The NHL’s West Division is one of four newly formed groupings for 2021, and it’s pretty much a three-way dance between the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues for top spot. Below are my projected odds, as well as the current odds being offered by Circa Sports. Be sure to pick up a copy of the VSiN NHL Betting Guide for a more detailed look at all 31 teams.
Colorado Avalanche (44.8%, + 123)
A top team on offense and defense in 2019-20, despite being ravaged by injuries, the Avalanche are the favorite to win the West Division. Nathan MacKinnon is a horse, but he’s not pulling the wagon by himself. This team is loaded with talent and can play any style of game. The book is still out on whether or not Philipp Grubauer is an elite goaltender, but he is definitely a quality starter. The Avs’ blue line doesn’t get enough credit either. Sure, superstar sophomore Cale Makar generates a lot of buzz, but there isn’t a below-average defender in the group. The Avalanche even went out and acquired an excellent puck mover in Devon Toews from the Islanders.
Odds at Circa Sports: + 125
Vegas Golden Knights (32.5%, + 208)
General manager Kelly McCrimmon raised the profile of his team with the signing of Alex Pietrangelo, but a lack of depth down the middle leaves them exposed against teams that don’t have that problem and, in the case of the Avalanche, can at least match them in every other category. The Golden Knights are one of the best teams in the league, but their lack of an elite center makes it tough to rate them higher than a few other teams in the league.
Odds at Circa Sports: + 170
St. Louis Blues (14.7%, + 582)
When Alex Pietrangelo signed with the Golden Knights, it left the Blues with a huge hole on their blue line and on their power play. They filled that hole almost immediately by adding Torey Krug via free agency. Krug should have no problem quarterbacking a very good Blues power play. The team also invited Mike Hoffman to training camp on a professional tryout in the hopes that he can help in the absence of superstar Vladimir Tarasenko, who is recovering from shoulder surgery and will be re-evaluated in February. This team has good goaltending, defense and a formidable top-six forward group despite the lack of an elite offensive talent.
Odds at Circa Sports: + 325
Minnesota Wild (3.1%, + 3095)
Are the Wild better than the Avalanche, Golden Knights or Blues? They almost certainly are not. Are they better than the Coyotes? Maybe. They are probably better than the Ducks, Sharks and Kings, but the separation isn’t huge. Winger Kevin Fiala looks well-positioned to break out in a big way, and if Kirill Kaprizov’s play in the KHL is any indication, the team’s top line is in good shape on the wings. However, they are really lacking at center. Very good underlying metrics give them a chance.
Odds at Circa Sports: + 1,000
Arizona Coyotes (2.8%, + 3523)
Last season was a very strange one for the Coyotes as general manager John Chayka went all in to acquire Taylor Hall only to resign a few days before the team was set to depart for the playoff bubble. Plus, huge blunders at the combine and the drafting table saw them receive discipline from the league and a lashing in the court of public opinion. Moving forward, the Coyotes would be wise not to rush things. Conor Garland, Clayton Keller and Christian Dvorak all have bright futures, but they’re in over their heads. Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta are both very good in goal, and that’s the only reason the Coyotes have a shot.
Odds at Circa Sports: + 4,500
Anaheim Ducks (0.9%, + 11,528)
A trip through California used to be viewed as murderer’s row for opponents as the Ducks, Kings and Sharks were all contenders for the better part of a decade. That’s no longer the case. There is only about a 50% chance that any of these teams make the playoffs, so talking about any of them winning the division is strange. Goaltender John Gibson gives the Ducks a chance, though.
Odds at Circa Sports: + 9,000
San Jose Sharks (0.7%, + 13,789)
Martin Jones is one of the worst goaltenders in the league, and apparently the Sharks brass believed the solution was bringing in Devan Dubnyk, who is even worse. This team is still home to some players who aren’t that far removed from being considered some of the best in the game, and they had very strong underlying metrics before everything went off the rails in 2019-20. It’s tough to see them making any noise, though.
Odds at Circa Sports: + 9,000
Los Angeles Kings (0.6%, + 16,293)
It would be easy to write off the Kings as a cellar-dweller. However, there is a world in which this team pulls itself out of the basement and up to the level of mediocrity. The team doesn’t get buried in terms of shots for and against, and there’s reason to believe goaltender Jonathan Quick isn’t done just yet. Goaltender Cal Petersen was strong down the stretch last season and could assume the starting job. Team defense shouldn’t be an issue. Offense will be.
Odds at Circa Sports: + 18,000