Injuries to Star Players and Their Impact on Your NHL Picks

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Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers. Grant Halverson/Getty Images/AFP

Injuries are part and parcel of professional sports but how those stints on the shelf for the superstars affect your NHL picks is what we are here to discuss. Let’s talk about a few different angles and how we can turn lemons into lemonade when those injuries occur. 

Future Bets 

The NHL futures have become an increasingly popular betting market and those who can find value in the preseason offerings can make a healthy return on their investment if they do their due diligence. This market focuses on teams to win the division, conference, and Stanley Cup as well as the total number of wins at the end of the regular season. 

Naturally, whenever we whittle down our choices before the season begins, we must assume that all of the pieces of the puzzle will be in place throughout. However, many things can happen and injuries are chief among them. 

Nevertheless, what we need to consider is the caliber of the player who is injured and the severity of the injury. The NHL odds in this market are dynamic so the sportsbooks do not pull them from their betting menus once the first game begins.

Many of the best online sportsbooks offer NHL future props until late in the season and then a new set of Stanley Cup odds becomes available on all of those teams that have made the postseason.  

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A lengthy injury to a superstar player, ala Alex Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, or a top goaltender like the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin can have a devastating impact on the fortunes of their respective teams. And if you have placed a preseason wager on any of the clubs adversely affected by injury then things can look bleak in a hurry.  

But the golden rule is to wait, evaluate, and once you’ve made a decision, don’t hesitate. It’s important to understand the severity of the injury to your superstar player and whether or not it will prohibit him from returning to the ice before the season is over.  

If the expectation is that he will return in time for the playoffs then it could be an ideal opportunity to double down on your wager. Understand that the team you bet at +800 before the season began with a healthy superstar could soar to +1500 once panic ensues. A second wager on the same team at a more appealing price is not unheard of in the world of professional sports bettors.   

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The NHL season is a long grind and no player escapes unscathed after 82 games. Every player experiences an injury to one degree or another, some we never hear about if it doesn’t preclude him from suiting up. Consider that when the superstar does return to the ice it will take a few games for him to shake off the rust but the team you initially bet on will be back intact.

And while they may take a little tumble in the standings during his stint on the IR, this could be an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the better price at the betting windows while your resident superstar is on the shelf.  

One Man Does Not a Team Make 

No team wants to lose its star but the impact of losing one for a brief time is not the doom and gloom scenario many would have you believe. A team’s depth is even more important than having a top-10 player on its roster. We have seen many teams that have that “one guy” but no one else around him to make the team competitive.  

We must also consider the motivational aspects from a player on the second line stepping up to the first line to replace the superstar and all of the others moving up behind him. This is a prime opportunity for these players to prove they belong and the intensity they bring can often mitigate, to some degree, the absence of the resident superstar. 

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Consider that when Accuscore ran a simulation a few years ago of the Edmonton Oilers’ record with and without Connor McDavid. The results were far less onerous than one would expect as Edmonton was projected to win 39 games, garner 86 points, and place 7th in the Western Conference with McDavid. But without him, the results dropped to 35 wins, 80 points, and 9th in the West.  

This proves that one man does not a team make and although a club is always better with a superstar, they might not be as critical to success as we tend to believe if there is enough talent and depth surrounding him. Choose your bets wisely but don’t necessarily fade a team simply because one elite player is on the sidelines.