I wrote about some interesting and enticing odds when BetMGM opened for NHL futures, and after a dizzying number of transactions when free agency opened, many of those odds have moved.
Some moves made sense, but others not so much. We are still one month away from training camp but there are still potentially big roster changes to come. Salary arbitration hearings are scheduled over the next few weeks, some of the names in the summer rumor mill have yet to be moved and a few teams are already over the cap ceiling.
Here’s a rundown of notable changes in BetMGM’s betting odds, which are accurate as of August 6, 2021:
Colorado Avalanche – 7.50
Their odds have gotten worse, which makes sense considering how much quality depth they lost, but it also indicates that this season might be a little wider open than believed. The Avs are still the favourites, but being the favourite rarely pays off in hockey, and it wouldn’t surprise me if their odds get even worse once the season is underway in a tough Central Division. There are just too many question marks right now.
Tampa Bay Lightning – 8.00
This was a curious change, as the Lightning’s odds improved even though they lost their entire checking line, which was vital to their success over the past two seasons. They remain an elite team with Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevskiy, but it’s a longer season this time around and you wonder if the Lightning’s internal depth – Colton Ross, Alex Barre-Boulet and Mathieu Joseph – is good enough to replace what they’ve lost.
Vegas Golden Knights – 9.00
I’m not convinced it’s a big downgrade going from Marc-Andre Fleury to Robin Lehner, who has garnered Vezina Trophy votes and won the Jennings Trophy in two of his past three seasons. Fleury would also be hard-pressed to replicate his incredible 2021 season, and Vegas’ defense remains largely intact with the return of the ever-reliable Alec Martinez. The Knights’ odds will surely change again as there seem to be more moves to come – even after adding Nolan Patrick and Evgenii Dadonov, both of whom should have stronger seasons on a better team.
New York Islanders – 21.00
The odds for the Isles have not changed but it could be because some of their rumored signings, including the return of Casey Cizikas and Kyle Palmieri and the addition of Zach Parise, have not been made official yet. The Isles are also rumored to be in the hunt for Vladimir Tarasenko, which would certainly give their scoring a boost as well. Do not be surprised if the Isles emerge as a powerhouse and prove their doubters wrong, as they have done so numerous times under Barry Trotz.
Florida Panthers – 21.00
The Panthers were one of the bigger moves, improving their odds from 26.00 to 21.00, though I’m not sure adding Sam Reinhart alone should really give them such a big boost. Spencer Knight filled in admirably last season but rookie goalies can be unreliable, and it could be disastrous if Sergei Bobrovsky has another poor season. Assuming the Lightning, Maple Leafs and Bruins have the top three spots locked up, the Panthers are looking at another wild-card berth.
Dallas Stars – 36.00
This was a curious drop for the Stars, who moved from 31.00 to 36.00. I like what they’ve done on defense with Ryan Suter and Jani Hakanpaa, and I don’t think the loss of Jamie Oleksiak, Jason Dickinson and Andrew Cogliano is that big. They were already a difficult team to score against and now they’ve shored up their blue line, added goaltending depth in Braden Holtby and will likely have Tyler Seguin in the lineup.
St. Louis Blues – 36.00
Another curious drop by a Central Division team from 31.00 to 36.00. I think they improved by replacing Jaden Schwartz and Mike Hoffman with Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad. They’re heavier, which is how they like to play, and probably more consistent. I don’t think the loss of Vince Dunn is huge because he had been used so sparingly anyway.
Winnipeg Jets – 41.00
The Jets are another Central Division team where the odds have curiously gotten worse even though they’ve really shored up their blue line – their biggest weakness last season – with Nate Schmidt and Brenden Dillon. The big loss is Mason Appleton, but I think the beefed-up blue line should cover that void and it wouldn’t surprise me if either Kristian Vesalainen or Cole Perfetti make a significant positive impact up front.
Chicago Blackhawks – 51.00
Their big move up from 66.00 is probably a big reason why the odds for the rest of the Central’s teams have gotten worse. On paper, the Blackhawks are very much improved with Seth Jones, Jake McCabe, Tyler Johnson, Fleury and perhaps a healthy Jonathan Toews. How the pieces come together and how consistent they will be remains to be seen, but they certainly look like a playoff team.
Los Angeles Kings – 66.00
This was the biggest surprise as the Kings’ odds dropped from 51.00 to 66.00. They shored up their offense adding Viktor Arvidsson and Selke candidate Philip Danault and then added veteran Alex Edler to their blue line. What’s not to like? Combined with an influx of young talent, the Kings are more likely to surprise in a positive way.
New Jersey Devils – 66.00
I do not hide my affinity for the Devils’ young core and they were one of the biggest movers up the board going from 81.00 to 66.00. They added Dougie Hamilton, the prize of this year’s free agent class, a dependable 1B in Jonathan Bernier and acquired a dependable defenseman in Ryan Graves. I think the Metro is pretty wide open, and they’ll have a healthy Nico Hischier forming a fantastic 1-2 punch down the middle with Jack Hughes. If you’re looking at a team that is very much a long shot but could go on a historic Cinderella run, the Devils would be fun to follow.