2022-23 NHL futures: Best bets to win the Rocket Richard
Auston Matthews has taken home the Rocket Richard two years in a row.
Can he join Alex Ovechkin as the only other player to three-peat since the award was created, or are there better values on the board?
Let's dive into that while highlighting a few players worth backing.
Auston Matthews (+250)
Matthews is favored to claim another Rocket Richard Trophy, and rightfully so. He's the league's best goal-scorer and, quite frankly, it's not all that close.
Matthews has netted 148 goals over the past three seasons, which is 19 more than the closest player to him, Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl has also played 12 more games than Matthews during that stretch. Perhaps more impressively, the Toronto Maple Leafs star recorded 176 more scoring chances than anybody else in that three-year period.
The Leafs lost some depth and shifted things around in goal, but their top six remains dangerous, and they have plenty of capable puck-movers on the back end.
With Matthews' unmatched ability to generate chances, and with such a lethal shot, injuries are probably the only thing that could hold him back.
Kyle Connor (+1300)
Connor soared past his previous high in goals a season ago, netting 47 over 79 games. What I loved about Connor is that his outputs were sustainable. He didn't ride a shooting percentage bender to new heights. Instead, he propelled himself to nearly 50 goals by increasing his shot and chance generation.
Believe it or not, Connor posted his lowest shooting percentage since his first full NHL campaign. That's right - he flirted with 50 goals while finishing at a lesser rate than in any of the four seasons prior.
If Connor can continue to generate shots and chances in bulk - especially in transition - and tick his finishing rate up a couple of percentage points, he could score 50-55 goals. Depending on what happens elsewhere, that could be all he needs.
Mikko Rantanen (+4500)
Rantanen is one of my favorite dark horse Richard candidates.
He has a lethal release, he generated shots and chances at nearly an identical rate as Nathan MacKinnon on the league's most dangerous power play, and the Colorado Avalanche have an abundance of puck-moving defenders who can feed him transition opportunities.
Plus, with Nazem Kadri moving on, there could be some extra shots to go around, especially on the man advantage.
Rantanen has quietly averaged 43 goals per 82 games played over the last two seasons. Like Connor, he's coming off the worst finishing campaign of his career.
Should Rantanen become a little more trigger-happy at five-on-five, and/or benefit from a bit of a shooting spike, he could have a career year.
Jake Guentzel (+8000)
Auston Matthews. Connor McDavid. Those are the only two players who generated more scoring chances than Guentzel a season ago.
Despite seemingly every key member of the Pittsburgh Penguins going down with an injury at some point, Guentzel continued to chug along as an offensive force.
He set or matched career highs in goals, points, shots, chances, high-danger chances, and expected goals.
At this price point, I'm happy to back anybody who generates chances at an elite rate, especially someone who primarily rides shotgun alongside Sidney Crosby.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.
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