With less than a month remaining until the regular season comes to a close, it’s a good idea to throw some money down on futures bets. Although these types of bets provide better odds at the beginning of the season, the field was so much bigger than it is now. The narrower field allows bettors to look at a smaller group of defensemen who could still challenge for the Norris Trophy while still providing decent value. This year more than ever, the races for each of the NHL’s awards are very close, especially the Norris Trophy race, but this is shaping up to be more of a two-horse race.
The Favorite – Cale Makar (-105)
If you placed this bet at the beginning of the season, it’s likely you went with Cale Makar as your pick. Now at the tail end of the season, the young blueliner remains the odds-on favorite to win the Norris Trophy. He is one of the most dynamic defensemen in the league because of his offensive ability and smooth skating. Despite how offensive-minded he is, he remains a reliable defender who can play big minutes in all situations.
It’s not often that the favorite to win is not the scoring leader among the defensemen but that is the case so far this year. However, there is still time to catch Roman Josi, who is the current scoring leader among blueliners. Makar is second in points among defensemen with 75, but still leads all defensemen with 24 goals and carries a plus-40 rating, which is good enough for second in the league below his teammate Devon Toews.
Makar’s superstar ability and highlight-reel plays make him more known for his offense, but his maturity and two-way game are underrated. He is poised in any and all situations for such a young player and can step up no matter how tall the task. On such an elite offensive team like the Avalanche, there is a good chance he can narrow the points gap, which would solidify him as the Norris Trophy winner.
The Value Pick – Roman Josi (-105)
It’s hard to call the leading point-getter among defensemen the value pick even though the odds are the same, but leading up to today, he was not the favorite. If you placed the bet a while back, you would have got great value, but with Roman Josi’s recent stretch of great play, the odds between him and Makar are dead even. Josi is a monster on the blue line and, like Makar, he plays an elite two-way game. He does not make very many mistakes and is a big reason why the Nashville Predators are as good as they are this season.
He leads blueliners with 87 points in 68 games and is also the leader in power-play points with 34, shots on goal with 237, and assists with 68. He blocks a lot more shots than Makar does with 112 on the season, which proves how valuable of an asset he is in both ends of the rink.
For a player to be the best at his position in so many categories and not be the favorite is suspect and should have bettors salivating because of the disservice. There is more than just a small chance that Josi can continue to assert his dominance and overtake Makar to win the Norris.
The Home Run Play – Adam Fox (+5000)
This home run play is really a home run play because this is looking more like a two-horse race. With one of Josi and Makar projecting to claim the award, putting money on a longshot is not really a smart move. However, if you are a risk-taker and are looking for a bigger payday, you can try your luck by betting on Adam Fox. He is the reigning Norris Trophy winner for 2021, so we know he has the pedigree that comes with being the league’s top blueliner even at such a young age.
He is currently tied with Victor Hedman as the third-highest scorer among defensemen but is still a ways away from the other two players ahead of him on this list. The things working in Fox’s favor are his ability to put up points while shorthanded with two shorthanded points on the season and also taking only 20 penalty minutes while logging such big minutes.
Among the three of them, Fox also has the most takeaways with 66, which shows his ability to read the game well. Those categories probably won’t factor much into the final voting, but if you are going to place this bet, you are essentially betting on injuries to Josi and Makar. With such limited time remaining in the season, that is probably the only way Fox could have a chance to close the gap in offensive categories and make the race more interesting.
Note: Be aware of the closing deadlines for futures bets, which may vary depending on your platform of choice.
Odds via Bet365