The season is heading into its final stretch and just like teams, the players are beginning to separate themselves in the scoring races. Now is a good time to look into options to put a few bets down on potential Hart Trophy winners as the NHL’s most valuable player for the 2021-22 season. There are a number of ways you can look to when placing future bets this late into the season. With under half the season left to play, you can choose to take the favorite, chase value, or take a chance at the home run play.
The Favourite – Auston Matthews (+300)
This isn’t necessarily set in stone as anything can happen in the NHL, including injuries that could slow down the league’s leading scorer, but for the time being, Matthews is the odds-on favorite. His ability to be a consistent contributor in all categories on the ice and at both ends of the rink has helped take his game to new heights. He doesn’t lead the league in points but he is still ranked in the top five in scoring.
Matthews has been the bright spot for the Toronto Maple Leafs all season, and when other players have not been pulling their weight, he has stepped up to help the team win games. As long as the Leafs can make the playoffs this year and he can stay healthy, there is a chance for him to catch the league’s scoring leader, which will only boost his odds to win the award.
While Connor McDavid remains a dynamic player in the league, it is hard to award the league’s MVP trophy to a player whose team may not make the playoffs. With the scoring race tighter than ever this season, there is a lot that can unfold and the winner may not be the player with the most points at the end of the season.
The Value Pick – Igor Shesterkin (+450)
How rare is it to put a goaltender into the Hart Trophy category? The answer is very. As good as Andrei Vasilevskiy is, even he has not performed to the level of dominance of New York Ranger’s goaltender Igor Shesterkin. The Russian netminder is already the Vezina Trophy favorite, leading all goaltenders in both save percentage and sitting fourth in goals-against average with a .938 and 2.07, respectively.
Those numbers are flat-out ridiculous and he currently ranks second all-time in single-season save percentage (minimum of 0.3125 games played per scheduled game) of .938 SV%. That number is only bested by Hall of Fame goaltender Jacques Plante who finished with a .944 SV%.
Of course, there is still time for regression, but he has been a horse in the crease, and out of their 37 wins on the season, 29 have come with Shesterkin between the pipes. If he can find a way to continue this pace and even surpass Plante’s best save percentage record by the end of the regular season, he will surely be right there with Matthews to be the league’s most valuable players
The Home Run Play – Jonathan Huberdeau (+1000)
We call this a home run play based on the odds and others ahead of him in the race for the Hart, but Huberdeau still has a realistic chance to accomplish this feat. Huberdeau has been the biggest contributor for a strong Florida Panthers team this season, leading the team in both points with 82 and assists with 64. The points are good enough to make him the second-highest scorer in the league and his assist totals give him sole possession of the top spot in the league.
He has produced at a career-best rate this season and has been the driving offensive force on a potent forward group in Florida. To put things into perspective, he is 23 points clear from the second-highest scorer on his team in Aleksander Barkov, which goes to show his dominance.
Similar to Matthews’ situation, his team is playoff-bound barring a monumental collapse this season and much of the team’s success is a result of his strong play. For someone as high as him in the league scoring races to be pushed this far down the Hart Trophy odds seems like a severe disservice. Bettors who are looking to make money should jump on Huberdeau considering his legitimate chance to emerge victorious.
Odds via Yahoo and BetMGM