NHL 2023-24 futures: Best bets to win Hart Trophy
Last season, Connor McDavid claimed his third Hart Trophy - and in the most decisive fashion yet. He didn't just surpass everyone else; he blew them out of the water.
McDavid scored more goals than anybody and, excluding teammate Leon Draisaitl, recorded 40 more points than the next-closest player.
McDavid made a statement that the league is his and left no room for anybody to suggest otherwise.
He rightfully enters this season as a heavy favorite to win another Hart Trophy. That being said, there isn't much value in laying a +100 price for him to do so.
Let's examine a few players worth considering if you choose to dive into the Hart Trophy waters.
Leon Draisaitl (+1400)
Draisaitl is the most productive player in the NHL outside of McDavid. He has only scored three fewer goals than No. 97 over the past three seasons and is nearly 60 points clear of Nathan MacKinnon, the closest non-Oiler to Draisaitl.
He's a lethal finisher, the go-to shooter on a historically dominant power-play unit, and he carries a ridiculously large workload for a forward. Draisaitl doesn't even need to be that efficient to put up huge numbers because of how many minutes he plays seemingly every night.
Just a few years ago, Draisaitl won a Hart Trophy despite playing on the same team as McDavid. It's hardly impossible to think he could do so again - especially if McDavid were to miss any time.
Let's say McDavid misses 15 games, and Draisaitl leads the league in points while carrying the Oilers (as he and McDavid always do). I would think he'd be first in line to get the Hart Trophy, and the odds don't reflect that. At +1400, I think Draisaitl is a strong value.
Jack Hughes (+1600)
Hughes took the league by storm a season ago, producing at better than a 100-point pace. He did so despite spending much of the year on a line with Erik Haula - who couldn't finish anything for the majority of the season - and not getting a ton of help from a mediocre power play.
The picture looks much brighter for Hughes in 2023-24. He'll play with some combination of Jesper Bratt, Tyler Toffoli, Timo Meier, and Dawson Mercer at even strength - he's starting out with the former two - and has a lot more talent around him on the man advantage.
While Hughes has developed into a quality finisher, he didn't have a ton of shooting talent around him on the Devils to finish the chances he created. With 40-goal man Meier expected to be a fixture on the top power play, that should be much less of an issue.
Hughes is one of the most puck-dominant players in the league. He plays on a very strong up-and-coming team and has a lethal supporting cast around him.
If he could produce at a 100-plus-point pace in his age-21 season, it's exciting to think about what he can accomplish with another year under his belt and a better supporting cast around him.
Nikita Kucherov (+2200)
Kucherov is a dark horse I really like. He's averaged 116 points per 82 games the past two seasons, which is about the best production clip you can expect from someone not named McDavid or Draisaitl.
With goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy set to miss at least a couple of months, the Lightning are going to need to score a lot of goals to stay afloat. Simply put, Jonas Johansson and his career .887 save percentage isn't going to be good enough for the Lightning to grind out low-scoring wins.
I expect a heavy workload for Kucherov as Jon Cooper looks to squeeze every bit of juice he can possibly get from the offense.
If the Lightning remain a playoff team despite missing one of their key cogs for a healthy chunk of the season, Kucherov is going to play a big part - and no doubt get a lot of attention as a result.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.
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