The 2021-22 NHL season is scheduled to start on October 12, and it’ll be an exciting day for DraftKings Sportsbook bettors and hockey fans alike, as the season begins with two intriguing games. The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning will be facing off against the Pittsburgh Penguins, followed by the first-ever game for the Seattle Kraken, who will be on the road against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Western Conference Alignment
NHL conferences are once again realigned heading into the 2021-22 season, as this will be the second year in a row with large-scale changes to the structure of the standings. In last year’s shortened season, the NHL decided to move to four distinct divisions and eliminate conferences altogether, keeping teams contained within their own divisions to avoid excess traveling and potential COVID-19 issues. A more normal schedule will return for the coming season, but realignment was necessary again with the Seattle Kraken entering the NHL as an expansion team.
Western Conference Odds
The Colorado Avalanche came up short in 2021, dominating in the first round against the St. Louis Blues before falling apart in the second round against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Avalanche opened that series with a 7-1 win in Game 1 and an overtime win in Game 2, but proceeded to lose four straight to get knocked out of the playoffs. Despite the collapse, the Avalanche are the Western Conference favorites for the upcoming season, and they have a truly loaded roster that looks nearly identical to the one they had a season ago. The only relevant change they made was in acquiring Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper, so if anything that should help them be a bit more consistent in 2021-22.
There aren’t too many surprises on the Western Conference odds board, but it’s definitely notable that the Seattle Kraken have the sixth shortest odds, and they will be an interesting story to follow as the NHL’s latest expansion team. The Kraken should theoretically have a roster full of castoffs around the league, but it seems as though they did pretty well in finding talent through the expansion draft. The Kraken were able to nab Yanni Gourde, Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Eberle, Mark Giordano, and Vince Dunn, to name a few, and oddsmakers are indicating that this should be a competitive team right off the bat.
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