Betting on the NHL Draft
by Richard Gardner | Bodog Sportsbook Manager - 6/23/2011
It’s only been a week since the Boston Bruins were hoisting the Stanley Cup and the city of Vancouver was being torn apart by rioters, but hockey fans can’t rest quite yet. There’s still Friday’s entry draft, followed by the free-agent frenzy on July 1.
At Bodog’s online sportsbook, we’ve posted a large collection of NHL draft props, with particular attention paid to the six Canadian teams.
The Edmonton Oilers will select first overall at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, and it’s expected they’ll use the top pick to take Canadian forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The diminutive 18-year-old piled up 106 points in 69 games this season with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. Which is to say, there’s no questioning his offensive talents.
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"He has elite vision, elite playmaking skills, elite goal-scoring ability, he's an elite offensive player," said one scout. "He has a lot of really special qualities that make every player on the ice better, not just him."
We’ve got Nugent-Hopkins as the -190 favorite to become the newest member of the Oilers organization, and so far most bettors have been putting their money on that option. The prevailing wisdom when it comes to drafting talent is to take the best player possible, regardless of position. You can always make roster adjustments later.
However, there are still those that believe the Oilers would be better off selecting Adam Larsson, the big Swedish defenseman. After all, Edmonton already has future offensive stars like Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Jordan Eberle. What’s currently lacking is a future No. 1 d-man.
"If you look at the Oilers' organizational depth on defence, it's not very good right now," hockey analyst Pierre McGuire said. "Larsson can dominate with the puck, play physically, has great composure and can take charge of a game."
And when you look back at all the Stanley Cup champs in the NHL’s modern history, practically every single one of them had a star defenseman. Case in point, do you think the Bruins would’ve beaten the Canucks in the final without Zdeno Chara? Tim Thomas was great in goal, but I don’t know if he could’ve been that great.
The two other candidates to be selected first overall are Swede winger Gabriel Landeskog (+1500) and Canadian center Jonathan Huberdeau (+2000), and as you can tell from those odds, their chances are slim of hearing their names called by the Oilers.
We’ve also set totals for the number of times a forward, defenseman or goalie is selected in the first round. The over/under for forwards is 19.5, while it’s 12.5 for defensemen and 0.5 for goalies.
If you’re looking for a high-probability, low-return option, try the under (-800) on the goalie option. Goalies rarely get selected early and there doesn’t seem to be one available this year that could be considered a franchise player. American John Gibson, who will attend Michigan next season, might have the best chance to go in the first round.
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