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Feb 8, 2018
Feb 8, 2018

Winter Olympics ice hockey preview

Who will benefit from the absence of NHL players?

Who are the Men’s hockey gold medal favourites?

Women’s Olympic ice hockey preview

Winter Olympics ice hockey preview

Ice hockey is usually the Winter Olympics’ marquee event but 2018’s Olympic ice hockey tournament is a little different to recent editions. With no NHL players taking part in the games the competition has opened up to a wider range of teams. Who will benefit most from the absence of NHL players? Read on to find out.

Who will benefit from the NHL boycott?

Since the introduction of NHL players to the Olympic hockey event, teams who were able to select from this world-class pool of players have prospered. The 2014 tournament in Sochi was no different with countries that selected more NHL players performing far better on average.

Sochi 2014: NHL players selected vs performance

Sochi 2014: NHL players selected vs performance

IHHF Position

Team

NHL Players

% NHL Players

1

Canada

25

100%

2

Sweden

24

96%

3

Finland

13

52%

4

USA

25

100%

5

Russia

15

60%

6

Czech Republic

17

68%

7

Slovenia

1

4%

8

Latvia

1

4%

9

Switzerland

9

36%

10

Austria

3

12%

11

Slovakia

12

48%

12

Norway

1

4%

There was a strong 78% correlation between the number of NHL players selected and final finishing position, with 83% of medals awarded to NHL players. The absence of these players has a big effect on the odds.

Canada have won three of the last four Olympic hockey tournaments and usually enter the competition as firm favourites. Their team in 2014 was typical in being made up entirely of NHL players. If the majority of teams are missing their best players then who is set to benefit?

Nine of the ten top points scorers in Sochi came from the NHL whilst one came from Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Widely considered to be the second-best hockey league in the world the KHL is now the strongest talent pool available to Olympic ice hockey teams. The professional players in this league are now the difference makers and should have a large impact during a tournament lacking NHL level talent.

KHL players at PyeongChang 2018

KHL Players at PyeongChang 2018

2014 Position

Team

KHL Players

% KHL Players

1

Canada

12

48.00%

2

Sweden

12

48.00%

3

Finland*

N/A

4

USA

4.00

16.00%

5

Russia

25

100.00%

6

Czech Republic

16

64.00%

7

Slovenia

3

12.00%

8

Latvia

DNQ

N/A

9

Switzerland

0

0.00%

10

Austria

DNQ

N/A

11

Slovakia

2

8.00%

12

Norway

1

4.00%

*Finland were late to announce their 2018 squad. They have 3 players from the KHL making up 12% of their squad at the 2018 games.

Russia’s roster is made up entirely of KHL players. Unsurprisingly, they are now 1.952* favourites to win the outright tournament. Other beneficiaries include the Czech Republic (11.220*) who are able to select 64% of their players from the KHL.

The USA (10.260*) and Canada (4.200*) are significantly weakened from Sochi 2014. Although they have increased their KHL contingent they simply do not have as many eligible players as the Russians. As a result, their squads include NCAA players and players drawn from the weaker European hockey leagues.

The two new entrants from the last games are hosts South Korea (617.160*) and Germany (75.150*). These teams have no KHL players to call upon so have selected squads from their own domestic leagues (Asian League Ice Hockey and Deutsche Eishockey League). Even though NHL players will be unavailable to the usual contenders these outsiders are still unlikely to challenge for the medal positions.

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Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Groups

Group A
Canada
Czech Republic
Switzerland
South Korea

Group B
Olympic Athletes from Russia
United States
Slovakia
Slovenia

Group C
Sweden
Finland
Norway
Germany

Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Preview

The women’s tournament is a little more straightforward. The best players from the  National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) are eligible to play.

Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Groups

Group A
United States
Canada
Finland
Olympic Athletes from Russia

Group B
Sweden
Switzerland
Japan
Korea

The USA (1.735*) and Canada (1.961*) can count on the best NWHL players and have by far the strongest rosters. The two favourites meet in Group A which will make for interesting watching ahead of a likely repeat encounter in the gold medal match.

Interestingly, the tournament will see the historic appearance of a combined Korean team. However, even with additional players from the North, the hosts will need to beat the odds to make an impact. They are in a tough Group A and are 710.380* outsiders to win the gold medal.

Choose Pinnacle for the best Women’s Olympic Ice hockey odds.

Get the best 2018 Olympic ice hockey odds from Pinnacle. For more information about betting on PyeongChang 2018 read Pinnacle’s Winter Olympic betting articles.

Odds subject to change

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