NHL Futures Betting Advice and Picks: Hart Trophy Odds and Predictions
As we approach mid-December and every team has played around 30 games, I believe now would be a great time to take a look at the race for the Hart Trophy. We are at a point in the season where teams have established their identity and we are now fully aware of which players have taken that next step and have become the cornerstone of their franchise.
For those who don't know, the Hart Trophy is awarded to the "player judged most valuable to his team" - aka the most valuable player in the league. If you are familiar with the goings on in the NHL, the short list of Hart Trophy candidates will not shock you. But before we break down each of the Top 5 players in terms of odds, let's take a look at some of the trends to consider before placing down a futures bet.
As of writing this, there are no goaltenders or defensemen on the odds board. That shouldn't surprise you considering the fact that over the course of the last 15 years, only one time has the trophy been handed out to a non-forward. That was in 2014-15 when Carey Price dominated the league.
Another crucial factor to consider is the fact that the Hart Trophy is generally awarded to a player on a playoff team. Only four times in the history of the NHL has the Hart been awarded to a player on a non-playoff team, and it hasn't happened since Mario Lemieux won it in 1988.
Furthermore, the player who takes home the Hart Trophy will generally lead the league in goals or points or both. The only two post-lockout exceptions to this were in 2014 when Price won it (he's a goalie) and last year when Taylor Hall took home the award for the New Jersey Devils.
And lastly, I'm not sure if I buy into the "media bias" narrative, but the numbers indicate that nine out of the last 14 winners have been from the Eastern Conference. Maybe it's because the majority of the hockey media lives on the East Coast, or maybe it's just coincidence.
So, without further ado, here are the top-five Hart Trophy favorites.
All odds are courtesy of Bovada
Connor McDavid - Edmonton Oilers (+300)
McDavid is the best player in the NHL. If you hear otherwise, just respectfully disagree. McDavid will be vying for his second Hart Trophy in three years. And if he stays healthy throughout the entire season, McDavid will, in fact, take home the honors again. Look, the Oilers without McDavid would be among the worst teams in the league. He leads his team in goals, assists, and points, and sits fourth in the league in total points. One quick look at the lineup McDavid has to carry, and it's easy to see why he's the most valuable to his team.
Besides carrying his team, McDavid makes the highlight reels on a nightly basis. His speed, agility, shot and just overall hockey IQ is among the absolute best in the world, and we should be celebrating his play instead of bashing him and saying he's the best player on a terrible team. If McDavid stays healthy, he is the best bet to win the award.
Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins (+700)
Sidney Crosby has won the Hart Trophy only twice in his illustrious career. That is a bit surprising given all the other accolades he's won, including three Stanley Cups, two Conn Smyth trophies, and two Rocket Richard trophies. Sid "the kid" is no longer a kid anymore, as he is approaching age 32, but he can still elevate his game to the next level and dominate the opposition on any given night. The saying around the league is that if No. 87 is in the lineup, the Penguins have double the chance to win the game. Right now, Crosby is T17 in goals scored and not among the Top 20 in points, but if you take Crosby away from the Pens for an extended period of time, they would struggle mightily.
John Tavares - Toronto Maple Leafs (+1000)
John Tavares was the coveted free agent this past offseason, and as we all know he signed with the Maple Leafs. Tavares isn't exactly the flashiest of players, or the fastest, or the most skilled, but he is a leader and he is a proven point producer. On a team stacked with high-end talent, Tavares has done well to adjust to his new linemates, especially building a chemistry with Mitch Marner. Tavares leads the team with 18 goals but has played 30 games, whereas his teammate Auston Matthews has found the back of the net 16 times in just 16 games. Tavares won't exactly win a scoring title in his career, but his leadership is extremely valuable. And you could argue that without him and without the presence of Matthews for 15 games, the Leafs record could look very different.
Auston Matthews - Toronto Maple Leafs (+1000)
If McDavid gets injured (pray he doesn't), and Matthews misses no more games to injury, then Matthews would be my bet to secure his first Hart Trophy. He has taken his game to the next level, and his quick release shot is out of this world. If you just watch the Leafs with Matthews in the lineup and without him in the lineup, the product is night and day. Matthews brings a swagger to the Leafs, and he is arguably his most influential player because he forces teams to decide which line they want their checking line against - his line or the Tavares line. Matthews has 16 goals and 10 assists in just 16 games, and he just raises the compete level of his teammates when he is in the lineup.
Alexander Ovechkin - Washington Capitals (+1200)
And lastly, Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals franchise would be nothing without the Great Eight. He has single-handedly brought them back from a sluggish start to currently sit atop the Metro Division, and he is leading his team in goals and points. Ovechkin leads the league in goals, so if the trend I mentioned above holds true, Ovie has a very realistic chance at capturing the fourth Hart Trophy of his amazing career. It's hard to imagine a Capitals team without Ovechkin in the lineup as he has missed just eight games total since the beginning of the 2013-14 season. That's outstanding considering the style of hockey he likes to play.
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