Over the last month in the National Hockey League, we’ve been scrambling to catch up with all of the news. The Stanley Cup was awarded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second consecutive season, the league held an expansion draft for the new Seattle Kraken, held its regular Entry Draft welcoming new rookies to the league, and started its free agency period all in just the last 30 days. Crazy how busy things can get in such a small amount of time.
While destinations for some key players like Jack Eichel and Vladimir Tarasenko still have yet to be determined, things have started to calm down recently, so now would be a great time to review some of the betting lines for the 2021/22 season now that most moves have been made. There are some great plays to be made, so let’s get right into it.
New York has made great strides over the last few seasons, making it to the conference finals two years in a row. They pushed the defending cup champion and soon-to-be cup champion Lightning to Game 7, and have a team made up of talented and scrappy players. They may not have the big-name stars, but what they do have is incredible depth that any team would be jealous of, and that is critically important when it comes to winning games in the postseason. The team is headlined by 24-year-old star Mathew Barzal, who has been instrumental to the recent success of the team. The young centermen’s growth has shined bright over the last few years, and he only will get better.
Paired with veteran winger and team captain Anders Lee, the two make a dynamic duo on the top line. But where the team is strongest is the depth at which their roster is created. Wingers Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey are some of the most consistent players in hockey, always around the puck and can play both sides of the ice. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov has been as consistent and reliable as they come as a goalie, and always seems to keep the Islanders in every game.
At +2000, the Islanders have the talent and depth needed to always be in the hunt for a Stanley Cup Trophy. This is a great value play for a team that has made two straight conference finals appearances and can challenge any team with their deep roster. Unlike this next team.
The Oilers are the most overrated team in all of hockey in my opinion. They always get way more credit than they deserve, and that’s because they have some of the biggest names in the sport. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are two of the best players in the entire league, but even with them, this roster has too many flaws for me to take them seriously. Unless they fix these holes, they will not be touching a championship in the near future.
For starters, the defense is horrendous. They decided to trade for former Chicago Blackhawks superstar defenseman Duncan Keith, who at this point in his career is way past his prime. That is not going to do much for you next season, and what makes it even worse is that their goaltending situation is probably the worst in the league, or close to it.
Goaltender Mike Smith had a decent campaign last season, but he is about as inconsistent a goalie as there is in hockey. He’s also 39 years old, meaning they will need to replace him very soon, and he’s going to get worse before he gets better. His backup, Mikko Koskinen, was terrible last season with a -10.37 Goals Saved Above Expected. This is an easy pass for me, because despite having the big names, they simply don’t have the depth, defense, or goaltending to win a championship.