After seeing teams across the league get ravaged by COVID-19 over the final days of 2021, the NHL made the hard decision not to allow their players to travel to Beijing to participate in the men’s hockey competition. The NHL’s decision has caused a shakeup on the odds to win Olympic hockey gold in Beijing. Pegged as clear favorites prior to the NHL’s pullout, Canada now sits as a lengthy +600 bet. Conversely, the Russian entry in this year’s tournament has vaulted to short +150 favorites to repeat as gold medal champions.
MyTopSportsbooks takes a look at all the odds and trends ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to begin in Beijing, China on February 4. Sports bettors getting in on Olympic betting action for the first time should refer to our guide to betting on the Beijing Olympics.
|Olympic Men's Hockey Odds|
|Russian Olympic Committee||+150||+160||+1500|
Russian Olympic Committee (+150)
The team most likely benefit from the absence of NHL players in Beijing will be the ROC. Sporting a lineup comprised entirely of players from the KHL, and led by former NHL superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk, the Russians emerged as a dominant force at the 2018 Olympic tournament in Pyeongchang, and look poised to do it again in Beijing.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 24, 2022
While the squad does not feature any stars of Datsyuk’s caliber this time around, it does feature a number of former NHLers including Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Gusev, Artem Anisimov, Slava Voynov, and Vadim Shipachyov, who also currently leads the KHL in scoring. The ROC have also benefited from a favorable draw that has grouped them with the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Denmark in the preliminary round, leaving them well positioned to earn a bye into the quarter-finals.
Never to be underestimated when playing on the international stage, Finland has emerged as an attractive +450 bet to win their first-ever Olympic goal. The Finns have been a constant presence on the Olympic podium, winning medals on five occasions over their past seven appearances. And considering the impressive resumes of the veteran players selected to represent the Scandinavian powerhouse, the top of the podium is clearly in reach.
Finland has announced its 25-man roster that is set to compete for gold at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing: https://t.co/S3kzYDwmcW
— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) January 20, 2022
The Finnish roster features nine players with NHL experience. Most notable among them are forwards Valtteri Filppula and Leo Komarov, and rearguard Sami Vatanen, all of whom have previously represented their homeland at both the Winter Olympics and in the World Cup of Hockey. The Finns have a lot to prove this time around after being bounced from the 2018 Olympic tourney in the quarter-finals. And with 18 players coming off KHL rosters, Finland’s familiarity with the Russian contingent could work to their advantage.
Despite being considered among the most important hockey powerhouses on the planet, the Swedish contingent traveling to Beijing will lack the star power that both Finland and the Russians enjoy. That is not to say that they lack experience. Former NHLers on the roster include the likes of Marcus Krüger, Erik Gustafsson, and Christian Folin.
Three former Canes players, Marcus Kruger, Joakim Nordstrom, Lucas Wallmark playing for Sweden in the Olympics. https://t.co/2aHjyiKlzA
— Canes Stat Boy™ (@CanesStats) January 21, 2022
However, unlike previous medal-winning teams from Sweden, this year’s edition lacks the dominating talent at both ends of the ice that will be needed to keep pace with the likes of the Russians and Finns. A shot at the podium is a realistic goal for Sweden, but they offer little value on the odds to win gold.
The Olympic hockey tournament will be a huge letdown for Canadian fans who had hoped to see the likes of Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, and John Tavares don the maple leaf in Beijing. But while this quickly cobbled together squad is unlikely to dominate like Crosby, they should provide Canadian fans with plenty of reason to cheer. This year’s edition of Team Canada features an interesting mix of veterans, role players, and rising stars worth watching.
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) January 25, 2022
Most notable among the veterans is Erik Staal. A former Stanley Cup winner and member of the Canadian squad that won Olympic gold in Vancouver in 2010, Staal jumped at the chance to return to the Olympics after failing to catch on with an NHL club this season. Team Canada also features two of the top three picks from the 2021 NHL Draft, including defenceman Owen Power of the Buffalo Sabres and forward mason McTavish of the Anaheim Ducks. While gold may be a bridge too far for Canada, breakout performances from their budding stars could be enough to lift them onto the podium.
Like Canada, the NHL’s decision to not participate has hit Team USA hard. While the league’s move has done nothing to help boost USA’s chances to win the most medals in Beijing, it will provide American hockey fans with an opportunity to get familiar with the next generation of US hockey stars.
While Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Nathan MacKinnon won’t play in their first Olympics, Beijing men’s hockey tournament will be a showcase for next generation stars like Owen Power, Matty Beniers and Jake Sanderson: https://t.co/EGQq9tzOIL
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) January 20, 2022
The American roster is expected to be top-heavy with young NHL prospects currently playing NCAA college hockey. Most notable among them are Seattle Kraken forward Marty Beniers, who was selected second overall in last year’s NHL Draft, and rearguard Jake Sanderson, who also captained the USA squad at this season’s ill-fated World Junior Hockey Championship. While a podium finish looks unlikely, US hockey fans can take comfort in the benefit their young players will receive from playing on the world’s biggest stage.
Best Bet: Finland to win gold (+450)