The countdown is on.
A weekend tweet from Larry Brooks of the New York Post stated that after an upcoming training camp, NHL teams will arrive in one of two hub cities by July 23 or 24. They’ll play one exhibition game before the postseason starts. And then, the NHL Playoffs will begin with qualifying rounds on July 30.
Fans of the Penguins, Flyers and hockey betting in general now have a clear timetable for the NHL’s return. If everything stays on schedule, hockey action will return in just over a month.
Let’s take a look at NHL futures and all the other pertinent information to get you ready for the league’s return.
Training camp begins July 10, futures odds are live now
As noted at SI.com, NHL training camps will begin July 10 in each team’s home facilities. Two weeks later, the teams will travel to one of two hub cities that have yet to be named. (That announcement is expected to be made within the next week.)
Brooks also reported that teams are allowed to have 30 skaters and an unlimited number of goaltenders at training camp. A total of 28 skaters and unlimited goaltenders will be allowed on each team’s playoff roster. Players on injured reserve are not expected to count against the limit.
Flyers, Penguins among top 10 favorites in futures betting
Although the NHL’s return is still a few weeks away, hockey futures are already live. Bettors can wager on the eventual NHL champion and also the winners of the upcoming play-in series.
At BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse and DraftKings Sportsbook, the Boston Bruins are the favorite to win the NHL’s title at +650. The Philadelphia Flyers are the sixth favorite at +1000 and the Pittsburgh Penguins are ninth at +1600.
FOX Bet has a boosted wager featuring the regional teams that pays out +450 if the Flyers, Penguins, Rangers or Islanders win the NHL Championship.
FanDuel Sportsbook has the Flyers at +850 and the Penguins at +1800, so bettors are wise to shop around for the best pricing.
Modified playoffs will feature qualifying round and pool play
This year’s version of the NHL playoffs will feature 12 teams from each conference, for a total of 24 teams. The top four teams from each conference will be grouped together in a round-robin or pool play competition to determine conference seeding for the remainder of the playoffs.
The Flyers are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference (based on points percentage when the season was suspended).
The remaining eight teams from each conference will face off in a qualifying round that is a best-of-five series. Those matchups and their pricing at BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse are as follows:
- Calgary (-125) vs. Winnipeg (+105)
- Carolina (-136) vs. NY Rangers (+110)
- Edmonton (-167) vs. Chicago (+135)
- Nashville (-139) vs. Arizona (+115)
- NY Islanders (-122) vs. Florida (+100)
- Pittsburgh (-180) vs. Montreal (+145)
- Toronto (-175) vs. Columbus (+140)
- Vancouver (-122) vs. Minnesota (+100)
Pennsylvania sportsbooks also have wagers available on the puck line–series outcome and the total games in the series. Daily fantasy players can also expect a number of contests at FanDuel and DraftKings when the NHL resumes. There likely will be additional promotions and bet boosts in the coming weeks as well.
Traditional Stanley Cup Playoffs will follow the qualifying round
After the initial pool play for the top seeds and the play-in qualifying rounds, the hockey playoffs will return to something resembling normal. Eight teams from each conference will compete in a bracket to capture the Stanley Cup. Each series will be the best of seven games.
So if everything goes as planned, a chaotic hockey season will end the way it always does: with a winning team on the ice, hoisting the Stanley Cup high into the air.
It’s the best-case scenario for all of us.