The NHL regular season begins on Friday with a pair of regular season games in Prague to open things up over the weekend. The North American part of the schedule begins on Tuesday. We're less than a week from real, meaningful hockey returning to our lives.
At BetMGM, you can bet on which player you think will win all of the major end-of-season awards. Which players are the favorites and which players are receiving the most betting action ahead of puck drop?
McDavid is a popular favorite to win MVP
Last season, Connor McDavid led the NHL with 123 points. He finished second in MVP voting behind Auston Matthews. In 2021, McDavid once again led the league in points. That year, he was rewarded with the Hart Memorial Trophy.
Overall, in his seven year career, McDavid has led the NHL in scoring four times. He has won the Hart twice and finished top five in voting four other times. In other words, if McDavid is healthy, he'll be in the MVP race until the bitter end.
It's no surprise to see the Edmonton Oilers' forward as the betting favorite to win MVP at +300. What is surprising is how much of the money is backing him to win the award. Overall, 71.1% of the betting handle is on McDavid to win the award. Cale Makar has the second highest handle at 12.8%. Makar has the eighth best odds to win MVP at 15-to-1.
Auston Matthews won the MVP last season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs' center has the second best odds to win it this year at +450. He's currently the fourth most popular bet to win the award at BetMGM, receiving 5% of the betting action.
Other names in the top ten of most popular MVP bets include Nathan MacKinnon (10-to-1), Kirill Kaprizov (14-to-1), Jack Eichel (25-to-1), Aleksander Barkov (16-to-1) and Igor Shesterkin (18-to-1). Leon Draisaitl has the third best odds to win the award at +650, but the Oilers' forward is only the 16th most popular bet, behind players like Alex DeBrincat (100-to-1) and J.T. Miller (150-to-1).
Jacob Markstrom is a popular Vezina bet
Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers was far and away the best goalie in hockey last season, leading all goaltenders in save percentage, goals saved above expectation and goals against average. On his back, the Rangers went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Shesterkin won the Vezina in runaway fashion.
Shesterkin opens the 2022-23 season as a massive favorite to repeat as the best goalie in the league. Currently at BetMGM, Igor is +250 to win the Vezina. Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay (+550), Ilya Sorokin of the Islanders (+800) and Juuse Saros of Nashville (+900) are the only other goaltenders with better than 10-to-1 odds.
However, with the volatility of the goaltending position, it makes sense that bettors are looking a little further down the list when placing their bets.
The most popular Vezina bet at BetMGM currently is Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames. Last season, Markstrom finished 3rd in goals against average, 4th in save percentage and 6th in goals saved above expectation. With Darryl Sutter behind the bench in Calgary, you can bank on solid defensive structure in front of Markstrom. That makes Markstrom to win the Vezina at 20-to-1 an intriguing value. Bettors agree, as he's received almost 14% of all bets.
The second most popular bet to win the award is Jake Oettinger of the Dallas Stars. Oettinger almost single-handedly won Dallas a playoff series against Calgary last year, but fell just short in overtime of Game 7. Even with the loss, it was one of the best goaltending performances you will see in a playoff series. Oettinger is just 23 years old, so it's not a stretch to think he will continue to improve. Oettinger is 18-to-1 to win the Vezina.
Other popular bets to win the award include a bunch of goaltenders who changed teams. The third most popular bet is Alexandar Georgiev (40-to-1), who was acquired by Colorado in the offseason to replace Darcy Kuemper. Speaking of Kuemper, he's 25-to-1 to win the Vezina for the Washington Capitals this year and he's the sixth most popular bet. Matt Murray (40-to-1), Ilya Samsonov (150-to-1) and Jack Campbell (20-to-1) are also in the top ten most popular bets.
Can Makar repeat as the Norris winner?
Cale Makar won the Norris Trophy for his regular season in 2021-22. He followed that up by winning the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP as his Avalanche went on to win the Stanley Cup. The real question entering the 2022-23 season is how quick will it be before voters tire of Makar. He's just 23 years old and already one of the very best players in the league. It's hard to make the case that there's a better defenseman in the NHL. Theoretically, he could win the Norris every year for the next 10 years and nobody would be surprised.
Makar enters the 2022-23 season as a +130 favorite to win the Norris Trophy, which is given to the league's best defenseman. Opening the season as a near even-money favorite to win an award tells you all you need to know about Makar. He's dynamic offensively, pushes play into the offensive zone regularly and when he is forced to defend, he does so adequately enough. Currently at BetMGM, 88% of the money is on Makar to win the Norris again this season.
Roman Josi was the runner-up to Makar in voting last year. Adam Fox won the award in 2021. Both are +650 to win the award entering the season. Victor Hedman has finished top-three in voting six straight years, winning the award once in 2018. Hedman is +850 to win the award. Charlie McAvoy is 10-to-1 to win the Norris, but he's expected to miss the first two months of the season, which makes that price entirely unappealing.
If you're looking for value, a younger defenseman might tickle your fancy. Moritz Seider (20-to-1), Thomas Chabot (66-to-1), Miro Heiskanen (20-to-1) and Quinn Hughes (20-to-1) are all in the top eight most popular bets.