Betting on hockey used to be a niche industry, long before the Vegas Golden Knights owned the desert. There were a few sharp players and NHL wise guys who had the market cornered. Or at least thought they did.
Today, with the proliferation of legalized betting across the United States — 24 states and the District of Columbia all have sports betting — and more on the way, betting on NHL games has grown in popularity. It used to constitute less than 1% of a Nevada sports book’s handle. Today, it’s above 6% and climbing.
The emergence of the Vegas Golden Knights certainly contributes to the spike in betting on hockey. The Knights were one of the first NHL teams to strike an alliance with a sports betting entity when they joined forces with William Hill U.S.
The New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals also have deals with William Hill, which has a retail sportsbook at Capital One Arena in D.C.
An emerging popular bet is Season Point Totals. The books put up a number of how many points each NHL team will achieve in a season and you can wager whether the total goes over or under the prescribed number. The main positive is you have action every night your team plays. The negative is your money is tied up for seven months.
So where do the Vegas Golden Knights stand for the 2021-22 season?
At the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, the Knights’ SPT is 107 1/2 points. Only the Colorado Avalanche have a higher total at 110 1/2. The other teams with triple-digit SPT figures are the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs at 105 1/2 points each, the Boston Bruins at 104 1/2 points, and the Florida Panthers at 102 1/2.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Buffalo Sabres’ total is 63 1/2 points followed by the Arizona Coyotes at 66 1/2 points and the Anaheim Ducks with 71 1/2 points.
Here is the complete list for all 32 NHL teams’ Season Points Totals. Odds are from the Westgate:
Colorado Avalanche 110 1/2
Tampa Bay Lightning 105 1/2
Toronto Maple Leafs 105 1/2
Boston Bruins 104 1/2
Florida Panthers 102 1/2
New York Islanders 97 1/2
Edmonton Oilers 97 1/2
Minnesota Wild 97 1/2
Carolina Hurricanes 96 1/2
Washington Capitals 96 1/2
Dallas Stars 96 1/2
New York Rangers 95 1/2
Pittsburgh Penguins 95 1/2
Philadelphia Flyers 94 1/2
St. Louis Blues 93 1/2
Winnipeg Jets 92 1/2
Montreal Canadiens 91 1/2
Vancouver Canucks 90 1/2
Calgary Flames 90 1/2
Chicago Blackhawks 90 1/2
Seattle Kraken 88 1/2
New Jersey Devils 88 1/2
Los Angeles Kings 86 1/2
Nashville Predators 84 1/2
San Jose Sharks 80 1/2
Detroit Red Wings 76 1/2
Columbus Blue Jackets 76 1/2
Ottawa Senators 74 1/2
Anaheim Ducks 71 1/2
Arizona Coyotes 66 1/2
Buffalo Sabres 63 1/2
In looking at the totals, the Pacific Division has a wide gap between top and bottom. The Vegas Golden Knights’ next closest competitor is the Edmonton Oilers with 97 1/2 points, a 10-point differential. The Anaheim Ducks’ total points is 66 1/2, a difference of 41 points to the Golden Knights.
“The biggest advantage for the Golden Knights is it’s in arguably the weakest division in hockey,” said Chuck Esposito, the Director of Race and Sports at Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas whose Station Casinos property has the Knights at 106 1/2 points, second to the Avs’ 109 1/2. “There’s a huge drop-off to the second-best team in the Pacific.”
The Seattle Kraken total was 63 1/2 before the expansion draft. It has been bet up dramatically to its current 88 1/2. Those who bet the Kraken over 63 1/2 points in July might look to bet the under 88 1/2 points in the hopes of cashing both bets. It’s called “middling” because you can catch a number in the middle of the opening line and the closing line.
“In Seattle’s case, everyone’s comparing them to the Knights,” Esposito said of the Kraken, which is also listed at 88 1/2 at the Red Rock sportsbook. “It’s an unfair comparison. History tells us expansion teams don’t have a lot of success. But they are in a weak division and they have a higher Season Points Total than L.A., Anaheim and San Jose.”
The most interesting division in terms of SPT may be the Metropolitan. The New York Islanders’ 97 1/2 points is at the high end with the New Jersey Devils at the low end with 88 1/2. That’s only a nine-point gap for the eight teams top to bottom. It tells you that the sports books anticipate a highly competitive division. They still made the Isles the top number based on the team’s postseason performance, the return of captain Anders Lee and the resigning of key players from last year’s roster.
But beware. The Islanders will begin the season with a 13-game road trip before making their home debut Nov. 20 at their new UBS Arena at Belmont Park against Calgary. And knowing how hard it is to win on the road in the NHL, you may want to tread lightly if you like the Islanders’ total over.
As for the Vegas Golden Knights and their triple-digit total, expect the bulk of the wagering to be on the over 107 1/2 points. From Day One, the fan base in Las Vegas has supported the home team and it’s hard to imagine given the team’s prior success and the fact their division is going to include a multitude of games against Anaheim, San Jose and Seattle, the Knights figure to rack up a lot of points.
“We have more tickets written on VGK to win the Pacific than all the teams combined in the division,” Esposito said of the Golden Knights, who are an overwhelming 4-9 favorite. “But interestingly, we have more Golden Knights tickets under their total than over.”
Esposito said Red Rock has no real liability on any particular NHL team when it comes to Season Points Totals.
“We’ve taken some money on the Blackhawks since the (Marc-Andre) Fleury trade, but we’re in good shape overall,” he said.