The evolution of the modern goal scorer has been interesting to monitor the past few seasons. We don’t often see NHL players reach the 60-goal mark. Last season, we got that from Toronto Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy as League MVP. Only three players in the past two decades have reached that mark: Matthews, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos in 2011-12 and Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (65) in 2007-08.
Will we see someone join the 60-goal club this season? Will we at least see plenty of players in the 50-range? One can only hope. Entering 2022-23, the market for top goal scorer has plenty of appealing lines. Let’s take a look.
NHL top goal scorer odds 2022-23
Auston Matthews and the Favorites
The idea that Matthews is +190 and the next best odds are Leon Draisaitl at +600 seems insane to me. What Matthews did last season was incredible. It’s not something that is easy to duplicate. And it also isn’t like there were a ton of players who were far off Matthews. Draisaitl got to 55 goals. Chris Kreider (gross) and Ovechkin both had 50-plus. And the three behind them are arguably the top young goal scorers in the NHL — Kirill Kaprizov (47), Kyle Connor (47) and Connor McDavid (44).
Prior to last season, Matthews’ previous career high in goals was 47. He had 41 in 52 games to lead the NHL in the shortened season in 2020-21. He’s also started shooting the puck at an insane rate compared to previous seasons. His shooting percentage last season (17.2) was slightly above his career average (16.4). If he regresses a bit, we should see Matthews land in the mid-50 range this season. Most of his goals (44) were at even strength, which feels difficult to duplicate.
The other side of this is Matthews is still only 25 years old and in his prime. There’s no reason to believe he’ll regress. The Maple Leafs kept mostly the same roster intact. This is likely why his odds are much further ahead of the rest of the field. So does that mean we should just take Matthews to win the Rocket Richard again? Perhaps. We’re not entirely sold and the discrepancy from last season and in this betting market makes for plenty of value.
With that in mind, there seems to be a few players who could make a big jump similar to Matthews.
I absolutely love Kyle Connor and Kirill Kaprizov in this market. Both are sitting at +1400 and both feel like the most likely to make a big jump this season. Kaprizov has 159 points in 136 games in his career over two seasons. The Minnesota Wild lost Kevin Fiala, but that could mean more ice time and scoring opportunities for Kaprizov. The Wild roster is still very talented. Kaprizov scored 47 goals on 289 shots at a 16.3% clip. Better puck luck and more SOG could translate to somewhere in the mid-50s range this season. He’s also another 25-year-old smack dab in the middle of his prime. There’s really no reason to think Kaprizov will regress off his numbers from last season. He feels like the closest thing to an Alex Ovechkin we’ve seen in a while.
Connor is another 25-year-old entering the prime of his career. There are a lot of similarities between him and Kaprizov. Connor is on a Winnipeg Jets squad that has more talent than the Wild. Connor is also coming off 47 goals but the numbers are more interesting. Connor had more shots than the Wild wing, posting a career-high 317 last season. His shooting percentage was significantly lower at 14.8%, which was almost a full percentage point lower than each of his previous two seasons.
For me, Connor is the more appealing play given that stat. We know Connor’s shot total will be toward the top of the NHL and over 300. If that’s the case again and his shooting percentage has positive regression back to the mean or higher (into the 16-17% range), that could mean a very big jump in goals. To me, Connor is one of the biggest threats to Matthews for the Rocket Richard, but his betting line doesn’t really reflect that.
If you’re looking to sprinkle some money anywhere, here are a few players to consider. Alex DeBrincat (+2500) and Jason Robertson (+3500) stand out first. DeBrincat had 41 last season in 82 games. He was dealt to the Ottawa Senators and there should be way more talent on that roster than Chicago’s. There’s reason to believe DeBrincat will see plenty of ice time, plenty of PP time and more shots on goal as the top scorer for Ottawa.
Robertson just signed a interesting deal with the Stars. It’s four years at $7.75 million per season. That feels a bit below what he could be making. So chances are we’ll see Robertson really gunning for that next contract. He also had 41 goals last season in fewer games (74). Robertson also did it on a pretty crazy 18.6 shooting percentage. That was mostly because of the lower SOG total of 220. If Robertson starts to shoot more, that could mean either regression or he stays at a high shooting percentage, which would mean more scoring. Dallas also has more talent than Ottawa, if we’re comparing the two.
Ovechkin (+3500) is always going to have value and appeal at his age. It hasn’t really slowed him down too much. He had 50 goals and 334 shots on goal last season. If he continues posting those shot totals, it would come down to puck luck and percentages, which can swing one way or the other. It’s not a bad gamble at this line.
If we’re looking for super, super deep sleepers, Matthew Tkachuk (+7500) and Filip Forsberg (+7500) are also worth some sprinklage. Tkachuk goes to Florida and gets to play with Aleksander Barkov. Tkachuk also fits that prototype of player entering his prime at age 24. He had 42 goals last season and goes from the 6th-ranked offense to the top-ranked offense.
Forsberg was also at 42 goals and is an outlier if we look at totals from last season compared to odds for 2022-23. Crazy enough he’s still only 28 years old and his stats look a lot like Robertson’s. Forsberg had 42 goals on limited shots and had an 18.6 shooting percentage. More shots could translate to more goals or the opposite way. It’s a risk, but at this number sprinkling isn’t a terrible idea.
Top goal scorer odds 2022-23