Betting on NHL futures

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How do NHL futures work?

Betting on NHL futures refers to betting on a long-term market centered around the outcome of season-end results. NHL futures odds can apply to individual hockey players or NHL teams, depending on the wager. For example, you could bet on Sidney Crosby to win the MVP award, or wager on the Montreal Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup.

Placing NHL futures bets can lead to very lucrative wins, since the supposed probability of winning them is low. If these bets are made in the preseason, you can potentially find value. For example, a team that has reached the Conference Finals in the last few years will likely be favored by the odds to do so again. Betting on such a team to miss the playoffs in preseason may therefore provide great value.

NHL futures bets can also be made after the season has already started. Buying low on a great team with an early cold streak is another way to find value. For example, the Tampa Bay Lightning started the 2021-22 season with a 2-3-1 record. They’re a powerhouse team coming off back-to-back Stanley Cups, so their chances of making the playoffs are all but set in stone. With that being said, a slow start of any kind will often be reflected by the odds. In the event that their form then improved, placing an NHL futures bet on them making the playoffs after their initial cold start would have undoubtedly yielded a great return.

For more information, check out our dedicated guide to futures betting.

Hockey_NHL_Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby
© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The best NHL sportsbooks


Popular NHL futures

Division futures

If betting on NHL conference winners seems a bit too vast, perhaps wagering on NHL division winners is more your speed. The NHL is currently separated into four divisions - the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific Divisions.

Each division now has exactly eight different teams, thanks to the recent addition of the Seattle Kraken. Some divisions are always evenly matched, such as the Atlantic and Metropolitan. Predicting a division winner is never an easy task, but some bettors believe the Pacific is the most desirable division to wager on.

After all, it is widely considered to be the weakest division. The Vegas Golden Knights are far and away considered to be the best team in the division, although the Anaheim Ducks are improving and look to be on the rise for years to come. Finding NHL futures odds value in young, on-the-rise teams is often a good risk, too.

Conference futures

A popular way to place NHL futures bets is to wager on which team will win each conference. A good way to start evaluating your options is to look at the offseason signings for every team. Who has made notable trades and big money moves? See if you can identify the teams that have made the best improvements to their squad from the season before.

In the Eastern Conference, perennial contenders such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, and Washington Capitals have all been in the mix to win it during that span. The Lightning have twice come away with the honors in recent years, with the Bruins winning once but missing out by just a single point in another year.

In the Western Conference, it’s been tougher to make NHL futures bets in recent years. There’s simply more parity, with a carousel of teams including the Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, and St. Louis Blues all constantly jockeying for the top spot in the West. Despite this, the Calgary Flames actually won the conference back in 2018-19.

Stanley Cup futures

No NHL futures bet is more popular than wagering on who will ultimately win the Stanley Cup. Unlike most NHL futures bets, this type of wager is more commonly made throughout the season. Powerhouse teams don’t often fall off completely, but it’s still hard to predict how any given team will do before the season starts.

The other challenge in placing this kind of NHL futures bet is in its volatility. Any team can get hot at any time and make a run for it. For example, the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019. Halfway through that season, their team was dead last in the standings. The Montreal Canadiens made it all the way to the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals, despite technically entering the playoffs with a record below .500.

Hockey is a game of luck and inches where anything can happen, which only adds to the excitement of betting on Stanley Cup futures.

Hockey_NHL_Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
NHL awards futures

Another popular method of NHL futures betting is NHL awards futures, and there are several different trophies to be won. Some players win an award after a vote is conducted, and some win solely because of their superior statistics. Every NHL award is named after someone who has left their mark on hockey history, so it’s also important to re-confirm the name of the award you’re planning to bet on before placing a wager.

For example, the NHL technically has two Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophies. The first is called the Hart Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the regular season MVP. The second is called the Conn Smythe Trophy, and it is awarded to the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Trophies that don’t require any voting include the Rocket Richard Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s leading regular season goal scorer at season’s end, and the Art Ross Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s leading regular season point scorer at season’s end.

Other popular NHL futures awards bets include the Norris Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman in terms of all-around ability, and the Vezina Trophy, which is given to the NHL’s top goaltender based on votes from all 32 of the NHL’s general managers. The Vezina is different than the Jennings Trophy, which is simply awarded to the goaltender who has allowed the fewest goals against that season (among those with a minimum of 25 starts).

NHL futures FAQs

What are the best hockey betting sites?
Can I bet on an NHL team to make the playoffs?
What are the odds for the Calgary Flames to win the Stanley Cup?

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BET.CA staff
BET.CA staff