The 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics are closing upon us and one of the most watched events is no doubt going to be the men’s ice hockey tournament. This year is going to be way different then previous before it and that's because for the first time since 1994 there will be no NHL players involved in the event.
We won't get into the politics of way this happened but with no NHL players participating it becomes a wide open affair to say the least. So who will win and who are the sleepers? We’ve looked at all the mens Olympic hockey rosters and the betting odds and have broken down some of the key factors to look at if you are going to be making some bets this year. We have also thrown in some predictions and tips to taking advantage of the current betting odds.
Best 2018 Olympic Hockey Odds
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Olympic Hockey Group Betting
Group A - Canada, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Republic of Korea
Although I don’t see Canada winning a gold medal this year, I do see them winning their group and it shouldn't be too difficult. If you look at it right now they are -225 to win the group and they 2 easy wins as far as I see in the Republic of Korea and what should be a another easy win over Switzerland. Maybe they get challenged by the Czech Republic but I see them beating them in a close game. Canada should be walking out of Group A as the winner at somewhat decent odds.
As far as a sleeper pick for Group A, the only choice really is the Czech Republic at +225. Giving that we are dealing with amateur players a win over Canada is not totally out of the question and they do have one well known former NHL'er in Martin Erat.
Group B - Russia, USA, Slovakia, Slovenia
Russia (known this year as the Olympic Athletes of Russia) are the favorites to win the Gold medal in 2018. They will basically be a KHL All-Star team who will know each other very well as compared to a team like Canada that will be a mishmash of players from many different leagues. Russia should win this group as their only real challenge will be the USA but I don't think they will be any match for them even with the likes of former NHL players Brian Gionta, Chris Bourque and Jim Slater. Russia should be too fast for the US to keep up with. I don't give any hope to Slovenia.
Slovakia is my sleeper for Group B. The only real recognizable name for the average fan is Ladisalv Nagy, who was once a multiple 20 goal scoreer for the Phoenix Coyotes, but when you look at their roster you will see that many of these players already play together in either the Czech Republic or Slovakia at the highest level. They are also a big team with only 4 players under 6 feet. Looking for value then Slovakia is the team to bet one.
Group C - Sweden, Finland, Germany, Norway
There is not much analysis that needs to be done in this group, sorry Germany and Norway but it's either Sweden or Finland winning Group C. When I scan the rosters of the top two teams I stop at one name and put my money on Sweden to win. The young phenom and consensus #1 pick in the entry draft for 2018 Rasmus Dahlin has been added to team Sweden. This guy is ridiculous (check out his insane highlights here) and when you add in former NHL'ers Jhonas Enroth, Viktor Stalberg, Erik Gustafsson, team Sweden is the team to beat in Group C and maybe the entire tournament.
Hard to pick a sleeper pick in this group but I'll go way off the board and take Germany at monster odds of +1600. Can they do it? Likely not, but remember we are dealing with amateur players who will be playing their hearts out as this may be their last chance at ever being on this type of stage again. They got some experience with players Christian Ehrhoff and Marcel Goc so you never know they may just shock the world. Don't risk a lot however, obviously.
Men's Hockey Sleeper Pick To Win Gold
Let me start off by saying I see Russia vs Sweden for the gold medal game and I'm giving the slight edge to Sweden.
After the Group play, teams are re-ranked 1-12 based on wins, points and goal differential. They way I see it playing out the Czechs will get to play the Korean team that may not score a goal all tournament. If the Czechs beat up on the Koreans they will likely make the quarterfinals so having them as a gold medal sleeper is not a far stretch by any means.
However, my top sleeper pick to win the mens hockey olympic gold medal when I look at the current odds is going to be Team Finland at +800 right now. I know I went with Germany in the group play but Finland is way to small of odds for my liking as a group play sleeper so I went big there. When I look for an actual realistic pick to win the whole thing at fair odds it leads you to Finland who won bronze the last 2 olympics and a silver before that.
The Fins always have a competitive team and should win their first round playoff matchup. If they get to play Canada in the Quarterfinals or say the Czech Republic then either match-up will be close and they will have a fighting chance vs both. In Olympic hockey, Finland is known for finding a hot goalie and that is sometimes all it takes to win these mini hockey tournaments. Don't "sleep" on Team Finland they can sneak up on many teams this year.