We are a little over three weeks into the NHL season now. All teams have played between five and eight games. While it's important not to overreact to small sample sizes in a sport ruled by variance, it's also important to keep tabs on what is going on.
Despite the limited amount of data, we've already seen some significant movement in the futures market at BetMGM. Betting futures are all about timing and getting the best number possible to increase your expected value. Which players and teams have seen the most movement in the market so far?
The biggest mover in the Stanley Cup winner futures market has been the Florida Panthers. Florida opened the season with 25-to-1 odds to hoist Lord Stanley, but those odds have been slashed all the way to +850.
The Panthers have been dominant to open the season, going 7-0-0. Many expected Florida to be among the better teams in the league, but I don't think anyone expected this level of dominance.
I wouldn't buy the Panthers at this price just yet as the organization might be on the brink of major changes. Joel Quenneville is meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday to discuss his involvement in the Chicago Blackhawks' (Quenneville's former team) sexual assault scandal in 2010. There's a growing feeling that this situation may cost Quenneville his job, which would leave the undefeated Panthers without one of the best coaches of all time.
Another team with notable movement is the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton opened the season with 28-to-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, but after their 5-1-0 start, those odds have been slashed in half to the current number of 14-to-1.
One market movement that makes no sense is the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina opened the season with 14-to-1 odds to win it all, have gone 5-0-0 to start the season, but their current price is 20-to-1. I don't mind adding the Hurricanes to my portfolio at these odds.
The Hart Trophy is given to the NHL's most valuable player, and there's little doubt who that is. Unfortunately, the odds reflect that reality.
Connor McDavid currently sits at just +145 to win the Hart, which is kind of an unreal price in October for a season-long award that won't be won until late spring. Nevertheless, McDavid is the favorite for good reason. Through six games, McDavid has seven goals and 15 points. He has multiple points in every game this season. McDavid opened the season at +300 to win the award and nearly 82% of the betting handle is backing him.
Alex Ovechkin might be 36 years old, but he's still one of the best players in the league. After opening the season with 35-to-1 odds to win the Hart, Ovechkin's odds are currently down to just 12-to-1. The Capitals' sniper has scored in all but one game this season and he's got eight goals in seven games.
One notable downward trend has been Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. While it's not common for goaltenders to win the Hart, Vasilevskiy is widely considered the best goalie in the sport. He opened the season with 14-to-1 odds to win the award, but that number has ballooned all the way up to 66-to-1.
Juuse Saros opened as a 35-to-1 shot to win the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender. However, he currently sits at just 20-to-1 after three weeks of the NHL season. Saros is a very good goalie and he's had a solid start to the season, but I'm not sure his Nashville Predators will be good enough for him to get the attention he deserves. He was underpriced at the start of the season and now feels more fairly priced.
Another mover in the Vezina market has been Rangers' goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin currently sits at 12-to-1 to win the award after opening the season at 20-to-1. The Russian netminder has been very good for New York, and it's off to a solid start this season. If the Rangers keep playing at a high level, Shesterkin could definitely be a candidate to win.
Detroit Red Wings forward Lucas Raymond is your current favorite at +450 to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's best rookie. Raymond opened the season with 20-to-1 odds, but he has four goals and eight points through his first seven games of the season. He currently leads all rookies in both categories. Raymond is definitely talented, but it seems like Detroit is slightly overperforming to open the season. Will Raymond be able to keep this up when Detroit comes crashing back down? Raymond has received over 34% of the bets to win the Calder.
Another notable line movement has been with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting. Bunting has gotten a great opportunity to play on Toronto's first line with Auston Matthews and William Nylander. He hasn't produced eye-popping numbers, but if he stays on that top line all season long, the points will come. Bunting opened the season with 35-to-1 odds to win the Calder, but his current odds sit at 16-to-1.
Jack Adams Award
The Jack Adams Award is given to the NHL's best coach. The current favorite to win the award is Quenneville at +500 after his Florida Panthers have gotten off to a 7-0-0 start. However, as mentioned earlier, I definitely would not bet Quenneville at this number, or any number for that matter, as there's growing pressure for the Panthers to relieve him of his duties after his involvement in the Blackhawks' situation. He's not going to win the award if he's fired. Even if he isn't fired, I have a hard time seeing voters rewarding someone who played a part in covering up an alleged sexual assault.
The main market movement early in the season has centered around Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. The Penguins are without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust, but they still have a 3-1-2 record through their first six games. Sullivan has kept his team afloat despite a string of injuries to his best players. Sullivan currently sits at 14-to-1 to win the award after opening the year at 50-to-1.