G Juuse Saros was the biggest reason for a six-game winning streak to end the month as the Preds outscored the competition 22-9.
Best NHL betting sites
Those betting using mobile options can simply navigate to the hockey section of the betting app to find Stanley Cup futures.
Bettors looking to place those Stanley Cup wagers may want to check out the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The site offers plenty of options in betting for the Stanley Cup winner as well as wagering on individual matchups.
DraftKings Sportsbook also offers a nice betting experience and all the futures action a hockey fan might want. For both sites, simply click on “hockey” and then the “futures” tab to make a selection. There are some great bonus offers at both FanDuel and DraftKings for those looking to get in on the action.
If sports betting isn’t legal in your state yet, daily fantasy sports is another great way to have some skin in the game. Sign up for an account at DraftKings and get $25 free.
How to bet the NHL
Betting on the NHL, and hockey, in general, is somewhat of a cross between baseball and basketball betting. It’s similar to basketball in that it can be slightly more predictable, particularly over the long term when looking at the proper statistics and trends. It leans toward baseball in following suit with generally modest odds and lines, and like with starting pitchers, the lines hinge on the projected starting goaltenders. The terms and bet types remain the same as in the other main sports.
- Moneyline: The most straightforward and common bet type; pick the team to win the game, either in regulation, overtime or a shootout. Odds will generally range from -250 to +250 but can extend closer to -500 or +500 in rare cases. A late goalie swap can drastically change the odds, and likelihood of a team winning.
- Puck line/Spread: Much the same as run lines in baseball betting, the standard puck line is set at +/- 1.5 goals. The favorite must win by at least two goals; the underdog needs to stay within one in a loss or win outright. Any game going to overtime would be a win for the underdog regardless of the final outcome.
- Total: The total, or Over/Under, is most commonly set at a base of 5.5, though as with all hockey odds, the projected goalie matchup is the biggest factor. A pair of backups starting against each other would usually boost the line to 6.5; a pair of elite goaltenders could drop the number to 4.5.
- Alternate lines: The alternate betting lines are more valuable in hockey than nearly all the other main sports. Buying yourself a goal against either the spread or total can greatly raise your chances of earning at least a small profit. Boosting your odds to a puck line of -2.5 or a total of 7.5 can return a much great profit with the increased risk.
- Props: Hockey prop bets range from which team will score first to whether or not certain players will score a goal in the game. Rather than backing an underdog on the puck line in what’s expected to be a tight game, look for whether or not the game will go to overtime. This will often offer more profitable odds.
- Futures: Stanley Cup futures typically come out immediately after the prior NHL season wraps up in June. From then until the trophy is awarded the odds are regularly updated. Team expectations, performance, and public betting action all influence the odds. Injuries, trades and winning or losing streaks also carry great weight. Be sure to incorporate advanced statistics and know which teams are over-performing. Others could enjoy a late-season surge in order to capitalize on long odds. Futures are also available for player awards and stats, and conference and division winners.
How do Stanley Cup futures odds work?
First, let’s define a futures wager. These are made on the result of certain events or contests to happen in the future.
Fans enjoy these wagers because they offer a chance to cheer for a team (or a few) in the long run. They also have a chance at a nice payout for a smaller wager. In this case, a bet on a certain team to survive the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup.
In the NHL, eight teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs. Making a futures wager on one of those 16 teams is easy, both in a live sportsbook and online.
A sportsbook in a casino will have futures odds usually listed on a large screen somewhere in the sportsbook. These should be easy to find, but staff at the betting windows can help.
Let’s look at an example using a $100 futures wager:
- FanDuel Sportsbook opened the Tampa Bay Lightning as the favorite to win the 2020 Stanley Cup at +195. A bettor putting $100 on Tampa would have won $195 (and get the original $100 bet back).
Why do Stanley Cup odds change during a season or in the playoffs?
While a team might start off with certain odds, they can change at any time. The Dallas Stars may start as +2200 underdogs (with a $100 wager to win $2,200), but that can change later. Several factors could be in play to make those lines move.
- Futures odds are a fluctuating market. A team may have a surprising Round 1 upset victory and played well. That may spur oddsmakers to move those lines down.
- Odds are adjusted based on a team’s performance, injuries, opponents, and more during the season and postseason. As teams are eliminated in the playoffs, futures odds can be adjusted.
- Sportsbooks also adjust odds based on betting patterns. A large amount bet on a certain team may force oddsmakers to lower odds to reduce exposure to potential losses should that team pay off.
NHL futures betting history
Winning the Stanley Cup isn’t easy. Teams must survive three playoff rounds before battling it out in the Stanley Cup Final. That comes after the 56-game regular season with plenty of skating, checking, and road trips.
The goal is to be one of the eight teams in the postseason from each conference and then see what happens. The Vegas Golden Knights made a historic run to the Cup Final as an expansion team in 2018. But who were some of the biggest longshots in history to win the Cup?
- 2012 – The L.A. Kings entered the playoffs as an eighth seed and were 20-1 to take home their first title in 44 years. As the L.A. Times notes, the team caught fire “… thanks largely to their remarkable 10-1 road record, tying a league record for the most road wins in a postseason. And while winning 16 of 20 playoff games, the Kings outscored their opponents by an impressive 57-30.”
- 1995 – The New Jersey Devils were a fifth seed when the playoffs started. The team struggled a bit during the regular season, which was shortened to 48 games due to a lockout. The Red Wings looked like an unstoppable force and few in the media predicted Jersey would win. But the Devils completed an unlikely 4-0 sweep.
- 1986 – With a team full of rookies including goalie Patrick Roy and forward Claude Lemieux , the Montreal Canadiens shocked the hockey world with a 4-1 finals victory over the Calgary Flames.
No doubt, bettors took home a nice score on these futures wagers.