Odds for all 32 teams to make/miss the 2022 NHL playoffs
With the dust settling on a chaotic offseason and the new season still a couple of months away, oddsmakers have released the opening lines for teams to make or miss the playoffs.
The Colorado Avalanche (-4000) are considered the likeliest team to qualify for the postseason by oddsmakers, while the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, and Ottawa Senators (all +1500) have been dubbed least likely.
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+1200||-2500|
|Detroit Red Wings||+1200||-2500|
|Los Angeles Kings||+215||-265|
|New Jersey Devils||+160||-190|
|New York Islanders||-300||+235|
|New York Rangers||-150||+130|
|San Jose Sharks||+250||-320|
|St. Louis Blues||-180||+155|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-2000||+1000|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||-1200||+750|
|Vegas Golden Knights||-1600||+900|
The Atlantic is commonly referred to as the NHL's best division, but it should more reasonably be considered the league's most top-heavy. Just six teams have odds of -475 or shorter to make the playoffs, and four hail from the Atlantic - the Bruins (-650), Panthers (-475), Lightning (-2000), and Maple Leafs (-1200).
Only the top three clubs in a division qualify automatically for the postseason, with the rest fighting for the conference's two wild-card spots, so it could be worth taking a flier on one of the four big favorites to miss the playoffs at long odds. But the best value appears to be on the Canadiens to miss the postseason (-200). Despite an impressive run to the Cup Final last season, it's hard to see the Habs - now thin down the middle and worse on the back end - unseating any of the four teams listed above.
While the Atlantic is the most top-heavy division, the Metropolitan is the most open-ended. Six of the eight teams are favored to make the playoffs, with the Devils (+160) not too far off, either. The Metro is shaping up to be a gauntlet, in which the top seven teams could finish in just about any order and it wouldn't be considered a shock.
The Metro houses the two clubs with the longest active playoff appearance streaks in the Penguins (15) and Capitals (7), but those could be in jeopardy this campaign as there's value on betting both to miss the postseason. Pittsburgh (+210) failed to address its goaltending issues, and Washington (+130) owns the league's oldest roster. With the Hurricanes and Islanders still boasting very strong lineups, and the Flyers, Rangers, and Devils all considerably improved, the Penguins and Capitals have their work cut out for them this season.
The West's toughest division is led by the Avalanche, viewed by oddsmakers as the league's biggest postseason lock and one of five teams from the Central projected to reach the playoffs. The Wild (-320) have the next shortest odds, but the Kirill Kaprizov contract still needs sorting. Minnesota benefitted last season from playing in a top-heavy West Division and isn't as big a lock as this line suggests, especially in a deep field.
The Stars were always going to be better simply by having greater injury luck, but some smart offseason signings have them trending toward a return to the playoffs. The Blues are primed for a bounce-back as well, while the Blackhawks are drastically improved and will undoubtedly push for a top-three finish. It leaves the Jets in a vulnerable position, though they did really well to strengthen their blue line. And in front of Connor Hellebuyck, that will be enough to keep them in the mix.
By far the league's weakest division, oddsmakers expect just three Pacific teams to reach the playoffs. The Golden Knights are the division's runaway favorites, while the Oilers and Kraken round out the top three. The latter two still have serious question marks heading into the 2021-22 season, with Edmonton weak on the blue line and in goal and Seattle thin at center.
Two teams warranting playoff consideration are the Flames (+115) and Kings (+215). Calgary made a few really smart moves this offseason and will be much improved after a lost 2021 campaign, while L.A. is strong down the middle and has an exciting crop of young players coming through to complement its veteran core. In the weak Pacific, both have a realistic shot at finishing inside the top three or at least stockpiling enough points against the division's bottom-feeders to secure a wild-card berth.
Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.