Eichel at 33-to-1 odds to win the Hart Trophy

August 17, 2018 - 11:14 am
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The Buffalo Sabres are in the middle of their worst playoff drought in franchise history, missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven straight seasons.

After finishing dead last in the NHL standings in the 2017-18 season, the Sabres have made several moves this offseason to overhaul the roster with hopes of breaking the drought and returning to the postseason.

One player who will be a pivotal piece to the puzzle of the team's success in the long-term in franchise center, Jack Eichel. Eichel has spent the past three seasons in Buffalo, scoring 73 goals and 177 points in 209 career games. The 21-year-old has been looked at as being the next leader for the Sabres, and becoming the linchpin that will help bring the team together on the ice and in the locker room.

If the Sabres are to end their playoff drought and get back to the NHL playoffs, Eichel is likely going to have to eclipse the point per-game pace this season, as well as remain healthy for, close to, 82 games.

The online sports gambling website Bovada released its odds for the winner of the 2018-19 Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player on Thursday. This list is made up of 34 players from around the NHL, including last year's Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall at 15-to-1 odds.

According to Bovada's list, Eichel has the 17th best odds on this list of winning the Hart Trophy, setting his odds at 33-to-1.

Here are the Bovada MVP odds for the NHL 2018-19 season. Gimme Stamkos at 25-to-1 all day. pic.twitter.com/fsCTcgDo7F

— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 16, 2018

Eichel set a number of career-highs in scoring last season with the Sabres, netting 25 goals, picking up 39 assists and registering 64 points in just 67 games played. Eichel's points per-game average has started to inch closer towards the point per-game rate, setting a .93 points per-game pace in the 2016-17 season and a .96 points per-game pace last year.

If Eichel can play a full 82-game regular season schedule and surpass the 82-point mark, in addition to helping the Sabres turn things around from a 62-point outing last season, chances are that voters will take a serious look at Eichel for Hart Trophy consideration.

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon ended up finishing second in the race for the Hart Trophy last season, receiving 70-less points than Hall in the voting process. MacKinnon helped the Avalanche improve by 46 points in the standings by scoring 39 goals and 97 points in 74 games, and leading his team to the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The year before, MacKinnon struggled with just 16 goals and 53 points in 82 games as Colorado put up a measly 48 points in the standings.

If the Sabres can pull off a similar turnaround to the Avalanche from last season, and Eichel can produce at the same rate MacKinnon did (1.31 points per-game), it would be difficult to leave him out of the mix for the Hart.

The player with the best odds of winning the Hart Trophy this upcoming season is Edmonton Oilers center, Connor McDavid.

McDavid won the Hart Trophy back in 2016 after producing 100 points (30 goals and 70 assists) in 82 games, while also leading the Oilers back to the playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons.

Last year, McDavid finished fourth in the Hart Trophy voting, despite the fact that he led the NHL in scoring with 108 points in 82 games. However, the Oilers struggled out of the gate and ended up finishing the year as the 23rd place team in the overall standings.

Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby (13/2), Washington's Alexander Ovechkin (10/1), and Toronto's John Tavares (10/1) and Auston Matthews (10/1) round out the top-five best odds of winning the Hart Trophy this season.

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