HomeThe Shuffle2021-22 NHL Early Season Storylines

2021-22 NHL Early Season Storylines

Just a few weeks in, and lots of intriguing storylines are already shaping the 2021-22 NHL season. Starting with the Eichel trade.

Less than a month into the NHL regular season, and we already have a blockbuster trade with the potential to change the hockey landscape. What are some of the biggest storylines from the season’s first few weeks?

Sabres’ Eichel Bounced to Vegas Golden Knights

It didn’t take long for the Buffalo Sabres to give up on this NHL season. Twelve games into the regular season, the Sabres have about 12 points to show for it, and are destined for the bottom of the standings again this season.

Team captain Jack Eichel was sidelined for back surgery, then disagreed with the Sabres’ front office about which procedure to get. That caused a rift, and eventually the team traded its star center to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Vegas was one of the few teams to approve the artificial disk replacement surgery Eichel prefers. The Golden Knights traded for him, and now await his recovery. When Eichel returns, he could be the missing link that puts the Knights back in the Stanley Cup Finals. This is the kind of gamble you only see in Las Vegas.

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Florida Panthers Lead In Points Behind Goalie Duo

It’s been a very interesting dynamic in the crease this season for the Florida Panthers. Veteran goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has shared the load almost 50-50 with rookie Spencer Knight. Both goalies have gotten the job done so far, as the Panthers sit atop the NHL with 21 points via a 10-2-1 record.

Knight’s development will be worth watching over the course of his rookie season, as opponents learn how to undermine him. But for now, the shared workload has worked to near-perfection for the Panthers. It could be the spark they need to maintain their role as a top team in the Eastern Conference this season.

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Anderson Leads Carolina to 10-1 Start

Just below the Panthers on the NHL’s standings list are the Carolina Hurricanes (10-1-0, 20 pts). And like the Panthers, they have gotten there largely due to tremendous goaltending. Frederik Anderson is the main starting goalie here, and he’s off to a 9-1-0 start. If he keeps it up, Anderson will be a strong candidate for the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender at season’s end.

Carolina has also had a very efficient offensive attack, led by wingers Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho. As a result, this team is looking much improved from a year ago.

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Seattle Kraken Unable to Mirror VGK Early Success

Hopes were high that the Seattle Kraken would be as successful in its first season as an expansion team as the Vegas Golden Knights back in 2017-18. That theory has already been disproven.

The Golden Knights immediately dominated in their first season, eventually going all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. But Seattle is off to a 4-8-1 start in its first 13 games, for a grand total of nine points. The Kraken are a bottom-five team in the NHL, and may be headed for a high draft pick instead of a high seed in season one.


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The NHL season is off to an exciting start, so expect the unexpected from here on out. Keep an eye peeled for more curveballs and use the trends to make some money.


Team Odds
Colorado Avalanche +600
Florida Panthers +800
Tampa Bay Lightning +850
Vegas Golden Knights +1000
Edmonton Oilers +1200
Toronto Maple Leafs +1200
Carolina Hurricanes +1400
Boston Bruins +1600
St. Louis Blues +2000
Minnesota Wild +2200
New York Islanders +2200
Calgary Flames +2500
Pittsburgh Penguins +2500
Washington Capitals +2500
N.Y. Rangers +2800
Philadelphia Flyers +3500
Winnipeg Jets +4000
Dallas Stars +5000
New Jersey Devils +5000
San Jose Sharks +6600
Los Angeles Kings +8000
Nashville Predators +8000
Seattle Kraken +8000
Vancouver Canucks +8000
Columbus Blue Jackets +10000
Montreal Canadiens +10000
Chicago Blackhawks +12500
Detroit Red Wings +12500
Buffalo Sabres +15000
Ottawa Senators +15000
Anaheim Ducks +20000
Arizona Coyotes +25000

Odds courtesy of BetMGM. Subject to change.

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Justin Epifanio is a sports journalist who studied TV and digital media at Montclair State University, and majored in sports broadcasting and journalism. Justin is a sportsbook writer at Rivers Casino Philadelphia (formerly SugarHouse). In addition to iGamingPlayer, Justin has contributed to online publications including WiredJersey.com, SportsArePhilly.com and Great.com.

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