McDavid (+350) Favored to Win 2020 Hart Trophy; Matthews a Distant +1200

Connor McDavid at Oilers practice
2016 Hart Trophy-winner Connor McDavid is the favorite to win the 2020 award. Photo by Connor Mah (flickr) [CC License].
  • Connor McDavid is favored to win the 2020 Hart Trophy at +350
  • Reigning champion Nikita Kucherov has the second-best odds (+550)
  • Who the best bet is to win the league’s most valuable player award?

The NHL season is just two weeks away and the early 2020 Hart Trophy odds favor players who have been there and done that. The Oilers’ Connor McDavid, the 2016 MVP, is favored to win at +350, followed with last year’s recipient, the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov. Sidney Crosby (Penguins) and Alex Ovechkin (Capitals) round out the top four.

Of note, no goaltenders or defensemen are receiving odds, with Carey Price being the only netminder in the last 16 seasons to win the award. It is also very rare for a player to win back-to-back trophies – more on that later.

Odds to Win 2020 Hart Trophy

Player Odds
Connor McDavid (Oilers) +350
Nikita Kucherov (Lightning) +550
Sidney Crosby (Penguins) +700
Alex Ovechkin (Capitals) +1000
Auston Matthews (Maple Leafs) +1200
Nathan Mackinnon (Avalanche) +1200
Taylor Hall (Devils) +1400
John Tavares (Maple Leafs) +2000
Patrick Kane (Blackhawks) +2000
Steven Stamkos (Lightning) +2500
Mitch Marner (Maple Leafs) +2500
David Pastrnak (Bruins) +2500
Evgeny Kuznetsov (Capitals) +2500
Brayden Point (Lightning) +2800
Mark Scheifele (Jets) +2800
Patrik Laine (Jets) +3500

*Odds taken 09/17/19.

Last Five Hart Trophy Winners Have Been First-Timers

If you’re into trends, then consider players who haven’t won the Hart Trophy yet. The last five winners have all been first-time NHL MVPs.

As mentioned, the top-four betting favorites (McDavid, Kucherov, Crosby, Ovechkin) have all won at least one Hart Trophy before. Since 1997-98, only Ovechkin and Crosby have won multiple Hart Trophy awards.

Last Five Hart Trophy Winners

Year Player
2018 Nikita Kucherov
2017 Taylor Hall
2016 Connor McDavid
2015 Patrick Kane
2014 Carey Price

Only Two Players Have Won Back-to-Back Hart Trophies in Last 31 Seasons

At first blush, Nikita Kucherov as the second-favorite at +550 might look like good value, given that he’s improved his point totals significantly each of the last four years (66 pts, 85 pts, 100 pts, and then 128 points in his Hart Trophy winning campaign last year).

But historically, winning back-to-back Hart Trophies is a monumental task. Only two players have done it in the last three decades (Dominik Hasek, 97-98; and Ovechkin, 08-09).

Intriguing Dark Horse Pick to Take Home the Hart

The second-pick in the 2016 draft, Patrik Laine, looked to be headed for super-elite status following 36 and 44-goal seasons in his first two years, but shockingly struggled last year, dropping to 50 points. His odds to win the Hart Trophy have plummeted to +3500 amid uncertainty over whether he’ll sign a new contract.

In his first two years, however, Laine had the second-most goals in the NHL (two behind Ovechkin). He has a ridiculous amount of talent and, if the streaky Finn can find more consistency in his fourth season, those odds might be looking mighty fine.

Auston Matthews the Best Value Pick to Win Hart Trophy

If the Maple Leafs are able to get over the hump and slay the rival Bruins and Lightning to win the Atlantic Division, captain-in-waiting Auston Matthews will likely play a huge role in that.

In his three seasons his points per game totals have incrementally improved. In total, he’s averaged better than 0.5 goals per game in this first three seasons (111 G in 212 GP) and he has a reasonable chance to hit that magical 50-goal plateau if he can shake the injury bug that’s seen him miss 34 games combined in the last two seasons.

On top of that, he plays for massive east-coast market, which would help his candidacy since seven of the last eight winners have played in the East.

Pick: Auston Matthews (+1200)

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