NHL Top Goal Scorer: Betting on Rocket Richard Trophy Winner
There never used to be a trophy given to the NHL’s top goal scorer, but that changed starting with the 1998-99 season, when the Rocket Richard Trophy was established in honor of the NHL’s first 50-goal scorer -- Montreal Canadiens icon Maurice “Rocket” Richard.
Teemu Selanne of Anaheim was that season’s winner, with 47 goals - not bad for someone in the “Dead Puck Era.” From 2008-18, Alexander Ovechkin had a pretty firm grip on it, winning it seven times, with Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby winning two apiece.
While trying to bet on the Art Ross Trophy winner (most points in a season) is more nuanced and has a deeper pool of candidates - because two players can get points on a goal even if they didn’t score it - betting on the Rocket Richard winner is more straightforward.
NHL Top Goal Scorer Futures Betting
Bet on the Shooter, Not the Passer
Pretty straightforward here. Guys who shoot the puck a lot are going to win this trophy more than the guys who think pass first. Ovechkin is a good passer, but he knows his very best asset is that booming, accurate shot of his. He’s not going to change now, and goal-scorers in general rarely ever change their stripes.
Sometimes, you see assist men score a lot more goals, for any variety of reasons. But you rarely see a goal scorer turn into a big playmaker.
Look to the East
From 2007 until 2018, only one player from a Western Conference team (Corey Perry in 2010-11, 50 goals) has won the trophy. Is there something more to this than just coincidence?
One theory as to why Eastern players may have a slight - and slight is the right word - edge in winning: They’re better rested.
It’s just a fact that players from Eastern teams get more rest than the ones from the West who have to spend a lot more time in airplanes and buses. Many Eastern players can be back in their own beds by midnight or so, even when playing on the road. The typical Western player won’t be back in their own beds until 5 or 6 a.m. after flying home from most any game.
A brilliant, superstar scorer is going to score no matter the venue -- and Wayne Gretzky was proof of that, playing all those years in remote, Western Canada.
If Ovechkin played for a Western team, he’d probably have a handful of Rocket Richard Trophies still. But maybe not as many, because of the fatigue factor.
Pay Attention to the Coaches
Some coaches just hate high-scoring games and would be perfectly thrilled if his teams won every game, 1-0 or 2-1 and bored everyone to tears in the process. These kinds of coaches want their forwards to block shots and backcheck and play “200-foot” games.
The odds they’ll coach a Rocket Richard winner, therefore, probably will be lower than the coach who loves his teams to freewheel and doesn’t mind the 5-4 win.
Every coach wants his team to play well defensively, but not all coaches work their forwards as hard defensively as some others. Pay attention to that when placing a futures bet on this trophy.
Other Tips to Consider
- If a team has terrible defense and goaltending, chances are the star scorers on that team are always going to feel more pressure to score goals.
- Who is the setup guy to a top goal scorer? Ovechkin wouldn’t have won as many Rocket Richards without a guy like Nicklas Backstrom feeding him the puck. Brett Hull wouldn’t have won as many goal-scoring titles he did in St. Louis without Adam Oates setting him up.
- Make sure that setup man, of the goal-scorer you’re betting on to win, doesn’t get hurt a lot and make sure his contract status is set through the year, with little or no chance of him being traded.
- Along with good setup men on the same, top goal scorers need good power-play quarterbacks at the blue line. The best goal scorers get a lot of easy goals on the power play. A guy may have a great shot, but if the point men can’t get the puck through to them, they won’t score as many goals.
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