New Years Day is where the hockey season begins for a lot of people.
Sure, the NHL season two-and-a-half months old at that point, but when football season ends many turn their attention to the ice. The playoffs are around the corner, and as the weather gets colder the jockeying for seeding and those highly coveted playoff spots heats up.
Award winners will separate themselves as the games get more important, meaning now is the time to get those award futures bets in. Here’s a look at the 2021-22 Hart Trophy race.
NHL MVP Hart Trophy Odds 2022
Here are the top 19 betting favorites to win the 2022 Hart Trophy as of December 29, 2021. (Odds courtesy of Caesars)
- Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers (+140)
- Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton Oilers (+375)
- Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals (+600)
- Auston Matthews, C, Toronto Maple Leafs (+1000)
- Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche (+3000)
- Artemi Panarin, LW, New York Rangers (+3000)
- Mikko Rantanen, RW, Colorado Avalanche (+4000)
- Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers (+4000)
- Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Tampa Bay Lightning (+4000)
- Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks (+5000)
- Mathew Barzal, C, New York Islanders (+5000)
- Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche (+5000)
- Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Minnesota Wild (+5000)
- John Tavares, C, Toronto Maple Leafs (+5000)
- Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins (+5000)
- Mika Zibanejad, C, New York Rangers (+5000)
- Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins (+5000)
- Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Florida Panthers (+5000)
- Sebastian Aho, C, Carolina Hurricanes (+5000)
NHL odds are ever-evolving, but McDavid, the defending Hart winner, is a heavy favorite, as expected. Draisaitl, who won the award in 2020, is right there with him atop the NHL in points and as a favorite to win the trophy.
The Oilers have scuffled over the past month, and if their descent continues, voters will become more likely to deviate from the McDavid-Draisaitl train and and pick a dominant player on an elite team — a more valuable player — like Ovechkin or Matthews.
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Looking for a great-value Hart Trophy pick is easier at this point in the season. Star players on bad teams rarely garner Hart consideration, which eliminates Barzal and Hughes. Tavares, Huberdeau, Zibanejad, Rantanen and Makar will likely cede consideration to their star-caliber teammates.
Most potential Hart nominees have missed time due to the COVID-19 outbreak ravaging the NHL, so missed time won’t be the disqualifier it typically is. Still, Crosby missed the season’s first three weeks, and Barkov has had two prolonged absences, which would damage each player’s chances of winning.
- Read our NHL best bets.
Look also for the player whose stats are good but has been unlucky. MacKinnon, who was one of the preseason favorites (+650), has led the Avalanche’s offensive resurgence despite shooting less than 5 percent for much of the season. It’s safe to bet that won’t last for a full season.
2022 Hart Trophy Sleeper Bet Picks
Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Minnesota Wild (+5000)
Minnesota leads the Central Division, and Kaprizov is the Wild’s only star player, which makes him a tantalizing potential Hart Trophy pick, particularly given his odds.
Voters are increasingly drawn to the difference between a points leader and that team’s second place as a tangible metric of a player’s value to his team, which enhances Kaprizov’s chances. Kaprizov leads the Wild and is sixth in the NHL in points (36) and is 10 points ahead of second-place Ryan Hartman as of December 29.
Kaprizov has also been durable, playing in each of Minnesota’s first 30 games, and if he keeps producing and Minnesota remains solidly in postseason position, his odds will only get better.
Sebastian Aho, C, Carolina Hurricanes (+5000)
Aho is Carolina’s best player, and the Hurricanes have been arguably the best team in the NHL through the first two-and-a-half months, which will only boost his odds at winning the most valuable player award.
Aho leads Carolina in goals and points and is nine points ahead of second-place Teuvo Teravainen through December 29. Aho’s position, center, should also buoy his Hart candidacy since voters believe center is a more important position than wing.
The main issue with Aho’s candidacy is he plays in Carolina, a less visible market than places like Boston, Toronto and Chicago, so there is fewer media advocating for his value. Plus, if goalie Frederik Andersen continues to carry Carolina in goal — he had a 16-5 record with a 1.93 goals-against average and .930 save percentage through his first 21 starts — he could siphon votes.
Igor Shesterkin, G, New York Rangers (+6000)
It’s hard to believe Shesterkin’s odds are this long this far into the season. The Rangers have been one of the worst possession teams in the NHL, with the fifth-worst all-situation Corsi-for percentage (46.4) and sixth-worst Expected Goals-for percentage at 5-on-5 (46.6) as of December 29, according to Natural Stat Trick.
New York backup Aleksandar Georgiev has struggled, with a .902 save percentage and 2.87 goals-against average through his first 11 starts. Meanwhile Shesterkin was tied for second in the NHL in save percentage (.937) among qualifying goalies and ranks third in the NHL in goals-saved above average (14.3) as of December 29.
The only thing limiting his candidacy was a two-week stint on IR, but if Shesterkin continues to keep the Rangers afloat in the second half and down the stretch, you’ll start hearing his name as a Hart candidate.
2022 NHL MVP Futures Prediction
Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche (+3000)
I chose Panarin before the season but think Shesterkin is a better candidate from the Rangers at the moment. MacKinnon has been on a tear, despite his paltry shooting percentage and the fact he’s actually fifth on is team in points as of December 30.
MacKinnon had 14 points over a nine-game streak that coincided with Colorado’s 13-3-1 run before a COVID-19 outbreak caused a two-week pause to Colorado’s season. The Avalanche are still in fourth place in the Central Division, due mostly to the fact they’ve played the fewest games of any Western Conference team.
What’s more is there is a perception league-wide that MacKinnon is due to win the award. MacKinnon has been a finalist three of the past four seasons and finished second twice — many believe he was snubbed when Taylor Hall won the award in 2018.
If the Avalanche continue their ascent, and MacKinnon keeps his torrid offensive pace and starts popping in some goals, the perception will be he carried them to the playoffs and will be worthy of that long-awaited Hart win.
Whether it plays out like that, the value of a three-time Hart finalist like MacKinnon at +3000 is way too good to pass up.
Nathan MacKinnon: Win NHL MVP
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