- BetOnline favors the Panthers (+425) and Lightning (+450) to win the Eastern Conference
- Carolina (+500) has a clearer path to the Cup Final in the Metropolitan, but the Penguins (+650) could make one last run
- The Bruins (+1100) look headed towards a major rebuild with Tuukka Rask officially retired and no depth behind their aging stars
Looking to secure the NHL’s first three-peat since the Islanders captured four-straight Cups from 1980-83, Tampa Bay (+450) is once again a favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference.
However, the Lightning have serious in-state competition in the Florida Panthers (+425), a franchise with just seven playoff appearances in 28 years of existence.
2022 NHL Eastern Conference
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+450|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+500|
|New York Rangers||+900|
|New York Islanders||+2800|
|Detroit Red Wings||+12500|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+15000|
|New Jersey Devils||+17500|
Scorching hot Florida teams
The Panthers (+425) are favored to make it back to the Stanley Cup for the first time since being swept by the Avalanche in 1995-96. Overcoming the resignation of head coach Joel Quenneville with ease, Florida has been on top of the Eastern Conference all year – but they’re just 9-7-5 on the road compared to 23-3-0 on home ice.
Jonathan Huberdeau’s 64 points puts him squarely in the Hart Trophy race, and the Panthers should add another significant piece at the deadline with rumors connecting them to Coyotes blueliner Jakob Chychrun.
Are you kidding, Jonathan Huberdeau?! 🤯
— theScore (@theScore) May 17, 2021
Tampa Bay (+450) looks no worse for wear after losing their entire third line in free agency. With Steven Stamkos scoring at a point-per-game pace and perhaps the best defenseman (Victor Hedman) and top goaltender (Andrei Vasilevskiy) in the NHL, it’s hard to bet against the battle-tested Bolts making a run at history.
Especially since the Lightning defeated both the Panthers and Hurricanes (+500) last postseason and the fact that the Maple Leafs (+500) haven’t won a playoff series since 2004.
Best of the rest
Pittsburgh (+650) has the star power and depth to make a run at their fourth Cup of the Sidney Crosby – Evgeni Malkin era. However, the Penguins will need netminder Tristan Jarry to hold it together after a nightmare 2021 postseason.
The Rangers (+950) are an impressive 30-13-4 under new head coach Gerard Gallant, but the analytics nerds don’t like their poor possession numbers. Still, with Vezina-quality play out of Igor Shesterkin, 33 goals and counting from Chris Kreider and stellar two-way play from reigning Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox, New York can’t be counted out.
THE HOCKEY NEWS MID-SEASON NHL AWARDS:
We voted on the Hart, Norris, Vezina, Calder and Jack Adams. All hail Igor Shesterkin…https://t.co/fHEjUGsIcc
— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) January 21, 2022
Despite the Bruins (+1100) and Capitals (+1400) having Stanley Cup pedigree, we don’t like either as a longshot. Washington requires a serious upgrade between the pipes and Boston has too many problems to fix at the deadline with no second-line center and poor defensive depth behind Charlie McAvoy.
Both are almost assured a playoff spot, however, with the bottom eight teams in the East all out of contention with just under half a season to play.
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you: