Hart Trophy Betting Favorites Reveals Intriguing Gap

Most everyone can agree on the top four candidates in the race to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player this season. But one gap in the betting odds might surprise some. 

Per FanDuel, as of Friday night, the odds are as follows:

  1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche   +105
  2. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning      +200
  3. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers            +310
  4. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs  +1,200
These four names are arguably the frontrunners in most people's books, but according to TSN hockey insider and former NHLer Mike Johnson, that massive dropoff from #3 to #4 seems a bit extreme:

"I'm okay with Matthews at four, but the issue is at +1200. That's miles, miles back. It's amazing (to see) a Toronto Maple Leaf perhaps being underpublicized, not getting enough credit around the league for what he's doing," said Johnson. "I think he should be a lot closer No. 4."

After yet another hat trick on Thursday night, Matthews now has 45 goals in 51 games, and at .88 goals per game, is on pace for 71 goals — the most in the last three decades, topping Mario Lemieux's 69 in 1995-96. 

MacKinnon is having a beast of a season — even for him — a career year with 89 points in 55 games, and leading the Avs to 70 points thus far, top five in the league.

Kucherov is doing him one better, at 93 points, though his Lightning aren't quite up at Colorado's pace, while McDavid has been closing the gap, now with 80 points. 

David Pastrnak, it should be noted, is nearly on par with Matthews in many of the sports books.

It should be an intriguing race to follow down the stretch, and we'll see if hitting the 70-goal mark or even better will lower Matthews' odds. 

Photo: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports