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2022-23 NHL Hart Trophy odds, picks: Which longshots are worth a bet to win MVP?

Making the case for Jack Eichel, Thatcher Demko and Nikolaj Ehlers to upset the odds

Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks could be a valuable longshot bet to win the Hart Trophy.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks could be a valuable longshot bet to win the Hart Trophy. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)Read moreRich Lam / Getty Images

Oddsmakers view the race for the Hart Trophy – which is awarded to the NHL’s MVP – as a three-horse race between the last three winners of the award, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Leon Draisaitl.

And while it seems pretty likely that one of the favorites will end up winning MVP at season’s end, we have seen surprise winners in the past.

In fact, you only have to back to Taylor Hall in 2018 to be reminded that sleepers can win the Hart. Hall, who basically carried the Devils to the postseason on his back that season, wasn’t even listed on most oddsboards to win the Hart Trophy before 2017-18.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at four longshots that have a chance to upset the odds in the Hart Trophy market. Odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights (+6000): After being limited to just 55 games over the past two seasons and then being embroiled in a dramatic injury and trade request saga with the Buffalo Sabres, you may not find a better buy low spot in any NHL award market than Eichel.

For the first time in his career, Eichel will be on a team with playoff aspirations and he will be surrounded by a strong supporting cast including Mark Stone, Phil Kessel, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith. And while Eichel didn’t exactly set the world on fire in his first 34 games with the Knights last season, he was coming off major neck surgery and was playing on a team that was going through an injury crisis. That he was able to post 25 points (14 G, 11 A) in that span is actually impressive.

We know that Eichel can put up numbers. In the two seasons before he got injured, Eichel posted 160 points in 145 games on some really bad Buffalo teams, so asking him to put up a stronger output on a better team isn’t crazy.

It will take a monster year for any forward to beat out McDavid, Matthews, Draisaitl and Nathan MacKinnon, but Eichel clearly has the highest ceiling of any player in this range and could be a great redemption story for voters to play into if he has a career year.

» READ MORE: Could the Flyers really finish with fewer than 74.5 points? That might be the smart bet.

Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks (+20000): It may be a bit discouraging that we saw Igor Shesterkin have a generational season in goal for the Rangers and still finish third in the Hart Trophy voting, but at least Shesterkin got a narrative going about whether or not voters overlook goaltenders when it comes to MVP voting. We haven’t seen a goalie win the award since Carey Price in 2013 and it’s only happened four times since 1997 (Dominik Hasek twice and Jose Theodore), but there are a couple of goaltenders who could end up joining that crew this season.

One of those netminders is Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks. A flawed team with high offensive upside, Demko’s performance this season will likely be what decides Vancouver’s fate. The 26-year-old has established himself as one of the league’s best workhorse goaltenders over the past two seasons with a .915 save percentage and a +16 Goals Saved Above Expected in 99 games. He was the main reason why the Canucks finished second overall in goals allowed per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in 2021-22.

Should the Canucks make the postseason, it’ll likely be because Demko put together another spellbinding season and hopefully that’s enough to at least get him into the conversation for MVP. At these odds, that’s all you’re asking.

» READ MORE: Why the Calgary Flames could be the team to unseat Colorado out west

Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg Jets (+30000): If you’re betting someone at 300/1 you already go into the bet knowing that it will almost certainly not win. That said, of all the deep longshots, Nikolaj Ehlers stands out the most.

Not only is Ehlers a terrific playmaker who has shown he can produce at a first-line level, but he also has a terrific supporting cast riding shotgun with him. Ehlers is slated to play on Winnipeg’s first line with 47-goal scorer Kyle Connor and point-per-game center Mark Scheifele, so there will be plenty of opportunities for Ehlers to get on the scoresheet this season.

Two wingers who had similar things going for them before last season, Johnny Gaudreau and Jonathan Huberdeau, set career milestones with 115-point seasons and finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in Hart Voting last spring, so it’s not completely outlandish that Ehlers ends up making a similar leap after posting 55 points in an injury-shortened 62-game campaign in 2021-22.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

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