The 2021-22 NHL Futures for the Eastern Conference can be best described as a mess. Three teams are bunched up with several others waiting in the wings.
The snow is starting to fall and winter’s chill is starting to settle in. That makes it a perfect time to start looking at the NHL Futures. Today, we spotlight the Eastern Conference and it is unsettled at the top, to say the least.
This 2021-22 season so far has been a crazy one. The Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs have been on quite a roll. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning, even with their injuries, are still lurking. In order to be the champs, one has to beat the champs as they say.
Not as many shifts have taken place two months into the season at the top but…
2021-22 Eastern Conference Futures: Numbers Bottoming Up?
Now, the 2021-22 Eastern Conference Futures have seen more shifts numbers-wise from the bottom as some teams are moving up. Unfortunately for the New York Islanders, they have dropped right out of the top eight in the numbers. Between a long road trip, COVID, and a struggle offensively, New York has dropped into the ’30s when it comes to odds.
While one New York team dropped, the New York Rangers rose from the ’30s up into the single digits on some books. Their overall range is from as low as 8.40 up to around 12.00. The Rangers’ hot start has sent things into a bit of a flux.
Florida, Tampa Bay, and Toronto again are all next to each other. Here are the top eight teams as of December 13th, 2021.
|2021-22 NHL Futures — Eastern Conference|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||5.50||4.63|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||5.50||4.63|
|New York Rangers||12.00||8.40|
Betting odds for the Stanley Cup can be challenging but conference odds can be even more so. Numbers are definitely moving around other than at the top. Let’s take a look.
Florida, Toronto, and Tampa Bay Lead The Eastern Conference Futures
When we say it is too close to call, it is too close to call. Florida, Toronto, and Tampa Bay currently top the Eastern Conference Futures. The contenders know that Tampa Bay Lightning may be the team that is lurking. Tampa Bay is without Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. Despite that, they have the best goaltender in the world in Andrei Vasilevskiy. That alone is one of the main reasons why Tampa Bay’s numbers range from 4.63 to 5.50.
Tampa’s biggest question mark will be what happens when everyone returns. For Florida and Toronto, the biggest dilemma is what happens when the playoffs start. There is no doubt that the Panthers and Maple Leafs could very well contend and come out of the East. These teams are so close together because of how poorly Florida and Tampa Bay have fared in the playoffs past.
Florida has not advanced past the first round since 1996. Toronto has not done so since 2004. Both have blown series lead though not quite Toronto, who let Montreal come back from down three games to one in last year’s playoffs. Goaltending is one of the big problems with both squads come playoff time. Tampa Bay does not have that problem.
It is why Tampa Bay is still our favourite out of the three and the Lightning are a free sports picks and betting darling.
The New York Rangers Rising Up Quickly In The East
Now, one of the hotter teams in the Eastern Conference Futures was expected to be the New York Islanders at this point. That has not been the case as the Islanders have struggled with injuries, COVID, and poor play. One team that has unexpectedly thrived is the New York Rangers. The Rangers are challenging for the top spot in the highly-competitive Metropolitan Division.
Mostly due to timely offence and the stellar play of Igor Shesterkin, New York is 17-5-3 at press time which is within two points for the best record in the NHL. The Rangers’ rise up in the East has been a rapid one. In October, their odds were as long as 40 and now have dropped to as low as 8.40. Behind the balance of Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba from the backend then Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, and Mika Zibanejad on the forwards, New York have quite the balance.
The key still is the Russian goaltender. Shesterkin is on the injured reserve currently with a lower-body injury. His health literally will determine the Rangers’ fate as to whether they make the playoffs. Shesterkin is a Vezina Award candidate who could help New York turn in a deep playoff run.
It is why New York is one of our dark horse picks to get out of the Eastern Conference. Given how crazy this season has been, maybe it is not that much of a surprise.
Could Any Other Teams Step Up In The Eastern Conference?
There are several teams that could rise up the futures in the Eastern Conference. The Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals immediately come to mind. Washington won the Stanley Cup a few years ago and maybe ageing, but one never knows. Carolina has been close to contending but was thwarted last year by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The one other wildcard might be the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are a team that can get hot especially if Evgeni Malkin returns to form after recovering from a knee injury. The Eastern Conference race is jammed but entertaining.
Our 2021-22 Eastern Conference Futures Pick
The Tampa Bay Lightning are our CSB pick to come out of the Eastern Conference.
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