NHL division odds: New favorites emerge after season's 1st month

Joel Auerbach / Getty Images Sport / Getty

It's crazy how fast things can change.

We're a hair over a month into the 2021-22 NHL season and the landscape of the league is drastically different than it was expected to be.

Shockingly, each division leader entered the season with +350 odds - or longer - of claiming the crown. The Minnesota Wild (+800 then; +260 now) are the biggest risers, but there's no shortage of them.

Let's take a look at how each division is shaping up and where the value may sit moving forward.

Atlantic Division

Team Nov. 15 Odds Oct. Odds
Florida Panthers +110 +350
Toronto Maple Leafs +300 +220
Tampa Bay Lightning +400 +180
Boston Bruins +500 +300
Detroit Red Wings +5000 +15000
Montreal Canadiens +15000 +4000
Ottawa Senators +20000 +15000
Buffalo Sabres +20000 +20000

The Florida Panthers are rightfully the biggest riser, but I think the movement was a little too drastic. The Panthers are only two points clear of the Toronto Maple Leafs - and three clear of the Tampa Bay Lightning, should they maintain their current pace in points per game - while getting unsustainably good goaltending from starter Sergei Bobrovsky. It's very encouraging that he looks to have turned back the clock, but he's not going to post a .940 save percentage forever. When he regresses, Florida's small lead might disappear.

I actually think the value lies with Toronto here. The Leafs have looked dominant at five-on-five this season, controlling better than 55% of the expected goals. Only the Minnesota Wild rank ahead of them in that regard. As mentioned, Toronto is just two points back of the Panthers, and that's while sitting 28th in shooting percentage; that's unlikely to continue with all the firepower the team possesses. Despite their strong play, the Leafs' implied chance of winning the division is lower than it was when the season started. Take advantage of that.

Metro Division

Team Nov. 15 odds Oct. odds
Carolina Hurricanes +180 +400
Washington Capitals +330 +450
New York Islanders +550 +350
New York Rangers +600 +400
Pittsburgh Penguins +800 +500
Philadelphia Flyers +1200 +550
New Jersey Devils +3000 +1800
Columbus Blue Jackets +5000 +15000

The Carolina Hurricanes are off to a remarkable 11-2-0 start, which has them sitting atop the league in points percentage. As such, their implied chances of winning the Metro have risen 15%. Rightfully so. Their underlying profile looks very strong, with the Hurricanes sitting third in Corsi For percentage and eighth in high-danger chance percentage. They're a very good team. The big question mark was goaltending, and yet they lead the league in save percentage a season after finishing third with a completely different tandem. It may just be Carolina plays a style conducive to goaltending success.

All that said, the Capitals were the team we isolated as the best bet prior to the season, and the odds have shifted in our favor since. They're tied with Carolina in raw points, they have a very strong goal differential, and they've piled up the points even without Nicklas Backstrom and, more recently, T.J. Oshie due to injury. The Caps are hanging around just fine, and there are reinforcements on the way. At this point, they look like the only real challengers for Carolina.

Pacific Division

Team Nov. 15 odds Oct. odds
Edmonton Oilers -120 +550
Vegas Golden Knights +300 -280
Calgary Flames +380 +1500
LA Kings +2500 +1800
Anaheim Ducks +4000 +20000
San Jose Sharks +4000 +6000
Seattle Kraken +6000 +1000
Vancouver Canucks +6000 +1400

With respect to the Anaheim Ducks, who've played very well thus far, I think this is shaping up to be a three-horse race. The Edmonton Oilers own a 11-3-0 record and, at times, have looked unbeatable due to the dominance of their superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The level of play they've reached on a consistent basis has risen the team to heights not thought to be possible. While the Oilers still have flaws - their bottom six gives a lot back at five-on-five - it might just be possible for their big guns to outscore their problems.

I see real value on the Vegas Golden Knights here, though. They've kept themselves within striking distance despite an almost unfathomable amount of injuries. Their best player, Mark Stone, is finally healthy again, and more help will be coming as time passes. This team is going to get better and better, which is a scary thought considering Vegas is only four points back of Edmonton despite using what feels like half of its AHL lineup on a nightly basis.

While I probably wouldn't jump on the Calgary Flames at a high point, I'm very happy holding a ticket for the team I deemed the best value prior to the season. They're top five in Corsi and expected goals at five-on-five. Their special teams are very good, and Jacob Markstrom has looked the part of a Vezina contender. There doesn't appear to be a single glaring weakness with this team, which leads me to believe their strong start isn't smoke and mirrors.

Central Division

Team Nov. 15 odds Oct. odds
Colorado Avalanche +120 -340
Minnesota Wild +260 +800
St. Louis Blues +450 +1500
Winnipeg Jets +800 +1500
Nashville Predators +1800 +6000
Dallas Stars +2500 +800
Chicago Blackhawks +10000 +2200
Arizona Coyotes +100000 +10000

What a difference a month makes. The Avalanche were massive division favorites, given an implied chance of 77.4% to win the Central.

Fast forward just over 30 days and the Avalanche - favored to win the Presidents' Trophy - sit fifth in their own division. Making matters worse is the Avs, who've dealt with plenty of injury concerns, will be without Nathan MacKinnon for the foreseeable future. They're getting healthier, especially on defense, but I think the odds are about where they should be. While they're the team most likely to prevail, the race is more open than expected.

Minnesota has a very real chance of claiming the crown. No team has controlled a larger share of the expected goals at five-on-five than the Central leaders. That's encouraging. The Wild figure to benefit from better goaltending moving forward as well; the same tandem that currently ranks 28th in five-on-five save percentage slotted 14th a season ago.

I also feel good about the Winnipeg Jets, who were our best bet prior to the campaign. A rejuvenated Pierre-Luc Dubois has helped breathe life into an already potent offense, and the Jets have a chance every night with Connor Hellebuyck in net.

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

NHL division odds: New favorites emerge after season's 1st month
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