NHL 2021 Predictions: Sportsbook Odds, Schedule and Local Power Rankings
Although we look forward to this moment the entirety of the short offseason, it never feels real when it finally comes around. Finally, our waiting has almost come to an end. We are currently one month away from the start of the 2021 NHL season.
The 2019-20 season was one to remember if not only for the massive break in the action, worrying about the season being canceled and finally a rushed Stanley Cup Playoffs immediately after the break. This year, we are looking forward to seeing a full uninterrupted season of NHL hockey.
The season is set to begin on January 1st, though that date could be pushed back. When the season does start, we will have 31 teams ready to take a shot for the Stanley Cup. Last year it was the Tampa Bay Lightning, however this year USA sportsbooks have a new favorite.
Colorado Avalanche are Sportsbook Favorites, Tampa Falls
Sportsbooks are always ready for a new season, and futures bets on the upcoming NHL season have already been posted. The odds are changing too much between the books and there seems to be a general consensus for the favorites.
|Vegas Golden Knights||+800||+800||+800|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+800||+900||+900|
|St. Louis Blues||+1800||+1800||+1700|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+1800||+1600||+1600|
Each of the top five teams were the same on all of the sportsbooks we looked at. Each of them also had the Avalanche as the consensus number one. Current Stanley Cup Champions the Tampa Bay Lightning were down a couple of sports, with the Capitals, Bruins and Golden Knights rounding out the top five.
While a lot will happen between now and the end of the season, it's worth asking how much truth we can find in the current odds. So then, is the Stanley Cup really coming to Colorado this year? Let's break down the upcoming 2021 NHL season.
NHL Offseason Deals and Rumors
The NHL offseason has flown by this Winter, with a month to go after the final Stanley Cup game on the 28th of September.
There were a few big names including Johnny Guadreau who were rumored to be finding new teams at the beginning of the offseason, though very few of these have actually gone through.
2021 NHL Major Offseason Trades
For the few that have been completed, Colorado does have its name on more than a couple. To start things off, the Avalanche acquired Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks, making one of the biggest trades of the offseason.
Saad has scored at least 21 points in five of the past six seasons and will be a massive addition to the team’s top six. Colorado also added defenseman Devon Toews, who had 28 points last season with the Islanders in addition to fellow Islanders’ defenseman Kyle Burroughs.
Vegas Golden Knights are right behind the Avalanche in the sportsbook odds, and the team has every right to be after finishing top of the Pacific Division last season.
The team has only improved this offseason with the acquisition of defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, easily one of the greatest defenders in the NHL, from the St. Louis Blues.
New Jersey agreed to a two-year deal with starting goalie Corey Crawford.
In a team that needed additions to both offense and defense, the Devils took care of them both. On offense, New Jersey acquired forward Andreas Johnnson from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 26-year-old had 21 points last season including eight goals.
On defense, the team acquired Ryan Murray from Columbus, who had a decent last season with the Blue Jackets and will look to fit in at New Jersey.
2021 NHL Schedule and Important Factors
We have just one month left until the league officially kicks off its 2021 season with the annual Winter Classic game. This year’s classic will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues.
It's a great way to kick off the new season which already has a few important dates set. These dates are expected to be pushed back once more information comes about.
- January 1st: NHL Start, Bridgestone Classic in Minneapolis
- January 29th: NHL All-Star game
- February 24th: Trade Deadline
- May 15: Start of NHL Playoffs
- July 15: NHL Season End
Unfortunately, that is about the extent of information we have right now about the new NHL season. The final logistics have not yet been figured out, as disagreements between team owners and the player’s association are ongoing.
One of the biggest concerns for league officials is where and how they will play the games. This must be done with regard to the current coronavirus, as the season must be completed as safely as possible, so all precautions are being taken.
Switching teams into different divisions based on their geographical location is one of the ideas being thrown around. This could potentially mean a restructuring of the league which would put all of the Canadian teams into their own division.
The remaining 24 NHL teams based in the US would be split evenly into three divisions:
Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Senators, Flames, Canucks, Jets, and Oilers.
Rangers, Sabres, Islanders, Bruins, Devils, Capitals, Flyers, and Hurricanes.
Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, Predators, Panthers, Blues, Penguins, Red Wings and Lightning.
Wild, Coyotes, Avalanche, Stars, Kings, Sharks, Golden Knights and Ducks.
No matter what happens until the league schedule is finally released, the ultimate goal of the NHL is to play a full, four month season ending sometime in early July.
Some teams across the country in other sports have had some fans allowed in stadiums to view competitions, so there is some hope for the NHL to pull off a normal season.
2021 NHL Power Rankings
The upcoming NHL season will likely be one of the most competitive we have seen in years. We now have teams that are closer than ever in terms of talent due to a flat cap around the league. Teams like Colorado and Dallas have been title contenders the past couple of seasons and have only gotten better.
The NHL power rankings for the 2021 season can accurately be predicted at least from last year and the offseason. Teams will likely not change much between now and the start of the 2021 NHL season. Let's take a look at where we predict some of our local teams to fall. From best to worst.
Colorado Avalanche - Top of the League
Lets face it, Colorado is becoming a superhuman style team. The entire squad is still stacked, after coming off of an exceptional 92 points season.
With the other teams in the Central Division declining in the offseason, we predict 2021 is the season we finally see Colorado finish at the top of the division standings, and perhaps even the entire Western Conference.
The team added Brandon Saad to an already terrifying offense including Nathan Mckinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. Bulking up the defense as well acquiring Devon Toews from the Islanders. Sportsbooks chose them for a reason and we agree.
Expect Colorado to be the main title contenders from the very start.
- League Ranking - #1-5
Chicago Blackhawks - An Official Rebuild
We are now looking at the outer shell of the dynasty team that dominated the 2010’s winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The Chicago Blackhawks have finished bottom of the Central Division two out of the last three seasons now, finishing second to bottom in the other.
In each of the past two seasons, Chicago has failed to make the playoffs. The key players still remain including captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook, along with 37-year-old Duncan Kieth.
However, the rebuild has been officially started. Chicago lost two big names in the offseason, including both starting goalie Corey Crawford and forward Brandon Saad. The team also traded away defenseman Olli Matta to the Kings.
The defensemen acquired from the trades are less than impressive. Chicago is certainly hoping to revive them in the team, however the squad needs to first decide whether it can even revive itself.
With the core group of players on the team and if the new additions fit in nicely, we could see an improvement from Chicago however the playoffs still seem off.
- League Ranking - #26-30
New Jersey Devils - Can Only Improve
The Devils are in sort of the same place as Chicago, which is to say not a good one. The New Jersey team has now finished dead last in the Metropolitan Division the last two years.
The team did make one improvement in the offseason by acquiring Corey Crawford from the Chicago Blackhawks, which should give them consistency in goal.
The team will need it, as the defense is among the worst in the league. One positive thing that we can say is that the Devils have done some commendable offseason work.
The addition of defenseman Ryan Murray from Columbus through trade was a major win for New Jersey while it also acquired Andreas Johnsson from Toronto, who is coming off a 20-point season.
Unfortunately, while the team may see some improvement, there are no names on the roster that truly inspire any sort of confidence. And with a shaky at best defense the Devils will remain quite close to where they currently sit.
- League Ranking - #21-25