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NHL Central Division Odds: Bolts the Clear-Cut Faves

Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy gather after a Tampa Bay Lightning win.

The Central Division has been around in the NHL since 1993, but it’s going to have a very different look in the 2021 season. 

As a result of travel restrictions presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Central will feature only three holdovers from the previous group, with five new teams being introduced.

So, which teams have the best odds to win the Central Division? At online sportsbook Bovada, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the +125 favorites, followed by the Carolina Hurricanes (+350), Dallas Stars (+500), Columbus Blue Jackets (+800), Nashville Predators (+750), Florida Panthers (+1000), Chicago Blackhawks (+2500) and Detroit Red Wings (+5500).

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NHL Central Division Odds

Odds to Win the 2021 Central Division
TeamOdds
Tampa Bay Lightning+125
Carolina Hurricanes+350
Dallas Stars+500
Nashville Predators+750
Columbus Blue Jackets+800
Florida Panthers+1000
Chicago Blackhawks+2500
Detroit Red Wings+5500

Odds as of January 13 at Bovada

Bolts Will Be Tough To Catch in Central

The Central Division is one of the more interesting divisions in the league this year based on the wide variety of teams it’s featuring. The defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning find themselves in the same group as the Stars, the team they beat in the final – an unprecedented situation itself.

Tampa Bay didn’t have long to celebrate its triumph before running into major salary cap issues, causing the Bolts to not bring in any additions in free agency. Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Bogosian and Carter Verhaeghe departed the club in the offseason.

No team in the Central can come close to matching the Lightning’s talent, even with Nikita Kucherov out for the season. Steven Stamkos is healthy and rested, while Brayden Point is ready to step into the leading scorer’s role. The newly signed Anthony Cirelli looks like the real deal, while Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy are superstars in their own right.

Don’t be surprised if Tampa’s odds to win the Central dip into minus money soon. If you’re keen on backing them to win the division, bet them now while you still can in plus money.

Blue Jackets Have Long-Shot Appeal

Anything can happen in a shortened 56-game season, so don’t count out some of the lesser-talked-about teams in the Central. The Blue Jackets have been known to go on hot streaks – especially down the home stretch of the campaign – in the John Tortorella era, and it could happen again in 2021. 

Max Domi was brought in to jump-start the offense and Pierre-Luc Dubois is armed with a new deal. Seth Jones is an anchor on the blue line and the goaltending combo of Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins is one of the most underrated in the NHL.
 
It’s far from a lock, but the Jackets are much better than their +800 price to claim the Central bragging rights. You could do far worse as far as long-shot bets go.