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Legal NHL Betting Guide for 2021

NHL LogoThe National Hockey League (NHL) was the first professional sports organization in the US to embrace sports betting after the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned in 2018.

While other leagues were reluctant to align themselves with sports gambling, the NHL opened its arms to partnerships, bettors, and data tracking services. Now, more gamblers than ever are starting to "put their bets on ice," which is where our legal NHL betting guide for 2021 comes in.

With every new NHL season, there are more hockey betting options and NHL playoff odds than ever before. Below, we explain the legal options available to US bettors and offer our advice on the best US-friendly online sportsbooks. Our hockey betting guide will also explain betting options, how to read odds, and other important aspects of legal NHL betting.

Is It Legal To Bet On NHL Games?

Yes, it is! There are actually no US gambling laws that outlaw betting on sports from an individual point of view. Since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, there have been several states that have passed their own sports betting laws to allow for legal domestic operators.

Online sports betting sites that operate offshore are also legal because no federal laws ban their use, and only Washington has nominal laws preventing gamblers from betting real money online. These are historically unenforced, but we suggest that WA NHL bettors follow all local gaming laws.  

Best NHL Betting Sites

 Site NameCurrent BonusU.S.Visit Site
Top Rated #1 IconBovada Sportsbook50% Max $1,000USA Players Legally AcceptedVisit Site
2Betonline Sportsbook50% Max $1,000USA Players Legally AcceptedVisit Site
3MyBookie Sportsbook50% Max $1,000USA Players Legally AcceptedVisit Site
4BetUS125% Max $3,125USA Players Legally AcceptedVisit Site
5xbet logo100% Max $500USA Players Legally AcceptedVisit Site
6sports betting logo50% Max $1,000USA Players Legally AcceptedVisit Site

NHL Betting Odds – Who Will Win The Stanley Cup in 2021?

In 2020, the Tampa Bay Lightning were atop the preseason betting boards, and as the preseason favorite – despite the weirdest season in the history of professional sports – they actually won the league championship. When it comes to the 2021 Stanley Cup odds, or NHL playoff picture odds, however, the defending champs aren't quite at the top, with all teams buried by the Colorado Avalanche per the current hockey futures.

The following Stanley Cup odds are via Bovada Sportsbook:

Vegas Knights

🏒 Odds Provided By Bovada

  • Tampa Bay Lightning +130
  • Montreal Canadiens +150
  • New York Islanders +300

NHL Important Dates

Below are the important dates for the NHL 2021 season, which has been modified from its original format due to an accelerated offseason. Because of the massive delays in 2020, players will be back on the ice sooner than ever before, with the 2021 regular season hitting the ice on January 13. The following dates are necessarily TBA, as things could still change due to the coronavirus.

  • Season Opener: January 13
  • Trade Deadline: April 12
  • End of Regular Season: May 8
  • End of Playoffs: July 21
  • 2021 NHL Draft: July 23-24
  • Free Agency: July 28

There is no word on a date or format for the vaunted Winter Classic or the All-Star Game at this time, though this page will be updated whenever the information arrives.

2021 NHL Season And League Realignment

As a result of COVID-19, the effects of the 2020 season will be felt in 2021, as the NHL has released a truncated schedule and realigned the league's divisions. The biggest change is the fact that the 2021 season will be comprised of just 56 games, down from the usual  82 games.

In addition to the above, in order to limit travel, NHL realignment has settled on the following four divisions for the 2021 season:


  • Calgary Flames
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Winnipeg Jets


  • Boston Bruins
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • New Jersey Devils
  • New York Islanders
  • New York Rangers
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Washington Capitals


  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Dallas Stars
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Florida Panthers
  • Nashville Predators
  • Tampa Bay Lightning


  • Anaheim Ducks
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • Minnesota Wild
  • San Jose Sharks
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Vegas Golden Knights

2020 NHL Recap

After closing down league operations for four months during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the league restarted play on August 1. However, the season wouldn't be completed per its original schedule. Instead, the league put together a pair of Stanley Cup Playoff seeding/play-in tournaments among 24 of the NHL's 31 teams.

Upon resumption of league play, the top four teams in each conference participated in a round-robin tournament to determine playoff seeding. These teams already made the playoffs. For the 5th through 12th place teams in both conferences, each club played another club in a best-of-five series to determine their playoff berths, with matchups decided by regular-season points percentages.

At the conclusion of these two events, the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs were contested according to the usual formats and rules. And since 2020 wasn't weird enough, it's fitting that a team from Florida – the Tampa Bay Lightning – won the Stanley Cup Final in convincing fashion, beating the Dallas Stars in six games.

Why Should I Use NHL Online Sportsbooks?

Online sportsbooks offer the most convenience to bettors looking to bet on professional hockey games. In most cases, they also offer the most betting options, the best game lines, and lucrative bonus offers. We consider the online sportsbooks listed in this guide to be the best options for hockey bettors looking for action.

We base our suggestions on these sites' legal status, the quality of their performance, the fact that they can operate across state lines, their universal age requirement of 18+, and the fact that they offer tons of props, game lines, futures, and even NHL 21 sims. 

NHL Live Betting Lines

NHL live betting is fast becoming the most popular way to wager on the sport. With traditional betting, your picks are on ice at the opening faceoff, locked in and unmodifiable. However, live betting allows gamblers to make wagers all game long, as odds update in real time to reflect the action in the rink.

NHL live lines include puck lines (spreads), straight bets, totals, and various props, all of which refresh every few minutes. If you make a bad pregame bet and want to recover some losses, live betting is just the ticket. You can also make wagers based on injuries and other contingencies that change the odds, and doubling down on a good bet is possible with live betting, too.

NHL Mobile Betting

If you're looking for the best NHL betting app, you don't need to browse the App Store or Google Play. Instead, whether you're making iPhone hockey bets or Android hockey bets, you can simply visit any site listed here using your mobile device, and you'll be redirected to a responsive, customized mobile portal.

With touchscreen controls and a slick interface, you can crash the boards with the best of them, wherever you are. From the smallest smartphones to the biggest tablets, NHL mobile wagering allows avid gamblers to put money on their favorite players and teams anywhere, anytime.

Mobile NHL betting gives you access to pregame odds and live lines for every game on the calendar, and there's no geo-fencing, so you can bet from anywhere in the US or Canada at most reputable sportsbooks.

NHL eSports, Sims, And Virtual Betting

At the top online sportsbooks, you aren't limited to NHL betting as you know it. Lately, NHL eSports have really taken off, giving gamblers plenty of action between games and in the off-season. Additionally, the best betting sites also offer hockey sims to wager on, which is a distinct market from eSports.

NHL eSports – NHL eSports are video game competitions that use the NHL 20 and/or NHL 2021 software developed by EA Sports. These contests pit real professional gamers against one another, and you can wager on the outcomes of their games.

When betting, you must take into account not just the teams selected but also the skill levels of the human players running the show. With eSports hockey games, you can also participate in live betting, as the matches play out in real time.

NHL Sims – NHL sims are akin to eSports in that they use EA's NHL franchise of video games as the backbone for the games presented at offshore betting sites. However, there is no human component with NHL sims.

Instead, bettors get matchups using real teams, players, and stats per the NHL 20 or NHL 2021 software, and they make their picks on various outcomes using this real-world data. NHL sims tend to play out in real-time, allowing for live wagering opportunities in addition to standard pregame betting.

Virtual Hockey – Virtual hockey sims are not NHL sims. They don't use real teams, players, or historical data. Instead, hockey sim software involves a randomized (RNG) platform pitting fanciful or generic hockey teams against one another in computer-simulated virtual sports matchups.

You can bet on these, and contests last just a couple of minutes before wagering commences on the next batch of games. With hockey sims betting, you can wager on an entire season's worth of action in a single day at most betting sites, and games are played 24/7/365.

NHL Online Betting Options

When betting on NHL games, there are several different approaches a bettor can take. Game lines are one of the most popular markets to bet on, but you also have period lines, team totals, props, and futures betting options available.

Game Lines – Game lines feature spread, straight moneyline, and totals odds for each game. Winnings are determined by the odds and the amount of the wager placed. 

Period Lines – Period lines are similar game lines but are based off a single period of play. Period betting allows gamblers to wager on the spreads, straights, and totals for each individual period. 

Team Totals – Totals allow users to bet on the total number of points scored instead of a winner or loser. Totals refer to the combined score from both teams, and the bettor wagers on whether the total points scored will be over or under the lines given. 

Futures – NHL futures betting odds allows gamblers to bet on future outcomes, such as the 2020 Stanley Cup winner, division winners. conference winners, Art Ross Trophy winners, Hart Trophy Winners, and many more possibilities. Futures bettors generally get the best lines during the preseason or the offseason. 

Props – NHL props can be either player-related or team-related, allowing bettors to put money on single-game statistical performances, like how many points a player will score to how much ice time a line gets. Season prop bets are also available for individual teams, players, and more. Prop bets generally do not affect the outcome of the game and could include something like “will a fight happen in the first period?”

Parlays - Parlay betting is stringing multiple bets together to yield bigger winnings. You can place multiple bets on the same game, like a straight wager and over/under bet, or you can string different game line bets together in the parlay.

How To Read NHL Odds

There are three types of odds: Fractional, Decimal, and American. For the following example, we will discuss American odds, as they appeal to the majority of our readers.

American odds are presented as positive or negative odds. For positive odds, the (+) number represents how much you would win if you placed a $100 bet. The negative (–) number represents how much you have to wager to win $100. Below, you will find examples and how much wagers are worth based on the odds given.

For general sports betting questions, check out our FAQ page.

NHL Betting Guide: Tips & Tricks

The following tips and tricks are intended to make you more aware of betting possibilities and how you should approach professional sports betting. Hockey, like any other sport, is a game in which outcomes are unpredictable, so bettors must use their skills in determining the best NHL odds that will yield the most money. Below are some helpful tips to be aware of when betting on NHL lines.

NHL Betting Partnerships

Appropriately named NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is taking a new approach to sports betting by embracing the industry since there are so many states that have passed sports betting laws. So far, the NHL has committed to several sports betting partnerships which are set to fully begin in the 2019-20 season.

In 2018, the NHL inked a deal with MGM Resorts that includes access to the leagues in-development tracking system that uses sensors to track players and puck movements in real-time. The data system was previewed during last year’s All-Star Game and reports indicated the system could be fully functional for the 2019-20 season.

A few weeks later, the league announced its second partnership deal with FanDuel. This deal makes them the official daily fantasy sports partner of the NHL as well as an official sports betting partner.

In 2019, commissioner Bettman announced that the NHL had inked another multi-year deal. This time, the beneficiary was William Hill, making them the third official sports betting partner of the NHL. Commissioner Bettman went on to tell the press that this deal provides a tremendous opportunity for further fan engagement and that the league hopes to increase viewership across the sport.

In addition to these three NHL betting partnerships, several teams have also inked deals with bookmakers, giving them more rights to branding and exposure.

NHL Stadium Sportsbooks

As mentioned above, some teams and stadiums have partnered to bring the hockey betting experience closer to the fans. In 2018, the New Jersey Devils opened up William Hill betting lounges in the Prudential Center, where fans could follow the games and place bets.

In 2019, SugarHouse Casino followed suit after they inked a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center. The Las Vegas Knights were the first to ink a deal with William Hill, but so far, there are no betting centers. However, that could change now that other states are allowing sportsbooks at stadiums. 

Pro Hockey Resources: NHL Stats, Scores, and Streams

Below are useful links that can help you place an educated bet while keeping up with the live action that NHL hockey affords. These sites are guaranteed to have updated stats, scores, and injury reports. You will also find helpful ways to track scores and view livestreamed games. 

Live Scores:
Live Streams:

NHL News