- The Vegas Golden Knights earned more money on a unit basis than any other team in the National Hockey League.
- Florida and Minnesota also earned double digit profits for their ‘financial backers’.
- The truncated NHL season began in mid January 2021 with only 56 games played in the regular season.
The 2020-2021 NHL season was that in name only since it didn’t begin until after the new year. The truncated 56 game regular season got underway on January 13, 2021 and ended in early May. The playoffs finally concluded on July 7 as the Tampa Bay Lightning won their second straight Stanley Cup.
Despite winning the Cup, the Lightning didn’t finish with the NHL’s best regular season record. They wound up with75 points, putting them in an 8th place tie with the Minnesota Wild. Including the Stanley Cup playoffs, Tampa Bay finished 51-27 for a 65.4% winning percentage. Due to their typically inflated pricing, however, that just earned Bolts’ bettors a negligible +2.6 unit profit. Congrats to Tampa Bay for winning the Stanley Cup but let’s take a look at the teams that excelled where it *really* matters–at the betting window:
NHL MOST PROFITABLE BETTING TEAMS END OF SEASON REPORT
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (+13.7 UNITS)
This is a tough one to figure. Typically, the teams that perform well at the betting window in any sport are those that don’t enter the season with particularly high expectations yet manage to perform better than anticipated. The second and third team on this list definitely fit into that category. The Golden Knights, however, didn’t sneak up on anyone. FanDuel had them installed as a +850 choice to win the Stanley Cup before the regular season started–the same price as the Tampa Bay Lightning and just behind the preseason favorite Colorado Avalanche (+650).
At this point, it’s safe to say that Vegas qualifies as a ‘public’ team. Even if they weren’t very popular among recreational players all over North America they’d be a heavily bet team just because of their location in the big gambling market of Las Vegas. They finished their regular season and playoffs with a record of 50-25 for 66.7%. Winning that many games it’s tough *not* to make money. They played in a brutally tough division with Colorado, Minnesota and St. Louis. For whatever reason, they were perceived as being on the level of the Avalanche until the end of their Western Conference Semifinal series. Maybe that had something to do with the dynamic Colorado betting marketplace–the Centennial State now has more than twice as many ‘outs’ as Nevada.
VGK played excellent hockey at home (27-8-3) and on the road (23-11-3). They were excellent defensively and during the regular season at least were potent offensively. Intuitiviely, you think that linesmakers would have caught up to the Golden Knights by now but no matter how you price them a team that wins nearly 70% of their games is going to make a profit.
FLORIDA PANTHERS (+12.6 UNITS)
The Florida Panthers, on the other hand, is the personification of a team that has little expected of them and manages to overachieve. They weren’t pegged to be a doormat but were priced at +4800 to win the Stanley Cup before the season began. That made them a decidedly mediocre co-twentieth choice along with the Winnipeg Jets. Instead, they played shockingly well in the regular season going 37-14-5 for 79 points giving them the fourth highest points total in the entire league. They actually finished with 4 more points than the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The Central Division was a very top-heavy division that had three very beatable teams (Nashville, Dallas and Chicago) and two doormats (Columbus and Detroit). The ‘division only’ scheduling format of the season meant that it was almost impossible for the Panthers to go on an extended losing run–if they did lose a few games it wouldn’t be long before Columbus or Detroit came to town.
Florida had a surprisingly potent offense (3.36 goals per game, tied with Washington for fourth best in the league) and a serviceable defense (2.70 goals against per game, tied for 9th best in the league). Despite having mediocre special teams this was enough to win them plenty of regular season games. They had the misfortune of having to match up with Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs and they lost that series 4-2. Despite the early dismissal, the Panthers have arrived and they won’t be sneaking up on anyone next year. They’ve been installed as a +1800 choice to win the 2022 Stanley Cup making them the seventh overall favorite behind Colorado, Vegas, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Boston and Toronto.
MINNESOTA WILD (+10.5 UNITS)
The Minnesota Wild may have been a bigger surprise than the Panthers. They definitely had less expected of them than Florida and would ultimately take Vegas to seven games in their opening round series. Despite playing in the tough West Division they finished third with a record of 35-16-5 and 75 points. Before the season, they were priced at +5500 to win the Stanley Cup. That is the same as Buffalo and tied them for 24th in the league. Unlike the Sabres–who managed to fall short of their meager expectations–the Wild shocked everyone as their youth movement began to flourish long before anyone expected. Minnesota took advantage of a strong home ice presence to go 21-5-2 at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild finished in a 7th place tie in the goals per games category putting up 3.21 per. That tied them with Tampa Bay and we know how things worked out for the Bolts this season. The team defense was just mediocre (2.84 GAA per game, #16 in the league) and the special teams are still a work in progress. They haven’t won over the betting marketplace quite to the degree that Florida has–the Wild are +2200 to win the 2022 Stanley Cup, tenth shortest odds in the league.