In NHL sports betting, there are three events that can affect teams through personnel changes. These are the NHL Entry Draft, players being brought up and sent down to the minor leagues, and trades. Each one can affect a hockey team in a major way.
Before you can understand the impact of such events, it is useful to have an idea about how the salary cap works in the NHL. The NHL salary cap, like that of the NFL, has a bearing on how team rosters work, and on the balance of power in the league.
The Salary Cap
The NHL salary cap is set at approximately $64 million per team. This is a hard cap that functions much like the NFL’s. There are a few reasons for a cap. First, if all teams are restricted regarding how much they can pay, talent will even out among the various clubs. The cap also allows owners to control their budgets and hopefully generate a profit, keeping the organization and the league healthy while offering players a fair salary.
An individual player may not be paid more than 20% of the total payroll level for the year that they sign their contract. Thus, at $64 million, the most that an individual player may earn is $12.8 million. The minimum salary for NHL players is $500,000.
NHL Draft: An Overview
The NHL Entry Draft is held around mid-June of each year. At that time, the thirty NHL teams choose junior hockey league and college players from North America, and 18-20 year-old hockey players from Europe.
There are seven rounds in the draft, which means up to 210 players can be chosen in a given year. Many of those players will never skate in an NHL game, and many will play in precious few. However, each is seen as having the potential to contribute to one of the league’s hockey teams.
Few players are superstars directly out of the draft. These are players, usually forwards, who can have an immediate impact on a team and on the league. Players such as Sydney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are examples of the kind of player that, after being drafted, becomes an instant contributor in a massive way.
If a good team manages to get one of these guys, they could end up having a stellar season. Even a bad team will see a major uptick in its stock. If an NHL club gets an impact player who can put the puck in the net, they may end up being a good bet.
The Goalie Front
A goalie can make or break a team. In the NHL, the best goaltenders are the players who can lose one day, and the next day be ready to win again. If they made a mistake, it’s in the past, and a new game means another chance to get a W.
Also, goalies with great technique and concentration can’t be beaten. Positioning, the ability to adjust quickly to changing situations, and superior reflexes are all important.
Finally, a seasoned player who has been repeatedly tested will give his team confidence. Confidence breeds confidence. It is contagious. Therefore, a goalie that brings a winning attitude to the ice, often will succeed. Look for these qualities.
Finally, goaltending is about statistics. Great goalies have great stats. Study these and closely monitor them. If a goalie seems to be faltering, try to determine why. It may have to do with their defense, a specific line, or a problem with the team’s penalty kill. An upgrade in any of these areas could mean an improvement in a goalie’s performance.
There are various minor hockey leagues situated in the U.S. and Canada. The primary one is the AHL. Each team in the AHL is associated with an NHL franchise, and it is from these clubs that the NHL gets players when someone is injured, traded, waived, or sent down to the minors.
It is true that an NHL team’s depth is partly related to its minor league club. The AHL organization is like a second team, and the players that gain experience in the minors often come up ready to play when they are called.
This is also the place where goalies are developed. It can take years for an AHL net-minder to make it to the NHL. Often he will go back and forth between leagues and will gain valuable experience in NHL preseason games.
Guys Up and Down
Some players will go back and forth between the AHL and NHL teams. Many times a utility player is brought up repeatedly due to the fact that he is savvy, skilled, and resourceful. Such players can really help to keep an injury-plagued team in contention. If a club has a good development program, then the players who come from the AHL will often be solid contributors.
NHL trades, even ones that bring in relatively obscure players, can have a major effect on a team. If a team is plugging a hole on the third line that struggles on the ice, that one player, even if he’s not a star, can make a huge difference.
The big trades that send a huge talent to a team are easy to figure out. It’s the ones that involve utility guys, role players, and minor league players that can be more difficult to assess. Teams make trades for many reasons. It’s the sports bettor’s job to understand why the deal was made and the effect that it will have.
It is important to analyze any change that occurs on an NHL team. How might a player move influence the outcome of games, odds, and your picks? No sports team is static, and NHL clubs tend to change quite a bit throughout the season as players are injured, moved through the minors, or traded. The draft has the potential to have an immediate effect, as well influence on the future. Be attentive to any and all changes.