Olympic Men’s Hockey: Where’s the Betting Value in Beijing?

Devon Platana

Wed Feb 09 2022

Olympic Men's Hockey: Where’s the Betting Value in Beijing?

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are in full swing, bringing together some of the world’s greatest athletes. While each even is exciting in its own right, a large portion of fans will have their eyes glued to the men’s hockey competition. Unfortunately, much like the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, this year’s Olympic men’s hockey tournament is devoid of any National Hockey League players.

Yes, there are some former NHL players representing their respective country, however, the feel to the tournament is that most teams can win on any given night.

Keeping that in mind, BetMGM’s latest Olympic odds give us a better idea as to which country will likely win gold in men’s hockey.

Here’s a look at the tournament’s top contenders, as well as a value bet that could wind up paying off big time.

ROC Looking for Back-to-Back Olympic Gold Medals

Much like most Winter Olympic Games, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is expected to be a powerhouse at this year’s tournament. BetMGM is currently listing them as the +150 to win the men’s hockey gold medal and for good reason.

The Russians are the defending gold medalists, having defeated Germany, 4-3 in overtime, in the finals of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. While a decent portion of their team from four years ago won’t be returning this year, the ROC still boasts many talented players.

Returning gold medalist Vadim Shipachyov will captain this ROC this year. He currently leads the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo with 67 points in 48 games. That’s 25 more points than his next closest Moscow teammate.

The ROC also boasts a handful of former NHLers, which should benefit them as the tournament goes on. Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Gusev, Artem Anisimov and Slava Voynov have all had stints in the NHL.

Timur Bilyalov and Timur Bilyalov will likely see the majority of work in net for the ROC. Both goaltenders have been enjoying promising KHL seasons, so continuing that in the Olympic men’s hockey tournament will be necessary for gold medal success.

Finland Looking for First Men’s Hockey Gold Medal

Finland has also been a constant presence at the Winter Games when it comes to men’s hockey, having competed in each of the last 15 tournaments. The Finns have won a total of six medals over that span, however, they’ve yet to take home the gold.

However, that could all change this year with BetMGM giving Finland the second-best odds (+400) to win the gold medal in men’s hockey. Without teams being filled with NHL-level talent, there’s certainly a possibility of the Finns finishing on top.

Like the ROC, Finland boats some former NHL talents up front such as the likes of former Stanley Cup Champion Valtteri Filppula (530 points in 1,056 NHL games played), Markus Granlund (101 pts in 335 GP) and Leo Komorov (170 pts in 491 GP). That trend continues on the backend with defenseman Sami Vatanen, who racked up 200 points in 473 games between 2012 and 2021.

Finland has more players with North American playing experience — albeit, not as much as the above. Still, that’s led to the Finns having one of the deeper rosters at the tournament. Finland won silver at the 2021 IIHF World Championship, so only time will tell if they can turn that into gold in Beijing.

Sweden Seeks First Gold Medal Since 2006

As a country, Sweden has produced some of the best hockey players that the world has ever seen. While they, like other countries, will be missing their NHL talent, their +550 odds show that they have a chance to win the country’s first gold medal since the 2006 Torino Olympic Games.

Sweden may not have as notable names as the ROC or Finland, but forwards Joakim Nordstrom and Marcus Kruger have nearly 1,110 career NHL games (regular season and playoffs) between them, as well three Stanley Cup rings between them.

The Swedes will also rely on defenseman Henrik Tömmernes for some offensive production from the blue line. The 31-year-old former Vancouver Canucks seventh-round pick has a career-high 49 points in 41 games with Geneve Servette in Switzerland and will likely get involved early and often in the tournament’s games.

Lars Johansson will likely be Sweden’s starting goaltender for the majority of the tournament. He’s looked great throughout the 2021-22 KHL season, recording a 20-9-2 record, 1.63 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and nine shutouts in 34 games with St. Petersburg SKA.

Olympic Men’s Hockey Gold Medal Value Bet: Canada (+650)

In a year with NHL players in attendance, Canada is usually an easy favorite to win the men’s hockey gold medal. However, that isn’t the case this year, resulting in the Canadians’ odds on BetMGM sitting at +650.

People seem to be questioning whether or not Canada can get the job done this year, which is a similar feeling that was felt four years ago in Pyeongchang. The Canadians winded up surprising a lot of doubters by winning bronze in Pyeongchang, so who’s to say that won’t be the case again in Beijing?

Canada’s roster is made up mostly of players who have some NHL playing experience. One name that stands out above the rest is Eric Staal, who’s a former 2010 Olympic gold medal winner, Stanley Cup Champion and has 1,034 points in 1,293 career games.

In addition to veterans like Staal, Canada’s roster has younger names like Josh Ho-Sang and 2021 NHL Entry Draft top-3 picks Owen Power and Mason McTavish. With a combination of youth and experience, opposing teams could have their hands full with the Canadians. If they can get the ball rolling as they did four years ago, Canada could see its first men’s hockey gold medal since 2014 while proving some solid betting value in the process.

Devon Platana
Devon Platana

Devon is a Master of Journalism graduate who joined the sports betting world in 2020. His favorite leagues to cover are the NHL, NBA and NFL, and has a soft spot for fantasy football specifically. Outside of sports, he enjoys the finer things in life like pasta, live music and getting even more tattoos.