With the World Cup fast approaching the Las Vegas odds-makers have decided to release their odds for those who would like to partake in sports betting. While I personally don’t bet on sports, I’m always interested to see what the odds-makers think heading into a tournament or even the NHL regular season or playoffs. There are things that I don’t always agree with but let’s be honest these guys know something because the lights always stay on in Las Vegas. The odds for this year’s world cup of hockey are the following courtesy of Bodava.lv.
#1 Canada – 10/11
Canada being the favorite in the tournament should come as no shock to anyone, as long as an international tournament allows for pros to play Canada will likely always be favored in any tournament that they are featured in. This team brought back many members of their gold medal team from Sochi and while the loss of Duncan Kieth is significant most of the new faces are better than those from Sochi’s team that didn’t make the cut for this Tournament. I’d also argue that Canada drew a pretty easy group for round robin play as Group A consists of Team Europe, The Czech Republic, and Team USA.
#2 Russia – 9/2
Russia being in second place took my off guard. While they are absolutely loaded up front and their goaltending is decent their blue line is weaker and has been exposed in the last two Olympics. In a tournament where each country is bringing their best, I’m just not sure that Russia is the hockey power it once was. They also have in my opinion some significant omissions from their team like Illa Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov. Russia will play in a Group that includes Sweden, North America and Finland that is a tough draw.
#3 Sweden – 5/1
There is a lot to like about the Swedish entry into the World Cup of Hockey. I would argue and likely would not be alone when I say that only Canada boasts more defensive depth that Sweden. This core features some of the best defensemen in the NHL today with players like Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman among others and with the players mostly being in their mid-twenties they are not going away anytime soon. The goaltending behind Lundqvist isn’t great but it likely won’t need to be as it will be Lundqvist’s net to lose. While the forward core has a ton of aging talent there should be enough there to get things done. In my opinion, Sweden has a better chance to come out of this than Russia.
#4 USA – 13/2
Team USA comes in fourth on the list but I think this is a team that could surprise people. Lead by the same man who leads the Sharks in Joe Pavelski their leadership is in good hands and while they may not boast the depth of other countries and not being able to use Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau because of Team North America is probably a frustrating burden for this team. Still playing in the weaker Group A. Team USA in my opinion, has the second best goaltending in the tournament and has enough offensive talent to do damage although the defense won’t give any team nightmares.
#5 Finland – 14/1
Finland appears fifth on the list but this is a team that always seems to do good things at international tournaments and may be an appealing bet for gamblers based on their past showings. I see Finland as a team that is in a bit of a downturn until some of their younger players further develop and that starts with Patrick Laine who many will see for the first time at this tournament. Their goaltending is very much able to steal games although neither Pekka Rinne or Tuukka Rask’s stocks are as high as they have been in years past. Thier defense isn’t scary but again young and should develop to be something to fear down the road. The forward group is interesting but not overly scary as well.
#6 North America – 16/1
The first of the two “gimmick teams” there is so many variables, will the inexperience of most of these players be a factor? How will it affect them to play against their own countries team? Not to mention many of these players have spent more time playing against each other rather than with each other like the true national teams. Obviously, all these answers will be answered in the tournament but I’m shocked that the odds-makers thought so little of this team. After winning the Stanley Cup you have to imagine Matt Murray will get the opportunity to start in goal and the team in front of him is better than the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Defense young but filled with potential franchise defensemen while the forward group will have no problem putting the puck in the net. When the puck drops these guys will be all business it won’t matter who they are playing against they will want to win and never underestimate the enthusiasm of youth. I would absolutely take this bet as this team could be a sleeper.
#7 Czech Republic – 22/1
I’m not going to lie I’m not sure how the NHL decided what countries to be in and what countries to be out but you have to think a Jagr-less Czech republic is the dog of the tournament, I would likely have placed them dead last in the odds instead of Team Europe. I’m not saying that the Czech Republic is a bad hockey country just that the “gimmick” teams leave them the most at a disadvantage in their current state. They have the least depth in the tournament and that is unfortunate. Yes, there is some great players especially up front but beyond their potential top six there is nothing even remotely scary about this team.
#8 Europe – 33/1
Team Europe is made up of countries that are generally at constant risk of relegation in international tournaments and thus is a complete wild card. This is another team where I really like some of its pieces but not impressed by the total package. The Goaltending is mediocre at best with no proven track record aside from Jaroslav Halak who likely will be sat in favor of Frederik Andersen. Their defense is uneven and aging with players like Zdeno Chara and Mark Streit and Christian Ehrhoff although I have nothing but love for Roman Josi. So while I think their forward group can put the puck in the net I have no faith they will have the ability to keep it out of theirs. Still, I’m interested to see what this team can do in the tournament despite my low expectations.
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