WHL Starts! What To Expect This Season
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WHL Starts! What To Expect This Season

It's been an arduous road back, but the Western Hockey League (WHL) is finally back in action. The WHL recently opened its 2021 season on February 26 and will have 24 games as opposed to the 68. Just like the NHL, the WHL season will keep its teams separated by division. Without further ado, let's glimpse what's in store for the WHL including WHL betting and WHL predictions.

WHL betting will be available for some top online sportsbooks. You can find the latest pre-game odds with the money line, puck line, and totals. But before diving into the games or some WHL predictions, let's preview how this unprecedented season is shaping up.

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  • The New WHL Format

    The new WHL format can be a bit complex, so level with us here.

    The new WHL season mirrors that of the NHL, so only divisional games. The Eastern and Western Conferences will use a Divisional/Conference hybrid format for the playoffs with wild card qualifiers. The playoff series will be a best-of-seven affair.

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  • The top three teams from each division will get the first six playoff qualifiers within each two conferences. The remaining two spots per conference will be filled by wild cards, the next best teams based on their records. 

    In the playoffs, the first round will see the division winners of each conference face the lower wild card teams and vice versa. The first-round winners move on to play each other in the second round until the four winning teams move on to the conference championship.

    This new divisional format has a silver lining as it should "enhance" division rivalries between the teams and switch things up for the league to make it more intriguing.  

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    WHL Predictions: Five Things To Watch

    The WHL season is underway, but so far only a few teams have played. It's still raw enough for some WHL predictions:

    1. Games Will Be More Intense

    Several of these kids haven't played meaningful hockey games in over a year. A few of them have been standing by the sidelines while some had to deal with the uncertainty of their careers. Getting back on the ice, these players have plenty of pent-up energy.

    The divisional rivalry and abbreviated season will also stoke some old fires as we should embrace playoff atmospheres for each game. 

    2. Portland Will Continue Where They Left Off

    The Winterhawks were uncrowned champions last season. They led the league with 97 points in 63 games and a whopping +106 goal differential. Carolina Hurricanes prospect Seth Jarvis will continue to be the team's offensive force while goaltender Gavin Gould comes over from the Moose Jaw Warriors to add depth and experience in goal in place of star goalie Joel Hofer.

    Portland will have new ownership and a temporary new home. They'll also be contending with feisty teams in the division more, the likes of Everett and Spokane. The loss of veteran players and the new conditions could make things dicier for last year's top team, but they'll remain a title contender. 

    3. Albertan Teams Will Contend

    It's been a while since an Albertan team has won the Ed Chynoweth Cup: five seasons, in fact. This season, both clubs feature teams that can contend with some blue-chip NHL prospects leading the charge.

    Calgary's Sean Tschigerl will pace his club in scoring. The 17-year-old had a wonderful rookie campaign and is a player to watch. Dylan Guenther and St. Louis Blues prospect Jake Neighbours will help lead the Kings to their first title in five seasons. 

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    4. The East Division Will Once Again be Wide Open

    Just like the 2019-20 season, there is no clear-cut favourite. The Prince Albert Raiders won the division, the Winnipeg Ice finished with the most wins, and the Brandon Wheat Kings had the best goal differential. But big changes are washing through all these teams.

    Brandon will see a new head coach in assistant Don MacGillivray. The Raiders lost goal scorers up front and Winnipeg lost defensemen. It's anyone's guess who comes out on top. And the Regina Pats have a dude named Connor Bedard coming in. Regardless of who comes out on top, keep an eye on this division as it will be a fun tussle till the end.

    5. Connor Bedard Will Be Awesome

    If you haven't heard yet, the Connor Bedard show has finally arrived in the WHL. The 15-year-old phenom is making history as the first WHL player of exceptional status. Drafted first overall by the Regina Pats, Bedard torched the CSSHL to the tune of 172 points in 66 games winning MVP for both seasons.

    Expect nothing short of spectacular dominance from others as he joins other exceptional players from other leagues like John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, and Connor McDavid, who were all first overall picks and relatively big deals. 

    Best Online Sportsbooks for Hockey WHL Betting and Others

    Online sportsbooks are a dime a dozen these days, so we took the liberty of trying them out and rating them for you. The top sportsbooks cater to Canadians, feature a bevy of hockey odds including the NWHL. They not only have many hockey markets but offer them at competitive odds in a timely manner. Additionally, these books have deposit bonuses along with promos.

    Hockey season is here. You can get your fill with our partners below. Sign up, get your bonus, and get into the games.