NHL Rocket Richard Trophy Odds: Who Can Challenge Auston Matthews?

Austin Swaim
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NHL Rocket Richard Trophy Odds: Who Can Challenge Auston Matthews?

The NHL's least competitive awards market is this one. Unlike the Hart or Vezina, this trophy needs no votes. It simply goes to the highest scoring player in the NHL. That's been the same man a lot recently.

Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs has won three of the last four Rocket Richard Trophies in seemingly a monstrous spot to put up goal production.

Without significant changes to Toronto's forward grouping, Matthews is once again a prohibitive favorite when looking at the Rocket Richard Trophy odds on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Nonetheless, we saw him dispatched in 2022-23. Can someone else do it again at substantially long odds? Let's dive in.

NHL Rocket Richard Trophy Odds

2024-25 Rocket Richard Trophy Odds
Auston Matthews-115
David Pastrnak+550
Leon Draisaitl+750
Kirill Kaprizov+750
Connor McDavid+1000
Filip Forsberg+1200
Nathan MacKinnon+1500
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Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs (-115)

It would be nonsensical to start in any other place.

Auston Matthews has won this award three of the last four years, including a 69-goal eruption last season. That was 12 more than second place Sam Reinhart, who was a total surprise to get even that close after a previous career-high mark of 33 tallies.

The reason to back him again is that his situation hasn't changed. He'll be the finisher on Toronto's unchanged first line; he's surrounded by pass-first winger Mitchell Marner and Matthew Knies, who posted just 15 goals in his first full season with the Leafs. That, combined with excellent efficiency (18.2% shooting) and a healthy 20:57 TOI average, is how you approach the first 70-goal season since 1993.

Of course, there are substantial reasons to avoid Matthews at chalk, too. First -- and most obvious -- comes injury, but I'd also note that Matthews' role to score isn't the unquestioned best in the sport. He was actually third in shots on goal per game (369) behind two others we'll discuss.

The Scottsdale native is supremely gifted and a worthy favorite to take home his fourth trophy, but he's a bit of a tough sell at these minus-money odds given the various paths to failure a physical NHL season can bring.

David Pastrnak, Bruins (+550)

As Matthews' clearest competitor, David Pastrnak could be good value in this market to win his first Rocket Richard.

Pastrnak produced more shots on goal than Matthews (372) last season, but he only shot 12.3% on those attempts. As the author of three different seasons north of 15.0%, a hot year from a conversion perspective could put him right in the conversation.

Really, Pasta's largest obstacle to this role is his position. Though he posted a career-high in TOI average last season (19:55), it's still a bit behind a center like Matthews and other contenders on this list.

If you're looking for a key sign of improvement to push him closer to Matthews, it's definitely on the power play. His 12 power-play goals were his second-lowest total since 2017 as the Boston Bruins struggled across the board with the man advantage, ranking just 14th in the NHL (22.2%). Adding Elias Lindholm to the top unit should help.

If you play the angle that something weird happens with the favorite, not many contenders could rise above the 28-year-old's case.

Kirill Kaprizov, Wild (+750)

This award is handed out on counting stats, so missing seven games as Kirill Kaprizov did in 2023-24 will likely end any sort of bid for it.

Nonetheless, I'm intrigued by the Minnesota Wild's alternate captain in this market. "Kirill the Thrill" is second to few in goal-scoring talent; the question is if his supporting cast can launch their offense closer to Matthews' or Pastrnak's. They ranked a dismal 19th in expected goals (xG) per 60 minutes (3.01).

Kaprizov shoots to sixth on the board if you look on a goals per game (0.61) basis, and his market share of the Wild's attempts is supremely attractive. Even missing time, Kaprizov's 46 goals were 16 more than anyone else on the team, and he still led Minnesota in total shots (277) despite being down on total games played.

As a winger, Kaprizov's TOI average (21:34) was third at the position behind only Mikko Rantanen and Nikita Kucherov without killing penalties. The Wild really rely on him offensively.

Only Matthews, Pastrnak, Kaprizov, and the Edmonton Oilers' duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl -- eating into each other's claim -- are 10-to-1 or shorter in this market. Kirill seems like an odd inclusion on that list, but his role is as good as any of these other scorers if Minnesota can grow as an offense.

Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche (+1500)

I'd be remiss to not include the reigning league MVP and 2023-24 leader in total shots on goal (409) in this discussion.

No one had more attempts on net than Nathan MacKinnon last year, but it's a product of the otherworldly role the Colorado Avalanche force onto him. In addition to putting that many pucks on net, MacKinnon also dished out 85 (!) assists in a commitment to always make the right play. It helps when you play alongside Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar, though.

None of these other contenders discussed eclipsed 65 assists, which shows why Mack is a bit of a longshot in this market. To win this trophy, you've got to be a little selfish. However, there's an argument to be made that, if things are close at the end of the season, the future Hall-of-Famer might want to bag the lone piece of hardware he doesn't have. MacKinnon's 51 goals last year were just six back of second place.

The Avs' franchise center has always been a bit of a volume shooter; he's never exceeded 14.0% shooting in any year of his career. Compare that to career-high marks of Matthews (18.2%), Pastrnak (17.2%), and Kaprizov (17.2%), and it's a reasonable conclusion those three offer more quality on similar quantity.

He's a distant underdog in this market for a reason, but it's hard to count the 2023-24 Hart Trophy winner out as he seemingly gets better and more productive each season. Key expected absences of Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin for most of the season should keep his responsibilities at a maximum.

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