The race for the Calder Trophy in the NHL is usually wide open. Like in MLB or the NFL, the betting market is basically shaped by preseason hype from the media and fans. There are always going to be prospects that have fanbases and the media all giddy, but the truth is these are teenagers (for the most part), and at that age, it’s anybody’s guess how they perform in their debutante season.
Take last year, for example. Cole Caufield of the Montreal Canadiens was the runaway favorite entering the season after his performance for the Habs in the playoffs the previous spring. By the time Opening Night came around, the media had already basically etched Caufield’s name into the trophy. As it turns out, Caufield would struggle to just one goal in the first few months of the season before catching fire when the Canadiens made a coaching change.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, eventual winner Moritz Seider took to the NHL like a duck to water despite the fact that he was considered a reach when he was drafted No. 6 overall in 2019.
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The point is that the best thing to do when handicapping the Calder Trophy race is not to get caught up in the hype and just assume it will be a runaway for one of the players at the top of the board.
This season, we’re going to hear a lot about favorites Mason McTavish (+400), Owen Power (+450) and Matty Beniers (+500), and while one of those players could certainly run away with the trophy, playing odds that short in a market with this much variance is not going to provide a ton of value. Instead, we’ll shop further down the list:
2022-23 NHL Calder Trophy odds, picks:
Logan Thompson, Vegas Golden Knights (+2000, Bet365)
The Golden Knights are already dealing with a bit of a goaltending crisis. Robin Lehner is out for the season. Laurent Brossoit is returning from a hip injury and the team is trying to shed his salary. Career backup Adin Hill was acquired from San Jose in a desperation move to shore up the position. And then there’s Logan Thompson, the rookie netminder who kept Vegas in the playoff hunt with an impressive 19-game stint last spring.
The 25-year-old netminder posted a .914 save percentage and +2.2 Goals Saved Above Expected in that span and the Knights enough that they seem willing to do everything they can to trade Brossoit and give Thompson the opportunity to play a lot of games. If he gets that opportunity and delivers like he did last spring, he’ll be on a lot of ballots.
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JJ Peterka, Buffalo Sabres (+5000, Bet365)
Playing on a team with 2021 No. 1 overall pick Owen Power, it was only natural that Peterka would fly under the radar a bit in the Calder Trophy market (another Saber, Jack Quinn, is +1600 to win the award). But overlook Peterka at your own risk. The 20-year-old German was stellar in his first season in North America last year, posting 80 points in 80 AHL games (including the playoffs). Making the jump from Europe to the AHL is normally quite difficult, but Peterka passed the test with aplomb. The Sabres are very high on him and won’t be competing for a playoff spot this season, so I’d expect Peterka to get a ton of opportunity in 2022-23.
Dylan Holloway, Edmonton Oilers (+5000, Bet365)
This one is pretty simple. There’s a decent chance that Holloway doesn’t break camp with the Oilers, but he’s almost certain to play considerable time with the big club in 2022-23, and that means he could end up playing with Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Should that happen, and Holloway develops chemistry with either McDavid or Draisaitl, the ceiling for his production is sky-high. A lot has to go right for this one to have legs, but it’s worth a flyer at this number.