Best bets for the Hart, Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Norris, Vezina and Calder Trophies

Rory Boylen
By: Rory Boylen
Sep 23, 2014

Alex Ovechkin (Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News


Best bets for the Hart, Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Norris, Vezina and Calder Trophies

Rory Boylen
By: Rory Boylen
Sep 23, 2014

Bodog released odds for each of the major individual NHL awards, so we break down who we think are the best bets, who to consider from off the board and who you should stay away from.

Hockey is in the air. Pre-season games are on the TV, jerseys for the Winter Classic are being released, Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel has been at the center of a non-story…the world is right again.

And before you know it, the games will start counting.

We've been previewing each NHL team and releasing top 10 lists related to the upcoming season. We can't wait to see how it all starts to unfold.

Today, gambling site Bodog released odds on who will take home the major individual NHL awards this season. Below, we take a look at the lines set by Bodog and provide what we think are some decent picks - plus a few off the board options for you to consider and guys to stay away from.

Who will win the 2014 Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player?
Sidney Crosby: 7/4
Ryan Getzlaf: 6/1
Steven Stamkos: 6/1
John Tavares: 8/1
Alex Ovechkin: 12/1
Claude Giroux: 15/1
Tyler Seguin: 15/1
Evgeni Malkin: 15/1
Jonathan Toews: 16/1
Anze Kopitar: 18/1
Corey Perry: 20/1
Patrick Kane: 20/1
Jamie Benn: 35/1
Tuukka Rask: 35/1
Henrik Lundqvist: 40/1
Jonathan Quick: 50/1
Carey Price: 50/1
Erik Karlsson: 50/1
Nathan MacKinnon: 50/1

Best bets: OK, so if Crosby stays healthy, he's more of a lock to be a Hart Trophy contender than anyone else. That's obvious. If you want to make a safe pick, but think Crosby's health is too big of a risk for the 7/4 odds he holds, Stamkos at 6/1 is your guy on a bulked up Tampa Bay Lightning squad. But how about Evgeni Malkin at 15/1? If Crosby does go down, Malkin is a great candidate to take over that team and explode up the scoring chart. Of course, he comes with injury risk too.

And you have to like a guy like Ovechkin, too. He's the only player on this list who can score 50 goals and have people say he had an "off" year. If the Caps make it back into the playoffs, Ovechkin will surely get some MVP love because he's going to score a pile of goals. He also hasn't missed more than four games in a season since 2009-10.

Off the board: If you're looking to roll the dice and pick someone with even longer odds, how about Henrik Sedin? Last year was miserable for everyone on the Canucks, but there's reason to believe the team can bounce back some. If they do, the Sedin twins will play a large role and see their offensive totals significantly rise again. Henrik Sedin, who will be 34 by the time the season starts, has won the Hart before and if all goes swimmingly for the Canucks, he'll probably be their highest scorer.

Stay away from: The goalies. A netminder hasn't won the NHL's MVP award in more than a decade and it takes not only a truly exceptional year for a player from that position to win it, but it would also probably take some disappointing offensive seasons from all the other contenders on this list. I'd also stay away from Nathan MacKinnon. He's going to be better this season and he's going to be a star - but that's an awful lot of firepower for him to leapfrog in one year. Tavares isn't a bad pick, but I'm not too sure about locking in to him on these odds. Fourth-best? He's going to have a good year, but for him to win MVP, the Islanders will need to make the playoffs - consider that before choosing him.

Who will win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s points leader?
Sidney Crosby: 1/1
Steven Stamkos: 3/1
Alex Ovechkin: 17/2
John Tavares: 10/1
Evgeni Malkin: 10/1
Claude Giroux: 15/1
Tyler Seguin: 20/1
Ryan Getzlaf: 20/1
Pavel Datsyuk: 35/1
Corey Perry: 35/1
Patrick Kane: 35/1
Phil Kessel: 35/1
Jonathan Toews: 35/1
Joe Thornton: 35/1
Nicklas Backstrom: 50/1
Jamie Benn: 50/1
Taylor Hall: 50/1
Joe Pavelski: 75/1
Matt Duchene: 75/1
Anze Kopitar: 75/1

Best bets: Crosby won the scoring title by a whopping 17 points last season and if he stays healthy, he's a safe bet to do it again. Everyone knows this. How you bet here is just a matter of how much risk you want to take, or how much you believe in a certain player.

Here's where Tavares becomes an interesting pick. THN's Ken Campbell ranked him No. 1 on a list of Art Ross candidates this season and he makes a good point. If Tavares had stayed healthy last season he was on pace to reach 92 points and with the added forward depth the Islanders brought in, Tavares is in a good position to reach 100 points for the first time. Whether or not his team makes the playoffs, Tavares is a star and he's going to score a ton.

Off the board: We mentioned Henrik Sedin as an off the board pick for the Hart Trophy, so naturally he'd fall in here too, if you are so inclined. And while I wouldn't pick MacKinnon, if you're going to put down on him for a Hart bet, you may as well put him down for the Art Ross too.

Stay away from: Pavel Datsyuk. He was already injured in a pre-season game Monday night and he hasn't scored more than 70 points since 2008-09. Also steer clear of Joe Pavelski. He scored a career-high 41 goals last season on an 18.2 shooting percentage that is very likely to fall this season.

Who will win the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL’s Top Goal Scorer?
Steven Stamkos: 2/1
Alex Ovechkin: 3/1
Corey Perry: 9/2
Sidney Crosby: 7/1
Tyler Seguin: 12/1
John Tavares: 12/1
Phil Kessel: 15/1
Evgeni Malkin: 15/1
Max Pacioretty: 20/1
Jamie Benn: 25/1
Joe Pavelski: 25/1
Zach Parise: 25/1
Patrick Sharp: 25/1
Alexander Semin: 50/1
Ryan Johansen: 50/1

Best bets: If you're going to make a list of the top three goal scorers in the NHL today, Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin have to be on it. They are consistently the most elite goal scorers in the league - and everyone else comes in after them. Honestly, if neither of them wins the Rocket Richard, it probably means both sustained an injury that kept them out for a while. If you want to try something with a little longer odds, Phil Kessel is worth considering. He hasn't missed a regular season game since 2009-10 and in both of his last two 82-game seasons, he reached 37 goals. He'll be 27 this year - can he go even higher? Another decent bet with slightly better odds is Tyler Seguin. He scored just as many goals as Kessel did last season in two fewer games. Seguin's only 22, so he's probably more likely to get even better than Kessel is.

Off the board: This is tricky, because to go from off the board to winning the Rocket Richard is a long, long, long shot. We know who the best lamp lighters are and it's not often someone else sneaks in - but it can happen. If you want to take a stab at someone here, though, what about Jeff Skinner? He scored 33 goals for the Hurricanes last season and seemed to find the groove he was in during his rookie season in 2010-11. Heck, Skinner's teammate Alexander Semin made this list at 50/1 and Skinner is at least a smarter bet than putting down on Semin.

Stay away from: As noted in the Art Ross section, Pavelski is in line for a dip in production because his shooting percentage last year was unsustainably high. Also stay away from Ryan Johansen. Obviously he's not at camp yet and players who sit out the pre-season or miss the start of the season generally don't go on to have huge years. That's not a hard and fast rule (P.K. Subban won the Norris after missing the start of 2013), but do you trust Johansen to unseat Ovechkin or Stamkos after this?

Who will win the James Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman?
Erik Karlsson: 4/1
Shea Weber: 11/2
Zdeno Chara: 11/2
Duncan Keith: 6/1
P.K. Subban: 8/1
Ryan Suter: 9/1
Ryan McDonagh: 9/1
Drew Doughty: 9/1
Alex Pietrangelo: 14/1
Kris Letang: 14/1
Victor Hedman: 20/1
Marc-Edouard Vlasic: 20/1
Oliver Ekman-Larsson: 25/1
Niklas Kronwall: 25/1
Jay Bouwmeester: 25/1

Best bets: There is sometimes a (very) shallow pool of defenseman who, though they haven't won a Norris Trophy yet in their careers, you know they're locks to win one eventually. The absolute best of the absolute best. Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis fell into that category at one time, as did Zdeno Chara before he won in 2009. Three such players sit on this list: Shea Weber, Alex Pietrangelo and Drew Doughty.

None have a Norris yet, but it's going to come. The fact Doughty is at 9/1 and Pietrangelo at 14/1 on this list is intriguing to me, since you'd rank them higher on a list of NHL blueliners than they appear on this list (Doughty is tied for sixth in these odds, Pietrangelo is ninth). With Weber, you know you'll definitely get the offense, so that helps and Pietrangelo is the leader on one of the best defensive teams in the league.

If you want to take a bit of a longer shot, Phoenix's Oliver Ekman-Larsson is your man. He's not on the "for sure future Norris winner" list that those other three are on yet, but he might get there in a year or two.

Off the board: I wouldn't advise it, but there are two names I'd consider for off the board picks. Since the Norris has rewarded offense in the past, Phoenix's Keith Yandle can never be too far away from the conversation. He scored 53 points in 82 games last season (second most in his career) and it was the first time in five years he failed to reach 10 goals. Another is Calgary's Mark Giordano. He is quietly an excellent defenseman on a terrible team and nearly made Team Canada's Olympic entry last season.

Stay away from: Marc-Edouard Vlasic. This is no knock on the excellent Sharks defenseman, but the unfortunate truth is that he simply doesn't score enough for the Norris. Last season he posted only 24 points and while his numbers seem to be recovering a bit to what they were in 2008-09 (36 points), that career year still wouldn't be enough to get him this award. I also get the feeling Chara's time has passed - not as an excellent NHL defender, but as a Norris winner. He got his in '09 - and with the competition so deep for this award, the voters are likely going to pass the torch to the next generation.

Who will win the Vezina Trophy for being the NHL’s top Goaltender?
Tuukka Rask: 3/1
Henrik Lundqvist: 4/1
Carey Price: 13/2
Jonathan Quick: 8/1
Semyon Varlamov: 9/1
Cory Schneider: 10/1
Ben Bishop: 12/1
Pekka Rinne: 12/1
Ryan Miller: 12/1
Sergei Bobrovsky: 15/1
Corey Crawford: 16/1
Jaroslav Halak: 20/1
Kari Lehtonen: 20/1
Marc-Andre Fleury: 25/1
Roberto Luongo: 25/1

Best bets: The three goalies at the top are there for a reason - they are the best and most consistent in the league. The fact Price is ranked third here makes picking him attractive to me. All three of those guys are likely to be in the running - may as well take the one with the longer odds.

But I really like the 10/1 next to Cory Schneider's name. This guy has the best save percentage in the NHL over the past four years and the reason why he hasn't been a definitive No. 1 yet is because of the circumstances he's been in. This year, the New Jersey crease is his and that whole team is poised for a bounce back year. They were one of the best possession teams last season and averaged the fewest shots against per game. Schneider has a real chance to enter the upper echelon at his position this season.

Off the board: This is really tricky. Brian Elliott could be a decent off the board pick because he's coming off a year of solid numbers and plays behind a strong defensive team - but will he get enough starts, or will the Blues want to get Jake Allen in there for a number of games? Jonathan Bernier was in the top 10 in save percentage last season and plays behind a porous defensive team, so he'll get bonus points for that if his numbers put him in the conversation. Mike Smith posted a .930 save percentage three years ago, but you get the sense his Vezina contention days are behind him. Can Antti Niemi bounce back into the conversation? Goalies are so unpredictable.

Stay away from: Jonathan Quick. Don't let the Stanley Cups or the exciting style fool you - Quick's regular season numbers are usually fairly…regular. His .915 SP last season tied him with Marc-Andre Fleury, Smith and Braden Holtby. The season before, Quick's save percentage was .902. Since he plays behind the stifling Los Angeles defense, he may be a decent bet if his odds were longer, but he's the fourth-ranked goalie on this list and that's a tough bet on a guy who hasn't usually been exceptional until the playoffs roll around. Semyon Varlamov played over his head last season and still didn't win the Vezina - so don't bet on him to do even better this year. His numbers are very likely to fall some. Also stay away from Corey Crawford. That's not happening.

Who will win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year?
Jonathan Drouin: 9/4
John Gibson: 5/2
Evgeny Kuznetsov: 3/1
Teuvo Teravainen: 13/2
Aaron Ekblad: 7/1
Leon Draisaitl: 7/1
Sam Reinhart: 15/2
Sam Bennett: 15/1

Best bets: Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov has been playing against men in the KHL for the past five years and he scored nine points in 17 games with the Capitals at the end of last season. He'd rank No. 1 on my list of Calder candidates.

Off the board: Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau arrives to the NHL with great fanfare - the Hobey Baker winner scored 80 points in 40 games for Boston College last season and then scored a goal in one NHL game at the end of the year. He is very small, but also very shifty and a key part of Calgary's plan for the future because of his ability to create offense.

Stay away from: There are a few rookies with the potential for pretty strong offensive years, so it might be tough for defenseman Aaron Ekblad to take votes from the scorers. It's not often blueliners win this award (Tyler Myers last did it in 2010 and before him was Barret Jackman in 2003) so don't be fooled by Ekblad's draft position. John Gibson may also be a tough one to pick. It's not even clear how many starts he'll get in Anaheim. He's good, but workload is important to consider. And finally, watch Teuvo Teravainen's pre-season. He may not even make the Blackhawks out of camp. He'll probably at least get a taste this season, but again, consider the workload.

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Best bets for the Hart, Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Norris, Vezina and Calder Trophies