Searching For Sleeper Picks In The NHL Awards Betting Categories

Sportsbooks like BetAmerica in New Jersey and PointsBet in New York offer prop wagers on the outcome of NHL awards voting, and there’s a real chance to make some money betting on NHL awards outcomes if you follow the trends that are evident in awards balloting, then.

Awards shows tend to all look the same. There are C and D list celebrities making bad and sometimes off-color jokes, and players looking uncomfortable in tuxedos. Generally it’s an awkward night for all involved. But it can also be a profitable night for you.

One of the best leagues to bet on awards winners is the NHL. That’s partially due to the number of awards that are presented each year, and the corresponding betting markets that creates. But it’s also about offering the chance to get down a bet at positive odds on some of the less prominent awards.

Betting on NHL Awards Trophies

Let’s take a look at a few of the NHL Awards (Trophies) and see how and where value bets can be made in 2019/2020.

Hart Trophy

The NHL’s most valuable player trophy is often a second scoring champion’s recognition. Between the 2015-16 and 2018-19 seasons, three of the four Hart Trophy winners were also the Art Ross Trophy winner as NHL scoring leader.

This double play generally happens when the scoring leader is also part of a team that enjoys an impact season in the standings. An example of that was in 2016-17 when Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid won both awards. The Oilers qualified for postseason play that spring for the first time since the 2005-06 season. 

The next season, when McDavid was again the scoring champ but Edmonton wasn’t a playoff team, McDavid lost the Hart Trophy to Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils. That season, the Devils enjoyed a 27-point increase and made their first playoff appearance since 2011-12. Hall led the way with a career-high 93 points, 40 more than he’d accumulated in the previous season. 

Seven of the last 12 Hart winners have been wingers. That’s an interesting development. Between 1978-79 and 1995-96, every Hart winner but one played center.                  

When Dominik Hasek won the Hart in 1996-97, he was the first goalie presented the award since Jacques Plante in 1961-62. But there’s been three more wins by goalies since.

The position to avoid in Hart betting is defense. Only one defenseman, Chris Pronger in 1999-2000, has won the award since Bobby Orr claimed it in 1971-72. That’s one Hart for rearguards over the past 46 NHL seasons.

A team to avoid in Hart Trophy balloting is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The last Leaf to win the Hart was Teeder Kennedy in 1954-55.

Calder Trophy

The award for the NHL’s top rookie can often be a crapshoot. It’s definitely a bet where you should look for some value in your play, because favorites often finish up the track. 

A sportsbook like FanDuel in Pennsylvania will be out with their Calder Trophy future book before the regular season gets underway, so you can get a good price on some of the secondary contenders right off the hop.

A year ago at this time, all of the first-year focus was on Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL entry draft. But it was another rookie Swede, center Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks, who won the award. 

Pettersson was a 2018 first-round pick who stayed home to play a year in the top league in Sweden. He arrived with pro experience and having shattered Swedish League rookie scoring marks. He was a sensational sleeper pick.

This season, all the attention will be laser focused on 2019 No. 1 overall selection Jack Hughes of the Devils. But right behind him, the New York Rangers grabbed forward Kappo Kaako at No. 2. 

Kaako played in the men’s league in Finland last season. He’s more physically developed than Hughes, and thanks to his year of pro hockey back home, more NHL ready than Hughes, who played against junior-aged players last season.

Kaako should be a smart money play in this season’s Calder Trophy betting.

Masterton Trophy

An award inaugurated to commemorate the memory of Minnesota North Stars forward Bill Masterton, the only player to die from an on-ice injury in NHL history, the Masterton was initiated to recognize commitment and perseverance.

It’s grown to become the overcoming ailments award.

The 2018-19 winner was New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner, who helped the Isles to the Jennings Trophy for the NHL’s best goals-against average while at the same time revealing his personal fight with depression.

Brian Boyle won in 2017-18 after beating leukemia. Dominic Moore (2013-14) and Craig Anderson (2016-17) won in a season in which their wives were diagnosed with cancer. Josh Harding (2012-13) won after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Jose Theodore (2009-10) won after his son died from complications resulting from his premature birth.

Stay up to date on your NHL ailments and you can probably nail down who’s going to win the Masterton quite easily.

Selke Trophy

Defense wins championships but recognizing who are the best defensive forwards in the NHL isn’t so straightforward. It takes a certain level of nuance and hockey sense to understand what makes a player a solid defensive performer, and that’s why the Selke is probably the toughest vote for hockey writers among all the NHL awards.

It’s also why you see definitive trends established. Once a player gets on the Selke shortlist, they generally stay on the Selke shortlist. It’s not the least bit surprising that only seven players have won the Selke since the 2005-06 season. 

Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour (2005-06, 2006-07) won two in a row, followed by three straight wins for Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk. Boston’s Patrice Bergeron won four Selkes between 2011-12 and 2016-17. Anze Kopitar of Los Angeles is a two-time winner since 2015-16.

Ryan O’Reilly added himself to the Selke tribe with a win last season. And as is always the case with this award, count on him staying in the hunt for the next several seasons. 

Jack Adams Trophy

Another trophy with a definitive trend, the Jack Adams goes to the NHL coach of the year. When thinking about contenders for this award, think about one word – turnaround.

In 2018-19, Barry Trotz won the Adams. In his first year behind the New York Islanders’ bench, he took them from the worst to the best goals against in the NHL and into the playoffs. In 2017-18, Gerard Gallant guided the Vegas Golden Knights, a first-year expansion team, to a first-place finish, the Western Conference title and a berth in the Stanley Cup final.

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