Despite Injury, Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews Still Odds-On Hart Trophy Favourite

Written By Jose Colorado on April 21, 2022 - Last Updated on May 27, 2022
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews celebrates in the direction of fans after scoring in overtime

Even a late-season injury isn’t scaring sportsbooks from Auston Matthews.

The Toronto Maple Leafs player is in the midst of a season that has him in the thick of things for multiple major NHL awards.

Recently, however, Matthews has been knocked out of action with an undisclosed injury. Team officials have yet to set a return date for its star.

Still, many of the major sportsbooks in the Ontario online sports betting market have him as the odds-on favourite. But, with each missed game, the gap could be closing between Matthews and his competition.

PlayCanada helps break down Matthews’ odds for punters with less than two weeks remaining in the NHL’s regular season.

Matthews’ historic season puts Hart Trophy, Rocket Richard awards in play

The 2021 – 2022 NHL season has been a year of career highs for Matthews.

His season stats with five games to go:

  • Goals: 58 (career-high)
  • Assists: 44 (career-high)
  • Points: 102 (career-high)
  • +/-: 17
  • Games played: 70

Hart Trophy Award: Matthews an obvious favourite

Those numbers have him as the consensus odds-on favourite to win the Hart Trophy – given to the league’s MVP.

Unlike Stanley Cup championship odds, not all sportsbooks carry markets for individual NHL futures.

But BetMGM and BetRivers Sportsbook do.

Here’s how they view it:

  • BetMGM: 1.29 European odds, -345 American odds (best odds)
  • BetRivers: 1.25, -400 (best odds)

The second closest is Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) at the following odds:

  • BetMGM: 5.00 European odds, +400 American odds
  • BetRivers: 6.50, +550

That’s a considerable gap and gives Matthews some wiggle room (if bettors were worried).

Maurice Rocket Richard: Matthews ahead as gap narrows

When it comes to the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy – given annually to the NHL’s leading goal scorer – Matthews is again leading the pack.

He won the award last season with 41 goals.

Some sportsbooks – such as BetMGM – have Matthews as the foregone conclusion for the honour. The site has already taken Rocket Richard award betting off its board.

BetRivers is still offering the market, however.

The top contenders:

  1. Matthews: 1.16 European odds, -625 American odds (best odds)
  2. Leon Draisaitl: 4.25, +325
  3. Chris Kreider: 81.00, +8000

And here’s how NHL’s goal race statistically shakes down entering the home stretch:

  1. Matthews: 58 goals; five games remaining
  2. Leon Draisaitl (Oilers): 54 goals; six games remaining
  3. Chris Kreider (NY Rangers): 50 goals; five games remaining

It would appear that sportsbooks expect Matthews to suit up in at least some of his remaining matches. If he does that, punters should rest easy in placing bets.

Matthews to prioritize team success over individual accolades

In all likelihood, Matthews’ pending return won’t just be to put the cherry on top of his career year.

Toronto will need its 24-year-old gunner. While the Leafs have clinched a playoff berth, there is still much to accomplish.

Consider Toronto sits second in the Eastern Conference with 108 points.

First place is out of the question as the Florida Panthers have 116 points. But the Leafs can go backwards.

The Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers are just two points behind at 106. Playoff positioning will be critical for a team with as many postseason flameouts as Toronto.

Maple Leafs’ championship odds: Toronto among the favourites

Team officials, however, have made it clear they will take their time with Matthews’ return.

Yes, he is having one of the best individual seasons for the Toronto franchise in recent memory. But his team is also – seemingly – on the cusp of finally making a major postseason breakthrough.

In fact, despite Toronto having not advanced out of the conference quarterfinals since 2004 – sportsbooks have been generous.

The Leafs’ championship odds aren’t bad at the moment:

  • Proline Plus: 8.00 European odds, +700 American odds (fourth-best odds)
  • BetMGM: 11.00, +1000 (tied for fourth-best odds)
  • BetRivers: 12.00, 1100 (tied for fourth-best odds)
  • Caesars: 10.00, +900 (tied for third-best odds)

Stanley Cup a long shot, but Leafs could score playoff breakthrough

Of course, even the most die-hard Leafs fans would consider this bet a long shot.

To go from repeated habitual first-round exits to champions is no easy feat. But then again, wackier things have happened on the ice. With goaltenders prone to heat up come the second season, nothing is ever off the table in hockey betting.

Should Matthews win the Hart Trophy, he will become the third Maple Leaf ever to win hockey’s most prestigious award. Back-to-back Rocket Richards looks pretty likely.

But ultimately, the number Leafs fans are most concerned about is 1967. That was the last time Toronto won the Cup.

The NHL playoffs begin May 2.

Photo by Tony Gutierrez, AP
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