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Matthews, Eichel among Hart Trophy value bets

Jack Eichel is a steal. (Getty)

The wonderful folks at Bovada who fully understand that we’re starving for hockey content over here have provided something of a lifeline, releasing odds to win the Hart Trophy for the 2018-19 NHL season.

Connor McDavid is, unsurprisingly, the overwhelming favourite to bag the award for a second time at 10/3. But as it was proven last year, it’s likely required that the Edmonton Oilers capture a postseason spot for hockey’s biggest star to even earn consideration for the award.

Because that’s obviously no certainty, let’s pinpoint a few value bets.

Auston Matthews – 10/1

In a injury-shortened year, Matthews didn’t factor into the Hart Trophy conversation in his second season. But with 34 goals in 62 games, Matthews performed in that tier, trailing only Alex Ovechkin in goals on a per-game basis. With his relationship with Mike Babcock under the microscope and more talent now baked into the Maple Leafs’ top six, Matthews should have ample opportunity to fill the net for an elite team and challenge for MVP honours — should his health hold up.

Nathan MacKinnon – 15/1 

MacKinnon narrowly missed out on the award this past season to Taylor Hall after leading a 47-point improvement for the Colorado Avalanche with an astounding 39 goals and 97 points. A repeat performance from an individual and team standpoint (the latter meaning again defying the odds in a stacked Central Division), would not just keep him in the conversation, but make him more likely to hear his name called. Suddenly, MacKinnon would be “due.”

Jack Eichel – 33/1

In the same way that MacKinnon and Hall were celebrated for dragging mediocre teams to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, there’s an opportunity for Eichel here in his fourth season. Fully healthy, with speed and skill suddenly surrounding him in a revamped top six, Eichel stands to make a massive jump with his point totals for a Sabres team that could have some success in the top-heavy Atlantic Division. While you probably shouldn’t expect a postseason spot for the Sabres, there’s undoubtedly value at 33/1.

Aleksander Barkov – 100/1

What would Barkov be offered at if he played for, say, Chicago or Philly? If the Panthers ride that late-season surge toward the top of the Atlantic, forcing everyone to acknowledge his world-class abilities, Barkov could make you some serious dough.

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