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Pastrnak Becomes Richard Trophy Favorite at +275, But McDavid, Draisaitl, Ovechkin Close Behind

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has eight 50-goal seasons and eight Rocket Richard Trophies to his name. Photo by Michael Miller (Wiki Commons) [CC License].
  • Boston’s David Pastrnak leads the NHL with 20 goals and is favored to win the 2020 Rocket Richard Trophy
  • Edmonton duo Connor McDavid (18 goals) and Leon Draisaitl (16) sit second and third, respectively
  • Alexander Ovechkin (15) has eight 50-goal seasons and eight Rocket Richard Trophies in his career

It’s still early days in the NHL season, with the schedule just over a quarter of the way through, but the race for the 2020 Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy is starting to take shape.

Though Boston’s David Pastrnak leads the way with 20 goal, two ahead of Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, nobody has really separated themselves from the pack in the Rocket Richard Trophy odds. Oddsmakers know this race is very much still up for grabs.

Odds To Win 2019-20 Rocket Richard Trophy

Player Goals Single-season High Odds
David Pastrnak, Bruins 20 38 +275
Connor McDavid, Oilers 18 41 +350
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers 16 50 +350
Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals 15 65 +500
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs 16 40 +550
Brad Marchand, Bruins 16 39 +1000
Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche 14 41 +1500
FIELD N/A N/A +2000
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks 11 46 +7500
Jack Eichel, Sabres 14 28 +7500
John Tavares, Maple Leafs 6 47 +10000
Jeff Skinner, Sabres 9 40 +10000
Jake Guentzel, Penguins 12 40 +10000
Patrik Laine, Jets 6 44 +10000
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames 5 36 +10000

Odds taken Nov. 26, 2019.

Beantown Barrage

With two of the top-six favorites to take home the hardware, the Boston Bruins are well placed to have their first-ever winner of the Richard Trophy (introduced in 1999).

Pastrnak leads the NHL with 20 goals and currently has the shortest odds at +275. At just 23, the Czech-born winger has his best years ahead of him, and after three consecutive 30-plus-goal seasons, could be on the verge of breaking into the 40 or 50-goal club this time around.

Playing on a line with Patrice Bergeron and fellow sniper Brad Marchand doesn’t hurt either, as they form one of the NHL’s top trios and are a nightmare matchup for anybody.

However, it should be noted that his shooting percentage this year is at 21.3%, well above his 14.6% career average, which points to a regression.

Marchand’s numbers are even more concerning in that regard, with the diminutive winger shooting at a 27.1% clip, far in excess of his 16.2% career average, which points to a severe downturn at some point this season.

Kings of the North

Putting up points at an inexorable rate, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are not only in a head-to-head battle for the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading point producer, but both are vying for the Richard Trophy as well.

Based on track record, Draisaitl has the edge, having reached the 50-goal mark just last year, while McDavid has never eclipsed 41 goals in a season. But this year it is McDavid who is the leading sniper, while Draisaitl is taking on more of a pass-first role.

Draisaitl actually has the edge in time-on-ice so far this season – 22:53 per game compared to 22:18 – but that is surely just a coincidence. When it comes to the Rocket Richard race, both are comfortably beating their rivals from Boston in this area, as a more balanced Bruins roster has Marchand and Pastrnak on the ice for roughly 19 minutes a night.

Compared to the Boston duo, their shooting percentages are more inline with their career norms, although both will likely see a regression there. Draisaitl is shooting at a 19.3% clip, not far north of his 16.4% career average, while McDavid is scoring at a 20% rate, a fair amount above his career average of 15.2%.

While McDavid’s speed has the potential cause the kind of injury he had last year, both have been fairly healthy during their short careers.

Alexander the Great

Any conversation about the Rocket Richard Trophy is incomplete without a mention of the Washington Capitals captain, an eight-time winner of the trophy.

Though he has just three goals in his last 11 games, it is hard to bet against a guy with eight 50-goal seasons on his resume. After all, excluding the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13, only four times in the 19 other years has the award been won by someone scoring fewer than 50 goals.

While he may be scoring in fits and starts this season, he is right in the mix with 15 so far on a Capitals team that looks as dangerous as ever. On top of that, Ovechkin has been as durable as they come during his 14-year career, never missing more than 10 games in a season.

On top of that, his shooting percentage is right at his career average of 12.6%. That could well trend upwards as the season’s intensity rises.

Fringe Contenders

The two other true contenders both have the ability to make a dent in this race.

Auston Matthews has shown himself to have one of the best wrist shots in the league, and he is getting the power-play time to show off his one-timer, though he’s a fair way off Ovechkin in that department. With a new coach who may not be averse to boosting his ice time, as Mike Babcock sometimes was, Matthews may get the opportunities to improve on the career-best 40 goals he had in his rookie campaign. Hhis shooting percentage of 17.6% isn’t wildly out of whack with his 15.7% career mark.

Meanwhile for all his talents, MacKinnon’s career shooting percentage of just 10% seems abysmally low. He’s improved on it this year – slightly – bringing it up to 12.7%, but for a guy with otherworldly skills, it just seems a matter of time before that trends upwards, particularly for someone who had 41 goals last year.

It’s hard to go against Ovechkin’s track record, but with the ice time they’re getting, either McDavid and Draisaitl represent good value here.

Picks: McDavid or Draisaitl (+350)

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