The 2020-21 NHL season is just hours away, and there has never been a better time to take a look at the betting odds.

We have no time to waste, so let’s dive into some odds for the Rocket Richard Trophy, honouring the NHL’s goal-scoring leader at the end of every season.

The Favourites:

Auston Matthews +450

Since entering the league in 2016-17, Auston Matthews has more than proven his ability to score.

As a rookie, the American scored 40 goals, and he followed that up with a combined total of 71 goals in his second (34 in 62 games) and third seasons (37, 68 games).

But Matthews’ goal-scoring abilities peaked last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, elevating him into elite goal-scoring company.

His 47 goals in 70 games trailed just two players – Boston’s David Pastrnak and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin - by one goal and he was set to become the first Leafs player to score 50 goals in a season since Dave Andreychuk did it in 1994 but COVID-19 hit the world and shortened the NHL season.

With the Leafs locked in to the North Division in 2020-21, games will be high scoring and the 23-year-old Matthews finds himself in a prime position to claim the first Rocket Richard of his career.

Alex Ovechkin +600

Speaking of proven goal scorers, look no further than Alex Ovechkin.

The 35-year-old Russian has dominated this award category over the last decade, winning the Rocket Richard Trophy seven times since 2010, and nine times during his career.

His 437 goals over the last 10 seasons are 89 more than any other player in the league.

He enters this season on the heels of a 48-goal season, and he has topped 45 goals 11 times over his 15 NHL seasons with the Capitals.

For context, the first Rocket Richard award was handed out in 1999, and Ovechkin has won the award 42 per cent of that time, despite not entering the league until 2005-06.

The Contenders:

Leon Draisaitl +800

The NHL belonged to Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl last season.

His 67 assists and 110 points in 71 games led the league in both categories, allowing him to capture three different end-of-season awards.

Draisaitl just missed sweeping the night, as his 43 goals placed him fourth in the league, just five behind Ovechkin and David Pastrnak.

The 25-year-old German came even closer in 2019 when he scored 50 goals, but was one shy of Ovechkin’s league-leading 51.

Maybe this year is when he finally gets over the goal-scoring hump. 

Connor McDavid +900

Right behind Draisaitl is his Oilers teammate Connor McDavid.

McDavid entered the NHL with massive expectations in 2015-16 and he has somehow turned out to be even better than everyone thought he would be.

Over his first 351 games, he scored 162 goals and tallied 469 points. 

McDavid’s playmaking ability has seen him lead the league in points twice during his five-year career, but the goal scoring has yet to fully explode.

The 24-year-old’s best goal-scoring season came last year when he averaged 0.53 goals per game, netting 34 in 64 games.

If the Richmond Hill, Ont., product can convert some of those playmaking abilities into goals instead of assists, there’s no telling how many goals he can score this season.  

Nathan MacKinnon +1100

Nathan MacKinnon has only scored more than 40 goals once in an NHL season, but odds makers think this might be the season his goal scoring kicks into high gear.

The 25-year-old scored 35 goals in 69 games last season, and he was even better when it mattered most.

MacKinnon scored nine goals in 15 playoff games for the Colorado Avalanche and added 16 assists.

Similar to McDavid, if MacKinnon can turn some of his assists into goals, he will find himself among the league leaders.

The Longshots:

David Pastrnak +1500

The 2019-20 Rocket Richard winner enters this season as a longshot to repeat.

Pastrnak posted a career-high 48 goals last season to tie Alex Ocheckin and claim his first Rocket Richard Trophy.

The 24-year-old Bruins winger was powered by his league-leading 20 power play goals, and if he can duplicate those special team numbers again this season he will be right in the thick of things.

Jack Eichel +1500

Jack Eichel had his best goal scoring season last year, and it wasn’t even close.

The 24-year-old scored 36 goals and added 42 assists over 68 games for the Sabres last season, his fifth in Buffalo after being selected by the Sabres second overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. 

In those five seasons, Eichel has either matched or increased his goal total from the previous season.

If Eichel can continue his upward trend, he might find himself at the top of the league.

Jake Guentzel +1500

Jake Guentzel has scored 60 goals in his last 121 games.

The 26-year American will need to stay healthy this season if he wants a chance to compete with the best in the game.

Guentzel scored 20 goals in just 39 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season before undergoing major shoulder surgery.

Mika Zibanejad +1800

A 40 goal-scorer last season, Mika Zibanejad enters this season looking to maintain his scoring touch.

It’s been quite the steady climb for the 27-year-old Zibanejad since his 2016 arrival in the Big Apple.

In his debut season with the New York Rangers he scored just 14 goals in 56 games.

He followed that up with 27 goals in 2017-18 and 30 the following season before posting a career-high last season.

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