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Is Connor McDavid once again the Hart Trophy favourite?

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Photo credit:© Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
3 months ago
Connor McDavid is so back.
Like, sooooo back.
He’s fully in automatic McDavid mode, where every quality scoring chance is finding the back of the net. When he had that mile-long breakaway against the Golden Knights, you knew from the moment he picked it up that he would cash it in. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of how he would slide the puck past Logan Thompson.
The same can be said about his shootout attempt. He floated into the offensive zone and basically just waited until Thompson gave him some opening.
He can’t be denied right now and the results are really speaking for themself. In the last ten days, he’s gone from outside the top 100 in league scoring to inside the top ten. Insane.
While two weeks ago, I was sitting here wondering if we were potentially going to get a “down year” from McDavid for, quite honestly the first time in his career, today I’m sitting here asking an entirely new question: is McDavid back to being the front runner for the Hart Trophy?
The sportsbooks say he is. McDavid is sitting atop the Hart Trophy odds board over at Betway, and the nice part for people like myself who like to throw a little bit of money down on these kinds of things is that you’re getting him at a way better price than you would have at the start of the season.
Back in October, McDavid was +100 to win another MVP award. That means if you wagered $100 and he won the Hart Trophy, you would profit $100.
For those unfamiliar with the betting language, his implied odds were basically 50%. It was McDavid vs the field and at the time, I wasn’t a fan of betting on McDavid at that price. I felt like with the risk of injury, the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze.
Now, McDavid’s odds to capture his fourth career Hart Trophy sit at +400, which means a $100 bet would make you $400 in profit.
Even though he’s still the favourite, the payout is significantly better. 
The implied odds are 20% and I’ll be honest, I think McDavid is being undervalued by the books here and if you’re someone who bets on hockey regularly, you know how rare it is for McDavid to be undervalued.
My concerns about the possibility of him getting hurt aren’t as great as they were at the start of the season because he’s already pushed through an injury this season and now appears to be back at 100%, but also we’re 25% of the way through the season.
Also, the field is wide open.
Jack Hughes sits second in the race and while he’s been spectacular when healthy, he’s already missed a few weeks of this season. He is definitely the biggest threat to #97 in the MVP race, but the Devils haven’t found much success this season and are currently on a pretty nasty slide.
Also, while I’m high on Hughes and think he could very well score at a 60-goal pace this season, he’s never hit 100 points in his career. He could very easily go through a cold spell at some point here.
David Pastrnak has been electric this season as well, but the Bruins are such a good team that I don’t think he’s going to be seen as a possible Hart trophy winner. The talk in Boston will always be about their goaltending and how solid they are as a group, not really one particular player.
Elias Pettersson will get some love, but similar to Pastrnak, he plays with such a strong supporting cast and that might hurt his chances. Quinn Hughes could very easily win the Norris and JT Miller might have just as good of an MVP case as Pettersson.
These awards can often be driven by narrative and that’s another reason I like McDavid’s chances.
Think of the story that can be written in the back half of the season: McDavid and the Oilers start slow, sit near the basement of the league halfway through November and then driven by a historic 60 games by McDavid, they don’t just launch their way back into a playoff spot, they re-establish themselves as a legit Cup contender on the back of the best player in the world. 
McDavid’s also never won back-to-back Hart Trophys, so that would be another element of the story. That feat hasn’t been accomplished since Alex Ovechkin did it in 2008 and 2009.
Listen, it’s not a lock and I recognize that I’m probably getting a bit ahead of myself here but right now there is no clear-cut front-runner for the Hart Trophy and Connor McDavid is back to doing things that only he can do.
And yes, there are other very qualified candidates, but, do you really want to bet against #97?

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