Legal NHL Betting Sites
National Hockey League betting lines and odds are as old as the league itself, originating in Canada before being passed down to the United States during the early 1900s. Today, the league features 31 NHL teams, with the Vegas Golden Knights being the latest expansion club – a fitting addition due to the league changing its stance on legal hockey betting in 2018.
Our NHL betting guide was created to provide you with current hockey gambling information and suggestions on where to find the most trusted online sportsbooks for wagering on the NHL. Even more excitingly, betting on the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be a breeze once you understand the basic hockey playbook, so you won’t risk ending up in the penalty box – or getting boarded by the Zamboni! – when placing your wagers this season.
Coronavirus Update 2021
The 2020 NHL season was altered dramatically due to the coronavirus, and because the league concluded play so much later than usual in the calendar year, changes have been made to the 2021 schedule. The 2021 NHL regular season started on January 13 and is 56 games in duration (down from 82). There's also been a conference realignment to reduce extended travel, so smart bettors will need to take note of these changes.
Are Online NHL Sportsbooks Legal in the United States?
Offshore: Online sports betting is legal in the United States when the sportsbook is located outside the country and is licensed in the country where they reside, making each of the online sportsbooks listed here 100% legal, safe, and secure for residents of the United States (aged 18 and up) who wish bet on NHL lines and odds.
Domestic: When it comes to betting at NHL sportsbooks located within the US, the number of legal betting options is currently somewhat slim since only a handful of states have legalized sports betting to date.
Best NHL Sportsbook for USA Players
50% Bonus Up To $250
If you like betting on NHL hockey games, then you should see Bovada's NHL betting lines – and live line changes! Bovada offers tons of hockey odds and multiple betting types for practically every NHL game. In addition, you can also bet on period lines, team totals, props, futures, and more.
Bovada has been serving US bettors for nearly a decade now, offering Americans a trusted source for NHL betting. Below are some of the many reasons our team of industry professionals chooses Bovada over the other guys.
- Owned And Operated By The Bodog Brand
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- Player Vouchers Supported
- Fast And Reliable Payouts Guaranteed
- 50% Welcome Bonus Up To $250
- Other Services Include: Sports Betting, Horse Betting, Casino, Poker
- Only accepts players from the US
- Excluded States: NV, NJ, DE, MD
Top Legal NHL Betting Sites for the USA
National Hockey League - Format
The NHL has 31 professional hockey teams, and the league used to be split into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. However, with 2021, the league has been realigned, getting rid of conferences and going to four corporate-sponsored divisions.
Before realignment, the two conferences were split into two divisions each (which will likely be reinstituted within the next season or two):
- Eastern: Atlantic (8 teams), Metropolitan (8 teams)
- Western: Central (7 teams), Pacific (8 teams)
Typically, NHL team plays an 82-game regular-season schedule (56 games for 2021), and the 16 teams that score the most points during the regular season make the NHL Playoffs.
Points are awarded each game and are based on the outcome of the game:
- 2 points are awarded to the winning team in regulation.
- 1 point is awarded to both teams making it to overtime or shootout with an additional 1 point awarded to the winner in post-regulation.
- No points are awarded to a team for losing in regulation.
2021 NHL Realignment
The above league structure is typical, but due to the shortened 2021 NHL season, the league has "realigned" the divisions to limit travel between teams. The current NHL realignment is possibly temporary and believed to be for the upcoming campaign only:
- 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
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
For a typical Stanley Cup Playoffs, the eight best teams from both conferences are seeded into a double-sided bracket where points determine seeding, and the highest seed (No.1) plays the lowest seed (No.8) from each conference. (Due to the 2020 coronavirus outbreak and NHL hiatus, the 2019-20 NHL Playoffs boasted a unique 24-team field instead of the normal 16-team field, which is not being repeated for 2021.)
In the playoffs, each team plays a best-of-seven series, and the first team to win four games advances to the next round. After three rounds, the last team standing from both the Eastern bracket and Western bracket play the last best-of-seven series, the Stanley Cup Finals, to determine which team will be named champion of the NHL.
For 2021, since there are no conferences, the top four teams from each division will be reseeded based on their regular season points totals during every new round of the playoffs.
Betting on the NHL Playoffs is more popular than wagering on the league's various regular season games, and the postseason brings in many bettors who only wager on hockey during this time. Most sportsbooks cater to both NHL devotees and newcomers alike when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, giving their members lots of different and engaging game props that even casual fans can enjoy.
2021 NHL Season Schedule – Events and Important Dates
When betting on the NHL, it’s important to keep in mind when certain wagers will payout or when value can be found due to a lot of action coming in on a marquee event. The 2021 season is shorter than typical seasons, as it has been reduced from 82 games to just 56 games in an effort to get the league's typical schedule back on track after the disruptions of the COVID-stricken 2020 campaign.
Here are all the key dates for the modified 2021 NHL Season:
- 2021 NHL Regular Season Opening Day
- January 13
- 2021 NHL Winter Classic
- 2021 NHL All-Star Game
- 2021 NHL Stadium Series
- 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs
- Second Week of May
- 2021 Stanley Cup Finals
- Last possible day: July 15
- 2021 NHL Draft
- July 23-24
- 2021 Start of Free Agency
- July 28
Betting on NHL Game Lines – Puck Line and Money Line Explained
The two most common bets placed on NHL games is the puck line and the money line. Both lines work similarly to other sports with some minor exceptions.
NHL Puck Line
The puck line is the hockey version of a point spread given by sportsbooks on other sports, which is used to handicap the game to create a balanced number of bets placed on both sides with a roughly equal payout.
However, there are some major differences to keep in mind.
The NHL puck line is frequently set by an online sportsbook at -/+1.5 where the favorite (-) must win by 2 goals to win the bet, and the underdog (+) can win the game or lose by no more than 1 goal.
This is where betting on the NHL can turn out badly if you don’t know what you’re looking at because, in the example, Carolina is the perceived favorite to win the game but not by more than 1 goal over Chicago.
Since that’s the case, Chicago is actually the favorite for this puck line even though they are given the positive number for the underdog. The real favorite in a puck line is indicated by the odds in parenthesis and the amount required to bet (Chicago $180 to win $100, Carolina $100 to win $160)
Also, an NHL puck line typically never moves and if it does, it will always have a .5 to avoid a push. Instead, the odds will move instead to balance the action on either side
NHL Money Line
The NHL money line is straight-forward and exactly like that of other sports and may even be better than other points since the odds are typically super close.
A money line is a bet solely on which team will win the game with no handicap on goals scored. The -/+ odds will indicate which hockey team is favored and the difference will determine just how likely they are to win the game.
Taking the same betting line from Bovada that featured the puck line, we can see Carolina is favored as indicated by the (-) and a $175 bet would win $100 while a $100 bet on Chicago would win $155.
The most important takeaway is to know that the puck line and money line will essentially pick the opposite teams, which is different from other sports where they’ll be aligned with the point spread and money line showing a clear favorite and underdog.
Bets on the NHL are a bit different since games tend to be low scoring and close, but because the margin between the two teams is much smaller, then it means value can easily be found when a team is an outlier on your projected model.