Once seen as a sport for those in the colder parts of the United States and Canada, today the National Hockey League (NHL) is one of the largest sporting events in North American sports. Add in the growing number of fans across Europe, too, and it’s easy to see how hockey has become such a well-respected past-time in the last few years. Without doubt, it has grown to be one of the largest sporting events in the world – but how does one go about involving themselves in NHL betting?

Is it as confusing as it might first appear?

In this article, we’re going to break down the essential details that matter to someone looking to part in NHL betting as a whole. It can seem quite confusing, especially if you are not used to placing bets on this kind of sport. With the following information, though, you should feel much more comfortable about the prospect of placing a bet on this particular sport.

The NHL is a major part of the US sports calendar, so let’s look at how you can use its popularity to bet on it.

NHL History

The NHL has a long history, and is easily the largest hockey league in the world. It’s become a league with plenty of big clubs, with 31 teams split across the United States and Canada. The league itself has been running since just before the First World War, as it was formed in 1917. The people of Montreal can lay claim to the starting of the entire league, with a starting quartet of teams all hailing from Canada.

The first team from America to join up was the Boston Bruins, who started playing as part of the NHL in 1924. Split across East and West conferences as most US and Canadian sports are, this allows teams to play in a geographical proximity that is realistic and suitable. In a single season, running from October to April, teams will be playing around 82 games in the normal season followed by the play-offs.

The history of the league itself has grown massively since its humble beginnings, though it’s quite paradoxical to look at the geographical representation. Having started with four teams, today Canada has just seven of the thirty places to themselves. However, the Montreal Canadiens are by far and away the best team across NHL history, with a whopping 23 Stanley Cup wins since it was first formed.

Up next are the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have a 13-Stanley Cup haul in the trophy cabinet. Out of the 30 teams involved today, 18 have won the coveted trophy – with a third of them being one-time winners. Retaining the famous trophy is the hardest thing to do, though, with the last team to keep the Stanley Cup being the Detroit Red Wings, who done so back in 1998.

The league has had many stars, with Wayne Gretzky being the NHL all-time scorer, scoring 1,016 goals across regular and play-off season games.

NHL Betting History

Like most sports in North America, the NHL and gambling have a rather confusing relationship. Gambling has long been a major problem in professional US sports, and it’s become even more of a talking point in the last few years. As many people look to either deny the prevalence of gambling in the US system or pretend like it does not exist, the rules have changed time and time again.

Gambling and betting in the USA have a long and complex history; more complex still when you factor in that Canadian betting laws are different again. However, while other sporting leagues have often stuck to the conservative approach to gambling, the NHL has often tried to open up new doors and innovate on the gambling scene. Often falling behind other leagues in terms of commercial decisions, one place where the NHL has often been ahead of the curve comes to gambling.

Indeed, the sport itself has a rather rich history with gambling. In 2006, the season was blown apart by the revelation that Arizona Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet was part of a gambling ring. However, given the odd relationship between the NHL and gambling, it was less of a scandal than it would have been in other sporting environments.

In the 90s and on, the NHL has enjoyed a rather unique relationship with Las Vegas. They held their first ever outdoor match-up in 1991 in Vegas, when the LA Kings played the NY Rangers. Since then, events and annual award events have headed to Vegas. It was a show that, for the NHL, the sports gambling side-issue was just that – a side issue.

The Vegas Golden Knights are pretty conclusive proof that there is an appetite for NHL gambling in the city and across the USA. Nationwide sports betting became a legal practice around about the time of the Knights formation, and it coincided with both New Jersey and Nevada getting their own NHL teams – coincidence?

With the NHL in a league-wide partnership with sportsbook giant William Hill, it’s safe to say that betting is on the up in the league. Sports betting is now part of the process for most fans who like to have a flutter, and this is no more effectively shown than with the 38% increase of betting during last seasons of NHL with betting legalised.

Betting possibilities for NHL bettors

Of course, anyone thinking about having a bet on an NHL match needs to have a good idea of what they are actually doing. There is a fair amount to think about when it comes to NHL betting, but you have some key terms you should look to understand first and foremost.

Usually, you have the choice to either bet prior to the match starting, betting live during the match, and betting on single/multiple games at one.

For example, what are the major betting types and betting possibilities for NHL bettors?


The most common form of betting on the NHL is known as moneyline betting. This is a process that means that you place a simple bet on a team with the intention of them to win outright. However, you also get what is known as an alternate line, which means you bet on who will win and when. So, will they win it in regulation time? Overtime? A shootout? How do you think they will go on to win it?

This is the most common form of betting for most NHL bettors out there looking to try out the sport for the first time.

Puck Line

Another common NHL bet would be a puck line bet, which is very common today. It’s similar to the above, except that you need a team to either win by 1.5 goals or lost by 1.5 goals. This means that it matters not only who wins, but by how many they win by, adding a new layer of complexity to the match-up.


A very popular form of betting for most players is the Over/Under market. Over/Under markets tend to be quite varied, and usually cover how many goals will be scored/not scored by the two teams combined. This allows you to really go for it and choose if you think it’ll be a high scoring game or a low scoring bore effort.


A good choice for lots of NHL punters would be parlay betting. Push betting is basically about choosing two or more kinds of bet types from the same game, or across multiple games. They tend to be very high risk, but massive rewards will be waiting for you if you manage to pull this particular bet off.


Simple enough to use, teaser bets will allow you to enjoy a much simpler and easier experience. You can buy or sell goals on a puck line or a total bet to try and get better odds. Or, you can use a teaser to make your odds more probably of coming true albeit with lesser rewards for being right.


Common in many US sports, future bets means that you bet on a team to do something in the future It could be anything from regular seasons points totals to finishing dead last though to winning the Stanley Cup outright. Basically, you are betting on a team or a player to achieve something in a set period of time in the future.


Prop betting is becoming very popular today, and it’s all about using a single-game bet on  a particular player. Basically, you would be betting on a player scoring X goals, taking Y shots, making Z saves – that kind of thing. Basically, what do you think a player is capable of doing in the upcoming match?

Keep these simple ideas in mind, and you should have no problem at all in winning some pretty big and impressive bets on the NHL. It’s a hard league to bet on at times, but the above should make it a bit easier to bet on for you moving forward. Best of luck, and happy playing!