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Post-Christmas NHL Betting Odds Update: What You Need to Know

There’s been plenty of movement since the beginning of the season, and while many teams’ odds have improved, a large part of it is because there have been many teams who are already out of contention. What teams do you need to know about right now?
Cale Makar

Well, what else are you going to do with that Christmas money?

There’s been plenty of movement since the beginning of the season, and while many teams’ odds have improved, a large part of it is because there have been many teams who are already out of contention. In July, only three teams – Sens, Sabres and Wings – had odds over +10000, but as of Christmas the number of teams has increased to 13, and the Sens and Sabres’ odds have gotten even worse.

At the top are the usual suspects – the Avs, Lightning, Knights, Leafs and Panthers are the cream of the crop, and it’s truly difficult to decipher which of these will rise to the top. At full strength, the Lightning still might be the best team, and the fact that they remain at the top of the league standings despite missing Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point is astounding. The Avs and Knights have questions in net, and the Leafs and Panthers have yet to have any sustained playoff success with their current core.

The middle class has gotten a tad smaller, but there’s also a clear hierarchy with second-tier contenders with the Wild, Canes and Capitals at the top, and then the Stars, Preds, Jets and Ducks at the bottom as potential dark horses that will likely need another catalyst to push them into a higher tier. The middle class is worth examining because the favorite rarely wins in hockey, and there might plenty of good value bets.

All odds are courtesy BetMGM and accurate as of Dec. 27, 2021.

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Colorado Avalanche +550 (American odds) / 6.5 (decimal odds)

It’s a testament to the Avs’ talent and depth that they remain Cup favorites even though they’ve barely been able to stay healthy this season. Their odds dipped to 7.25 in August, but they were still at the top of the list. They are still only fourth in the Central and four points out of the top spot, but they also have three games in hand against the division-leading Wild with the fourth-best goal differential in the league. Chaos reigns supreme and upsets are common, but the Avs definitely have a target on their backs. The key question: can Darcy Kuemper be healthy and a reliable No. 1 on a team with Cup aspirations?

Minnesota Wild +1400 / 15.0

The Wild were near the bottom among mid-tier teams at +2200 when the odds were first released, and despite an impressive run did not see their odds increase until the late fall. Since then, they have moved out of the middle tier and pushed themselves into a glut of contenders that include the Hurricanes and Capitals. It seems unlikely the Wild’s odds may get any better; they still have occasional bouts of inconsistency, they rank 17th in points percentage (.563) in December and their ability to add bodies at the trade deadline may be hampered by the buyouts of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, though it hasn’t made an impact on their on-ice performance so far. Are Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Hartman good enough as their top centers and Cam Talbot good enough as their starter to make a deep playoff run?

Washington Capitals +1600 / 17.0

The Caps are understandably one of the biggest movers, having entered the holiday break ranked fifth in points percentage. Alex Ovechkin is a Hart Trophy front-runner, and their goal differential ranks second-best in the league despite a defense that hardly has a third pair and goaltending that’s barely replacement level when things are going poorly. However, one of the surprising things the Caps have going for them is youth; Aliaksei Protas, Connor McMichael and Martin Fehérváry have all made positive contributions, and come playoff time their exuberance might be a difference maker. The Caps’ odds has room to improve, especially when they’re at full strength, though it’s hard to see them overtake the Panthers or Leafs in the East during the regular season.

Edmonton Oilers +2200 / 23.0

It’s been a roller coaster for the Oilers, starting at +2800 at the start of the season, climbing all the way to +1400 during their impressive early-season run, only to fall back to +2200. The reason’s pretty obvious; when Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl aren’t scoring and carrying the team, their defense is too weak and their goaltending even weaker to consistently win games. Still, +2200 seems like fair value for the Oilers, whose management will certainly be pressured to make some win-now moves. Whether or not Ken Holland will make the right moves is a completely different story…

New York Rangers +2200 / 23.0

The Rangers’ odds were curiously high from the onset at +2500, considering they had missed the playoffs the previous season and made significant changes to their front office and roster. But, once again, the oddsmakers seem justified in their bullishness, and before a brief adjustment down to +3000, they’re now back to +2200, though one reason for these odds adjustments is because there are plenty of teams who have completely fallen off the map. It’s a wide-open season, and after a handful of teams at the top, there’s a pretty strong middle class that includes the Rangers near the top of the list. It’s good value because Igor Shesterkin has proven to be a top-notch goalie, and he could be a huge difference-maker and potentially steal a series or two in the playoffs.

Calgary Flames +2200 / 23.0

If the Flames are a tough out now, wait until they’re in the playoffs. The heavier, more physical game caters to Darryl Sutter’s philosophy. The misconception is that they’re slow and unskilled, but that really isn’t true. They’ve got plenty of skill and they play fast, and by suffocating their opposition’s breakouts and neutral-zone play, the Flames have been very good at limiting scoring chances, and the chances that get through are often stymied by Jacob Markstrom, who’s having a big bounce-back season. Among the Canadian teams in the West, the Flames seem like the most consistent performer and by extension the surest bet.

Anaheim Ducks +5000 / 51.0

There’s still plenty of room on the Ducks bandwagon. Led by an exciting young core, the Ducks went from having the third-lowest odds at +8000 to +5000 with a surprisingly good season so far. The Ducks are still a longshot with holes in the lineup, but if the belief is that any team that makes the playoffs has a chance to win, then they’re not a bad bet in a pretty wide-open Pacific. They’ve got good goalies and a veteran defense, but their forwards might be too inexperienced.

New York Islanders +6600 / 67.0

The Isles are one of two potential contenders – the other being the Habs – whose Cup odds have dropped considerably since the beginning of the season. The Habs’ drop was not surprising, but the Isles were seen as contenders because of their past success and Barry Trotz’s ability to coax wins out of a team that always seems to be far better than the sum of its parts. This season, they’ve been unable to overcome a lack of elite scoring forwards, a thin blue line after trading Devon Toews and Nick Leddy, and a potential Jennings-caliber tandem that has been just a one-man show with Ilya Sorokin. Is there still a chance? The Isles will play a lot of home games after a 13-game road trip to start the season and they have three to five games in hand against their divisional foes, but they’ll have to dominate from now until the end of the season, and it goes without saying that it’s an incredibly tough task in the Metro.

Vancouver Canucks +15000 / 151.0

The Canucks are 6-0-0 under Bruce Boudreau, and it might be the best value bet on this list. With Calgary (5-4-1 in their past 10) and Edmonton (4-6-0) stumbling, and the King and Sharks coming back down to earth, the Canucks sit just six points out of a playoff spot. If the Canucks make up one point per week, they’ll catch up to the pack some time in early February, at which point they can decide if they want to make moves and make a real push. As it stands, the Canucks have the same odds as the Devils, who have lost six straight and Lindy Ruff’s seat is getting hotter by the day. If Boudreau can keep the Canucks believing, expect the Canucks’ odds to improve. Those bullish on the Canucks’ chances should find their current odds quite attractive.

Seattle Kraken +20000 / 201.0

After a lackluster expansion draft, oddsmakers still believe the Kraken had a chance, even as a longshot. But if the Knights were the blueprint, then it has been a disaster. Grouped together with the Kings and Canucks at +5000, the Kraken now have the third-worst odds in the league. Their analytics bent really hasn’t manifested itself with their average possession numbers, even though they’re getting outshot by a small margin, but it doesn’t matter when you get below average goaltending. Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger might be the worst tandem in the league relative to expectations, and until that gets fixed, even at +20000 the Kraken aren’t even worth a throwaway bet.

Arizona Coyotes +100000 / 1001.0

Even when the Blues’ odds hit rock bottom in January 2019, their odds were at 250:1 (+24900), and in basic terms it means the Coyotes are four times as unlikely to win as the Blues at their lowest point of the season before their miraculous turnaround. The Coyotes’ .241 points percentage – and to a lesser extent, the Habs’ .274 points percentage – is on pace to be the lowest ever in the cap era, even worse than the Sabres’ two-year tank job in 2013-14 and 2014-15 when they posted points percentages of .317 and .329. 

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