2021 Stanley Cup Odds, Format and Realignment: Colorado Avalanche the Favorites, Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights Right Behind
Credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan MacKinnon
New NHL season, new format, same team atop the rest.
One year after conquering the bubble and hosting the Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning enter the stretch run of the 2021 regular season as the favorites to do it again.
As of March 25, the Lightning lead the NHL with 50 points and have won 24 of their 32 games this season. Their 117 goals scored also paces the league, while only four teams have allowed fewer than their 74 goals against.
Not far behind Tampa Bay is the Colorado Avalanche, who at time of this update are actually two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights. Both teams are among the most talented in the NHL and will be tough outs come playoff time.
Here’s a look at where the odds stand as of late March:
2021 Stanley Cup Odds
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+475|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+750|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+1000|
|New York Islanders||+1600|
|St. Louis Blues||+3000|
|New York Rangers||+4500|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+7000|
|Los Angeles Kings||+7500|
|San Jose Sharks||+20000|
|New Jersey Devils||+40000|
|Detroit Red Wings||+150000|
While Nate MacKinnon’s MVP odds have faded, the Avalanche sure haven’t. Colorado has been a defensive juggernaut this season with plenty of offensive talent to spare.
It’s no shock that the Lightning are near the top of the board, although they appear to have more competition than expected in their division. Both the Hurricanes and Panthers have emerged as contenders, with Carolina trailing Tampa Bay by five points with a game in hand and Florida just six back.
Otherwise, Tampa Bay has taken advantage of a weakened division and looked like a well-oiled machine all season.
The NHL realigned into the following divisions for one year only because of the restrictions placed on travel by the Canadian government due to COVID-19.
- East: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals
- Central: Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning
- West: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights
- Canada: Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets
2021 Stanley Cup Playoff Format
- The 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs will feature 16 teams.
- The top four teams in each division will make the playoffs.
- The winners of the first-round series (No. 1 vs. No. 4, No. 2 vs. No. 3) will play to advance to the conference semifinals.
- The format for the conference semifinals has yet to be determined.
2021 NHL Key Dates
The NHL has said that the schedule is still subject to change, but here’s what we know so far:
- Training Camps Open: Dec. 30 for teams who didn’t qualify for the Bubble, Jan. 3 for 2020 Bubble teams
- Opening Night: Wednesday, Jan. 13
- Trade Deadline: April 12
- Last Day of Regular Season: May 8
- Last Possible Day of Stanley Cup Playoffs: July 15
- Expansion Draft: July 21
- 2021 NHL Draft: July 23-24
- Free Agency Opens: July 28