We’re still a week away from training camps opening ahead of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, but the oddsmakers are already weighing in on the tournament.
It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one which team is viewed as the heavy, heavy favorite. With their back-to-back Olympic gold medals and deep roster, Canada is viewed as the team with the best shot to take the World Cup.
Here’s a look at the tournament field”s odds courtesy of Bovada:
|Team North America||16-1|
This is another interesting way of looking at the confidence being placed in Canada’s chances to win the tournament:
Implied World Cup of Hockey Win% from @BodogCA :
CAN – 52%
RUS – 18%
SWE – 17%
USA – 13%
FIN – 7%
North America – 6%
CZE – 4%
Europe – 3%
— DTM About Heart (@DTMAboutHeart) August 29, 2016
Canada is returning a lot of the forwards from their 2014 gold medal team and replaced some of the older members of that team with better, younger players. Even after losing Jamie Benn and Duncan Keith to injury, this group’s depth is unrivaled. They have a number of natural centers they’re going to have to flip to the wings because of how good their center depth is. Carey Price’s health and readiness are question marks, but the safety nets of Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford are pretty darn strong safety nets. It’s going to be really tough to get past this team as they defend home ice.
Russia was a surprise to see them with the second best odds in the tournament after such a disappointing finish two years ago in Sochi. Their depth at forward is notable, though, with a multitude of dynamic offensive talents including Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nikita Kucherov, Artemi Panarin and, in what may be his last competitive appearance in North America, Pavel Datsyuk. The blue line, however, is suspect. That could end up being this team’s downfall, but there’s no doubt they have the offensive fire power to win in wide-open games.
Sweden, meanwhile, has arguably the deepest blue line in the tournament. They have more than enough offense up front, but they’re going to miss Alexander Steen and his two-way prowess quite a bit. Then they’ve got Henrik Lundqvist in net in what could be one of his last major appearances for Sweden. You’ll know he’ll be bringing it for this tournament. This team, as a whole, is better than the Swedish side that took silver in Sochi.
The U.S. squad, which took silver at the 2010 Olympics and fourth in 2014, might be a little surprising to not be inside the top three, but it’s hard to argue. Despite the U.S. having the second deepest talent pool to pull from among the top hockey nations, their adherence to bringing some grit and grind over skill has to be one of the major reasons they’re not among the top two in terms of odds for winning. The key for the Americans in this tournament is going to be strong goaltending, no matter who they start.
Perhaps the most interesting pick was Team North America at 16-1. If there’s one group that you might consider a dark horse, this is the one. The depth of talent this team has up front led by Johnny Gaudreau, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, not to mention a Stanley Cup winning goalie in Matt Murray, gives them a shot at surprising some people. They have to finish group play as one of the top two teams in their division. Sweden looks like a lock to advance, but Russia and Finland are no sure bets. Once you get to the semis, all bets are off in a single-elimination.
The interesting element of this tournament is the best-of-3 final series. In other events like the Olympics or World Juniors, you can catch a team on a bad day and maybe pull off an upset. At the World Cup, you’ve got to have your best pretty much for the whole tournament and then hope your team is peaking in the final series for those last two wins it will take to claim the title. It’s going to be interesting to see if any of these clubs have enough to knock off the favorites at home.
Source: CBS Sports / 2016 World Cup of Hockey odds: Canada huge favorite, USA not among top three