2018 NHL Draft Props: Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
The NHL Draft starts on Friday, and this year it feels like a particularly important event. The certain top pick is a very special player. The talent behind him runs deep. A lot of teams have big needs, and there is a lot of desperation. The ingredients are there for a great couple of days. The draft has been more important than ever in recent years because players are readier to contribute at a high level early on, the league is getting younger and faster, and the salary cap has made young, talented and cheap stars very valuable. And the trade action has been very hot and heavy around the draft in recent years, too. To make things a little more interesting - especially if you don't spend much time watching 17-year-olds play hockey - let's look at some NHL Draft props for interesting value and some rooting interests:
Montreal Pick at No. 3?: This draft starts at No. 3 this year. Rasmus Dahlin, a Swedish defenseman, has been a stone-cold lock for the top pick for years, and he has a chance to be a generational player like Connor McDavid is. And Russian winger Andrei Svechnikov is all but certain to be the second pick. But at the third slot there are probably five guys Montreal could pick without taking too much grief - wingers Brady Tkachuk and Filip Zadina, center Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and defensemen Noah Dobson and Adam Boqvist. And others - like University of Michigan defenseman Quinn Hughes - could be in play, too. This draft is as wide open after the top two as I remember - and not because there is a lack of talent by any means. And then there is the possibility that Montreal could make a trade - they have been active already this offseason, and they have more needs than one guy can fill. The buzz seems to be that Kotkaniemi is the guy they are circling most. He is the +250 favorite, and it's hard to argue with that too much. Chances are decent, though, that they could drop back a couple of spots and still get their guy, so if some other team is itching to get a particular guy then they could be willing to listen. A trade is at +450, and that's intriguing.
Ottawa Pick at No. 4?: Ottawa is an absolute tire fire right now, and they were fleeced like I have rarely seen a team get fleeced earlier this week in a trade. If you missed it, they traded away problem player Mike Hoffman to San Jose in exchange for a problem contract, and then the Sharks immediately flipped him to Florida for a generous return. Ottawa had reportedly talked briefly to Florida but was uninterested in trading in their division. Awful. They need to hit a home run here to wash away some of the bad taste of that deal and the whole offseason. The good news for them - of sorts, anyway - is that they have so many problems and needs that they can truly pick the best guy and make him fit. Filip Zadina, a Euro winger who played in Halifax this year, has massive upside and would be a good choice. He's the +200 favorite and a good bet. They could also be shopping for a defenseman because all-World defender Erik Karlsson is likely headed out of town - perhaps even this weekend. Two choices make sense. Boqvist is at +250, and Dobson is, somewhat surprisingly, just part of the field at +400. I assume they will take the best available, though, and that means Zadina.
Centers drafted in first round - "Over/Under" 9.5: Along with defensemen, centers are the guys that can make or break a team. Any team that goes on a deep run surely has a top-level center or two driving the offense. It's an odd year because there could be only one center in the top 10 this year - Kotkaniemi is a lock, but no others are certain. After the top 10, though, they should start flying off the board. There is not a lot of value in this number. There are 10 guys who are in my first round, but two of them also play the wing, so it depends on how they are classified. The under is favored at -130, and if you want to play it that's where to be.
Defensemen drafted in first round - o/u 12.5: A top pairing defenseman is so crucially important and so hard to find. They can take a long time to develop, so teams are always happy to add as many as they can and hope one works out. There will be a lot of defensemen off the board, but this number still feels a little aggressive. I have 12 d-men on my board, so the under at -135 is the more likely outcome. There isn't massive value here, though.
Number of Europeans in first round - o/u 11.5: We know that there are going to be Europeans taken with the two picks for sure and possibly the third and fourth picks, too. It's a very strong year from overseas. The over is at +105, and I am pleasantly surprised. I can see 10 Europeans in the top 20, so it doesn't take too many in the next 11 to go over. The number could be 15 or 16, so there is lots of value here. This is the best bet on the board.
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