The NHL is back for the 2022-23 season and you’re not likely to watch a hockey broadcast this year without seeing or hearing some mention of betting odds or an online sportsbook.
As veteran bettors know, wins and losses don’t only occur in the standings. Fantasy hockey has been popular for years and the player prop bet market has seen an increasing number of people placing wagers on goals, points and other stats now that sports gambling is legalized in many jurisdictions across North America.
Scoring was up across the league one season ago, which meant points, points and more points. A whopping eight players surpassed 100 points, 17 had 40 or more goals and 51 forwards buried at least 30 goals. Will scoring remain high this season or are we bound to see some regression?
Here’s a selection of player prop bets from several commonly used online sportsbooks featuring some of the league’s top stars, plus several notable new faces on Canadian teams, worth keeping track of during the 2022-23 NHL season.
Auston Matthews' goal total
DraftKings and Bet365 have Matthews’ goal total set at 57.5 – his point total this year is 103.5 with a slight lean on the under — but Sport Interaction has a slightly different Matthews-related prop. It’s called Mighty Mustache Magic where you bet on whether Toronto’s superstar will set a new personal record and outdo the league-high 60 he scored last season. Over 60.5 goals has +125 odds, while under 60.5 goals is -174.
Matthews wasn’t yet born the last time a player had back-to-back 60-goal seasons. Pavel Bure scored 60 in 83 games played in 1992-92 then another even 60 in 76 games the following year. Matthews’ production rate has increased dramatically over the past four years and during his back-to-back Rocket Richard seasons has averaged better than 0.80 goals-per-game. If he were to maintain that same scoring rate, he’d need to play at least 76 games to hit the over as he’d be on pace to score 66 goals over an 82-game schedule.
Matthews is the clear favourite to lead the league in goals on any sportbook that’s listing the prop. Familiar faces such as Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin, Kyle Connor, Kiril Kaprizov, Chris Kreider, David Pastrnak, Alex DeBrincat and Aleksander Barkov have the next-best odds.
Winning a third consecutive goal title is quite rare, despite Matthews being the chalk. Ovechkin has done it on two separate occasions. Prior to that, Brett Hull was the last player to lead the league in goals thrice in a row. Wayne Gretzky, Phil Esposito, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, and Charlie Conacher are the only other players to do it in the past century.
McDavid’s Over/Under 46.5 goals and 124.5 points
The game’s most electric talent has never scored 50 in a single season, however he is coming off a career-high 44 goals, 79 assists for an Art Ross-worthy 123 points and somehow kicked his production up a notch in the playoffs (adding 10 goals in 16 games and leading all players in scoring despite his Oilers not advancing to the Stanley Cup Final). He’s the odds-on favourite to win the Hart Trophy for the third time in his career and has led the league in points in four of the past six seasons. In saying that, McDavid would need to again set new career highs for both overs to hit.
Five or more 50-goal scorers this season?
This prop from Sport Interaction asks: will there be at least FIVE 50-goal scorers in 2022-23? "Yes" has +175 odds while "No" is a -250 favourite. Four players (Matthews, Draisaitl, Kreider, Ovechkin) did it in 2021-22. The next closest both had 47 goals — Connor in 79 games and Kaprizov in 81 appearances.
Scoring was up in 2021-22 as teams averaged 3.14 goals per game, the league’s highest average since 2005-06’s 3.08 goals per game. It was the first time in 16 seasons more than three players reached 50 goals. The last season in which five players scored 50 was in 2005-06 when Jonathan Cheechoo (56) led the way, followed by Jaromir Jagr (54), Ovechkin (52), Ilya Kovalchuk (52) and Dany Heatley (50).
Who will Ovechkin score No. 800 against?
Ovechkin’s goal total this year is 45.5, among the highest in the league, but the more interesting prop to follow this season is when or if Ovechkin can join Gretzky and Howe in the 800-goal club. This prop and the full odds are available at DraftKings and while there’s certainly an element of luck involved there’s also some clear strategy based on which teams Washington plays and when they play them.
Ottawa, Winnipeg and Philadelphia have the shortest odds at +700 each. Philadelphia plays Washington once in early December and twice in the first half of January. Winnipeg plays Washington 12 days apart in December, while the Sens see the Caps a couple days before and a couple days after the Christmas break.
The next-best odds are on Ovechkin not hitting the milestone during the 2022-23 season. If Ovechkin fails to score 20 goals for the first time in his NHL career it would pay out at +900. Based on history, you’re either betting for a dramatic fall-off in production or you’re banking on the winger missing a decent chunk of time due to injury or otherwise.
The Great 8 has scored at least 32 goals in every full season since he debuted 17 years ago. His lowest total was the 24 he scored in just 45 appearances during the shortened 2020-21 campaign.
This is how many games it took Ovechkin to reach 20 goals in each of the past five seasons…
2017-18: 28 games
2018-19: 27 games
2019-20: 28 games
2020-21: 36 games
2021-22: 25 games
New faces in new places with Canadian team connections
The most dramatic off-season transactions this summer involved the Flames, who lost Johnny Gaudreau in free agency to the Blue Jackets and dealt Matthew Tkachuk to the Panthers after a trade request from the player. Calgary essentially replaced those star forwards with Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri — they also picked up MacKenzie Weegar, but the defenceman’s goal/point totals are not listed on the prop market — to help replace the 119 combined points the former Flames posted in 2021-22. Huberdeau and Kadri also set career highs in points a year ago but now all four must adapt to new linemates and new cities.
Gaudreau over/under 85.5 points, 31.5 goals
Tkachuk over/under 85.5 points, 33.5 goals
Huberdeau over/under 90.5 points, 28.5 goals
Kadri over/under 64.5 points, 24.5 goals
The Senators’ roster also received quite the off-season facelift with DeBrincat and Claude Giroux the most notable additions in Ottawa. DeBrincat is a two-time 40-goal scorer joining a roster with a slew of fellow young talent and Giroux is hoping to continue the production uptick he enjoyed with Florida towards the end of last season.
DeBrincat over/under 72.5 points, 37.5 goals
Giroux over/under 63.5 points, 21.5 goals
Meanwhile, the Canadiens are hoping the third-overall pick from 2019 has a breakout season after a July trade with the Blackhawks. Kirby Dach set career highs in goals (nine), assists (17), points (26) and games (70). His expectations in Montreal have been elevated with his points total set at 35.5.
Matt Murray Over/Under .909 save percentage
This Sport Interaction prop is interesting, especially since you just know if the under begins winning you can expect to read plenty of headlines about it considering the market Murray now finds himself in. The 28-year-old netminder had a .906 save percentage in 20 games with Ottawa last season and was sub-.900 the previous two seasons. Toronto’s former goalie Jack Campbell had a .916 overall save percentage in his two-plus season there.
Phil Kessel Over/Under 16.5 goals
There’s a lean on the over (Sport Interaction has -139 on the over and -101 on the under), which indicates oddsmakers are expecting Phil the Thrill to bounce back from his career-low eight-goal campaign a year ago. Good news is he’s gone from a miserable Coyotes roster to a Golden Knights team that could slot Kessel on the top line beside Jack Eichel. The pair have shown some nice chemistry in the pre-season. Prior to 2021-22, Kessel had scored at least 20 goals in all but three of his 15 pro seasons.
(Listed betting odds as of Thursday and subject to change)