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EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

Best bets for the 2021 NHL season

Auston Matthews scored a career-best 47 goals last season. Rick Madonik/Toronto Star/Getty Images

The 2021 NHL season is set to start on Wednesday, with the Tampa Bay Lightning beginning their Stanley Cup defense.

Senior NHL writer Greg Wyshynski, NHL writer Emily Kaplan and ESPN's Arda Ocal are here with their best futures bets before the pucks drop.

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, unless otherwise indicated.


Stanley Cup futures

Washington Capitals (18-1)

Kaplan: It's understandable why you might sleep on the Caps. They've looked stale after winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, lacking consistency and sometimes urgency. The Todd Reirden experiment did not work out. So the Caps went out and got a hard-ass coach in Peter Laviolette who should reignite this veteran group. GM Brian MacLellan also added to his blue line, and goaltending might get an upgrade with coveted prospect Ilya Samsonov finally taking the reins. The biggest reason to believe in the Caps: As Alex Ovechkin enters his age-35 season, it has never been more apparent that the Russian machine never breaks.