With the NHL season entering the second half, it’s a good time to see where we’re at in the betting markets. A lot has changed since the puck first dropped in early October.
Hockey is challenging to bet on due to its inherent randomness. It’s a sport played on ice with boots with sharp blades attached underneath while blasting a piece of vulcanized rubber that can travel upwards of 100 mph with sticks made of carbon fiber. The puck can bounce in all sorts of ways, injuries and fatigue are common, and year-to-year production can depend on luck.
Here are your betting favorites, along with some insights from BetMGM Sportsbook and some dark horse picks. Ticket% refers to the percentage of all bets placed on a particular player, Handle% means the percentage of all money bet on a certain player and biggest liability refers to the player who has bet on the most in terms of total money.
Betting odds and numbers are as of Jan. 19, 2023.
Highest Ticket%: Erik Karlsson, 28.5 percent
Highest Handle%: Erik Karlsson, 34.4 percent
Biggest Liabilities: Erik Karlsson
Odds Leaders: Cale Makar +225, Rasmus Dahlin/Erik Karlsson +350, Adam Fox +450
Opening Odds Leaders: Cale Makar +150, Adam Fox/Roman Josi +650, Victor Hedman +850
It’s really odd, but this is where I disagree with the board and will venture out to say that Makar doesn’t have a shot at the Norris this season, barring a huge second-half turnaround by the Avs. If I had a ballot, he’d rank well behind Karlsson, Dahlin and Fox, whose work this season has inexplicably gone unnoticed. With the Rangers being a top-five team since December, I think there’s a good chance Fox’s Norris campaign gains a lot of steam in the second half when people start realizing how good he’s been.
However, it should be noted that Norris voting can be harder to predict because everyone’s criteria for best defenseman can be different, and historically it’s been awarded to those who put up gaudy offensive numbers. That’s not Fox’s game, and it hurts his case for the Norris, unfortunately.
Karlsson has the highest Ticket%, but there’s the added risk of his point production being adversely affected if and when he joins his new team. He’ll likely see a little less ice time and play in a slightly different system, but he’s undoubtedly the front-runner right now. That’s one reason why I also like Dahlin, though, who has been a vital cog in the Sabres’ explosive offense and will be there for years to come. Dahlin’s defensive game isn’t as polished, but his numbers demand attention.
Of the long shots, Josi at +2500 does look enticing, but the Preds just aren’t a good team. Josi’s been putting up similar offensive numbers and continues to drive play, but the Norris can be a reputation-driven award, and I was pretty convinced he should’ve won last season on the back of a 96-point campaign. Analytics be damned, it was a mighty fine season for Josi, who may not reach those heights ever again.
Another name I like is Josh Morrissey (+650). He’s quietly put together a fantastic season on a very good team without an elite defender, but he’s emerged as the top dog in a well-rounded group. His game’s not flashy enough to garner much attention, but if the Jets’ offense takes off and Morrissey ends up with 90 points this season – he’s on pace for 89 right now – he’s going to be part of the conversation. The danger with Morrissey is that his second half isn’t nearly as productive as his first with a 10.0 shooting percentage, nearly double his career average.