Now that the holidays are over, we enter the dog days of the NHL season, a time when the league separates into pretenders and contenders, or Predators and Canadiens, if you prefer.
However, when it comes to wagering, it’s not necessarily the teams with the best straight-up records who are winning bettors the most money. It’s the underrated squads who offer the best value. Which teams have been getting to the dirty areas of the ice and delivering us the most profit this season thus far? Let’s take a look so that you have the lay of the betting landscape as we enter the final months of the regular season.
Best Return on Investment
The Vegas Golden Knights are, without a doubt, the surprise of the season. No one saw a 27-10-2 start coming for the expansion team, which currently leads the Pacific Division. But no one who knows a lick about betting will be surprised that they are the most profitable NHL team from a wagering standpoint. If you had bet $100 on the Knights’ moneyline in all of their games to date, you’d be up about $1800-$1900, depending on where you place your bets. They have won roughly 80% of their games when they’re considered the underdog. A lot of that stems from early in the season, when sportsbooks assumed Vegas’ hot start would flame out, but still.
The NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning are another team that has been providing some great ROI. They currently sit second in profitability, though it’s a distant second to the Knights. Wagering $100 on every Tampa moneyline would have you up somewhere between $900-$950. When the moneyline considers the Bolts to be a ‘dog, they are 7-0! A big reason for their success is that they are scoring buckets of goals. Currently, they lead the league with 3.62 goals per game, led by Nikita Kucherov who is currently first in the NHL in both goals (26) and points (57). But Tampa isn’t just an offensive juggernaut; the team also tied for first in goals against (95). They are a complete hockey team with upwards of four players who could be in the MVP conversation.
The Colorado Avalanche, a middling squad when it comes to the standings, have been a bettor’s dream. Their total profitability is around $750-$800, and they have been a particularly good bet at home, where they’re 14-7-1 and scoring a healthy clip of 3.17 goals per game. Led by Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, the Avs are in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, a marked improvement from last year, when they finished dead-last in the league, a full 21 points behind the next-worse team (Vancouver).
Another team that falls into the same category as the Avs are the Washington Capitals (25-13-3). They’re only 9-8-3 on the road and generating a negative return (around -$2000), but Ovechkin and his teammates thrive playing in DC where they are about $750 in the black. They might not be able to give their fans playoff success, but they’re sure thrilling the home crowd when there’s less at stake.
Lastly, the New Jersey Devils (22-11-7) have been playing out of their minds this season and well above expectations. Early on, they sat with long odds on most moneylines. But as the season has progressed, they have shown that their offense can be consistent lead by Taylor Hall, Jesper Bratt, and rookie Nico Hischier. Their special teams have been key with a power play percentage of 22.3% and a penalty kill that sits eight in the league at 83.3%. The team has been a pleasant surprise and has been somewhat consistent whether they’re at home or on the road.
Teams to Avoid Betting On
The teams with the worst ROI so far are Philadelphia Flyers (-$500-$550), Pittsburgh Penguins (-$750-$800) and those underachieving Edmonton Oilers (-$650-$700).
It’s crazy to think that the Stanley Cup Champions Penguins may not make the playoffs. It hasn’t been from a lack of goals; their problem is keeping pucks out of the net. Goaltender Matt Murray has a goals against average of .902 and has had a nightmare of a season dealing with both injuries and subpar performances on the ice.
The Oilers have probably an even bigger disappointment this season. Connor McDavid has been doing his part, but secondary scoring in Edmonton has been pretty non-existent, not to mention their penalty kill has been dreadful and sits last in the league at 70.5%. Hopes of a deep playoff run have all but vanished.
On The Rise: Ducks Fly Together
One team to keep an eye on if you are betting on hockey is the Anaheim Ducks (19-14-9). They are a better team than their record shows. Unfortunately for the Ducks, they have been dealing with key injuries to the likes of Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, to name a few, who have now since returned and appear to be giving the Ducks a bit of a spark.
Even with the key injuries, they were able to tread water and are now poised to make a late-season run for a Wild Card spot (or even make things interesting in the Pacific Division if the Knights ever cool off). They got solid performances from goaltending duo John Gibson and Ryan Miller, and their defensive depth is some of the best in the NHL. So much so they had no problem trading one of their top defensive pivots in Sami Vatanen to the New Jersey Devils.
They haven’t been great when it comes to early returns for bettors, but they are a team that is on the rise and may bring some value as the season rolls along and they get healthy.