5 fearless betting predictions for the NHL season
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The headline "fearless bets" came to be due to most of these bets' relatively long odds.

I don't believe these are fearless, nor bold, nor outlandish. Rather, they're calculated, meticulous, and precise. They are valuable opportunities to capitalize on an inefficient market.

So without further ado, here are my favorite value bets for the 2021 NHL season, in predictions form, because everyone seems to love those.

The Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup (+2000)

This is the year it all comes together for the Hurricanes. They're stacked with legitimate star power - Sebastian Aho, 23, and Andrei Svechnikov, 20, are only getting better - and are absurdly deep from top to bottom. Carolina was on pace for nearly 100 points in the standings last year despite some key injuries, leading the NHL in Corsi percentage and expected goals for.

The Hurricanes' top-eight point-getters were all 26 years old or younger last season and merely scraping the surface of their potential. It's far from bold to predict further improvement from their young core, a top-three finish in Norris voting for Dougie Hamilton, and above-average goaltending from the Petr Mrazek-James Reimer duo. Under the expert coaching of Rod Brind'Amour, the Hurricanes make the jump from good to great in 2021.

...and the Central Division (+450)

Yeah, I'm all-in on Carolina this year. With Nikita Kucherov missing the regular season, the window of opportunity opens for the Hurricanes. They match up really well with the Lightning from top to bottom, with the difference between the two teams being significantly smaller than this price suggests.

The Canadiens win the North Division (+460)

Another team I'm higher on than the market this year are the Canadiens. Analytical darlings of the NHL, Montreal is a strong puck-possession squad that generates a lot more chances than it allows. Positive results will finally follow this season after an excellent offseason.

Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli bring much-needed scoring up front, Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi break out, and Jonathan Drouin - who started last season with 15 points in 19 games before getting injured - finally puts it all together. Jake Allen - fourth in GSAA/60 last season among goalies with at least 15 appearances - delivers as the backup for Carey Price that this team has long been looking for. Behind the stout goaltending tandem and one of the league's deepest rosters, the Canadiens - who went 10-3-2 against Canadian teams last year - win the North Division.

The Capitals miss the playoffs (+165) for the first time since 2014 ... and the Devils take their place (+400)

I'll go out on a limb and say Corey Crawford retiring wasn't such a bad thing for the Devils. It leaves a void at the backup position but thrusts MacKenzie Blackwood into a prominent full-time role, which is a good thing. The 24-year-old was second among all starters last season in HDSV% and ninth (out of 87) in GSAA. It led to Blackwood posting a 22-14-8 record, while New Jersey went 6-15-4 without him.

In his first season as a full-time starter, Blackwood breaks out in a big way and thrusts himself into the top-five in Vezina voting. Nico Hischier takes a big step forward, and Jack Hughes finds his game after a bitterly disappointing rookie season - much like Leon Draisaitl and Joe Thornton - as a young, hungry Devils team secures an unlikely playoff appearance at the expense of the Capitals, who begin their downward trajectory behind an aging core.

Thomas Chabot averages nearly 30 minutes a game and wins the Norris Trophy (+2800)

It's not entirely outlandish, given he led the NHL with 26:00 TOI/G last season. Chabot is a workhorse, and his ice time has increased significantly each year he's been in the league. There was a stretch of 10 games from Dec. 17 to Jan. 11 in 2019-20 where he averaged 31:31 TOI, and the Senators took points from six of those contests.

Another jump in average ice time, coupled with a return to his 2018-19 point-scoring form on an improved Ottawa team, helps Chabot pull ahead of a loaded field to become the youngest player to win the Norris since former Senator Erik Karlsson in 2015 - also in his age-24 season.

Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, strongly believes in the power of the jinx, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

5 fearless betting predictions for the NHL season
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