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Conn Smythe Trophy betting: Why McDavid makes more sense than Oilers futures

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Some look at bets in a futures market in a galactic way. As in, if I think the Oilers win one of the next five Stanley Cups, then betting them at +800 is a valuable proposition. While I think that's somewhat of an arbitrary way to think about futures, when it comes to Connor McDavid and the career he's projected to have, it's actually not all that frivolous. In fact, McDavid's genius is actually the reason there shouldn't be one red cent bet on the Oilers to win the Stanley Cup from now until the Cup is handed out in June. That's because of a secondary futures market that, unlike the Stanley Cup, hasn't been available to bet on day in, day out all season long.

Conn Smythe odds

David Pastrnak +900
Connor McDavid +1000
Linus Ullmark +1200
Nathan MacKinnon +1600
Brad Marchand +2500
Mikko Rantanen +2500
Patrice Bergeron +2500
Cale Makar +2500
Auston Matthews +2500
Mitch Marner +2800
Jack Eichel +2800
Jack Hughes +2800
Sebastian Aho +3300
Igor Shesterkin +3300
Mika Zibanejad +3300
Frederik Andersen +3300
William Nylander +4000
Leon Draisaitl +4000
Mark Stone +4000
Kirill Kaprizov +4000
Jason Robertson +4000
Nikita Kucherov +4000
Jake Oettinger +4000

Players not listed at +5000 odds or longer

The Oilers are at or around +700 to win the Stanley Cup, which carries an implied win probability of 12.5%. But this isn't about whether or not Edmonton will win the Stanley Cup. It's about why sportsbooks should be wondering if their Oilers button is broken for the next few days.

Translating odds into probability is chapter one of becoming an intelligent bettor, and as we know from middle school math class, probability is reflected in a pie chart, with the pie adding up to 100%.

When betting a Conn Smythe trophy winner, you should start at the end and work backward. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the last time a losing Stanley Cup finalist won the Conn Smythe (more on this in a moment), so you should probably pick players from the team(s) who you think can win the Stanley Cup. More intelligently, you should be looking at the players on that team who have a better chance than the odds suggest.

The Bruins are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup at +350 - an implied probability of 22.2%. They have four players within the top nine choices to win playoff MVP. Here's what it looks like if we translate their odds into probability form:

David Pastnak 10%
Linus UIlmark 7.7%
Brad Marchand 3.8%
Patrice Bergeron 3.8%

That adds up to 25.3% worth of probability before we even add in the chances of Charlie McAvoy or another Bruin having a big postseason. In this case, it's better to back Boston than try to guess who the Bruins' standout will be.

Beyond the obvious, the premise for McDavid's case as a valuable bet to win the Conn Smythe starts with the idea that if the Oilers win the Stanley Cup, McDavid's roughly 100% to win the playoff MVP award, and therefore those odds should be identical.

With apologies to Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers can't win the championship without a healthy McDavid, and a healthy McDavid is going to get the primary credit for a championship. In fact, Draisaitl's existence forces oddsmakers to cut a 2.4% slice of the probability pie in his direction. Any slice going to anyone on the Oilers other than McDavid provides more value on McDavid.

Since McDavid's Conn Smythe odds are +1000, and that's longer than the Oilers' +700 to win the Stanley Cup, he's the better bet.

That's before we even get to the second, more provocative element behind a McDavid bet. I believe that McDavid is the only player in the NHL capable of joining Jean-Sebastien Giguere in 2003 and Ron Hextall in 1987 as players in my lifetime to win the Conn Smythe in a losing cause.

To be the MVP in a losing cause, you need to be that much better over the two-month playoff run than everyone else, regardless of position. McDavid's career year, where he scored 36% more points than any other non-Oiler, comes after last year's playoffs when he scored 33 points in 16 games. If the Oilers can get to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final and play around 24 postseason games in total, not only will he end up with a significant lead over anyone else in this playoffs, but he could break Wayne Gretzky's record of 47 points in a single postseason.

Finally, the East is loaded with contenders, and whoever gets out of that conference to then hypothetically beat the Oilers will have needed multiple contributors, with no clear standout in victory. Only David Pastrnak has stood out beyond his teammates, but probable Vezina winner Linus Ullmark could accrue enough credit to take away from the Bruins' top scorer.

Fundamentally, even if you think there's only a 1% chance of that happening, that means McDavid's theoretically 101% to win the award relative to the Oilers' odds to win the Stanley Cup. This means that the probability for him to win the Conn Smythe could actually be interpreted to be shorter than his team's odds to win the Cup, making McDavid at +1000 somewhat of a bargain on the best player in the NHL to put at least one more new trophy on his mantle.

Matt Russell is the senior betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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