Hockey is Canada’s game. The beloved sport has become an internationally popular game that countless children and adults play every winter. Still, the heart of the game lies in the NHL, within Canada and the United States. Following the end of the pandemic-altered 2020-21 NHL season, which ended in the Tampa Bay Lightning claiming their second-straight Stanley Cup victory, it’s time to start looking ahead to the beginning of the 2021-22 season.
Sports bettors begin to shake off the rust of a long summer and begin focusing on the upcoming NHL season right around now. With an offseason of major change, the balance of power in the NHL could lie just about anywhere. It’s time to start placing some pre-season hockey bets for fans of the game. If you’ve been looking for the best places for NHL betting Canada, there are numerous great options for lovers of the league. Let’s look ahead to the upcoming season to see what the year may hold for fans and bettors alike.
The NHL season begins on October 12th, where the 32 teams in the league will all play an 82-game schedule, unlike last season, where teams were held to an abnormal schedule. The biggest change entering this season is the addition of a new team, the Seattle Kraken. This year will present the debut of an NHL team in Seattle.
The Kraken will look to follow the Las Vegas Golden Knights model, who immediately made a run to the Stanley Cup following an expansion draft. No one thought the Golden Knights capable of immediate contention, and very few consider the Kraken capable of early success either. According to oddsmakers, they are currently +5000 to win the Stanley Cup, making them a huge longshot.
The offseason has led to some teams strengthening their potential for a strong season. One team that drastically improved its outlook is the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have struggled to return to form following their early 2010s dynasty. Bloated salaries and aging stars held them back. This summer, after opening up cap space, they certainly spent.
The Blackhawks acquired two of the NHL’s best at their respective positions, in Seth Jones and Marc-Andre Fleury. They also added skilled two-way center Tyler Johnson to boost their depth. They’ll be looking to re-enter contention this season.
Another team that is looking to return to their glory days by making a splash in free agency is the New Jersey Devils. Filled with young talent, particularly in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, who will look to justify their draft position, the Devils added veterans capable of leading them to the playoffs this offseason. Their big addition is defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who is one of the league’s best. They also added Jonathan Bernier to back-up goalie Mackenzie Blackwood and are widely considered one of the winners of the offseason.
For Canadian teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs kept their roster mostly static. They didn’t do the major shake-up some fans demanded after their star players disappeared in their blown 3-1 series lead against their rival Montreal Canadiens. They did add Petr Mrazek to compete with goalie Jack Campbell, but they’ll be running it back with mostly the same team that dominated their division before crashing in the post-season last year.
Speaking of the Canadiens, they had an interesting offseason. They added Mike Hoffman and Christian Dvorak to a young team that made a miraculous Stanley Cup run last year. However, they lost Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and he is a young player with a lot of room to develop. They’ll be hoping young Cole Caufield becomes the superstar he’s projected to be.
Among the other NHL teams, many of the top contenders from last season are poised to be strong again. The Tampa Bay Lightning have lost their depth, but their best players remain with Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point, and Andrei Vasilevsky. They have a real chance to win their third straight.
The Colorado Avalanche has one of the most talented rosters in the league. They’ll be hungry to make noise following two straight disappointing playoffs. The Golden Knights are deep, physical, and consistently excellent. They could claim their first trophy. The Boston Bruins have an experienced and talented group always poised to make a serious run.
The fun part of the period before the NHL season is that every fanbase has cause for hope. Each team is tied for first place right now, and the NHL is a wide-open league. On October 12th, the quest for Lord Stanley begins, and bettors and fans are ready to go.