A Look at Notable NHL Odds Shifts After Free Agency, Trades

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It was a rapid several days in the NHL world as the Tampa Bay Lightning were still celebrating their Stanley Cup victory while front offices across the league were in the war room preparing for the NHL Entry Draft and the opening of free agency which took place just days apart.

Now that the dust has settled somewhat, let’s see which teams have seen some notable odds swings – one way or another – since before free agency. Keep in mind that while we’ve seen some significant trades to this point, the offseason is still young and the chance for future odds-affecting moves remains.

*Previous and current odds gathered as an average from a variety of online sportsbooks

Notable NHL Stanley Cup Odds Swings After Free Agency, Trades

Buffalo Sabres

  • Previous Average Odds: +6033
  • Current Odds: +5000

The one-year, $8M deal the Sabres handed out to left winger Taylor Hall – the top free-agent forward available – has shortened Buffalo’s odds significantly. That said, the oddsmakers still don’t see Hall being nearly enough for the Sabres to not only snap their nine-season postseason drought but to march all the way to their first Stanley Cup victory in franchise history.

Hall and Jack Eichel will be a wildly difficult tandem should they skate on the same line this year, but the Sabres are paper-thin elsewhere among the forward ranks.

The Sabres did add veteran Eric Staal to center the second line and another veteran in Cody Eakin on the third group, but Staal is certainly on the back nine of his career and Eakin is a defense-first center at best.

The Sabres will need Victor Olofsson to continue his productive rookie ways from last season and for Jeff Skinner to rebound from a poor second tour with the Sabres to get the offense on track.

There’s pieces on the blueline including former No.1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, but as a group it’s subpar and with the Linus Ullmark/Carton Hutton duo remaining in goal (Sabres tied for 22nd with a .900 team save percentage last season) the back end seems to be a liability once again.

Detroit Red Wings

  • Previous Average Odds: +17000
  • Current Average Odds: +21667

No one is going to confuse the Red Wings – by far the worst team in the league last season – as a Stanley Cup threat, but this odds shift is rather puzzling.

After all, it appears the Red Wings are actually going to play with NHL players this season after signing the likes of Vladislav Namestnikov, Troy Stecher, Bobby Ryan, Jon Merrill and Thomas Greiss in free agency on top of veteran Marc Staal via trade.

I mean, none of these players would be considered game-breakers, but they do add the depth Detroit absolutely did not have last season, and gone is goaltender Jimmy Howard along with his 2-23-2 record, 4.20 GAA and .882 Sv% from a season ago. The Greiss/Jonathan Bernier tandem isn’t all that bad after both enjoyed quality seasons a year ago.

Also gone is Justin Abdelkader and his zero goals and three points from last season in 49 games.

The point here is the Red Wings have shed some wildly unproductive players and brought in some that can actually help their cause in their rebuild, yet their odds got lengthier, to my surprise.

Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Previous Average Odds: +1900
  • Current Average Odds: +1767

The Maple Leafs have certainly been among the busiest clubs this offseason and they have addressed to major needs already.

Kyle Dubas mentioned shortly before the opening off free agency that one of his goals was to get harder to play against, so he went out and brought in Wayne Simmonds and Zach Bogosian on cheap, one-year deals apiece. Both bring a physical aspect that’s greatly lacked in Toronto for some time along with plenty of experience for a young core.

Bogosian also addresses a need on the right side of the blueline, but the headliner of the Leafs’ offseason has been the addition of T.J. Brodie on a four-year deal in free agency. Brodie is a left shot, but largely played the right side in Calgary alongside Flames captain Mark Giordano.

Depth pieces were also brought in, most notably Joe Thornton who the team added Friday afternoon on a one-year, league-minimum deal. Dubas also re-signed another long-time NHL veteran in Jason Spezza to another league-minimum deal after impressing with the team a season ago.

The moves aren’t of the same eye-popping nature as perhaps Hall with Buffalo or Alex Pietrangelo with Vegas, but Dubas has certainly addressed two needs and added depth to a core that could be argued as perhaps the best combination of youth and skill in the league, and the books seemingly agree.

Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Previous Average Odds: +1900
  • Current Average Odds: +1767

The exact same shift as the Maple Leafs, the Penguins have seen their odds shorten among a series of moves from general manager Jim Rutherford.

Rutherford has pulled off a trio of notable trades so far. He dealt rugged winger Patric Hornqvist to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Michael Matheson, acquired speedy winger Kasperi Kapanen – a former Penguins first-round pick – for their own first-rounder this year while they also brought back Evan Rodrigues – sent to Toronto in the Kapanen deal – after the Leafs decided not to tender him a contract.

Rutherford also traded netminder Matt Murray to the Ottawa Senators for prospect Jonathan Gruden and a second-round pick in what can also be described as a salary cap-related move.

Finally, he added depth down the middle with Mark Jankowski after trading Nick Bjugstad to the Wild coming off an injury-filled 2019-20 season.

In other words, we have another new-look team on our hands and the Penguins have seen their 2021 Stanley Cup odds improve as a result.

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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.