The 2021-22 NHL season is officially underway and the Stanley Cup race is wide open. The Tampa Bay Lightning have won the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons and are looking to become the first team since the New York Islanders in the early 1980s to win three consecutive Stanley Cups.
Despite being the top team in the NHL in each of the past two seasons, the Lightning actually aren't the favorite to win it all this season. According to Caesars Sportsbook, the Colorado Avalanche open the season as the betting favorite at +550 odds.
"Colorado is a loaded team, so I'm not surprised to see Tampa behind them," Caesars Sportsbook Vice President of Trading Craig Mucklow said. "It's really tough to threepeat in sports, but Tampa just isn't getting the same action as the other top teams. They're just not a public team for some strange reason. Hockey has been so open on the futures historically, so the public is more likely to bet longshots."
The Avalanche were tied for a league-best 82 points with the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2020-21 regular season. Colorado fell short of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals as they were ironically eliminated by Vegas in the Second Round of the playoffs.
It's worth noting that the Lightning do have the second-lowest odds to win the Stanley Cup at +700. However, the 2021-22 season didn't exactly get off to the best start for the Lightning as they lost 6-2 at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
Per Caesars Sportsbook, the Lightning also rank outside of the top five in terms of teams with the highest total number of tickets and total dollars wagered for Stanley Cup futures bets. Tampa Bay has just five percent in each category, which is the sixth-highest percentage for both.
The Golden Knights are also one of the teams with the best odds. Vegas currently has +750 odds for winning the Stanley Cup after opening up alongside the Avalanche as the co-favorite at +550 odds back on July 5. Vegas opened up the 2021-22 campaign with a dramatic 4-3 win over the expansion Seattle Kraken on Tuesday.
Speaking of the Kraken, the NHL's expansion franchise opened with 100/1 odds of winning the Stanley Cup. According to Caesars Sportsbook, a Nevada bettor placed a $1,000 bet on the Kraken to win it all, which will pay out $201,000 if it comes to fruition. In addition, Seattle has the highest total number of tickets at 10 percent and the third-most in terms of total dollars wagered at eight percent.
"It's been somewhat similar to the Golden Knights' first season, the public is buying into the fairytale with the expansion team," Mucklow added. "Based off the Kraken's expansion draft, I think they're building for next year, but the public seems to think differently. But the liability for the Kraken is still nowhere near what it was for the Knights. The Knights had longer odds and they got the homer cash from locals while Seattle doesn't have legalized sports betting."
Finally, the Islanders lead the way in total dollars wagered at 15 percent among Stanley Cup futures. New York is the only team that has garnered a double-digit percentage in that category with the Avalanche behind them at nine percent.