- Auston Matthews’ Hart Trophy odds have shortened from +1200 to +950
- Matthews is now a top-four contender behind three previous winners (McDavid, Kucherov and Crosby)
- Is he a worth a bet at this price, or is one of his teammates a more enticing value?
If you ask Bruins forward David Pastrnak, there’s a clear front runner to win the 2020 Hart trophy.
“The biggest thing is for him to be healthy … Last season he was better in the playoffs than the yr before in the playoffs. That shows (he’s) moving forward. He’s an unbelievable player.”
— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) August 15, 2019
Sportsbooks seem to partially agree with Pastrnak’s analysis and have made Auston Matthews a top-four Hart Trophy contender in the recent odds, moving him ahead of three-time winner Alex Ovechkin and Nathan MacKinnon in the last week.
2020 Hart Trophy Odds
|Connor McDavid (Oilers)||+350|
|Nikita Kucherov (Lightning)||+550|
|Sidney Crosby (Penguins)||+700|
|Auston Matthews (Leafs)||+950|
|Alex Ovechkin (Capitals)||+1000|
|Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche)||+1000|
|Taylor Hall (Devils)||+1400|
|Patrick Kane (Blackhawks)||+2200|
|Mark Scheifele (Jets)||+2200|
|John Tavares (Leafs)||+2500|
|Mitch Marner (Leafs)||+2800|
|Steven Stamkos (Lightning)||+2800|
*Odds taken on 09/24/19.
Matthews’ 2020 Hart Trophy odds have gone from +1200 to +950, while teammate John Tavares’ price went the other way, moving from +1800 to +2500. There’s no denying Matthews is a gifted goal scorer, but how high is his ceiling given that he hasn’t shown elite play making skills since turning pro?
The Case Against Auston
In four professional seasons (three in the NHL and one in Switzerland) Matthews has never recorded more goals than assists. For his NHL career, he averages .052 goals per game, compared to 0.44 assists, and if that trend continues it will significantly cap his points ceiling. Last year alone, six players notched 100-point seasons, and in order for Matthews to accomplish the feat this year he’ll likely need to exceed 50 goals.
Auston Matthews is back: pic.twitter.com/REmhkWosBN
— Vinnie Parise (@VinnieParise) September 19, 2019
He’s certainly capable of doing that, even though he’s never topped 40 in the pros, but it’s hard to envision him winning the award if guys like Kucherov and McDavid are threatening 120 points. Only four times in the last 15 full NHL seasons has the league leader in points not won the Hart Trophy, and in one of those instances the award went to goaltender Carey Price.
Bottom line, unless you think Matthews is capable of doubling his career assist rate and setting a new career high for goals, his Hart Trophy chances don’t reflect his short price tag.
Trust Tavares Instead?
If looking for a Maple Leafs forward to back, consider Tavares instead. His +2500 odds are much more attractive and he has the same 50-goal upside as Matthews.
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) September 21, 2019
Tavares scored 47 times a season ago, and is a much more proficient playmaker than his teammate. He’s averaged 43 assists per season over his last seven campaigns, and has the luxury of playing on the same line as another Hart Trophy candidate, Mitch Marner.
In his first full season with Toronto, he set career highs in goals and points, and those totals are bound to increase now that he has a full season of familiarity with Marner under his belt.