It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Aunt Judy’s fruit-cake? Drunk-uncle Frank screaming about politics at the dinner table? Hardly.

For hockey-diehards, Christmas means one thing: the World Junior Hockey Championships are about to begin. Boxing Day in Canada (the day-after Christmas for us in the States) means that one of the most entertaining and compelling events in sports are about to begin. The “World Juniors” as they are called, is a showcase event that pits 10-teams from North America and Europe against each other in an Olympic-type format. This tournament is loaded with prospects from NHL teams that have been drafted by the age of 18 and qualify until the age of 20.

National pride is always the headline. Sometimes, a prospect in your favorite NHL team’s system can make for a compelling watch. If you are a hockey fan, this tournament always delivers the goods.

The usual-suspects once again lead the odds

As is typical for an event like this, the favorite is Canada. This year, the tournament is being hosted jointly between the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. After a rather strange 2021 where there were two tournaments in one year, the second event took place back in August in Alberta. Back on schedule at the proper time of year, it marks the first time that Canada has hosted three tournaments in a row.

Canada won the tournament over the summer. A quick turnaround like this is unprecedented, and adds to the intrigue if Canada can hold their position at the top. The other favorites such as the US, who has won the tournament as recently as 2021; and Finland who won in 2019, lead the odds to claim the championship.

In fact; Canada, the US or Finland have captured the title every year going back a decade to 2012 when Sweden won the Gold Medal.

Odds for the WJC

As of December 21st, Canada is favored. Here is the breakdown:

TeamOdds to win

Canada-120

Finland+300

USA+380

Sweden+650

Czech Republic+1,600

Slovakia+3,500

Switzerland+10,000

Germany+15,000

Austria+50,000

Latvia+50,000

Going by current trends and odds, it’s hard not to pick one of the three at the top of the list. Canada are the defending champions, obviously returning the same team they won with 4-5 months ago. The US had a strong showing last night in the exhibition game against Sweden, where they dominated play to a 5-1 victory. Finland, who won in 2019, is second in the odds.

This is a tournament where the favorites usually prevail.

I’m going to pick the USA. They were out-gunned against Canada last time they played hockey. However, I think it had more to do with the timing of the event and the world at large playing a factor. The US team looks just as strong and hungry as the Canadians.

Long-shot bet:

If I was going to try and find a line to make some coin, Sweden is intriguing. Even if the US handed them their hat last night, they have extremely skilled hockey players and are always in the mix to make things interesting.

Lay $10 for fun:

Latvia. At 50,000-1, it will never happen. Ever. I am half-Latvian, so I’ll be putting $10 on them just for fun. If I turn that, you’ll certainly hear about it after.

 


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