NHL Picks: Art Ross Odds and Analysis
The Art Ross (NHL points leader) has two favorites this year and they are no surprise to NHL fans and bettors. Connor McDavid is +290 and won the Art Ross in 2017 and 2018 and finished 2nd in 2019 to Nikita Kucherov who is +300. The 2018-2019 season saw a huge spike in 100 point scorers with McDavid, Kucherov, Patrick Kane, Leon Draisaitl, Brad Marchand, and Sidney Crosby accomplishing the feat. Most years only one or two players break the 100 point barrier and push for the scoring title. If you include Patrick Kane 2016 reign as scoring leader the average number of points it takes to lead the league is 110.5 over the past 4 years. Only one points leader between 2005-2006 and 2018-2019 finished with less than 100 pts and that was Jamie Benn in 2014-2015 with a shockingly low 87.
This season is likely to fall more in line with 2018 than it is to revert back to one or two 100 point scorers. Most of the better teams, with elite players, are playing their first power play units for much more than 50% of the available power play time and that is contributing to higher point totals for the leagues upper class of players.
NHL Picks for The Art Ross: The Favorites
Generally I am an advocate of looking for value further down the betting board, but in the case of this year’s Art Ross race I think there is value to be had at the very top. McDavid and Kucherov combine for 49.39% probability to win the scoring race at their respective posted prices. I think this is due to both players entering the season with question marks, McDavid suffered a leg injury that cut his 2018 season a few games short and Kucherov will be without his most common centreman from 2018 for October, even though Brayden Point just signed an extension. If both entered the year fully healthy and with a full complement of teammates I think you would see much shorter prices on each. Similar to Ovechkin in the Rocket Richard race there will be many contenders for the top 10 but not many that stand a realistic chance of capturing the Art Ross trophy.
All odds below are from FanDuel online sportsbook:
Nikita Kucherov +300
After putting up an astounding 128 points to win the Art Ross in 2019, the most since Mario Lemieux in 1995-1996 and the first to push past 120 points since Sidney Crosby in 2005-2006, some pretty elite company. There is no reason to believe Kucherov won’t be pacing the field in search of back to back scoring titles. Tampa bay led the league in scoring by 30 goals this past year and show no signs of slowing down. Kucherov will return to a lethal powerplay with Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Brayden Point when he returns to health, with the 5 spot up for grabs amongst a capable group of forwards.
Connor McDavid +290
The one prevailing thought when I look at the Oilers roster is “Wow, Connor McDavid is going to play a lot.” An incredibly shallow talent pool forces McDavid onto the ice more than any other forward in the NHL. He played more minutes per game in 2018 than any other forward, and was also top 5 in the preceding 2 years. A change at the coaching position with Dave Tippett taking over for Todd McLellan may temper his ice time to start the season, but if they want to win any games it will revert back to him playing more than any forward very quickly. Playing on a terrible team also gives him more opportunities to push for offence, and increase his point totals.
NHL Picks for the Art Ross: The Longshot
It is easy to pick the two players at the top, but their dominance shrinks the field of players that stand any chance whatsoever of winning the award. Don’t be drawn in by large payout numbers, the reality is your favorite player at +6000 or +9500 is likely drawing dead.
Jack Eichel +4900
This would be a bet on an improved offensive philosophy under new head coach Ralph Krueger and the improved roster assembled by Jason Botterill as much as it would be a bet on Eichel himself. Eichel’s shot rate increased from 3.6 to 3.9 shots per game which is a new career high. He also accounted for 54 assists in 2018-2019 with Jeff Skinner stapled on his wing. A full season of sharing the power play with the dynamic Rasmus Dahlin should also help boost his point totals, and should help him get his shooting percentage back up over 10% as well. I’m by no means predicting an Eichel Art Ross win, but if you are determined to pick a player in the +4000 to +5000 range I think he will provide you with the best sweat for the season.
Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images