The NHL season is about to hit hyperdrive, with the March 21 trade deadline approaching and the playoffs beginning not long after that in early May.
For hockey betting, that means the best time of year — and the most stressful — is almost upon us.
Canadians, though, have gotten a jumpstart on their hockey betting. Proline Plus, Ontario’s only legal sportsbook, reported that the company in February set a new record for sales in NHL betting. Proline’s operator, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., also became an official partner with the NHL this week.
And here’s the most exciting part for those who made those bets: More options are on the way. Many states in the U.S. have gotten familiar with being able to wager through a variety of operators, and those options will soon be crossing the border.
An expanded market of sports betting options will launch in Ontario starting on April 4.
Let’s take a look at what type of benefits Canadian bettors will enjoy once a variety of operators enter the country.
Puckline vs. Moneyline in hockey compared to football
First, we should clarify how hockey’s betting system works.
Like football (if you were into that kinda thing), there are two main options: The spread and the moneyline. Hockey moneylines work, in essence, exactly like football. The spread, however, does not.
All hockey spreads are 1.5 goals, and because of that, it’s not as typical to see each side of the spread present similar odds like in football. In fact, moneyline and spread odds usually work inversely with one another.
Here’s an example from Tuesday night when the Calgary Flames welcomed in the Washington Capitals: Calgary’s moneyline odds (1.76) were slightly higher than Washington’s (2.10). It was projected to be a pretty tight game.
But since Calgary needed to win by 2 to cover the spread, and the moneyline reflected that the game would be closer than that, their odds to cover the spread were at 2.75 — an increase of 56.25%, which works out to an additional $49.50 of winnings on a $50 bet. Washington, meanwhile, could still lose the game by 1 while still covering, so their odds against the spread provided little value at 1.47.
Game props, futures, etc.
As far as game props go, Proline Plus lets you bet on the right score, take alternate lines, predict the time of the first goal, and more. They offer a nice overall selection outside of the traditional spread, moneyline and over-under, but in no way is their prop and parlay system as robust as what most of the US sportsbooks are offering.
The biggest difference is that — with the exception of being able to bet a future on who will win the Hart Trophy — Proline Plus doesn’t offer any player-specific props. FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings and the other big operators let you get as specific as your heart desires.
Do you think Leon Draisaitl will have over 1.5 power-play points on Wednesday night? There’s a prop for that. Do you think Nick Suzuki will land over 2.5 shots on goal against Vancouver, or that Tim Stützle will have the first goal in Ottawa’s next game, or that Michael Bunting has a legit shot at winning the Calder? There’s props and futures for those, too.
Specials abound at US sportsbooks
Competition breeds innovation, and it’d be tough to argue that any industry is displaying that right now more than sports betting.
Unfortunately, with Proline Plus being Ontario’s only operator, most of that innovation has yet to cross the border. But with reports of 30-plus sportsbooks expected to enter Ontario soon, one could reasonably believe that a more competitive space will inspire operators to give out better specials than what’s currently seen in the US.
For instance, DraftKings was running a U.S. National Team Development Program special (Quinn Hughes and Cole Caufield to combine for 3+ points at odds of 2.90) in Wednesday’s Vancouver-Montreal match.
For another example, PointsBet Online Betting runs a daily parlay booster. That means that twice a day, you can redeem “booster tokens” to increase the odds on a 3+ leg parlay.
There’s an unlimited number of instances in which one operator presents a more attractive offer to bet through their book. But for now, let’s see how a variety of oddsmakers could help you become more savvy on a night-to-night basis.
Let’s take a look at a sampling of Tuesday’s slate for an example of how things will compare in about a month after the expanded market launches.
Seattle Kraken at Toronto Maple Leafs
- Favourite: Maple Leafs
- Proline Plus spread payout: Maple Leafs: 1.83; Kraken: 2.00
- Maple Leafs moneyline: 1.33 (U.S. moneyline equivalent: -303)
- Kraken moneyline: 3.40 (U.S. moneyline equivalent: +240)
- $10 bet on the Maple Leafs would return: $13.30
- $10 bet on the Kraken would return: $34.00
- Compared to US sportsbooks: Proline Plus and all of the major Michigan operators had the Leafs (37-16-4) as the favourite in their home matchup with the Kraken (17-36-5). All of those Michigan operators besides FanDuel (1.32) will pay out a marginally better return on the Leafs moneyline than ProLine, with BetMGM Sportsbook providing the best value at 1.36 (a $2 difference from FanDuel on a $50 bet). FanDuel provides the best bet on the Seattle moneyline, coming in at 3.45 — but a wager on the Seattle moneyline on Proline Plus would garner a better return than what’s offered by any US operator besides FanDuel.
Ottawa Senators at St. Louis Blues
- Favourite: Blues
- Proline Plus spread payout:1.91 for each team
- Senators moneyline: 3.10 (U.S. moneyline equivalent: +210)
- Blues moneyline: 1.38 (U.S. moneyline equivalent: -263)
- $10 bet on the Senators would return: $31.00
- $10 bet on the Blues would return: $13.80
- Compared to US sportsbooks: If you were looking to place a bet on the Senators (20-31-5) to beat the Blues (32-17-7) on Tuesday night, you would have definitely been better off placing that bet in Michigan, where there are 14 sportsbooks. All Michigan operators were giving better odds on the Senators than Proline Plus besides DraftKings, which matched it at odds of 3.10. If you were to place a $50 bet on the Senators through FanDuel, that would have earned you a $165 payout, compared to the $155 you could have gotten through Proline Plus. If you wanted to bet the Blues, however, you’d be better off placing the bet in Canada. Even Michigan’s best offerings (BetRivers and DraftKings) are even with Proline plus (1.38).
Tampa Bay Lightning at Winnipeg Jets
- Favourite: Lightning
- Proline Plus spread payout: Jets: 1.60; Lightning: 2.40
- Jets moneyline: 2.45 (U.S. moneyline equivalent: +145)
- Lightning moneyline: 1.57 (U.S. moneyline equivalent: -175)
- $10 bet on the Jets would return: $24.50
- $10 bet on the Lightning would return: $15.70
- Compared to US sportsbooks: Unlike the previous two games, there was no advantage to betting on the Canadian team with US odds. All of the Michigan sportsbooks had the Jets (25-22-10) sitting comfortably at 2.45 on the moneyline. There was a marginal difference in some of the options on the Lightning (37-13-6). A $50 winning bet through BetRivers, which gave the best Lightning moneyline odds at 1.59, would have paid out a $79.94 return, as opposed to the $78.57 that would have come through Proline Plus.
Washington Capitals at Calgary Flames
- Favourite: Flames
- Proline Plus spread payout: Flames: 2.75; Capitals: 1.47
- Flames moneyline: 1.76 (U.S. moneyline equivalent: -131)
- Capitals moneyline: 2.10 (U.S. moneyline equivalent: +110)
- $10 bet on the Flames would return: $17.60
- $10 bet on the Capitals would return: $21.00
- Compared to US sportsbooks: This game also didn’t show much variance between Proline Plus and the Michigan sportsbooks. The best value on a Flames (34-15-7) moneyline bet through a Michigan operator was PointsBet at 1.77, one decimal higher than Proline Plus. The best bet on the Capitals (31-18-9) moneyline was via BetRivers, which gave odds at 2.16. That’s a difference of $3 on a $50 dollar bet.
Verdict: More sportsbook choices is better
Hey, even a moderately experienced sports bettor will tell you that more odds options are good for the consumer.
This isn’t even meant as a knock on Proline, which seems to be raising its game to prepare for the competition.
But winning a bet is one thing; getting the best value on a winner is even better.